Toward a Model of Inclusive Excellence
and Change in Postsecondary Institutions
By Damon A. Williams, Joseph B. Berger,
and Shederick A. McClendon
One in a series of three papers commissioned as part of the Making Excellence Inclusive initiative
Table of Contents
Introduction to the Series iii
Toward a Model of Inclusive Excellence and Change in Post-Secondary Institutions
Toward an Inclusive Excellence Change Model 3
The External Environment 4
Organizational Culture of the Academy 9
Organizational Behavior 12
Driving Change: The Inclusive Excellence Scorecard 19
The Inclusive Excellence Change Model—An Overview 29
Conclusion: Next Steps 31
About AAC&U/About the Authors 39
Copyright © 2005 by the Association American Colleges and Universities. All rights reserved.
AAC&U would like to thank the following groups for their contributions to these papers.
• The authors, for carefully working through the connections between their areas of
research and the overarching goals of the Making Excellence Inclusive initiative.
• The educators, students and community members who participated in the Inclusive
Excellence forums across the country; the members of the pilot campuses who
reviewed and provided feedback on earlier drafts of the papers; and the 2005 Greater
Expectations Summer Institute participants who used insights from these papers to
enhance their educational action plans.
• AAC&U staff, especially Nancy O’Neill, who edited the papers and coordinated the
Introduction to the Series
The educational environment following the recent Supreme Court decisions on
affirmative action calls for colleges and universities to connect their educational quality and
inclusion efforts more fundamentally and comprehensively than ever before. This challenge,
however, presents a set of difficult questions. What will the next generation of work on inclusion
and excellence look like? How will both our thinking and our actions need to shift? Who will
need to be involved? How will we know we are accomplishing our goals?
This introduction prefaces three papers commissioned by the Association of American
Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to respond to these questions and to provide an intellectual
backdrop for its new initiative, Making Excellence Inclusive.1 With initial funding from the Ford
Foundation, this multiyear initiative is designed to help campuses: (a) integrate their diversity
and quality efforts, (b) situate this work at the core of institutional functioning, and (c) realize the
educational benefits available to students and to the institution when this integration is done well
and is sustained over time. We feel strongly, and evidence is beginning to show, that integrating
diversity and quality initiatives—as with the forging of elements into an alloy—produces
something that is both different than its constituent elements and stronger and more durable.
As an “alloy,” Inclusive Excellence re-envisions both quality and diversity. It reflects a
striving for excellence in higher education that has been made more inclusive by decades of
work to infuse diversity into recruiting, admissions, and hiring; into the curriculum and
cocurriculum; and into administrative structures and practices. It also embraces newer forms of
excellence, and expanded ways to measure excellence, that take into account research on
learning and brain functioning, the assessment movement, and more nuanced accountability
structures. Likewise, diversity and inclusion efforts move beyond numbers of students or
numbers of programs as end goals. Instead, they are multilayered processes through which we
achieve excellence in learning; research and teaching; student development; local and global
community engagement; workforce development; and more.
1 We also use the term “Inclusive Excellence” to capture this notion.
Mapping the Future of Inclusion and Excellence
Each of the three commissioned papers— Making Diversity Work on Campus: A
Research-Based Perspective; Achieving Equitable Educational Outcomes with All Students: The
Institution’s Roles and Responsibilities; and Toward a Model of Inclusive Excellence and
Change in Postsecondary Institutions—addresses one or more aspects of the work that is needed
to comprehensively link diversity and quality. Collectively, they offer readers fresh perspectives
on, and evidence-based approaches to, embedding this work into campus culture and sustaining
this work over time.
In the first paper, Making Diversity Work on Campus: A Research-Based Perspective,
Jeffrey Milem, Mitchell Chang, and Anthony Antonio discuss recent empirical evidence that
demonstrates the educational benefits of diverse learning environments. The evidence, gathered
on behalf of the University of Michigan in its defense of its affirmative action policies before the
Supreme Court, indicates that diversity must be carried out in intentional ways in order to accrue
educational benefits for students and for the institution. The authors argue persuasively for a
conception of diversity as a process toward better learning rather than as an outcome—a certain
percentage of students of color, a certain number of programs—to be checked off a list. They
also provide numerous suggestions for how to “engage” diversity in the service of learning,
ranging from recruiting a compositionally diverse student body, faculty, and staff; to developing
a positive campus climate; to transforming curriculum, cocurriculum, and pedagogy to reflect
and support goals for inclusion and excellence.
In the second paper, Achieving Equitable Educational Outcomes with All Students: The
Institution’s Roles and Responsibilities, Georgia Bauman, Leticia Tomas Bustillos, Estela
Bensimon, Christopher Brown, and RoSusan Bartee discuss the responsibility that institutions
have to examine the impact that traditional higher education practices have on those students
historically underserved by higher education, including African American, Latino/a, and
American Indian students. With the persistent achievement gap facing African American and
Latino/a students as a starting point, the authors argue that if we do not commit to discovering
what does and does not work for historically underserved students, we run the very real risk of
failing a significant portion of today’s college students—even as we diversify our campuses to a
greater extent than ever before. To demonstrate the kind of institutional commitment that is
Isolated Initiative: Increase racial/ethnic dive
rsity of student body
• Calls from business and community leaders to strengthen workforce diversity
• Desire to redress past societal inequities
• General feeling that diversifying student body is the “right thing to do”
But does not address:
• Compositional diversity of other parts of campus community (faculty, staff, administrators)
• Differences between predominantly white institutions and predominantly minority-serving institutions
• Campus climate once students and others arrive on campus
• Students’ multiple identities: race and ethnicity intersecting with gender, class, sexual orientation,
national/regional origin, ability, and religion
• Curriculum transformation to include perspectives, sources, and modes of inquiry heretofore left out of the
• How compositional diversity influences classroom and cocurricular practices, and ultimately, student learning
Catalyst for Educational Excellence: Increase racial/ethnic diversity of student body as part of comprehensive plan to
make excellence inclusive
Also responds to:
• Need to enact diversity in intentional ways that enhance students’ intercultural competency, cognitive
complexity, and ability to work in diverse groups (Milem et al.)
• Need to address equity in academic achievement for all students, with particular attention paid to groups
historically underrepresented in higher education (Bauman et al.)
• Need to engage entire campus community in conceiving of, carrying out, and assessing a comprehensive process
to enact diverse learning environments (Williams et al.)
needed, the authors present one campus’s process for systematically monitoring and addressing
the inequities they discovered.
In the third paper, Toward a Model of Inclusive Excellence in Postsecondary Institutions,
Damon Williams, Joseph Berger, and Shederick McClendon offer a framework for
comprehensive organizational change to help campuses achieve Inclusive Excellence. The
authors review several dimensions of organizational culture that must be engaged to achieve this
goal and discuss a method to help campuses monitor changes that might come from introducing
new systems and new practices. The resulting framework, perhaps most importantly, helps
campus leaders focus simultaneously on the “big picture”—an academy that systematically
leverages diversity for student learning and institutional excellence—and the myriad individual
pieces that contribute to that picture (see box 1).
Box 1. From diversity as an isolated initiative to diversity as a catalyst for educational excellence
Defining “Inclusive Excellence”
At the outset of this initiative, AAC&U advanced an operational definition of Inclusive
Excellence. This definition is intended to be flexible enough to be “localized” by a campus while
also retaining basic principles to guide a national movement and to connect campuses in these
efforts. The definition consists of four primary elements:
1. A focus on student intellectual and social development. Academically, it means offering
the best possible course of study for the context in which the education is offered.2
2. A purposeful development and utilization of organizational resources to enhance student
learning. Organizationally, it means establishing an environment that challenges each
student to achieve academically at high levels and each member of the campus to
contribute to learning and knowledge development.
3. Attention to the cultural differences learners bring to the educational experience and that
enhance the enterprise.3
4. A welcoming community that engages all of its diversity in the service of student and
Each set of authors received this definition when they were commissioned to write the
papers, and each connected it to existing and emerging research on subjects as varied as the
educational benefits of diversity, the achievement gap, and organizational change. We expect
this reworking to occur in the field also, as campus leaders juxtapose the definition against
institutional mission, policies, and practices. At the same time, we believe the definition is
incomplete without all four elements in play, and the large questions posed at the beginning of
this introduction cannot be answered without having all four present.
