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Governing Board Equity in Student Success Project

The Governing Board Equity in Student Success Project leverages the power of higher education governing boards to oversee, envision, and drive equity-focused student success transformation with and through the senior administration.

What is the Governing Board Equity in Student Success Project? 

The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (Gardner Institute), one of the nation’s leading non-profit student success organizations, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), the nation’s leading membership organization that strengthens higher education governing boards, recently received support from Ascendium Education Philanthropy to jointly conduct a first-of-its-kind, 3.5 year Equity in Student Success project.  The effort is focused on significantly and equitably improving student retention, graduation, and employment rates – especially students from low-income, rural, and historically marginalized race/ethnicity backgrounds.

After a rigorous selection process, the Commonwealth of Kentucky was invited, and the Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education has accepted the offer become a partner in this pilot initiative.  This student success initiative consists of two integrated governing board-related and equity-focused components to be applied in Kentucky.  These components include:

The Governing Board Equity in Student Success Academy

The Academy is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of the governing board members of Kentucky’s higher education institutions and senior administrators as they build capacity for oversight of institutional initiatives that lead to equitable student success and completion outcomes. The Academy draws on the respective areas of expertise and experience of the Gardner Institute and AGB to offer an ongoing professional development program that will better prepare governing boards to:

Eligibility and How to Participate

The Governing Board Equity in Student Success Academy is open to all postsecondary education governing boards and senior-leadership teams in Kentucky. Institutions may come from all sectors: two-year, four-year, public, and private. Seven Kentucky institutions will be selected to participate in the intensive RPM process. 

Suggested participants include: Board Chairs, Board Members, Board Professionals, Presidents/CEOs, Vice Presidents, Cabinet Officers, and representation of faculty leadership.

The Retention Performance Management Process – Governing Board Focus

The Retention Performance Management (RPM) – Governing Board Focus process is a further deeper, student success, performance improvement experience facilitated by the Gardner Institute for a subset of seven institutions involved in the Governing Board Equity in Student Success Academy. Retention Performance Management is a two-year, evidence-based, task-force-driven institutional strategic retention planning and implementation process that includes:

While each institution will identify key campus leaders to participate in the RPM process, governing board members will be involved meaningfully in this process and engaged in planning for how governing boards should structure their work to ensure equity in student success remains a strategic, evidence-based priority. These pilot institutions will also be invited to present to their colleagues about the process and outcomes of this experience in the twice-annual Governing Board Equity in Student Success Academy convenings.

Eligibility and How to Participate

This intensive consultation will be provided to seven institutions selected by the project leaders from a variety of institutions in Kentucky.   


Those with questions about the Governing Board Equity in Student Success Academy should contact Melissa Bell. 

Last Updated 9/14/2021