Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Access, Engagement and Belonging

Diversity on campus benefits all students. As Kentucky and our nation become more diverse, it is crucial that the state’s campuses reflect this diversity to ensure graduates can thrive and be competitive in today’s workforce. This competitive advantage can benefit Kentucky’s economic outlook and the health and well-being of its citizens.

The Council’s access, engagement and belonging (AEB) efforts are foundational to providing students the opportunity to receive a rich and fulfilling educational experience enhanced by exposure to the different perspectives and cultures of those around them.

Understanding Definitions

CPE's AEB efforts are grounded on the following definitions. 

Proving opportunities for students from varied backgrounds, such as first-generation, adult learners, under-resourced students, underrepresented students, or students with disabilities, access postsecondary education. Strategies include those that
  • Promote recruitment, enrollment and completion of students from varied backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.
  • Support accessible educational experiences by providing services and accomodations for students with disabilities.
Policies and practices that increase student engagement during their postsecondary experience. Strategies include those ensuring all students are engaged in activities that support retention, persistence, completion, and removing barriers that work against these goals.
Policies and practices that foster an environment or campus climate where all members of the campus community feel they are connected and valued, and where the sharing of differing perspectives is encouraged and supported.

Promoting AEB Professional Development

The goal of AEB professional development is to help campus personnel and students become more culturally competent, empathetic, and self-aware. The Council provides several ways to incorporate proactive professional development at every level of the organization. 

Cultural Competency Credential Certification

Cultural competence is the ability of individuals to interact effectively with people of different cultures or backgrounds. It is a self-assessment based on knowing one's one worldview, understanding the worldviews of others and possessing skills to bridge those differences. The value of maintaining a highly cultural competent campus is that it promotes positive interactions among students and faculty, however different their backgrounds, beliefs or values may be. 

The Council has developed a Cultural Competence Credential Certification process to review and certify cultural competency credential programs offered by Kentucky colleges and universities. Learn more about the CCCC process.

Academic Leadership Development Institute (ALDI)

Selected annually, ALDI is a learning community of early career, underrepresented minority faculty and staff who are on track for professional advancement. The program provides participants opportunities to learn from experts and each other about topics trending in higher education. Learn more about ALDI.

Higher EDquity Symposium and Webinars

The Higher EDquity Symposium is an annual event hosted by the Council in partnership with one of Kentucky's public institution to showcase the latest and successful DEI efforts. The symposium is supplemented by webinars provided by the Council throughout the year.

Committee on Equal Opportunities

The Council has been involved in equal opportunity planning since 1981 when the Commonwealth was asked by the U. S. Office for Civil Rights to develop a voluntary desegregation plan. The goal of the Kentucky plan is to have a student-centered postsecondary system that affords equitable access, opportunity and success regardless of social, ethnic, or economic circumstances.

By legislated mandate, the Council's Committee on Equal Opportunities (CEO) oversees this plan. Committee membership includes Council members, faculty and the general public. The Committee, which meets four times a year, reviews institutional progress and makes recommendations for equal opportunities policy improvements to the Council.

Guiding Legislation

Meetings and Records

CPE Policy for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Policy for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, applicable to state universities and KCTCS, focuses on improvement in three key areas:

The goal of the policy is to create an accountability framework that address the needs of and support the success of all students, particularly those most affected by institutional and systemic inequity and exclusion. 

Policy and Framework

Assessment of Progress

Council's Role

Annually, the Council's Committee on Equal Opportunities oversees development and the implementation of institutional diversity plans. Institutions are required to present these to the committee for review, feedback and approval prior to implementation. Once approved by the Committee, the plans are presented to the Council for review.

Campus Diversity Plans

To ensure that goals are attainable, leaders will create diversity plans specific to their campus. These goals must not only improve campus diversity and climate, but also must align with the state’s strategic agenda for postsecondary and adult education. The Council will score progress annually on both quantitative and qualitative elements. If a campus does not score well, it will not be able to offer new degree programs.

Monitoring Progress

Campus DEI plans are reviewed for the following criteria

  1. Progress toward meeting goals
  2. Evidence that identified strategies are implemented with fidelity
  3. Analysis of strategy effectiveness
  4. Lessons learned from that analysis and related next steps.

Failure to Meet Goals

If an institution scores below the minimum - a composite score at or above 22 out of 34 for community colleges and at or above 24 out of 36 for universities - the institution will ineligible to offer new academic programs. 

Once ineligible, the institution must create a performance improvement plan identifying specific strategies and resources to rectify deficiencies, and submit the plan to the Council for approval.

An institution operating under a performance improvement plan may request a waiver to offer a new individual academic program if it can provide sufficient assurance that offering the new program will not divert resources from improvement efforts. The request for a waiver is reviewed by the CEO review, and then to CPE for final approval. Approval must be granted before the institution can initiate the program approval process. 

Data on Progress

As a part of continuous accountability, the Council displays campus progress of key diversity metrics. Data tied to these metrics is updated annually.


Last Updated: 5/30/2024