Making Excellence Inclusive builds on major AAC&U initiatives—most notably, Greater
Expectations and American Commitments—and ties together the association’s long-standing
interest in educational quality in the undergraduate curriculum, in diversity and civic
2 “Best” here implies the provision of qualified instructors and sufficient resources—including other learners—as well as a
sequence of study that is coherent and challenging, and one that comprehensively addresses the student learning goals of the
particular institution. Contexts vary from preschool to postgraduate education, by affiliation (e.g., religious or secular), and by
sector (e.g., elementary, high schools, community colleges, research universities).
3 Cultural differences include race/ethnicity (e.g., Latino, Caucasian, Asian/Pacific Islander, African American, American
Indian), class, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, first language, physical and learning ability, and learning style.
engagement, and in preparing faculty to deepen students’ learning. It is designed to address the
following four dilemmas confronting higher education today.
Islands of Innovations with Too Little Influence on Institutional Structures
Hardly any campus is without some tangible, and often impressive, number of initiatives
to help create more inclusive environments, more expansive intellectual horizons, or more
opportunities for outreach to the larger community. Yet how does a campus coordinate these
multiple efforts so they have a greater impact on all students, and on the institution as a whole?
One frequently can identify educational innovations, but rarely can one detect structures that link
them. Accordingly, the impact of these innovations is isolated rather than pervasive. And with so
many individual diversity initiatives springing up like daffodils in springtime, people long for
coherence, cohesion, and collaboration. They also want to figure out how to “get it right” as they
move through this astounding transition to an inclusive academy that strives for diversity and
The Disconnect between Diversity and Educational Excellence
Although we know meaningful engagement with diversity benefits students
educationally, little has been done to create a comprehensive framework for excellence that
incorporates diversity at its core. Similarly, new research about how to help diverse and
differentially prepared students succeed has not yet provoked widespread change across higher
education. And diversity is not typically a focus at any level in “quality improvement” efforts.
As a result, education leaders routinely work on diversity initiatives within one committee on
campus and work on strengthening the quality of the educational experience within another. This
disconnect serves students—and all of education—poorly.
Disparities in Academic Success across Groups
There has been significant progress in expanding access to college for underrepresented
students. Yet many of these students experience differential retention rates and inequities in
academic achievement. This troubling achievement gap, especially across specific racial and
ethnic groups and across different income levels, signals failure, not only for the individual
students affected but also for the colleges and universities they attend and for the educational
system as a whole.
The “Post-Michigan” Environment
The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in the recent University of Michigan cases
affirm the value of diversity when tied to the educational purpose and mission of an institution.
At this historic juncture, it is imperative that higher education leaders seize the opportunity to
help colleges and universities—and the public—better understand how diversity and educational
quality are intertwined. Despite the Court’s affirmation, those opposed to affirmative action
continue to bring lawsuits, organize anti-affirmative action referenda, and influence public
opinion. While many campuses feel pressure to move into “compliance mode,” AAC&U aims to
help institutions establish diversity as a core component in achieving desired student learning
outcomes and put diversity and inclusion efforts at the center of their decision-making. In order
to reach this academic higher ground, diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives must be so
fundamentally linked to educational mission that to ignore them in everyday practice would
jeopardize institutional vitality.
A Comprehensive Response
Initially, Making Excellence Inclusive seeks to bring about comprehensive educational
reform based on research and theory not only about “what works” to help all students achieve
new forms and levels of excellence, but also about what makes for responsive, educationally
powerful colleges and universities. In addition to commissioning these three papers, AAC&U
has organized several other “foundational” activities. We have held thirteen forums around the
country where key education stakeholders discussed how our conception of Inclusive Excellence
can serve as a catalyst for institutional renewal and to identify promising practices toward that
end. We launched a pilot project with nine institutions to test the usefulness of new frameworks
for inclusion and institutional change, and we are starting to build a collection of practical
resources to help campuses enact these frameworks.
Looking ahead, we plan to work with a broad range of postsecondary institutions to make
Inclusive Excellence a signature element of America’s best colleges and universities. We will
engage campus leaders in refining our current definition of Inclusive Excellence and ask them to
document their challenges and successes as we work together to make excellence inclusive. In
the process, we will continue to build our resource collection by featuring campus “success
stories” and developing tools that reflect the latest research “what works” in fostering inclusive
and educationally powerful learning environments.
The three papers, taken together, form a rich dialogue where similarities and
dissimilarities arise and information that is gleaned from one is made richer by the others. We
hope they will engender this same kind of interplay between people on campuses, as well as
provide them with practical evidence, support, and guidance for this ongoing work. The efforts
needed to make excellence inclusive cannot be done by any person, unit, or campus alone. Nor
will it look the same everywhere. What individuals and institutions will share are its hallmarks—
an ongoing, systemic awareness of the “state of the campus” and the “state of higher education”
regarding the interconnectedness of diversity and quality, an active process of engaging diversity
in the service of learning, and the courage to reflect on our efforts and to improve them where
needed. Please visit AAC&U’s Web site (www.aacu.org) for updates about the Making
Excellence Inclusive initiative, including the evolving resource collection that will support our
shared endeavor of helping all students develop the intellectual, social, emotional, cultural, and
civic capacities needed to lead in this new century.
Vice President for Education and Institutional Renewal
Caryn McTighe Musil
Senior Vice President and Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives
Toward a Model of Inclusive Excellence and Change in
Damon A. Williams
University of Connecticut
Joseph B. Berger and Shederick A. McClendon
University of Massachusetts
Commissioned by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)
with generous support from the Ford Foundation
Projected demographics, emerging economic imperatives, and increasingly turbulent
political and legal challenges have converged to an extent that inclusion and diversity will be
among the most critical issues facing higher education in the twenty-first century (Duderstadt
2000; Hurtado and Dey 1997; Tierney 1999). Over the last thirty years, the shift in U.S.
demographics has been reflected in our nation’s student bodies, as the presence of women and
historically underrepresented ethnic and racial populations (as well as populations of gay and
lesbian students, students with disabilities, and adult students), reach an all-time high. Yet
serious inequities—including racial and ethnic inequities—persist, and the challenge of
transforming our institutions so that we might reap the full educational benefits of diversity
The major problem confronting institutions trying to enact inclusive learning and
professional environments is not the lack of good ideas, but the inability to implement them
successfully (Tierney 1999). A review of college Web sites from around the country reveals that
most institutions have a strategic plan for diversity. In some instances, these plans result in new
senior administrative structures, more inclusive admissions policies, and funding sources
designed to enhance the campus climate for diversity-related teaching, learning, and research
(Garcia et al. 1995). But too often diversity plans produce changes that are superficial or isolated.
As a result, high profile plans are quickly forgotten, shelved, or abandoned as the realities of
implementation short-circuit the change process. Although very little empirical work has been
done on institutional change related to diversity (Peterson et al. 1978; Richardson and Skinner
1991; Siegel 1999), anecdotally, we know that static or narrowly construed plans prove to be less
than effective in achieving comprehensive institutional diversity goals.
Change is difficult in higher education, and if judged by past performance, change to
enact diverse learning and professional environments is particularly hard. The values and
organizational dynamics of higher education are unique and especially problematic for making
foundational and cultural change. At their core, higher education institutions do not function like
corporations, hospitals, or any other type of for-profit or nonprofit organization (Birnbaum
1988). Irrational systems, nebulous and multiple goal structures, complex and differentiated
campus functions, conflicts between espoused and enacted values, and loosely coupled systems
of organization and governance are just some of the dynamics that make organizational change
in higher education so hard (Birnbaum 1988; Peterson and Mets 1987; Weick 1979). Such
change requires frameworks and tools that are able to respond to these complex campus
dynamics as well as to the external environment (Aldrich and Pfeffer 1976; Berger and Milem
2000; Peterson et al. 1997).
Toward An Inclusive Excellence Change Model
To succeed in making excellence inclusive in the ways described in the introduction to
this series of papers, campuses must create synergy within and across organizational systems
through the alignment of structures, politics, curricular frameworks, faculty development
policies, resources, symbols, and cultures. The discussion of diversity in higher education too
often reads as though change occurs in a rational and ordered manner, in a static environment,
and detached from the academic and social context of the institution. This paper presents a
change model that recognizes that rational choice and top-level mandates are only a few of the
forces that enable or disable making excellence inclusive. Successful change calls for a
sophisticated approach that attends to these organizational complexities.
