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September 22, 2020

First Bridges to Success Equity Webinar and white paper to highlight COVID-19 impact on equity in higher education

The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development will host members of St. Louis Graduates in a Thursday, Sept. 24 webinar on Equity Mindedness in the Era of COVID-19. A corresponding white paper, The Impact of COVID-19 on Equity in Higher Education, was published today by MDHEWD’s Office of Postsecondary Policy.

Although it is too early to know the full impact of COVID-19, Missouri is exploring how the pandemic is affecting college students in regards to cost, resources, internet access, and more. The white paper draws anecdotal evidence from national reports and stories, and highlights some solutions posed by Missouri institutions and organizations.

Thursday’s webinar will specifically explore how Missouri institutions can ensure decisions that are being made in a period of rapid change are equitable. Colleges and non-profit partners will share how they have retained a focus on low-income students and students of color by using disaggregated data, sharing strategies and resources, and holding each other accountable to shared equity goals.

“As the department continues to keep equity at the forefront of policy discussions, we know this pandemic cannot slow the work,” said Dr. Mara Woody, assistant commissioner of the office of postsecondary policy. “In fact, this unexpected global event has only increased the need for these discussions. We are pleased to have St. Louis Graduates kick off our series this week and look forward to coordinating a statewide dialogue.”

The Sept. 24 webinar will be the first in a series of webinars planned to address specific issues surrounding equity in Missouri higher education. White papers will be released to coincide with each webinar topic. The Bridges to Success Equity Webinar Series will be offered once a month in addition to a week-long series at the end of October.

In 2019, the department hosted an Equity Summit to explore solutions to close equity gaps, and released an Equity in Missouri Higher Education Report that focused on access, preparedness, and progress based on age, sex, race, and income level. This year’s equity report will focus on success, and the webinar series will replace the in-person summit.

“We want all Missourians to have the skills and education needed for success,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education. “Events this year have made these conversations and potential solutions especially important. This is long-term work that will require continued collaboration from all of our partners.”

Speakers for the Sept. 24 webinar will include: Alan Byrd, Jr., vice provost for enrollment management at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Trent Ball, the assistant vice president for academic diversity and outreach at Southeast Missouri State University, Jennifer McCluskey, PhD, vice president for student success at Maryville University, and Melissa Findley, executive director at Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation.

Download the white paper, register for the upcoming webinar, and see future webinar dates at https://dhewd.mo.gov/equity_project.php.


About the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development: The department works to empower Missourians with the skills and education needed for success. More information about MDHEWD can be found at  https://dhewd.mo.gov or on Facebook and Twitter @MoDHEWD.