Campus Leaders Articulate Their Unique Institutional Value at Kansas City Summit
Published: November 07, 2019

​An understanding of student needs, higher education policy, and the national dialogue around the value of higher education have to be communicated both through words and action. This is what campus leaders learned as they gathered in Kansas City, Missouri, last month for the ACE Midwest Fall Summit, “Reclaiming the High Ground: Aligning Value and Student Success.”

Early arrivers were treated to ACE Senior Vice President Terry Hartle’s ever-popular update and analysis of recent federal policy developments that impact higher education. This session provided participants with background context in which to consider the federal landscape that can impact institutional capacity for living out a value proposition. Topics covered included federal funding, international students, and upcoming legislation.

After an official welcome and time to network, Mushtaq Gunja, ACE’s vice president and chief of staff, and Charlie Ruger, vice president of philanthropy at the Charles Koch Foundation, presented research on “What the Public Thinks About and Wants from Higher Education.” Among other findings, the research showed that many members of the public look favorably on their local higher education institution but have some negative views of higher education in general. 

It also showed a lack of awareness of the other benefits colleges and universities deliver beyond bestowing degrees and preparing students for the workforce, such as contributions to research. A robust discussion followed in which summit attendees brainstormed how to use this data to showcase the value their institutions provide to society. Conversations continued over a reception and dinner as attendees digested all that they had learned that day.


Summit participants discuss what they learned about the public perceptions of higher education. 

​​The second day of the summit featured a panel on student success as the institutional epicenter. ACE President Ted Mitchell opened by providing an overview of current student demographics, including data from ACE’s Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education report, and then moderated a conversation with Susan Whealler Johnston, president and CEO of the National Association of College and University Business Officers and Amelia Parnell, vice president for research and policy at NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

“We can’t properly tackle student success until we really grapple with who our students are,” said Mitchell. “Only once we understand that, can we truly keep student success at the heart of what we do through our institutions.”

​The rest of the day involved a series of workshops where campus teams worked together to craft a value statement for a specific student segment at their institution and align it with goals of student success. During a gallery walk participants had the opportunity to view each other’s value statements and provide feedback. The gallery walk was a highlight of the summit and provided participants with a unique opportunity to learn from and share with one another. Following lunch, participants engaged in an afternoon of exploring their students’ needs and identifying ways to best live out their value statement through a series of exercises framed by design-thinking.


Attendees receive peer feedback on the value statements they crafted in the summit workshop sessions.

Participants left the summit with a workbook of resources to guide their work upon returning to their institutions. They will also be able to continue the conversation with their colleagues from the summit and strengthen the connections they built through ACE Engage®, ACE’s peer-to-peer online community and learning platform, which was also highlighted at the summit.


Related Content

ACE2020, ACE’s 102nd Annual Meeting

For those who missed Terry Hartle’s public policy update before the summit, or would like to hear new developments in light of the upcoming 2020 elections, Hartle will be delivering a similar talk at ACE2020 March 14-16 in San Diego.