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Working Across Professional Roles to Transform Community Colleges and Broad-Access Universities

By: Melinda Mechur Karp


To improve completion rates and ensure student learning, colleges and universities need to engage in transformative reform, substantially redesigning how they are structured, how they engage with students, and how they approach the educational enterprise. Those leading transformative reforms need insight into how best to shepherd change in ways that resonate with institutional stakeholders. Based on case studies of six transformation-minded institutions, this article examines the importance of achieved and assigned characteristics—professional roles, responsibilities, reputation, and authority—in the institutional change process.

The colleges in this study were all engaged in technology-mediated redesign of advising and student supports, sometimes referred to as “integrated planning and advising for student support” (iPASS). During the study period, three of the six colleges used iPASS to begin transforming, displaying shifts in institutional structures, processes, and attitudes over the course of the project; at the other three colleges, smaller shifts were evident. The article looks at how transforming and non-transforming colleges approached the challenge of working across professional role differences, and how this contributed to the reforms’ level of success.

This article is published in Diversity and Democracy, vol. 19, no. 2.