National Louis University to launch new, hands-on M.S. Program in Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship

The program aims to train a new generation of equity-minded business leaders by promoting women’s entrepreneurship.

In the Fall semester of 2020, National Louis University will launch a brand new Master of Science program in Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship. Aiming to capitalize on the recent growth of women-owned businesses and start-ups, particularly among African American and Latina women, while also recognizing that significant gaps in funding and opportunities continue to exist between female business owners and their male counterparts, the curriculum, experience, and activities of the program will be geared specifically toward women’s entrepreneurship.

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In Uncertain Times, Ensuring Equity in Higher Ed Is Critical

As the events of the last month have made abundantly clear, COVID-19 is shaking up our entire way of life. Right now, even as the emergencies of the present consume our attention, we must not lose sight of the future.

A recent report shows the national gap in graduation rates between Black and white students at 25%; between Hispanic and white students it is 15%. The disruptions this pandemic is introducing are poised to exacerbate an already troubling college completion gap. Students from minority backgrounds are more likely to experience severe challenges to their persistence and eventual graduation.

If we are in fact entering a “new normal” of remote learning, what can educational leaders do to advance equity and help disadvantaged students flourish in a radically unstable moment?

Above all, this means going the extra mile to ensure our students have everything they need to maximize their chances of success in extreme circumstances. This is even more urgent for our students who live with social and economic stressors ranging from care for family and extended family to tenuous economic stability. During this uncertain time, basic fears for health and safety are now added to the list.

National Louis University is already invested in taking these important steps to ensure that all students have access to college success.

Some students may not have a suitable remote learning platform available at home. Moreover, they may be in a household with no steady income as a result of the economic impact of the virus. National Louis University has developed an emergency fund for current students who have been affected by the ever-changing economic situation. The goal is to assist students as much as possible across the whole range of needs, from technology acquisition, to tuition assistance, to food and income support – meeting these basic needs are vital to student success and are quickly eroded in a crisis of this magnitude.

If you would like to donate to the fund, please click here. Or, click this link to be directed to the application page (authentication required).

To date, about $60,000 have been raised through the Emergency Fund and is being awarded to current students who apply for the aid. The application process ensures that funds are delivered with an equity lens, upholding fairness while making sure students’ basic needs are met. Also, in order to provide further relief to students during this time, NLU has partnered with mRelief to help with food resources for students and their families.

Going forward, students will need personalized, empathetic attention more than ever. In short, ensuring equity is paramount. But how do we put the ideal into practice amidst a raging pandemic?

It is critical to be flexible enough to accommodate students’ unique technological and personalized learning needs. National Louis University has launched a Continue Learning support center for students that provides resources on how to adapt to successful online learning, counseling services, and learning support.

Students are also encouraged to utilize the new virtual Student Support Help Desk, a single point of contact to help students quickly find the specific help they need. The Help Desk is staffed during regular business hours. As a kind of virtual concierge service, this will allow students to have one place to go that will direct them to the specific person or department they need to speak with.

One of the most urgent tasks right now for any school is to continue nurturing a sense of belonging. Remote teaching methods are critical here. The feeling of being with others in the same space, even if only virtually, is essential to maintain that intangible but vital feeling of participating in a community of learning. For underserved students, especially, some level of synchronous learning is very important to maintain.

National Louis University students continue to meet virtually with their classmates and professors, as well as with advisors, student services, enrollment, coaches, and student finance representatives. This connection is essential for helping students maintain their relationship with NLU and for preserving the feeling of participation in a thriving community of learning. Radical hospitality on the part of NLU staff and faculty can drive belonging and continued togetherness, even though we are apart.

Ultimately, we are dealing with a shift to a new educational paradigm. Acting on equity at every level can help ensure we adapt to this challenge nimbly. Every student deserves an equal shot at success – and, above all, we don’t want to lose any students who might have gone on to invent a vaccine for the next global pandemic.

