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Introducing Invested Interests - Managing School Resources Effectively with Jackson State University & Suitable


This content is part of our Suitable Innovator badge. Suitable Innovators are trailblazers leading higher education in a new direction. We work with our Suitable Innovators to bring cutting-edge student success thought leadership to you. If you'd like to be considered as a Suitable Innovator, tell us why!

Two years ago, teachers, administrators and students all got word that we’d need to quarantine for an extended period of time to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the impacts of a deadly global pandemic. 

As with any traumatic event, this is not something that people, or the systems that govern their lives, can easily recover from. Two years and millions of nasal swabs later and we are still trying to figure out where to go next – and if we’ll need masks when we get there.

Back in September, I hosted an event with Dr. Loria Brown Gordon, Assistant Dean at Jackson State University, about funding programs that had become available during COVID, new and existing funding programs for Historically Black Colleges & Universities and how schools could use these programs to pivot post-Pandemic and beyond. 

When we finished our event, we realized there was still much more to discuss. It wasn’t just short-term funding programs – the whole way colleges and universities approached investment decisions, decided areas of focus and committed to new technologies had changed.

That’s why we decided we’d take our periodic check-ins public. Introducing Invested Interests, a new  Suitable Innovator Series from Jackson State University and Suitable exploring the ways administrators are managing school resources effectively post-pandemic. 

Check in with Invested Interests to hear about the latest shifts in resources, focus, funding and more as colleges around the country attempt to create a new normal. 

For some schools, that means addressing the impacts of the pandemic through student wellness programs, mental health resources and periodic check-ins for students showing signs of becoming disengaged. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated already-existing anxiety issues on campus. According to this recent survey, 95% of college students have faced negative mental health symptoms as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

  • 37% feel their general mental health is affected.
  • 46% of students feel lonelier and more isolated.
  • 45% of students feel more anxious, fearful and stressed.
  • 36% report feeling depressed and increased irritability.

This creates an opportunity for schools to address the problem of anxiety and mental wellness on campus, commit to intervention where necessary and address one of the core factors endangering student retention for today’s college students. 

For others, that means getting rid of outdated technology.

One example of this is our partners at Defiance College. When they launched their Jacket Journey initiative, they went with a provider who offered an attendance feature that required the use of student ID cards. This is an experience that is not easily transferable to remote learning and, when the pandemic hit, Defiance College’s Dean of the Institute for Career Readiness and Lifelong Learning Jeremy Taylor realized they were going to have a problem keeping students engaged without a mobile platform or event tracking app

Still other campuses have begun to examine the ways they use data. 

Our Suitable Innovator Dr. Audrey Murrell has discussed this shift in perception with her events discussing how to make the post-pandemic campus a more inclusive place by, among other things, changing the way schools view data. 

As Dr. Murrell often points out in her Suitable Innovator Series Re-Examining Student Engagement, some administrators believe data is neutral and rely on data as the end-all-be-all assessment of a student’s educational progression. But the Pandemic revealed for many that this has never been the case. 

If you, for example, are using extra-curricular activities participation to judge students for admission, but the school they come from doesn’t offer as many extra-curricular activities, is that a fair measure? And even more critically, if the school they come from had to shutter certain activities due to COVID, will campuses adjust this criteria to make sure they are being as equitable as possible? 

Next on Invested Interests

Event Headers Template (45)

Our first episode of this new series is entitled Two Years Later — How The Global Pandemic Has Reframed Our On-Campus Investments. We start this ongoing conversation with a review of the last two years. Dr. Gordon takes us through what has changed in terms of on-campus investments, practices and campus life. What changes did they implement? Which worked and which did not? We’ll then speak with two Jackson State students who experienced some of these changes first-hand to discover how these shifting realities directly impact the student experience.  

Invested Interests premiers on March 31st. You can save your spot for the event now, for free, by going to our event page and filling in the form. Or, if the event has concluded, get the video recording on the same page. We hope you can join us!

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John Steele

John Steele