This paper maps out such an approach, which we call the Inclusive Excellence (IE)
Change Model. In the IE Change Model, diversity is no longer envisioned as a collection of
static pieces—a programmatic element here, a compositional goal for the student body there.
Within the IE Change Model, diversity is a key component of a comprehensive strategy for
achieving institutional excellence—which includes, but is not limited to, the academic excellence
of all students in attendance and concerted efforts to educate all students to succeed in a diverse
society and equip them with sophisticated intercultural skills. Given the rapid changes in
technology, the U.S. college-going population, and in geopolitical dynamics (AAC&U 2002), we
argue that diversity, as a component of academic excellence, is essential to ensure higher
education’s continuing relevance in the twenty-first century. In putting forth diversity as a lever
for, and measurement of, institutional vitality, the IE Change Model synthesizes the planning,
organizational behavior, diversity outcomes, and performance measurement literatures into a
new and integrated framework.
In the pages that follow, we outline each of these literatures and culminate with this
integrated framework. We begin with a description of four major environmental factors that
often impact efforts to make excellence inclusive: Shifting Demographics, Political and Legal
Dynamics, Societal Inequities, and Workforce Needs. Next, we discuss the challenge of
expanding access and maintaining quality in higher education by examining key elements of
organizational culture —Mission, Vision, Values, Traditions, and Norms—that must be
attended to in creating inclusive and excellent learning and professional environments. We then
draw on several organizational change frameworks (Berger and Milem 2000; Birnbaum 1988;
Bolman and Deal 2003; Hurtado and Dey 1997; Hurtado et al. 1999; Smith et al. 1997) to
examine inclusive excellence through the five dimensions of organizational behavior:
Systemic, Bureaucratic/Structural, Collegial, Political, and Symbolic.
Moving into action, we discuss how campus leaders can develop and use an Inclusive
Excellence “Scorecard” to execute organizational change in terms of Access and Equity,
Campus Climate, Diversity in the Informal and Formal Curriculum, and Student Learning and
Development. We then present the Inclusive Excellence Change Model, which integrates these
theory and action pieces. Finally, we conclude by identifying a few critical “next steps” for
campus leaders undertaking the important and complex work of achieving inclusive excellence
in higher education.
The External Environment
Colleges and universities are open systems, in constant interaction with the external
environment in the exchange of finite resources. Students, faculty, financial resources, laws, and
the state legislature can all be considered inputs from the environment. These inputs combine
with a campus’s processes and infrastructure to produce outputs. The campus–external
environment relationship is dynamic, and while it is beyond the scope of this paper to address all
of the external factors that affect higher education leaders’ efforts to make excellence inclusive,
we focus on four critical dimensions: (1) political and legal imperatives, (2) shifting
demographics, (3) persistent societal inequalities, and (4) workforce imperatives (Hurtado and
Dey 1997; Tarbox 2001). Table 1 summarizes each dimension and its respective implications for
making excellence inclusive.
Table 1. External environment overview
Dimension Description Elements Implications for Making Excellence
Political and legal dynamics
in the form of political
pressures, executive orders,
court rulings, and laws have
historically exerted a
consistent pressure on higher
education institutions with
respect to diversity issues.
• Legal decisions
• Regulations and
• Political challenges
Can increase or decrease pressure to
make excellence inclusive on a
campus. Currently, political pressure
discourages inclusive excellence
while legal pressure supports diversity
and inclusion as an educational
Demographics The overall U.S. population
is becoming more ethnically
and racially diverse as a
result of lower birth rates
among whites compared to
other groups and expanding
immigration rates among
Asian, Latino/a, and
• Birth rates of whites
• Birth rates of other
Asia, Latin America,
and the Caribbean
Colleges and universities have
unprecedented opportunities to
diversify their student populations and
draw on this diversity as a vehicle for
learning for all students.
inequities continue to
inequities at all levels of
• Disparity in
Inequities challenge higher education
leaders to think deeply and more
systematically about reducing
disparities and meaningfully including
diverse groups in higher education.
Imperatives Employers require a diverse
workforce in which
individuals are technically
savvy and capable of
complex thinking, problem
solving, and communicating
and working with people
different from themselves.
• Emerging ethnically
and racially diverse
• Maximizing societal
Colleges and universities must expand
opportunities to diverse groups and
develop academic and co-curricular
experiences to prepare all students to
interact productively in diverse work
settings and to a serve diverse
Political and Legal Imperatives
Historically, the political and legal dimensions of the environment have played a critical
role in the diversification of higher education (see table 1). Colleges and universities, like all
organizations, must function within applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and
when relevant legislation is enacted or modified, campuses must respond accordingly. When
major court rulings related to diversity—such as Bakke (Regents 1978), Fordice (United States
1992), or Michigan (Gratz 2003; Grutter 2003)—have been handed down, colleges and
universities have needed to examine their missions, policies, and organizational structures to
determine whether they were in compliance with the newest laws and regulations.
At the same time, the political dynamics that bring about new laws also affect
organizations directly (Ibarra 2001). Challenges to diversity in Texas, California, Maryland, and
Michigan point to the increasing pressure external political forces are placing upon higher
education, especially in the area of college admissions. These challenges are often backed by
politically conservative organizations outside of higher education, such as the Center for
Individual Rights and the Center for Equal Opportunity, which have funded litigation,
conferences, and strategies to dismantle affirmative action and the legislative legacies of the
Civil Rights Movement (Cokorinos 2003). The result is that over time, laws, rulings, and policies
have shifted—from promoting nondiscrimination to promoting equal opportunity and affirmative
action, and most recently, to challenging affirmative action as a form of reverse discrimination
and focusing on individual rights (Cokorinos 2003). The current, “post-Michigan” environment
is one where educational leaders are challenged to move beyond mere compliance to reaffirm
diversity and inclusion as core elements of the learning enterprise and essential to academic
Organizations adapt to meet the demands of the external environment, and recent U.S.
census and other data suggest a greater opportunity than ever before to diversify higher education
(Justiz 1994). With the emergence of unprecedented markets of students from ethnically and
racially diverse backgrounds, for example, pressure exists for campus leaders to align structures
and processes to better meet the academic, cultural, and social needs of all students entering
higher education and to better utilize such diversity in the service of learning. At the same time,
campuses may have little or no additional resources to meet new demands. The challenge for
educational leaders will be to take stock of current processes, resources (human, financial,
technical, etc.), and structures and realign them around a broad vision of inclusive excellence. In
this way, institutional efforts can be designed with shared responsibility across units and
departments. Specific departments or units—such as a multicultural affairs office—can provide
valuable expertise and experience to guide such efforts, but in this new framework they would
not be solely responsible for the work.
Persistent Societal Inequities
Demographic changes do not automatically result in an ethnically and racially diverse
campus student population (Duderstadt 2000; Hurtado and Dey 1997; Ta rbox 2001). Given the
broader demographic context outlined in table 1, it is important to consider forces that will
constrain opportunities colleges have to increase their compositional diversity over the next
several years. Systemic educational and societal inequities leave many low-income, first-
generation students, and students of color underprepared to attend and succeed in postsecondary
education, and an “achievement gap” remains in place at both secondary and postsecondary
levels. Compounding academic challenges is the rising cost associated with postsecondary
education that often makes a baccalaureate degree unfeasible for students historically
underrepresented in higher education. These ongoing inequities present campus leaders with
compelling reasons to address inclusion systematically across campus units and with
communities and K–12, as well as to prepare all students for the social responsibility that comes
with living and working in a diverse world (Harvey 2005).
Numerous workforce imperatives necessitate inclusive excellence in higher education.
(table 1). Colleges and universities play an essential role in training, developing, and
replenishing a twenty-first century workforce where most new jobs require some form of
postsecondary education (Oblinger and Verville 1998). In light of demographic trends, the ability
of higher education to supply sufficient numbers of trained personnel will increasingly depend
on its ability to effectively educate ethnically and racially diverse workers (Justiz 1994). Equally
important, from a societal perspective, education strongly determines who will become the
“haves” and “have-nots,” and without better access to high college achievement for all aspirants,
greater economic stratification along racial and ethnic lines will develop.1
On the consumer side, Asians, African Americans, and Latino/as represent nearly $500
billion in spending annually in the United States. (Cox 2001). Without an ethnically and racially
diverse workforce of professionals, companies realize they cannot be as competitive in
responding to the needs of this fast-growing clientele (Thomas 2001). Given also the increasing
1 This is true even though in recent decades the economic power of minorities generally has increased.
competition of today’s global economy, organizations that are best at attracting, retaining, and
using the skills of diverse workers will enjoy a competitive advantage over their peers.
