How One Institution Created a Blueprint for Improving Student Equity Across Campus
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Research University
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) is a research university with a total enrollment of 30,500 and a six-year graduation rate of 66%. UNC Charlotte’s mission statement pledges to have a local and global impact and create an inclusive academic environment.
UNC Charlotte leaders decided to audit their institutional policies with equity in mind in response to the pandemic and civil unrest of 2020. They lacked a framework for reviewing policies through an “equity lens” and were unsure how to communicate their goals to relevant stakeholders. Additionally, UNC Charlotte’s unwritten policies, such as declaring a major and course sequences, posed barriers for student success.
UNC Charlotte used EAB’s 360-Degree Student Equity Audit framework to identify inequitable institution-level policies and how to communicate updates to stakeholders. One-on-one meetings with EAB subject matter experts helped them find solutions to the biggest concerns unearthed by the audit.
UNC Charlotte identified inequitable institutional policies and codified unwritten rules into formal procedures with student-friendly language. They also adapted the EAB 360-Degree Student Equity Audit to review department-level practices annually.
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Overcoming Barriers to Student Success
Prior to EAB's Audit
- Lack of framework for reviewing institutional policies through an equity lens
- Difficulty developing goals for policy review due to lack of shared definition of “equity review”
- Department-level policies can be inconsistent and contain unwritten rules that confuse students and widen the equity gap
After EAB's Audit
- UNC Charlotte is equipped with a formal process for analyzing institution-level policies with both equity and pandemic context in mind
- UNC Charlotte has shared language to clearly communicate what equitable policies look like to all stakeholders, making buy-in easier
- EAB’s 360-Degree Student Equity Audit was adapted to audit policies at the department level. Department audits will now be conducted annually
EAB’s Research-Backed Equity Tools
360-Degree Student Equity Audit Findings Across Higher Ed
One of the best outcomes from EAB’s equity audit is that our departments are having conversations and intentionally thinking about student equity as they make policy updates. This will build a healthy routine of self-reflection and lead to a more equitable environment.
Dr. Leslie Zenk, Assistant Provost
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
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