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U hosts peer institutions for fall convening

Colleges and universities from across the United States—all members of the University Innovation Alliance (the UIA)—gathered in Salt Lake City to focus on conversations about academic recovery, transfer student success, and supporting student parents and caregivers.

The University of Utah continued its collaborative engagement within the UIA and its shared commitment to student success by hosting more than a dozen peer institutions for a three-day convening to discuss best practices and research-based interventions, and to strategize how to implement new thinking that will lead to better college graduation rates.

The convening ran from Oct. 10-12 and was organized by the UIA. This dynamic coalition of public research universities is working to dramatically increase the number and diversity of college graduates in the United States. The U joined the UIA in the fall of 2022.

“The innovations empowered by our membership in the UIA are invaluable,” said T. Chase Hagood, senior associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of undergraduate studies. “It was exciting to spend three days with other member institutions and learn about their successes as well as brainstorm ways we can help each other better serve our students–especially low-income, first-generation and minoritized populations.”

Events began with a fireside chat between Mitzi Montoya, U provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, and Bridget Burns, chief executive officer of the UIA. The conversation focused on the impact good data can have on decision-making and the ways deans can drive change. 

“My whole approach to everything I do is experiments,” Montoya said. “Let’s do an experiment. Let’s see if it worked. Let’s share the data. Let’s keep scaling and scaling and scaling. That is extremely important. You have to have a lot of courage to do what you are doing.”

Throughout the event member institutions, including Arizona State University, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University and Oregon State University, presented different academic recovery programs they had implemented with grants from the UIA and private foundations and the immediate results of the work. Attendees also examined educational technology that might be deployed to assist transfer students in finding their way from transfer-sending to transfer-receiving institutions. The highlight of the event was a panel of U student parent-caregivers sharing their challenges and successes in navigating the University of Utah. 

As the UIA works to fulfill its goal to not only graduate more college students across the United States, it equally emphasizes both a growing diversity of graduates and America’s international economic competitiveness through higher education.