But the economic need for inclusive excellence is greater than just providing a more
diverse pool of candidates for the workforce. Equally important is the evidence that all
candidates would benefit from being educated in diverse learning environments. Recent research
shows that students in environments where diversity is engaged through the curriculum and
cocurriculum have more sophisticated cognitive and affective abilities (Gurin et al. 2002) as well
as community involvement and interest in the public good (Bowen and Bok 1998) than students
educated in homogeneous postsecondary environments. These are all qualities valued by the
corporate community. In one of several amicus briefs filed on behalf of the University of
Michigan, a group of Fortune 500 companies noted
The students of today are this country’s corporate and community leaders of the next half
century. For these students to realize their potential as leaders, it is essential that they be
educated in an environment where they are exposed to diverse ideas, perspectives, and
interactions. Today’s global marketplace and the increasing diversity in the American
population demand the cross-cultural experience and understanding gained from such an
education. Diversity in higher education is therefore a compelling government interest
not only because of its positive effects on the educational environment itself, but also
because of the crucial role diversity in higher education plays in preparing students to be
the community leaders this country needs in business, law, and all other pursuits that
affect the public interest. (University of Michigan Fortune 500 Amicus Brief, 1999)
The demands of a changing economy suggest that colleges and universities will need to
undergo structural and organizational changes to become responsive to the needs of students,
employers, and the public. Campuses are dependent upon the external environment for a number
of resources that affect their ability to survive and achieve their mission. In turn, they must meet
workforce, research, and service needs of communities that students ultimately will join. The
preparation of corporate and civic leaders provides a clear rationale for why we must make
excellence inclusive in higher education.
Organizational Culture of the Academy
In the dominant culture of the academy, inclusion and excellence would seem to be in
conflict with one another. Institutions that have succeeded in expanding access, such as
community colleges and open-admissions four-year institutions, are often assumed to have a low
level of institutional quality (Richardson and Skinner 1991). At the same time, selective liberal
arts colleges and research institutions that focus intensively on traditional indicators of quality
(e.g., standardized test scores), risk overlooking good candidates from historically
underrepresented and underserved populations.
The perceived conflict between inclusion and excellence is asserted with no evidence,
based on a dominant, industrial model of organizational values that defines excellence in terms
of student inputs without consideration of value-added organizational processes.2 This narrow
notion of excellence limits both the expansion of student educational opportunities and the
transformation of educational environments. As a result, too few people from historically
underrepresented groups enter into higher education, and those who do may be pressed to
assimilate into the dominant organizational cultures of colleges and universities (Ibarra 2001).
Another consequence of this model is the continued investment of social capital in these
traditional indicators, resulting in an American postsecondary system that reproduces dominant
patterns of social stratification.
Understanding this context is a key step in the process of reframing campus environments
so that inclusion and excellence are inseparable and mutually reinforcing. To create a “culture of
inclusive excellence,” higher education leaders must consider how their campus environments
can adapt to meet the needs of today’s highly diverse entering students, rather than beginning
with the assumption that diverse students must assimilate into existing environments with
relatively narrow measures of quality.
Traditional efforts to improve the campus climate for diversity typically involve
strategies that create immediately noticeable change, but such efforts rarely promote change at a
level deep enough to ensure the transformation necessary to make excellence inclusive. For
example, an institution interested in recruiting more students of color may include more pictures
2 One example of a focus on value-added educational processes is Project DEEP. Researchers examined characteristics of a set of
educationally effective colleges and universities. These schools “had higher-than-predicted graduation rates and higher-than-
predicted scores” on five benchmarks of effective educational practice, as put forth in the National Survey of Student
Engagement. See http://webdb.iu.edu/Nsse/?view=deep/overview.
of these students in campus brochures and may recruit at more racially diverse high schools, but
these attempts are usually done only within admissions and enrollment management and do not
influence the larger norms and practices of the institution. This example can be characterized as a
first-order change, one that is routine and surface-level. Second-order change, in contrast, is
deeper, deals with core values and norms, and is more systemic and enduring (Hanson 2003).
How, then, can campus leaders work toward the significant second-order change needed to make
It is easier to consider what it means to create transformational change when one
“unpacks” the multiple layers of organizational culture within colleges and universities. Argyris
(1999) notes that organizational learning—the reflection needed to promote enduring change—
can only take place when second-order changes are made alongside first-order changes.
Organizational learning is necessary to address formal routines and procedures as well as more
informal, but very powerful, values and norms (March 1999).
Organizational culture is defined as deeply shared values, assumptions, norms, and
beliefs (Bush 1995). Schien’s (1985) classic model of organizational culture (figure 1) helps us
understand why surface-level change is more likely to occur than transformation. Organizational
culture has multiple levels. The “geospatial” or surface level is most visible and focuses on
tangible elements of the campus, such as the physical plant, signage, brochures, and manuals. At
this level, there are typically high levels of shared meaning about the fact that books are sold at
the bookstore, students live in residence halls, people eat in dining halls, and campus policies can
be found in a handbook. Most features at this level are institutionalized across higher education,
are easily recognizable on any campus, and are typically most easily modified.
Figure 1. Schema of organizational values (adapted from Schien 1985)
The second level, comprised of traditions, myths, and symbols, is less tangible and
represents patterns of thought and action that are more unique to a specific campus. Examples
include graduation ceremonies, campus logos, and well-known campus stories and sagas. The
third level is comprised of routine, “everyday” behavioral patterns and organizational processes
that are even harder to change. Examples might include established practices that separate
student affairs and academic affairs, such as different reporting lines and different committee
responsibilities across campus.
Both this level and the fourth level, espoused values and beliefs, most closely reflect the
core of an organization’s culture—deeply embedded values and beliefs. This is the most
intractable level of organizational culture, where relatively little public, shared meaning may
exist. Individuals across campus who easily share an understanding about the purpose of the
bookstore, for example, may share very little understanding about the educational benefits of an
inclusive campus environment or even what constitutes academic excellence. The task, then,
becomes identifying how to create powerful enough organizational learning so that deep and
transformational change occurs.
Transformational change to make excellence inclusive is unlikely to occur without
multiple ways of viewing the processes and practices that spring from the deepest levels of
organizational culture. Berger and Milem (2000) present such a multidimensional approach to
understanding organizational behavior in higher education, and it is summarized in this section.
The dimensions of organizational behavior most relevant to goals for inclusive excellence are the
systemic, bureaucratic/structural, collegial, political, and symbolic dimensions (Berger and
Milem 2000). Numerous research studies have concluded that leaders who use a
multidimensional framework are more likely to be successful in creating and sustaining systemic
change than those who enact change through just one dimension (Birnbaum 1992). Although
each dimension is described in turn, the key to this framework is the ability for campus leaders to
enact change along all of the dimensions in a coordinated, integrated effort.
The Systemic Dimension
Too often, we think of campuses as closed systems, where organizational strategy,
change, and adaptation are primarily matters of internal structures and decision-making. A
systemic perspective helps us understand that many of our thoughts and actions about a campus
are directly driven by our relationships with the external environment. Indeed, colleges and
universities are open systems that interact with external forces in an exchange of material (e.g.,
money from tuition, grants, contracts, and gifts), human (e.g., students, faculty), and symbolic
(e.g., reputation and prestige, disciplinary norms, rankings, profiles of incoming students)
resources. Campus structures are designed to maximize the acquisition of these resources and
generate products (e.g., knowledge, graduates) that can be directly or indirectly converted into
While clearly dependent on material resources, higher education has traditionally focused
more on acquiring and generating symbolic resources (Kamens 1974; Scott 1991) than have
institutions such as banks, manufacturers, and retailers. This focus on symbolic resources may
help explain why traditional, limited notions of excellence (often based on symbolic inputs such
as student test scores) continue to drive organizational behavior in higher education—even as
relatively recent demographic and economic imperatives in the external environment create a
strong impetus to be more expansive.3
Higher education is constantly buffeted by a variety of external influences, some of
which reinforce traditions and standard operating procedures. Others provide pressure and
opportunities for change. External influences that tend to reinforce organizational behavior
across higher education include professional norms transmitted through disciplinary societies and
professional associations, traditional mental models and philosophies of education, and
regulations mandated by governmental and accreditation agencies. These entities generally
emphasize traditional measures of academic excellence and rewards systems and deemphasize
less traditional measures of talent and excellence. Other external forces, such as the increasing
diversity of the U.S. population, can compel campuses to generate new organizational processes
and structures. To make excellence inclusive, campus leaders must examine the pressures for and
against transformation and align external forces, when possible, to move forward.
