PORTLAND, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--CollegeNET, Inc., a leading provider of web-based on-demand technologies for higher education and the developer of the Social Mobility Index (SMI), named University of California San Diego a Social Mobility Innovator for 2019.
The Social Mobility Index ranks nearly 1,400 four-year U.S. colleges and universities according to how successfully they enroll students from low-income backgrounds and graduate them into promising careers. The goal of the SMI -- now in its fifth year -- is to help redirect the attribution of "prestige" in the higher education system toward colleges and universities that are advancing economic mobility, the most pressing civic issue of our time.
UC San Diego, which enrolls approximately 30,000 undergraduate students, has ranked among the top 10 percent of schools on the SMI for the past four years.
“Most higher education rankings evaluate colleges and universities as if comparing brands for consumer purchase,” says Jim Wolfston, CEO of CollegeNET. “The SMI, on the other hand, helps policymakers, students and their families see which colleges and universities are doing the most to drive U.S. economic mobility. We hope the SMI encourages more institutions to embrace and expand their role as conduits for restoring the promise of the American Dream. The first step in doing this is to identify and learn from colleges and universities like UC San Diego.”
Economic Inclusion Helps Spark Innovative Minds
"College education now constitutes the most important rung on the ladder of economic mobility,” adds Wolfston. “But particularly when it offers a challenging environment populated with diverse ideas, personal backgrounds and viewpoints, a college does something even more important: it prepares students to encounter, navigate and appreciate the unfamiliar. Given that innovation always depends upon a person’s ability to consider what could be different from their own assumptions and experiences, economic inclusion is thus not only a solution to a social justice issue, it is a key strategy for sparking innovative minds."
Removing Barriers for Students
UC San Diego was selected as a CollegeNET Social Mobility Innovator for 2019 because it offers low-income students a campus culture based on inclusive excellence. Nearly four out of 10 new students at UC San Diego are the first in their family to attend a four-year university. The number of new freshmen from under-represented groups has more than doubled on campus since 2012. And the number of ladder-rank faculty and staff from under-represented groups has grown 30 percent at UC San Diego over the past six years.
“UC San Diego enthusiastically embraces our responsibility to provide students from all backgrounds with a transformational educational experience,” says Elizabeth H. Simmons, Executive Vice Chancellor and Distinguished Professor of Physics at the university. “We’re committed to enhancing programs that reduce disparities in student success and promote social mobility. We’re proud to continue our tradition of educating next-generation leaders who will use their talents to make our world a better place.”
Affordability, Access, Equity and Opportunity
UC San Diego makes a difference in the lives of low-income students through a number of innovative programs. Academic success resources contribute to a cultural shift at UC San Diego designed to spark new ways of achieving inclusive excellence. For example, the Teaching + Learning Commons provides leadership and support for the university’s teaching and learning initiatives and its commitment to academic success for all students. The Office for Student Retention and Success provides academic success services to several distinct student populations that include historically under-represented students, undocumented students, military-affiliated students and international students.
“UC San Diego has developed a robust array of programs and initiatives that place the identity and cultural background of our students at the center,” says Jeff Orgera, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Retention and Success at the university. “As a campus, we celebrate our students’ accomplishments, strengths and perspectives through learning opportunities that appreciate who they are, where they come from and where they are going in the future.”
National Conference on Student Success and Social Mobility
UC San Diego’s Student Retention and Success unit will serve as the host for a national conference on innovation, student success and social mobility February 5-6, 2019.
“This conference will bring together leading scholars and practitioners who will help us better understand the paths toward college success,” says Lindsay Romasanta, UC San Diego’s Director of Student Success Programs. “We have to reverse the effects of structural biases that have adversely affected our students.”
Reversing Economic Trends for the Betterment of Society
“UC San Diego is providing world-class educational opportunity to promising students regardless of their economic background,” says CollegeNET’s Wolfston. “Their contribution and example are key at a time when economic mobility and the American Dream are rapidly deteriorating. Today, as tuitions at U.S. campuses continue to increase while economic inclusion declines, UC San Diego provides a strong example for reversing these trends.”
Acknowledging Institutional Excellence
CollegeNET acknowledges schools -- such as UC San Diego -- that are fostering social mobility through innovative programs. CollegeNET presents the annual Social Mobility Innovator Awards to student success leaders from U.S. colleges and universities at the Social Mobility Summit -- an annual forum on economic inclusion and best practices for student success held in Portland, Oregon each summer. CollegeNET recently published an e-book that offers best practices from student success professionals who are pioneering innovative programs that support under-served and under-represented students’ academic, personal and financial needs.