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Dr. Sally Johnstone, President, NCHEMS

The Civitas Learning National Advisory Board is comprised of researchers, association leaders, and executives whose expertise has influenced higher education policy and practice across the United States and around the world, and has guided our work from day one. 

We continue the NAB Conversation Series — an opportunity to learn from these luminaries as we continue our work together to help more, and more diverse students learn well and finish strong — with a conversation Dr. Sally Johnstone, President, National Center For Higher Education Management Systems. 

In this episode, Dr. Johnstone discusses shifting demographics in our students. And as those shifts meet the changes in our national and state economies, it is imperative for institutions to offer well-designed and well-supported educational services for people throughout their lifetime. In other words we need to help students consume education in a way that is relevant and that reflects how they learn, work, and live today.

Dr. Johnstone notes that institutions and employers need to work better together to plan how to attract, retain, and effectively educate students whose jobs are changing, and whose financial, cultural, and logistical realities are unique. 

Of course, this means measures of success will change as well, Dr. Johnstone stated that as we adjust to help students journey through education differently, we’ll move away from head counts, to looking more closely at persistence, how students transfer, and what happens with our students after graduation… This demands more cooperation — not competition — amongst institutions. 

Finally, we review the four levers for institutional culture change that NCHEMS has identified as essential to eliminate equity gaps in student success including: 

  1. Data collection: Shifting to an information-driven decision-making framework 
  2. Effective campus-wide communication and engagement: Not just at the leadership level, but in every direction and including students so that everyone is aligned and committed to student success goals. 
  3. Hiring strategies and personnel policies: To ensure they are inclusive and so as to empower those who play a role in supporting the success of all students. 
  4. Auditing campus and state policies and practices: To identify what’s perpetuating the status quo, and where there are opportunities to be more effective and to catalyze sustainable transformation.

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