Happy New Year! For many of you, the beginning of the year brings a focus on resolutions. I admit, I’m not much of a resolutions person, but like our co-chair Melinda Gates, I like the idea of a word for the year. For me in 2019, that word is “transformation.”
Here at the foundation we are using that word a lot more, so it is important to be clear about what it means and why it matters. Transformation is basically this: colleges and universities building their capacity to dramatically improve student outcomes and eliminate racial and income gaps. This includes having a student-centered mission, using data to make decisions, creating a collaborative environment, setting goals and being accountable for them, and making a commitment to continuous improvement.
Pressure is mounting for institutions to transform – rising demand for educated workers coupled with financial stresses and growing public skepticism – and we know transformation is possible, evidenced by the progress made by colleges and universities participating in Completion by Design and the Frontier Set. We are starting to get a good sense of the support campuses need to do this work, especially in connecting with one another and with partners who can provide guidance and evidence-based practices that are essential for implementing and sustaining change.
That is why we are launching a search for additional partners – intermediaries for scale – that can help provide that connection and guidance for institutions embracing the need to transform. If you’re interested in more of our thinking about the how and why of the intermediaries, I encourage you to take a look at my latest blog post.
Transformation is a big word that demands commitment and a resolution to change. It demands asking tough questions and making tough choices, and to working and learning together. But to me, it is the right word for 2019.