Operationalizing Antiracism in Higher Education Community Engagement





antiracism, community engagement, community-university partnerships


Higher education must move beyond statements of solidarity towards action to support antiracist work at institutions.  Although these statements of support are laudable, it can be challenging to successfully operationalize antiracism across all levels of an institution (individuals, activities/programs, courses, units, and entire institutions) and with all stakeholders (faculty, staff, students, and community partners).  We suggest that community engagement is a key overlooked strategy and method for advancing antiracist agendas within institutions.  Examples of how antiracist work actually manifests through community-university partnerships can help identify successful outcomes of antiracist practices and policies. This article will share findings from a series of dialogues engaging over 250 participants about the intersection of engagement and antiracism, and share a call to develop a set of metrics to assess and measure antiracism in higher education community engagement.

Author Biographies

Dr. Stella Smith, Minority Achievement, Creativity and High-Ability Center, Prairie View A&M University

Dr. Stella L. Smith is the Associate Director for the Minority Achievement, Creativity and High-Ability Center in the Whitlowe R. Green College of Education Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling at Prairie View A&M University.  In this role, Dr. Smith provides strategic leadership and oversight of the MACH-III Center operations including financial, programmatic, research and assessment activities. Dr. Smith earned her Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a portfolio in Women and Gender Studies from The University of Texas at Austin. Recognized with a 2014 Dissertation Award from the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education, her dissertation study was a phenomenological inquiry to investigate the experiences, challenges and strategies for success of African American females in senior-level executive positions in higher at predominately white institutions. A qualitative researcher, her scholarly interests focus on several areas including the experiences of faculty and administrators of color in higher education; African American females in leadership in higher education; access and inclusion of underserved populations in higher education, and P–20 educational pipeline alignment.

Kristin Medlin, Collaboratory, UNC Greensboro

Kristin Medlin oversees Collaboratory’s research and development efforts that support, promote, and enhance the field of study related to community engagement and socially effective impact across all sectors. She works to raise awareness about the value of community engagement data, adovcates for the imperative to develop a data culture, and helps to build systems and structures for data access, analysis, and use. Prior to jumping into the corporate sector, Kristin served as the communications and partnerships manager in the Institute for Community & Economic Engagement at UNC Greensboro where she co-founded Collaboratory alongside Drs. Janke and Holland. She continues to serve in a Visiting Scholar role at UNCG, advising on program evaluation and community engagement tracking and measurement efforts. Kristin holds masters degrees from UNC Greensboro both in Public Affairs and in Educational Research, Assessment, and Evaluation.

Lauren Wendling, Collaboratory

Lauren Wendling, MS is Collaboratory’s Customer Success Manager, and works to ensure that all customers successfully implement and utilize Collaboratory software to tell their institutional story of community engagement. Prior to joining Collaboratory, Lauren worked as a Graduate Assistant within the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Office of Community Engagement where she built capacity for and implemented Collaboratory software to gather information from across campus and the community to inform assessment, institutional decision-making, and to tell the story of IUPUI’s collective impact. Lauren earned her Master of Education, Teaching, and Leadership from Butler University and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Philosophy from DePauw University. Lauren is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University Bloomington.


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