The Bureaucratic/Structural Dimension
The bureaucratic/structural dimension is perhaps the most common frame of reference
used when thinking about organizations, including colleges and universities. From this
perspective, organizations exist primarily to accomplish clearly articulated and rational goals and
objectives (Berger and Milem 2000; Birnbaum 1988), and are best characterized as hierarchical,
complex, systematic, specialized, and controlled by adherence to rules. In higher education,
many administrative functions are centrally controlled through formal chains of command, and
campuses require numerous lateral coordinating mechanisms to overcome the challenges of
vertical control found within these systems.
Because of this, campus leaders must pay attention to formal structures that can act as
either barriers or conduits to educational transformation. To achieve inclusive excellence, leaders
would be wise to initiate activities that are consistent with established procedures for how change
is achieved, namely, through the formal structure, rules, and roles of the institution. If
transformation is to be successful, senior administrators must examine and be willing to re-
engineer existing institutional hierarchies and resource allocations. One action step might be to
3 “External” may be inappropriate here, as key aspects of the environment (professional norms, governmental regulations,
accreditation standards, etc.) are embedded in institutional structures and are primary determinants of organizational action.
develop a senior position for diversity that reports to the president or provost and is organized to
have an impact on the curriculum, climate, and demographic makeup of the student, faculty, and
staff populations. Another might be to establish standing committees that have a specific
function, role, and set of duties to perform with respect to making excellence inclusive.
Ideally, creating a senior diversity position would not entail creating a vice president for
multicultural affairs position that oversees only the minority affairs office. To help effect
transformational change, this position must be broadly empowered within the administrative
hierarchy, thus sending a formal and symbolic message that these efforts are a strategic priority.
Similarly, campus leaders should avoid common pitfalls associated with establishing
committees. Too often, a committee is formed without clear goals, a timeline for work
completion, adequate credibility and leverage, or sufficient resources to get the job done. In such
cases, the committee itself can become the “solution” rather than a channel through which to
create change. In addition, campus leaders often ask the same individuals to serve repeatedly
because these individuals—often people of color—have a personal commitment to this work.
Those working to make excellence inclusive need to ensure that committees have clear goals as
well as an action plan and resources to work toward those goals. They also need to recruit well-
respected individuals beyond the “usual suspects” to avoid what Tierney (1999) refers to as
“cultural exhaustion” among a core group of change agents.
The Collegial Dimension
The bureaucratic/structural dimension focuses on the administrative hierarchy, but
colleges and universities are driven as much by faculty as by administrators.4 The dual
administrative and collegial nature of higher education distinguishes postsecondary organizations
from other types of organizations, with the collegial dimension emphasizing consensus building,
shared power, and common commitments and aspirations. Kuh (2003) notes that the collegial
dimension embodies two enduring values of academia: professional autonomy and a normative
compliance system. Faculty are specialists in their field, and they expect to determine the
conditions under which they perform. A thriving academic setting depends on the shared
responsibility of all educators to successfully achieve their teaching and research goals. The
4 The role of staff must also be considered in the larger project of making excellence inclusive. Faculty are the focus here because
of how the phenomenon of academic collegiality distinguishes higher education from other organizations or sectors.
process is active, authentic, social, and collaborative—it involves a group of participants who
cooperate to make decisions, and faculty are motivated to perform more by the notion that their
work has significance than by fear of sanctions.
A challenge that relates to inclusive excellence involves the nature of the collegiality
taking place. In recent years, the presence of faculty members from historically underrepresented
groups has been one catalyst for a re-examination of the canon, traditional notions of scholarship,
standard areas of inquiry, and even everyday processes of departmental interaction. At the same
time, faculty climate surveys have shown that the interactions that govern work at the
departmental levels can be problematic for women; men of color; members of the lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender community; and other historically marginalized groups (Gubitosi-
White 1999; Rankin 2003).
Given the collaborative and professional norms of the academy, it would be difficult to
envision a campus where inclusion is a necessary factor in achieving excellence but where
faculty were not involved in the change process. Faculty must be provided the means to
autonomously engage in planning for and implementing inclusive excellence as a
comprehensive, campus-wide process—particularly when the issues under discussion are
fundamentally academic in nature, such as equity in hiring, curricular change, tenure/promotion,
and student educational outcomes across racial and ethnic groups.
Department chairs and deans, too, must consider the dynamics of collegiality in terms of
faculty selection processes and strategies to recruit and retain faculty of color and others from
historically underrepresented groups. Rather than reproducing the status quo (Morgan 1986),
such administrative authority figures must consider ways in which the collegial culture of
colleges and universities can value difference.
The Political Dimension
The political dimension may govern organizational dynamics more than any other.
Indeed, many theorists argue that conflict over limited resources is the inevitable consequence of
organizational life (Baldridge 1971; Cohen and March 1974). This may be especially true on
college and university campuses because of their dependence upon various external sources for
the resources necessary to survive.
Interests, conflict, and power are three concepts integral to understanding the political
nature of organizations. As highly specialized organizations, colleges and universities are
segmented into departments, schools, colleges, and administrative units. These discrete
groupings, in combination with multiple goals (e.g., research, student support, teaching,
disciplinary/professional advancement), can lead to highly differentiated and often conflicting
interests. As a result, outcomes may be governed by who has the ability to push their concerns to
the forefront of decision making.
Power, defined as the ability to determine the behavior of others or to decide the outcome
of a conflict (Bush 1995), can be thought of in terms of both formal authority and informal
influence (Bacharach and Lawler 1980; Hoyle 1982). Different sources of power provide
individuals and groups with the means to support their interests and address organizational
conflicts. With regard to the transformational change needed to make excellence inclusive,
proponents must address political realities in meaningful and strategic ways, identifying sources
of formal and informal power and working to align them in support of these efforts. Sources of
formal power include boards of trustees, administrators, and other positions of authority, but care
needs to be taken to also consider informal sources of power based on seniority, race and gender,
charisma, ability to bring in external resources, and other factors.
The political dimension cuts across all areas of organizational life and must be addressed
in order to make excellence inclusive. Bureaucratic/structural or collegial change may be
impossible if one has not appropriately navigated the campus politics over administrative turf,
limited resources, or the threat of offending someone in the hierarchy. Political mistakes can
often be made unknowingly as well. A service learning unit may want to create a leadership
program to prepare students for living and working in a diverse society. But unless staff
members involve relevant stakeholders in addressing the “who, what, why, and how” of the
program, these individuals may view service learning as infringing on the territory of the
intergroup relations program or similar entities. Even if the programs have the same overarching
goals and distinct processes for achieving them, the new initiative may stall without stakeholder
support, particularly if it requires start-up funds in a landscape of limited resources.
In another example, the provost may want to reorganize admissions, financial aid, the
institute for teaching and learning, multicultural affairs, and affirmative action into one unit that
will report to a senior officer. From a bureaucratic/structural perspective, this may create a better
organizational framework for making excellence inclusive. However, politics could thwart this
effort unless the provost offers compelling reasons for the change and develops “buy-in” among
those involved. In such instances, the political influence of an external consultant or an
individual with campus-wide credibility could strengthen the case to be made.
The Symbolic Dimension
As noted, campuses focus on acquiring and generating symbolic resources to a greater
extent than other types of organizations (Kamens 1974; Scott 1991). Additionally, higher
education institutions are often characterized by (1) purposes and structures that are loosely
coupled, (2) problematic or unclear goals, (3) unclear technologies, (4) fluid participation, and
(5) high levels of ambiguity and uncertainty (Cohen and March 1974; Baldridge et al. 1977;
March and Olsen 1979; Birnbaum 1988). As a result, knowing the ways individuals make
meaning in such environments is essential to understanding how institutions actually function.