NLU Is Highlighted for The Continuing Effort in Supporting Prior Learning Assessment & Adult Learner Lifecycle

Joseph Levy, Executive Director of Assessment and Accreditation and Tracy Costello, Assistant Director of Prior Learning Assessment of NLU believe that adult students need to feel validated and know their experience and knowledge has value and worth. Consequently, they are taking the proper steps to ensure these students are acknowledged. In The EvoLLLution online newspaper, Levy and Costello’s discuss considerations for ensuring student success through PLA programs, while also highlighting example practices at NLU. Prior Learning Assessments (PLA) allow a student’s experiential learning to be evaluated for potential credit award while recognizing and validating the non-traditional learning they bring with them to college.  

Through trial and error and finding the right balance of support, Levy and Costello have developed effective PLA options for undergraduate and graduate students such as credit by exam, credit by portfolio, credit by licensure and certifications, and course by arrangement to support students’ whose experience surpasses the coursework needed for completion of certain courses within some programs. These assessments are described in detail in the article and more information can be found on NLU’s PLA website.

With student support in place, Levy and Costello also created outreach initiatives that support and encourage adult learners including a PLA video showcasing students of PLA, redesigning the NLU website to provide testimonials, and program specific information fact sheets to demonstrate the PLA process (e.g., undergraduate examples here). By doing so, these efforts educate and reinforce PLA programs to students, faculty and staff, and are excellent examples for other institutions to consider. “At NLU, our institutional legacy is defined by its mindfulness in ensuring access to a diverse student body. With this in mind, we have made it our mission to provide equitable PLA opportunities for all students, supporting their unique individual backgrounds” state the innovative creators Levy and Costello. Read the article in The EvoLLLution online newspaper and learn more about NLU’s PLA services at https://www.nl.edu/pla/.

These results, as well as other workshops from various adult education groups will be discussed at the CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning) Conference “Plug in: Energize Adults Pathways to Success” at the Palmer House on Wednesday, November 6 to help support and promote the continuing efforts for PLA options for adults in and around the Chicagoland area. NLU is sponsoring the event, and the conference is opened to anyone would like to attend. More information can be found here.

NLU’s Viola provides Keynote address at China Community Psychology Conference

After two faculty members from China attended the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) conference hosted by National Louis University in June, they were enthusiastic about asking Associate Professor, Dr. Judah Viola, to attend and present as the keynote speaker at the 5th annual National Conference of Community Psychologists at Hebei Normal University in Shijiazhuang, China. The keynote address, How Community Psychologists Support Health and Wellness in the United States and What Relevance this has for Community Psychology in China summarized the range of applied research and action that U.S. based community psychologists are involved in today and presented community-based research findings from Dr. Viola’s work in Chicagoland and across the country.

(Dr. Judah Viola with Dr. Houchao Lyu, Southwest University and Dr. Jiehua Huang, Guangzhou University in Shijiazhuang China)

The address described the health and social issues of chronic disease prevention and management in a variety of settings ranging from government agencies and universities, to private companies. Dr. Viola provided an overview of the work happening across the United States in collaboration with coalitions to prevent obesity, training people with disabilities and their parents to partner with schools and local officials to more fully include people with disabilities in community settings, and supporting men who are coming out of drug treatment or jail to rebuild relationships with their children. The presentation provided quantitative and qualitative data that will help China-based community psychologists to design, evaluate, and adapt similar projects described in Dr. Viola’s presentation. The research collaboration begun this summer aims to support relevant cultural, social, and health related issues across the globe.

“I was thrilled to represent NLU and U.S. community psychologists as we had a vibrant exchange of ideas with colleagues from across over 20 universities in China.  The visit will continue to bear fruit as I collaborate with Chinese community psychologists on cross-cultural research and engage National Louis students in this work going forward,” Dr. Viola stated regarding this opportunity for collaboration. Dr. Viola exemplifies NLU’s mission by sharing innovative ways to engage in the support health and wellness locally and globally. You can learn more about Dr. Viola’s research and scholarship here: https://works.bepress.com/judah_viola/.

Voting on National Louis University Campus Up in 2018

National Louis University, along with 1,000 other institutions, participated in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) through the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education. The study provides reports to participating colleges and universities, like NLU, which use them to support political learning and civic engagement, as well as to identify and address gaps in political and civic participation. National Louis University reported that student voting on campus was up in last year’s election, increasing to 47.9 percent in 2018 from a rate of 39.1 percent in 2014. The full campus report can be viewed here.

