AALHE 2022 Keynote Speakers

Dr. Tia Brown McNairMonday Keynote: Strengthening Communities of Assessment by Centering Equity and Racial Justice

Dr. Tia Brown McNair, American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)

What are evidence-based practices that strengthen assessment strategies to address inequities in student outcomes? How do we develop educational environments that center equity and racial justice to help students achieve their full potential and to develop their gifts and talents? How do you translate a commitment to equity, diversity, and belonging into the design, implementation, and assessment of educational experiences? This keynote session, led by Tia Brown McNair, will draw from multiple AAC&U-sponsored projects to highlight efforts that build institutional capacity to achieve shared goals for making excellence inclusive.

Dr. Tia Brown McNair is the Vice President in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, DC. She oversees both funded projects and AAC&U’s continuing programs on equity, inclusive excellence, high-impact practices, and student success. McNair directs AAC&U’s Summer Institutes on High-Impact Practices and Student Success, and TRHT Campus Centers and serves as the project director for several AAC&U initiatives. She is the lead author of From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education (January 2020) and Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success (July 2016). In March 2020, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education named McNair one of thirty-five outstanding women who have tackled some of higher education’s toughest challenges and made a positive difference in their communities.

Dr. Sonja ArdoinWednesday Keynote: Assessing Nuance: Including Voices of Student Populations that are Challenging to Quantify

Dr. Sonja Ardoin, Appalachian State University

Higher education institutions often prefer quantitative data, generalizable metrics, and objectivity, aligning with information types that accreditation bodies require. However, not every element of the learning experience is easily quantifiable. Some student populations - such as first-generation college students and students from poor and working-class backgrounds - have had their perspectives ignored or excluded because of things like debated definitions and small sample sizes. Further, the types and wording of questions asked on surveys and evaluations might discourage participation from these groups, or the process itself may be misaligned with how they were socialized to share feedback. In her keynote, Dr. Sonja Ardoin will discuss the nuances and complications of assessing the learning of the full campus community, centering on first-generation college students and students from poor and working-class backgrounds.
Sonja Ardoin, Ph.D. is a learner, educator, facilitator, and author. Proud of her rural hometown of Vidrine, Louisiana, her working-class, Cajun roots, and her first-generation college student to PhD journey, Sonja holds degrees from LSU, Florida State, and NC State. She considers herself a scholar-practitioner of higher education; she served as an administrator for 10 years before shifting to the faculty in 2015. She currently serves as program director and associate professor in the student affairs administration program at Appalachian State University. Sonja studies social class identity, college access and success for rural and first-generation college students, student and women’s leadership, and career preparation and pathways in higher education and student affairs. Sonja has published four books, one monograph, and numerous book chapters and journal articles. She stays engaged in the broader field through ACPA, AFLV, ASHE, the Center for First-generation Student Success, NASPA, and several journal editorial boards. She enjoys books, traveling, music, sports, laughing, and spending time with her husband and pup. Learn more about Sonja's work at www.sonjaardoin.com.


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