If events and meanings are loosely coupled, the same event can have different meanings
for people because of differences in the way they interpret their experiences. Diversity and
excellence have always meant different things to different people generally, and in higher
education particularly. Bringing these two concepts together—inclusive excellence—creates
even more varied meanings. For many, the process of inclusion will focus on race, given the
historical legacy of inequality in the U.S. that persists in many ways today. For others, gender,
socio-economic status, sexual orientation, and international issues will also weigh heavily in the
process. These differences in perception illustrate the importance of clarifying, influencing, and
aligning the symbolic messages that help shape organizational environments.
Unlike other topics—faculty work load, campus drinking, or even placing an institutional
emphasis on teaching or research in the tenure review process—the movement toward inclusive
excellence can call into question some of the deepest and most longstanding traditions of college
and universities. The intentional use of symbolic strategies in support of inclusive excellence can
help create new opportunities for shared values, vision, and meaning throughout campus.
Many events and processes are more important for what they express than for what they
produce. These include secular myths, rituals, ceremonies, and sagas (Bolman and Deal 2003).
On a college campus, for example, the president may host a banquet that honors the work of
individuals to make excellence inclusive. While the recognition may have material consequences
(e.g., in staff promotion), also critical is the message conveyed to the community about the
institutional support and value of this work. While it is true that many institutions invest too
heavily in symbols without leveraging the necessary political, financial, and structural resources
to enact deeper change, cultural change will not happen unless the symbolic dimension is
actively aligned with these other areas.
Integrating the Dimensions
To make excellence inclusive, it is essential to understand organizational structures and
examine organizational behavior along these multiple dimensions. A multidimensional
framework as relates to inclusive excellence is outlined in table 2.
Table 2. Multiple dimensions of organizational behavior as relate to Inclusive Excellence
Systemic Dimension • Examine professional norms that permeate higher education and work to change those
norms that limit ability to think and act in ways conducive to Inclusive Excellence
• Facilitate organizational learning to expand traditional notions of educational excellence
• Engage in intentional campus-based efforts to reshape accreditation and other
professional standards to be more reflective of Inclusive Excellence values
• Take proactive role in shaping political and legal environment to create regulatory
mechanisms that reward rather than prohibit Inclusive Excellence
• Tap the growing diversity of the U.S. population as a base for expanding the human,
material, and symbolic resources available to higher education
• Utilize marketing and dissemination strategies to increase awareness about the
educational benefits of diversity among the public, policy makers, and other external
• Build alliances with external partners interested in promoting Inclusive Excellence
Dimension • Define formal goals to support Inclusive Excellence
• Prioritize Inclusive Excellence
• Clearly articulate goals, strategies and values
• Vertically coordinate goals at various levels
• Horizontally coordinate goals across units
• Routinize strategies and processes for Inclusive Excellence
Collegial Dimension • Expand definitions of consensus building
• Develop models of collegiality
• Engage numerous parties in change process
• Build coalitions across campus to support Inclusive Excellence
• Develop forums for open communication
Political Dimension • Recognize existing power bases
• Address vested interests regarding Inclusive Excellence
• Mobilize change agents in the pursuit of Inclusive Excellence
• Cultivate strategic alliances
• Redistribute resources to support transformative initiatives
Symbolic Dimension • Clearly identify core values with respect to Inclusive Excellence
• Articulate new values through symbols
• Recognize how meaning is constructed at multiple levels
• Acknowledge and redress any campus history of inequity/inequality
To summarize, external forces can both hinder and facilitate organizational change, and
how an organization “reads” and reacts to external forces is critical to efforts to advance
inclusive excellence. Leaders must also evaluate and use formal structures as a means for
coordinating Inclusive Excellence practices and making them routine throughout campus.
Educational leaders at all levels must find ways for all constituents, particularly faculty,
to engage in consensus decision-making processes and collaborative activities designed to
advance inclusive excellence. Power and resources matter and one must attend to the vested
interests of individuals and groups in order to advance change. Finally, it is essential to develop
shared meaning in a setting that involves multiple and at times contested perspectives.
Driving Change: The Inclusive Excellence Scorecard
Examining and understanding the organizational behavior on a campus from these
multiple dimensions is the first step in a comprehensive organizational change process. To help
campuses implement change, we offer a tool that builds on work in the area of performance
measurement scorecards, such as the balanced scorecard (Kaplan and Norton 1992) and the
Diversity Scorecard (Bensimon 2004). The tool allows campuses to pinpoint where they are
doing well and where they need improvement on a set of Inclusive Excellence goals.
Building an Inclusive Excellence Scorecard
On many campuses, the breadth and depth of efforts needed to make excellence inclusive
are bypassed by a narrow focus on the compositional diversity of the student body. Although this
aspect is critical, inclusive excellence is more than simply “improving the numbers” and “getting
more students of color on campus.” Colleges and universities must move away from this kind of
narrow organizational outcome to embrace comprehensive performance measurements linked to
goals, objectives, strategies, indicators, and evidence.
Bensimon (2004) argues that a Diversity Scorecard is a mechanism to drive and measure
the organizational diversity change process in higher education. The Diversity Scorecard is a
data-driven, information-tracking “framework for organizational self-assessment.” The Diversity
Scorecard was initially developed to help fourteen California colleges and universities monitor
their progress in achieving equity in terms of “access, retention, institutional receptivity, and
excellence” for historically underrepresented students. The notion of assessing organizational
diversity in a manner that is balanced between outcomes (access and retention) and process
(receptivity and excellence) can be traced to the balanced and academic scorecard tools first
described in the business literature and later adapted to the higher education and non-profit
sectors (Bensimon 2004; Kaplan and Norton 1992; O’Neil et al. 1999).
A scorecard can be used to align a change vision with bureaucratic structures, day-to-day
operations, and overarching organizational processes. It can also be used to communicate
progress to all stakeholders of the institution. Such a tool, when constructed around Inclusive
Excellence, can enable campuses to move from simply “checking off” diversity outcomes—
usually represented by the compositional diversity of the student body—to managing a
comprehensive plan to reach diversity and educational quality goals and to place these goals at
the core of institutional planning and action.
Below, we outline an Inclusive Excellence (IE) Scorecard that builds from the work of
Bensimon (2004), Astin (1991), Hurtado and colleagues (1999), Smith and colleagues (1997),
and others. The IE Scorecard is a multidimensional management and measurement tool that can
simultaneously drive and assess change related to four areas: (1) access and equity, (2) campus
climate, (3) diversity in the formal and informal curriculum, and (4) learning and development.
These four areas, along with sample indicators of progress related to Inclusive Excellence, are
listed in table 3.
Table 3. Inclusive Excellence Scorecard
IE Area Definition Sample Indicators
Access and Equity The compositional
number and success levels
students, faculty, and staff
in higher education
§ Number of students, faculty, and staff
members of color at the institution
§ Number of tenured women faculty in
§ Number of male students in nursing
§ Number of historically underrepresented
students in science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
Bensimon et al.
2004; Hurtado, et
al. 1999; Smith
et al. 1997
Diversity in the
Diversity content in the
courses, programs, and
experiences across the
programs and in the social
dimensions of the campus
§ Courses related to intercultural,
international, and multicultural topics
§ Campus centers, institutes, and
departments dedicated to exploring
intercultural, international, and
§ Articles, monographs, lectures, and new
knowledge that is produced around issues
Smith et al. 1997
Campus Climate The development of a
supportive of all students
§ Incidents of harassment based on race,
ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation
§ Attitudes toward members of diverse
§ Feelings of belonging among ethnically
and racially diverse groups on campus
§ Intergroup relations and behaviors on
Smith et al.
1997; Hurtado et
and Development The acquisition of content
knowledge about diverse
groups and cultures and
the development of
§ Acquisition of knowledge about diverse
groups and cultures
§ Greater cognitive and social development
derived from experiences in diverse
§ Enhanced sense of ethnic, racial, and
cultural identity for all students
Gurin et al. 2002
Figure 2 depicts an IE Scorecard framework that integrates these four areas and also lists
four important “levers” for enacting change: senior leadership and accountability, vision and
buy-in, building capacity, and leveraging resources to help implement organizational change.
