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The fifth convening of the Illinois Equity in Attainment (ILEA) Fall Summit was held November 3-5, 2021, commemorating its second annual virtual format. Over 500 faculty, staff, administrators from Illinois colleges and universities attended the summit, themed Lifting Voices for Racial Equity with Intentional Structures. The convening kicked off with opening remarks from Dr. Sekile M. Nzinga, Chief Equity Officer for the State of Illinois, followed by a keynote address, “The Power of Intentionality: Driving Equitable Postsecondary Value” from Dr. José Luis Cruz Rivera, President of Northern Arizona University. The event presented 14 workshops showcasing national thought leaders who have created institutional structures, policies and practices focused on equity and created more inclusive campus environments. These workshops were led by Amber Angel, Luma Haddad of Los Angeles Valley College, Dr. Colleen Simpson, Stephanie Atkins, Erin Wood of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Dr. Emmet Campos, Rodrigo Aguayo, Ricardo Gonzalez of The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Jennifer Springer of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Dr. Jesse M. Bernal of Grand Valley State University, Patrick Morriss of Foothill College, Tanya Cabrera from the Dream Fund Illinois Dream Fund, Sandy López of Northern Illinois University.

The fifth convening of the Summit marked the first time Partnership for College Completion (PCC) showcased two keynote speakers for the three-day event. The second keynote address, “Academic Structures in Higher Education Honoring /Acknowledging/Implementing Racial Equity” from Dr. Theodorea Regina Berry, Vice Provost for Student Learning at the University of Central Florida (UCF), was another highlight for the event.

Dr. Sylvia Jenkins, President of Moraine Valley Community College, and Dr. Cheryl Green, President of Governors State University served as panelists on the Summit’s second annual Presidential Reflections panel to discuss how they are leading equity initiatives on their campus. The three-day virtual convening wrapped up with a student-led panel, “Centering Student Voices in Equity Efforts” presented by members of PCC’s Student Advisory Board as they shared their experiences with pursuing degrees during a pandemic, adapting to different learning modalities, and how their institutions are supporting them with equity in higher education.

Many thanks to our ILEA members Scott Friedman, Anna Rogers, Sumeet Singh and Debbie Blatzer for providing the pre-Summit blog, Student-Centered Practices for Student Engagement and Success at Moraine Valley Community College and to Anthony Ramos (Elgin Community College) and Pernevlon Ellis (Kishwaukee College) who participated in our Twitter Chat event titled, “Supporting Men of Color in HE:Success Starts with Intentional Structures and Investment.”

Summit by the Numbers:

  • Total Number of Attendees: 585 virtual seats
  • Highest Session Attendance
    • Welcome & Opening Keynote (226 attendees)
    • Strengthening Student Families: Creating a Culture of Care on Your Campus (139 attendees)
    • Student Panel: Centering Student Voices in Equity Efforts (121 attendees)
  • Highest Overall Participation (2-yr): Elgin Community College (49 registrations) 
  • Highest Overall Participation (4-yr): Northern Illinois University (23 registrations)
  • Top WHOVA Engagers: Patrice Henderson (Olive-Harvey College), Steve Damarjian (Malcom X College) and Tonishea Jackson (Kennedy-King College)
  • Summit Evaluation, Overall Quality of the Institute:
    • 77.42% rated the quality of the Summit Excellent, 22.58% rated the quality Good
    • “There were many great sessions, but the student panel was outstanding and I’m still thinking about it 24 hours later. I wish our entire college could have heard that discussion and the candid comments from students like ours.”
    • “Overall such a great Summit; this was my first one and cannot wait until the next one.”

Many presentations and supporting materials from the 2021 ILEA Virtual Fall can be found in the WHOVA app and at the event playlist herewhich includes recordings of all sessions.