Rising higher ed leaders tackle campus challenges in our 2021 fellowship

Expert Insight

Rising higher ed leaders tackle campus challenges in our 2021 fellowship

EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship is a six-month, cohort-based experience that aims to build community, develop a depth of expertise in the topics and issues that matter most to institutional strategy, and provide focused professional skills development from EAB industry experts. Our second cohort concluded in December 2021 with the presentation of the fellows’ capstone projects.

In each session, the fellows gained depth in new topics or terrains, developed leadership skills, and built a network with peers from institutions across the country. The topics covered included student success, budget models, change management, and more. The culminating experience for the EAB Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship was the capstone project that substantively contributes to the fellows’ professional advancement and helps solve a pressing challenge facing their home institutions.

In addition to the content from the subject-matter expertise and professional skills development sessions, the fellows also had access to EAB’s research library and experts, and they were paired with a partner to help develop ideas and get feedback along the way. In many cases, partners jointly completed a project that benefitted both institutions.

The 66 fellows in the 2021 cohort tackled a wide range of issues in their capstone projects, reflecting the diversity of institutions and professional experiences of the participants. Several fellows deeply examined student success at their institutions, specifically focusing on equity issues. Others made recommendations for improving campus sustainability, building stronger online programs, and adjusting graduate tuition rates.

Below are a few of the key themes that appeared in multiple capstone projects. Scroll down to read about each of the capstone projects in the fellows’ own words.

Improve student persistence toward college and toward graduation by:

  • Incentivizing faculty to engage in student advising and mentoring
  • Encouraging students to develop a college-going mindset
  • Offering completion and retention grants
  • Making sure the right students and mentors are getting into peer mentoring programs

Encourage lifelong learning through:

  • Innovative educational offerings and delivery methods
  • Applying an equity lens to recruitment, programming, support, and partnerships
  • Strong retention for online undergraduate programs

Embrace transformational change for the institution by:

  • Becoming carbon neutral in the next two decades
  • Reviewing and updating the institution’s core curriculum
  • Moving the institution’s strategic goals from promise to reality
  • Linking the institution’s strategic plan to academic change and the institution’s mission

2021 EAB Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship capstone project summaries

The blog posts below are written by the participants to showcase their project and early outcomes.

Note: The views and opinions in the blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EAB.

Academic program stewardship
Joe Bruner, William McDonnell and Sarah Simpson, University of Kentucky

Building a department chairs' academy—no longer a forgotten chair
Cynthia Lester, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Georgia State University Perimeter College

Cross-departmental collaboration for innovation and impact
Paula Mills, Chief of Staff and Operations, College of Agricultural Sciences, Colorado State University

Fiscal literacy for department chairs
Joe Lewandowski, Director of Resource Planning, University of Buffalo

How academic units can show alignment with and measure progress towards university goals
Colleen Karnas-Haines, Director of Assessment, Planning, and Accreditation, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Rethinking the academic affairs organizational structure
Nina Bates, Director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives, Office of the Provost, University of Arizona

Evaluating opportunities for external partnerships
Emily Hochstatter, Director of Risk Management and Administrative Initiatives, Northern Illinois University

How is burnout related between faculty, staff, and students?
Terry Longshore, DMA, Chair/Professor of Music, Southern Oregon University

Improving employee engagement through continuous feedback
Alana Lardizabal, Director of Human Resources, Southern Oregon University

Streamlining internal hiring processes and procedures through process improvement
Breanne Holloway, Assistant Director of Organizational Development and Learning, Ball State University

Improve campus DEI responses through practice discussions
Shelley Fairbairn, Professor of Education, Drake University

Building a purposeful DEIJ infrastructure at Mercy College
Andrés Matías-Ortiz, Interim Dean, School of Liberal Arts, Mercy College

Developing best practices for equitable faculty hiring
Amy Walker, University of Texas at Dallas

Making an institution a “first choice” for underrepresented students
Mario Silva-Rosa, Director for Undergraduate Admission, Bentley University

Strategies for improving graduate DEIJ enrollment pipelines
Lionel Wright, Associate Interim Dean, Athens State University

Adult learners and strategies for success
Christopher Cuccia, Ed.D., Associate Provost for Academic and Graduate Affairs, Seton Hall University
Melissa McCauley, Director of Marketing, Wilfrid Laurier University

Enhancing the attractiveness of joint undergraduate and graduate degrees
Coutney B. Smith, Seton Hall University

Finding and recruiting adult learners
Jordan Lindsey, Director of Admissions, Corban University
Amy West, Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy, Bowling Green State University

How to explain facilities impacts at the institution level and obtain buy-in
Jen Cox, Missouri State University
Jeremy Davis, Miami University—Ohio
Tanara Teal-Tate, University of Wisconsin—Madison

How can universities promote access to wellness resources for students?
Shankar Munusamy, Drake University
Erin Van Daalwyk, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Conducting a diversity and equity campus climate survey
Dr. Chassidy Cooper, PhD, Coordinator for Equity and Inclusion, East Tennessee State University

How to communicate financial information to Gen Z students
Jacqueline Gatlin, Bursar, University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus
Melissa Dingman, Director of Scholarship and Financial Aid, Minnesota State University Moorhead

Increasing campus climate survey response rate
Dr. Kacee Ferrell Snyder, Director of the Center for Women & Gender Equity and Co-Director of the Center for Violence Prevention & Education, Bowling Green State University

Building the "FirstGen Presidential Fellows" program at Bentley University
Jane De León Griffin, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, Bentley University

Campus communication onboarding guide for new students
Grace Gardner, Director of Academic Affairs, Missoula College, University of Montana
Lexi Stoneburner, Assistant Director of Admissions & Visitor Experience, Converse University

Improving student enrollment and retention through on-campus employment and career development
Erica Wagner, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs, Portland State University

Improve student success through digital and technological engagement
Marianne Young, Assistant Vice President for Student Development & Support, University of Kentucky
Carrie Stockton, Associate Vice President of Student Success & Academic Engagement, Biola University

Investments to improve student comfort, success, and retention
Scot Rab, Interim Dean of Academic Affairs for the College of Environment, Forestry, and Natural Science at Northern Arizona University

Motivate faculty to contribute to student retention
Ann Amicucci, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Supporting transfer student enrollment and completion goals
Megan Scherzberg, Director of Orientation, Transition, and Retention, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Roberto Vasquez, Sr. Director for Transfer & Pathways, Central New Mexico Community College

Optimizing institutional resources for research growth
Nick Hagemeier, Interim Vice Provost for Research, East Tennessee State University

Want to learn more about the Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship?

Learn more about upcoming cohorts or contact your Strategic Leader

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