chapter  3
Creating a Culture of Inquiry around Equity and Student Success
ByKeith A. Witham, Estela Mara Bensimon
Pages 22

Public postsecondary institutions increasingly find themselves balancing two major sources of external pressure: severe budget constraints at the state level, and a national political climate fixated on accountability, productivity, and increases in college attainment rates. This means institutions not only have to do more with less, but must also demonstrate success within the framework of accountability systems – such as performance funding formulae and other productivity initiatives – that may or may not acknowledge equity among racial and ethnic groups as a primary indicator of success (Bensimon, Rueda, Dowd, & Harris, 2007; Dowd, 2003; Dowd & Tong, 2007). In responding to these external pressures, institutions’ cultures become critically important. Those cultures reveal what is most important to the campus community and they provide direction to the strategies that institutions adopt in response to those external pressures (Bergquist & Pawlak, 2008; Dill, 1982; Sporn, 1996; Tierney, 1988).