Figure 2. Inclusive Excellence Scorecard framework
Four Areas in which to Enact and Assess Change
Access and equity. Access and Equity consists of more than simply tracking changes in
the representation of historically underrepresented students, faculty, and staff. From this
perspective, inclusive excellence involves the representation and equitable achievement of these
groups on campus. Table 4 provides an example of what a portion of a scorecard might look like
from the vantage point of access and equity. One objective in this example involves equity of
historically underrepresented students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
(STEM) disciplines. Specific strategies, such as identifying students in middle school and
helping them develop and achieve academically toward enrollment at the institution, as well as
creating an academic success and leadership program to ensure student success once in college,
Table 4. Sample portion of IE Scorecard for access and equity
Perspective Goal Objective Strategies Measures
Equity To achieve
for ethnic and
students in our
mirror that of
population in 10
§ Identify moderate and high
performing middle school students
§ Track progress
§ Work with them in academic skills,
college advising, pre-college
information, and STEM after-
school and summer programs
§ Develop strong academic and
leadership development program
available to all students
§ Include specific recruiting of
students from the target group
§ Establish mandatory tutoring,
mentoring, research experiences,
and professional development
§ Establish outreach to students
identified in Strategy I.
in current year
to target number
In a scorecard, the success of various strategies is determined by examining the (a)
baseline, (b) target, and (c) equity goal. The baseline involves information on the institution
before the intervention strategies are launched, the target involves what the institution is trying to
achieve, and equity represents the ratio of the baseline to the target. For example, if Latino/a
students comprise 5 percent of the population in the STEM fields (baseline) and 10 percent of the
state population (target), then the level of equity that has been achieved is 0.50, with 1.0
representing true equity of outcomes.
More than any other area, the access and equity indicator “makes sense” to campus
leaders because it is concrete and quantitative. The remaining three areas are often more
qualitative in nature and therefore more difficult to capture and assess. Assessment of all four
areas, however, is necessary to form a more complete picture of an institution’s current level of
progress toward making excellence inclusive.
Campus climate. The campus climate refers to how students, faculty, and staff perceive
and experience an institution’s environment. These perceptions can range from very positive to
very negative. While it is relatively easy to track some indicators of campus climate, such as the
number of harassment incidents reported on campus, it is much more difficult to develop
sophisticated systems for monitoring broad perceptions and experiences of climate.
Even when institutions monitor campus climate, the value of the data can often be
undermined by various factors. Between–group differences are sometimes not captured by
certain measurement tools. Other times, demographic data may be collected but not used to
disaggregate findings in ways that illustrate how, for example, students of color are doing in
relation to one another and to white students. Research processes used to assess campus climate
may also be problematic. Many strategies do not qualitatively assess campus climate dynamics at
all, fail to balance quantitative data with qualitative data, or fail to attain a robust sample size of
students of color, thereby preventing both inter- and intra-group analyses of the data. Even more
problematic is the tremendous lag that can occur when troubling issues are identified and
committees and units are not poised to translate findings into strategies that will address these
Diversity in the formal and informal curriculum. A critically important area of inclusive
excellence is the presence of diversity in both the formal and informal curriculum of higher
education institutions. A significant body of literature suggests that a serious engagement of
diversity in the curriculum increases positive student attitudes toward and awareness of diversity,
satisfaction with college, and commitment and involvement in education in general (Smith
1997). Key indicators include the presence of and participation in general education diversity
requirements and the number of courses and majors that explore issues of power, social justice,
equity, multiculturalism, and diversity. One study by AAC&U revealed that 54 percent of the
543 campuses responding to their survey had a general education diversity requirement
(Humphreys 2000). Other work by AAC&U also suggests that campuses have made significant
progress in incorporating diversity into the curriculum, especially in the general education
curriculum (Humphreys 1997). However, a systematic understanding of how these requirements
are structured, how they are taught, where they are located in a student’s undergraduate
experience, and whether the requirements are based on content knowledge about diversity issues
or developing skills to enhance one’s ability to interact in diverse groups is much less developed.
One important finding of recent years is that it is not simply the presence of ethnic and
racial diversity on campus, but rather the active engagement with that diversity that is critically
important for fostering student learning and development (Gurin et al. 2002). As such, informal
interactions with diverse peers may prove to be as important as the formal curriculum in terms of
promoting the student development and learning that comes from intercultural interactions
(Gurin et al. 2002). Such interactions must also be included in the indicators developed to assess
inclusive excellence. In addition, student participation in diversity education programs (formally
part of the curriculum or co-currriculum), such as the University of Michigan’s Program on
Intergroup Relations, must also be considered and their impact evaluated.
One challenge to building this area into an institution’s IE Scorecard is to do so in a way
that develops measures in terms of both breadth and depth. It is not enough to simply have a two-
course diversity requirement, fifteen “diverse” majors, and a living-learning program focused on
diversity and intergroup relations. When developing indicators for this area, it is important to
capture not only the type and quality of offerings that are present but also the levels and quality
of student engagement in each.
Learning and development. The student learning and development area is closely related
to the curricular area and focuses on both learning and democratic outcomes (Gurin et al. 2002).
Learning outcomes include active thinking skills, intellectual engagement and motivation,
effective written and oral communication, and group problem-solving ability. Democratic
outcomes include the ability to take the position of another person, racial and cultural
understanding between and among groups, acceptance of conflict as a normal part of life,
capacity to perceive differences and commonalities both within and between social groups, and
interest in the wider social world and civic engagement (Gurin, et al. 2002).
Similarly, AAC&U’s Greater Expectations report (2002) outlines a set of contemporary
liberal education outcomes important for all students regardless of academic
specialization. Developed out of an analysis of promising educational practices nationwide, these
outcomes include the ability to think critically and to integrate knowledge across domains,
intellectual inquiry and motivation for lifelong learning, intercultural communication skills,
social responsibility and the ability to function in a diverse democracy, and the ability to solve
problems in diverse groups and settings.
Tracking student learning and development is especially important because it provides
critical benchmarks to assess how institutions are doing in terms of preparing all students to lead
in a global, multicultural world. Although the focus of this area is most directly on students, the
learning needs of faculty, staff, and other members of the higher education community are also
included under this dimension of the IE Scorecard. Diversity, conflict resolution, and other staff
and faculty professional development topics are critical to building an institution that embraces
Levers for Change
At the heart of the IE Scorecard is strategy (figure 2). Strategy refers to the broad
approaches that an institution takes vis-à-vis access and equity, campus climate, diversity in the
formal and informal curriculum, and learning and development. While many organizational
leaders attempt to develop a diversity strategy, they often end up merely listing initiatives and
programs that are not functionally connected to one another or to an institution’s mission or
goals for educational excellence, an assessment process, accountability mechanisms, or other
elements necessary for effective implementation.
Indeed, research and experience suggest several reasons why many diversity plans fail:
• Insufficient integration into core goals for educational excellence—both at the
individual student level and at the institutional level (Moses 1994);
• A lack of a comprehensive and widely accepted assessment framework to articulate
and then measure diversity outcomes (Smith, Wolf, and Levitan 1994);
• An inability to translate the vision for change into language and action that can be
embraced at multiple levels of the institution (Cox 2001);
• Failure to establish accountability processes to ensure that non-compliance is met
with real consequences (Cox 1993);
• Low levels of meaningful and consistent support from senior institutional leaders
throughout the change process (Cox 1993);
• Resistance to allocating sufficient resources (financial, human, technical, and
symbolic) to ensure that the vision for change is driven deep into the institutional
culture (Williams and Wade-Golden 2005).
The IE Scorecard, through the Baseline/Target/Equity equation, provides an assessment
mechanism. However, it is more than simply an assessment framework. Its true power lies in the
fact that it can also drive the organizational change process, connecting efforts to core goals for
educational excellence, through leadership and accountability, vision and buy-in, capacity
building, and leveraging resources.
Senior leadership and accountability. Senior leadership and accountability are most
important to establishing, driving, and sustaining an organizational change agenda because these
elements set the tone for communicating the change vision, building organizational capacity, and
attracting the necessary resources to make excellence inclusive. An inclusive excellence plan
must be embraced by the board of trustees, president, provost, and other relevant senior
administrators. Members of this senior group must be committed to establishing inclusive
excellence as an institutional priority and creating a sense of urgency that frames this work in
terms of changing demographics, moral imperatives, workforce needs, and other pressing,
macro-level challenges. Senior administrators may ask a task force or committee to create the
driving vision of inclusive excellence, but they must remain active and involved so that the
vision is backed by a group of people who can hold the campus community accountable for its
adoption, provide incentives for success, generate short-term wins, consolidate gains, and anchor
new approaches in the culture (Kotter 1996).
