Rossier News

“The arrows of influence are as crucial as what’s in the boxes themselves”

Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice Conference 2024: Defending Equity created spaces for reflection and sharing strategies to address pressing issues in enrollment.

By Ellen Evaristo Published on

In the eight months since the U.S. Supreme Court effectively ended the use of race-conscious admissions policy in the college admissions process, the topic became a critical focus among enrollment and admissions officers as seen at the Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice Conference (CERPP) Conference 2024, this year themed Defending Equity. Last month, over 120 participants from small and large higher education institutions and learning organizations from around the country gathered at the CERPP conference to do just that—defend equity. The conference discussed pathways to continue promoting an equitable admissions process and responded to the onslaught of attacks against diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

“One of my hopes as director of a center with research, policy and practice in its very name is to enhance the center’s connections in these areas to help drive systemic change,” said Julie Posselt, newly appointed CERPP executive director. “The arrows of influence are as crucial as what’s in the boxes themselves. Paulo Freire and years of education research tell us that central to the work of making and sustaining these connections is creating spaces for reflection and dialogue,” she said in her opening remarks.

CERPP 2024
CERPP Conference 2024: Defending Equity participants

Established in 2008, the CERPP conference has been a pivotal platform for enrollment leaders. Speakers and panelists have included a diverse range of experts including practitioners, scholars and policymakers, who take the opportunity to share their insights and offer recommendations on navigating challenging issues in higher education.

Kelly Walter, associate vice president for enrollment and dean of undergraduate admissions at Boston University, has been working in the field of admissions and enrollment for over 40 years and has attended the CERPP conference since the inaugural session. “The idea of attending a conference that brought together researchers and practitioners was novel, it was unique,” Walter said. “I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to have conversations with people that I don't usually engage with on a day-to-day basis.”

According to Walter, enrollment leaders face challenges in enrollment every year and each year is “a little unpredictable.” She added that enrollment managers continue to think creatively and innovatively to come up with solutions to serve their institutions and students.

To anticipate the fluctuating nature of enrollment, the CERPP conference focused sessions on issues in education equity as it applies to admissions. Lauren Foley, assistant professor of political science at Western Michigan University, was the conference’s keynote speaker. Her talk The Supreme Court, Affirmative Action and Higher Education: What history can say about the future traced how higher education has historically resisted and complied with the legal mandates on affirmative action.

CERPP 2024
Lorelle Espinosa, Jenna Sablan, Jenny Yang and Julie Posselt

Education representatives from the Biden-Harris administration were also featured panelists. USC alumna Jenna Sablan PhD ’15, policy advisor with the Office of the Under Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education, and Jenny Yang, deputy assistant to the President for Racial Justice and Equity in the White House Domestic Policy Council, addressed how enrollment and admissions managers can build a strategy for protecting equal opportunity.

CERPP 2024 John King
State University of New York Chancellor John King

State University of New York Chancellor John King offered his talk Unsung Heroes? State System Responses to Equity in Enrollment, which examined how state universities are responding to demographic changes and political scrutiny. Formerly U.S. Secretary of Education under the Obama administration, King discussed how the recent SCOTUS decision “took away a meaningful tool for making college campuses diverse.” While students of color improve classrooms, communities and the nation, he added that the SCOTUS decision also created “an implied threat to our ability to foster faculty diversity, a thing which, when it can be established, betters colleges in ways both measurable and intangible.”

Full list of CERPP 2024 speakers and panel discussions.

U.S. Air Force Academy Chief of Selections Phil Prosseda attended with several colleagues from the Air Force Academy. Prosseda explained how the CERPP conference was an opportunity for the younger leaders in the admissions office to develop professionally. “I want them to hear and see the things that are going on and baseline what we do against what other schools do in terms of equity and inclusion, in terms of just holistic review,” he said. “Research, policy and practice all intersect and they’re very important...Thank you to the people who attend these conferences and really enrich us in the enrollment field.”

Posselt explained the importance of bringing enrollment and admissions leaders together. “The day-to-day grind often keeps us from reflection and real dialogue, but they are the foundation of collective, systemic change efforts,” Posselt said. “It makes it especially important to protect meetings like this that bring us together across the silos that usually separate us.”

Article Type