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Recommendations and Implementation

Winter 2020 Implementation Update

A group of Northwestern leaders tasked with implementation has begun work on a number of the Lifecycle recommendations. Leaders are currently working on both short-term improvements and long-term plans across the proposed changes, including providing a dedicated community building space for this population and technological improvements to enable navigation of University resources. Some implementation leaders have brought together groups from across the institution, including school representatives, to develop action plans and prototypes that will be shared with the Northwestern community in the coming months and years.  All implementation leaders have been asked to identify resource needs for FY2021, if needed, and to develop longer-term resource plans. The Northwestern community will continue to be updated on progress as plans are finalized and changes are implemented.

Implementation Structure

The Undergraduate Student Lifecycle Committee, comprised of faculty and staff, including recent graduates, developed actionable recommendations for change in three priority areas:

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, and Miriam Sherin, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, are overseeing these implementation efforts.

These senior leaders convene a broader group of owners, who have been assigned recommendations, or components of recommendations, to implement. These owners are expected to identify and engage the appropriate implementation partners to realize the goals of their assigned recommendations, which will require input from relevant stakeholders who may range from faculty to students and staff, across schools and operating units.

The following section outlines the recommendations and leaders responsible for implementation beginning in the fall of 2019. For general questions please reach out to Roma Khanna, Senior Director in the Office of Organizational Strategy and Change, at

Faculty Engagement Workgroup

Recommendation 1: Coordinate & expand faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts: Current efforts are disconnected, leading to redundancies and gaps. The Workgroup recommended a coordinated structure to distribute information, design professional development programs, support mentoring, and provide space to foster an inclusive academic community. Overall Accountability: Lindsay Chase-Lansdale and Jake Julia
  • Within the context of coordinated DEI efforts, deliver systemic support for mentoring, which in the short term can include a program that allows students to take faculty members to lunch to build mentoring relationships and in the long term can include more robust mentoring programs. Responsible: Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson and Kathleen Hagerty
  • Present stories of students who identify solely or jointly across first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented minority (URM) identities in narrative video form. Responsible: Jeri Ward and Miriam Sherin
  • Develop professional development programs for faculty and provide resources to departments for proactive engagement of lifecycle students. Responsible: Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Jake Julia, Jabbar R. Bennett, and Bennett Goldberg
  • Create a mentoring portal to better match students with faculty mentors. Responsible: Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson and Miriam Sherin
Recommendation 2: Develop faculty incentives: Identify, incentivize, and reward faculty contributions that support this student population at the individual, department, school, and institutional levels. Overall Accountability: Kathleen Hagerty
  • Collect baseline data on current faculty engagement and reward exemplary practice; develop strengthened incentives like designated faculty time. Responsible: Kathleen Hagerty and Jabbar R. Bennett
Recommendation 3: Prioritize hiring and promotion: Diversify the faculty through careful hiring practices; quantify, recognize, and elevate contributions of existing faculty. Overall Accountability: Lindsay Chase-Lansdale
  • Create and disseminate DEI guidelines for faculty searches; Designated faculty hiring with emphasis on increasing diversity. Responsible: Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Jabbar R. Bennett and Kathleen Hagerty


Navigating the University Workgroup

Recommendation 4: Implement institutional changes that streamline infrastructure and increase communication across the institution. Overall Accountability: Miriam Sherin and Julie Payne-Kirchmeier
  • Designate a role to lead a coordinated, cross-unit response to data regarding students that identify solely or jointly across first-generation, low-income and URM identities. Responsible: Miriam Sherin
  • Identify and evaluate steps to lower costs for students (ideas include examining increasing the student activity fee to create a voucher system for student org. events, standardized housing costs, RA compensation, university refund schedule, and textbook costs); conduct ongoing evaluation of policies and procedures that impact students’ sense of well-being, belonging, and ability to navigate the University. Responsible: Julie Payne-Kirchmeier and Chris Watson
Recommendation 5: Increase communication with early- and regular-decision students before they matriculate. Overall Accountability: Miriam Sherin
  • Build out and focus on new student and family programming and first-year experience programming and the offices that support these areas. Make information for students who identify as first-generation, low-income, and/or URM more easily accessible on Northwestern’s website. Develop materials for guidance counselors specific to the needs of this population of students. Streamline and improve communication with current students and staff; expand outreach between admitted students and current students and/or staff who are knowledgeable about the FGLI/URM experience of Northwestern; and develop more events for students and families. Responsible: Todd Adams, Chris Watson, and Lee West
Recommendation 6: Develop and expand programming that provides four-plus years of support to students that identify solely or jointly as first-generation, low-income, and URM. Overall Accountability: Miriam Sherin
  • Centralize, coordinate and expand pre-enrollment and mentoring with the support of a new role within the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education; Develop a course or workshop on the hidden curriculum; draft a universal syllabus statement or Canvas module on resources. Responsible: Miriam Sherin
  • Expand and extend the range of programs and opportunities to support students later in the Lifecycle; increase visibility and access to these opportunities to include peer mentoring and community-building programs so that they are better able to access, navigate, and utilize resources. Responsible: Miriam Sherin
  • Create a mobile app for student navigation that connects students to a customized set of offices and individuals for their support. Responsible: Peggy McCready

Resources: Academic, Co-curricular, and Community Workgroup

Recommendation 7: Community scholars program: Develop a cohort model for students that identify solely or jointly as first-generation, low-income, and URM that would support selected students from matriculation through graduation. The program would provide a sense of community and comprehensive support for selected students, as well as access to an advising system set up to help them navigate resources across campus. Scholars will also receive a range of proactive, targeted support services from existing units across campus. Overall Accountability: Miriam Sherin and Kourtney Cockrell
  • A Community Scholars Liaison model that will support a community scholars program can be implemented before the program’s rollout, providing greater structure across existing units that support this student population; Identification of prospective program participants through partnership with Admissions, Financial Aid and Student Enrichment Services can begin to help connect current students with existing resources. Faculty and staff who will serve as Community Scholar Liaisons must be provided with additional opportunities to specialize in supporting lifecycle students. Responsible: Miriam Sherin and Kourtney Cockrell
Recommendation 8: Community building space: Dedicate a central, welcoming, and accessible space that becomes a hub for opportunities to build community and student support. The space will provide a central community space for students and the opportunity for faculty and staff to come together to support this student population. Overall Accountability: Mark Francis and Julie Payne-Kirchmeier
  • This space should specifically provide enhanced space for Student Enrichment Services (SES) and hoteling spaces for departments and programs that serve Lifecycle students to hold office hours and collaborate with one another; it is important to engage the student voice in developing the space. Responsible: Kelly Schaefer
  • It is also important to partner with other initiatives and units with similar goals to build more student-focused space such as Academic Support and Learning Advancement (ASLA) and the future Academic Resource Center (ARC). Responsible: Miriam Sherin
Recommendation 9: Professional Development: Create professional development resources for all faculty, staff and students that includes specific opportunities to understand the experiences of students that identify solely or jointly as first-generation, low-income, and URM. All faculty and staff should participate in professional development that aligns with University diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. Overall Accountability: Lindsay Chase-Lansdale and Jake Julia
  • Student-focused professional development. Responsible: Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson
  • Staff-focused professional development. Responsible: Samir Desai