Vision and buy-in. The power of an organizational change vision is unleashed when many
people within the institution understand and share it. Plans called for by the board of trustees or
president and crafted by task forces can mean very little to the various academic and student
affairs units of an institution—eve n if these areas are represented on the planning committee. To
achieve long-term success, change must be understood and acted upon at multiple levels of the
institution. The vision for change must be communicated to stakeholders at multiple levels so
that they can define, reframe, adapt, and implement the vision according to their unique vantage
For example, it is not enough for a diversity planning committee to recommend that the
institution increase the representation of historically underrepresented students to match the
population of the state. Admissions and other units that will play a role in achieving this goal
must define what this means for them in measurable terms and then develop realistic objectives,
tactics, and metrics to guide their efforts. Furthermore, they must be held accountable for their
plans by senior administrators.
The process of achieving an aligned scorecard throughout the organization is referred to
as “cascading” (Bensimon 2004; Kaplan and Norton 1992; O’Neil et al. 1999). A scorecard
decentralizes the change vision and provides everyone with the opportunity to contribute to the
vision at multiple levels of the institution. By having each unit develop a portion of the scorecard
from its own vantage point and across the four areas, the change effort is more quickly
institutionalized into the core values, beliefs, and processes of the campus. Some organizations
have taken this process to the individual level, with employees developing personal work and
development plans that are based upon the overarching scorecard. Whether used at the individual
or unit level, the scorecard process will help deans, vice presidents, directors, and others
demonstrate their contributions to overall organizational goals for making excellence inclusive.
Capacity-building. Any implementation of a set of strategies to make excellence
inclusive must focus on building long-term organizational capacity. “Quick fixes” will not
sustain the long-term commitment that is necessary to do this work. If institutions desire high-
level outcomes across various dimensions of the IE Scorecard, change efforts must invest in
building infrastructure and developing faculty, staff, and unit capabilities.
We have previously discussed the importance of aligning bureaucratic structures to
support efforts to make excellence inclusive. An example of such capacity-building in the
curriculum and cocurriculum would be to redirect a permanent staff person to help faculty and
staff reshape content and teaching to reflect the institution’s inclusive excellence goals. An
example within access and equity would be to develop a targeted hiring program—with a name,
application process, annual budget, and a development officer charged with raising money to
endow the program—to diversify the faculty and staff.
Leveraging resources. Change cannot happen unless the necessary financial, technical,
human, and symbolic resources are made available to drive the process. New initiatives either
require a reallocation of current resources or additional resources. This means making financial
decisions that help put into action an institution’s espoused values regarding inclusion and
Too often, the model to fund diversity efforts has been to tack on a few resources and
look to the minority affairs office to create change for the campus. In contrast, to make
excellence inclusive such that all stakeholders share in the efforts, campus leaders must develop
funding models that reallocate significant resources to support widespread organizational
transformation. For example, during the late 1980s, leaders at the University of Michigan called
for every unit in the entire university to allocate one percent of their total operating budget to a
central fund that was used to develop diversity programs and initiatives. This fund was then
permanently reallocated to support diversity initiatives on campus through several different
channels. This resource allocation process was highly formalized and authoritative and leveraged
the vision of that institution’s president. Although not all institutions will have this type of
change agent in place to take such an approach, institutions must find ways to allocate the
necessary financial resources to make change happen.
In addition to financial support, institutions must also leverage other types of resources to
make change happen. For example, a letter of endorsement from the provost can send a powerful
symbolic message to deans regarding the importance of a particular set of strategies to make
excellence inclusive. Again, the key is for institutional leaders to know when and how to
leverage such resources.
The Inclusive Excellence Change Model—An Overview
Figure 3 presents the integration of the elements described in this paper into an Inclusive
Excellence Change Model. At the heart of the model is Inclusive Excellence, where educational
excellence cannot be envisioned, discussed, or enacted without close attention paid to inclusion.
The model operates from the outer layer inward, bringing the external environment into play
with the behavioral dimensions through which organizational culture can be understood. This
understanding, in turn, readies a campus for the IE Scorecard’s comprehensive goals,
benchmarks, and measures for change, as well as a comprehensive strategy for getting there and
measuring progress. Table 5 summarizes each element and its respective components. The model
illustrates the critical areas that campus leaders must address as they plan for the comprehensive
change needed to make excellence inclusive.
Figure 3. Inclusive Excellence Change Model
Table 5. Inclusive Excellence organizational change framework
Elements Definition Components
External Environment Environmental forces that drive
and constrain implementation of
inclusive exc ellence.
Political and Legal Dynamics
Organizational Behavior Dimensions Multiple vantage points that must
be used to shift the informal and
formal environmental dynamics
toward inclusive excellence.
Organizational Culture Dynamics that define higher
education and that must be
navigated to achieve inclusive
IE Scorecard Comprehensive fra mework for
understanding inclusive excellence
that extends and adapts work on
diversity scorecards and
dimensions of the campus climate.
Access and Equity
Diversity in the Formal and
Inclusive Excellence Change Strategy Fluid institutional strategy to make
inclusive excellence a core
capability of the organization.
Vision and Buy-In
Conclusion: Next Steps
The purpose of this paper has been to provide campus leaders with a new integrative
model covering vision, processes, and outcomes that maps out the comprehensive change needed
to make educational excellence inclusive. We feel that inclusive excellence is higher education’s
most appropriate response to the extraordinary shifts—from evolving technologies, to
unpredictable economic markets, to persistent and even increasing inequity, to changing
demographics—taking place in the U.S. and around the world. This type of transformation will
only occur as campus leaders recognize that the external environment can no longer be viewed as
an entity to be buffered by boundaries, but instead as an influential element that is part of a larger
Likewise, many of the traditional values, norms, and structures found in higher education
are barriers to realizing the benefits of inclusive excellence and must be undone for these efforts
to become a sustainable reality on campuses. A new organizational culture will only become a
reality if campus leaders understand all of the relevant dimensions of organizational behavior—
systemic, bureaucratic, collegial, political, and symbolic.
To enact organizational change across these dimensions, campus leaders would benefit
from using a scorecard to plan and monitor progress in terms of both process and outcomes.
They would also benefit from having a comprehensive strategy that builds capacity for change
efforts to take hold broadly and deeply in the institution and to be sustained and advanced over
The model provides a synthesis of useful information that can help guide campus leaders
in their quest to develop leading institutions for inclusive excellence. Institutions that best
reorganize to make excellence inclusive will greatly expand their ability to better serve all of
society while simultaneously increasing their access to the material and symbolic resources to be
found in a rapidly diversifying American society.
To embrace a vision where educational excellence is fundamentally and inextricably
connected to inclusion, campus leaders need the empirical evidence and leadership tools to help
guide them into this largely uncharted territory. New research and tools are necessary to
demonstrate broad social, economic, and democratic gains that come from making excellence
inclusive, to help campus leaders make the case for inclusive excellence to their various publics
and constituents, and to understand the most promising ways to go about this work.
Leadership, organization, and governance are not ends in themselves, but rather are
means for achieving important educational objectives and learning outcomes. This model is a
preliminary step that we hope will help make inclusive excellence a reality at colleges and
universities across the country.
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About the Authors
Damon A. Williams is the Assistant Vice Provost for Multicultural & International
Affairs at the University of Connecticut. His scholarly interests are in the areas of organizational
change and management, diversity in higher education, and ethnic and racial identity. Contact
Damon Williams at email@example.com.
Joseph B. Berger is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational
Policy, Research and Administration in the School of Education at the University of
Massachusetts Amherst. His research focuses on the ways in which organizational and policy
structures relate to the opportunities and challenges associated with college access and
postsecondary degree attainment, particularly for those students who have been traditionally
underrepresented in higher education. Contact Joseph Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shederick A. McClendon is Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of
Massachusetts Amherst. His scholarly interests include investigating institutional contexts and
individual characteristics that portend sociocultural and collegiate challenges for persons
historically underrepresented in higher education. Contact Shedrick McClendon at