The report is part of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, or NSLVE, conducted by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life. The study shows that nationwide,the voting rates at participating college campuses doubled on average compared to the previous 2014 midterm. In 2018, the Average Institutional Voting Rate (AIVR) among campuses in the study was 39.1 percent, nearly 20 percentage points higher than 2014’s average turnout rate of 19.7 percent. Turnout increases were widespread, with virtually all campuses seeing an increase over 2014.

This report is vital to NLU, indicating an increase in the dedication and engagement of the political sphere by our students. The report provides NLU administrators the data review to implement innovative ways to engage students on a deeper, larger level. National Louis University is committed to educate, promote, and support students’ engagement and commitment to vote. To learn more about this study and other NLU civic engagement within the community, visit the NLU Civic Engagement Center.

NLU Faculty In Action: Gates Foundation Data-informed Instruction Case Study Supports Underrepresented Students

Five National Louis University faculty members partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in a new case study that explored instructional strategic “best practices” and “strengths-based approaches” for supporting students inside and outside of the classroom using data informed learnings. Tara Bryant-Edwards, Lisa Downey, Bethany Harding, Doug McCoy, Margeaux Temeltas, and Stephanie Poczos contributed their expertise to the study.

The case study spotlights the usage of data to support teaching, including faculty content meetings that help with instructional planning to meet learning objectives, individualizing instruction, and interventions to promote success with at-risk students. The case study uses specific data such as the “early-warning sign data” to provide critical support for students to persist towards graduation. These data points promote collaboration amongst other colleagues and departments to give undergraduate students the best chance at success.

The data described in the case study support faculty intervention and allow for intentional adjustments in best practices for the classroom, while also assisting in reaching students on a holistic level. The data provide faculty members the ability to make accommodations in the classroom lectures, to utilize resources on campus in the classroom such as the writing support team and student success coaches, and to create individualized plans to help break down assignments in manageable sections.

This case study led by NLU faculty and sponsored by the Gates Foundation is another step the institution is taking to support undergraduate students, ensuring the best practices are being applied in and outside of the classroom. The methods described in the case study support the use of technology, data-driven instruction, individualized instruction, faculty collaboration, interaction with students, and active classrooms. The case study can be found here.

Surge Institute, Empowering Leaders of Color, Names NLU’s Perez a Fellow

Alison Regalado Perez, Associate Director of Undergraduate Enrollment and Partnerships in the Undergraduate College, has been named a 2020 Chicago Surge Fellow through the Surge Institute, whose mission is to educate, develop, and prepare leaders of color in the field of education.

The Chicago-based Surge Institute selected 25 young leaders, including Perez, for its yearlong program, which includes executive skill training, leadership development, and exposure to respected leaders and policymakers in education. Fellows will develop their own leadership and advocacy skills and will also complete individual capstone projects.

Perez joined NLU UGC Enrollment team in May 2017, and has since been working to increase enrollment by establishing strong partnerships with college access focused organizations within high school districts. According to Perez, her goal with the partnerships is to “increase awareness of NLU and of all the fantastic supports we offer to students so that they feel confident that NLU is a good fit for them.”

The Surge Institute will deepen Perez’s skills for her NLU career. Perez indicates that she is looking forward to everything she will learn at the institute. “I want to grow my professional skill set and develop my voice and executive presence so that my work can have a deeper and more meaningful impact on students,” Perez said. “I am also looking forward to gaining the resources and supports to meaningfully show up for students every day on every project and be part of a community that supports and guides me to build an education system that will change the lives of young people.”

Congratulations and good luck on this new endeavor, Alison!

Find out more about NLU’s Undergraduate College

See the complete list of 2020 Surge Fellows.

James Beard Foundation Picks Kendall Alums as Awards Semifinalists

It’s always exciting for chefs, restaurateurs and food lovers when the James Beard Foundation Award semifinalists are released. This year’s crop includes two alums of Kendall College of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management at National Louis University among the Chicago-area nominees.

  • The foundation named Kendall Alum Beverly Kim of Parachute as a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Great Lakes category.
  • In the Best New Restaurant category, the foundation named alum Jennifer Kim‘s Passerotto as a semifinalist.

See the complete national list of semifinalists here.

Learn more about the culinary arts program at Kendall College of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management at National Louis University