Dr. Estela Bensimon – Making Race Talk Routine


Welcome message from Dr. William Watkins

  • This is the fifth annual Terry Piper lecture!
  • It’s our pleasure to host development and enrichment programs such as this, and it’s wonderful to see such a turnout.
  • Shout outs:  Cheryl Spector, Shellie Hadvina, Ben Quillian, Frank Stranzl, Randy Reynaldo, Abraham (didn’t catch last name – sorry Abraham), Matt Perez, Meryl Simon, Shelley Ruelas-Bischoff, Michael Clemens
  • Purpose of this lecture series:  gather faculty, staff, and administrators to acknowledge our work together and interconnected responsibilities for student learning and success.
  • Terry served as VP of Student Affairs at CSUN from 2001 – 2010.
  • Terry’s mission:  to forge and amplify the work that we all do in support of student success:  we ALL have a role in helping our students make it to the finish line.
  • Terry would want us to remember the amazing work of Dr. Jose Luis Vargas, who passed away late last month.

Forward by CSUN Provost Dr Yi Li

  • Though I did not know Terry, his legacy at CSUN is deep and it influences my work.
  • One outcome of Terry’s legacy are multiple collaborations between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs; this lecture series is just one example of that.
  • US Census Bureau:  “majority minority” is a coming reality for the United States.  By 2018, 45% of all jobs will require a higher education…so our work is incredibly important.
  • CSUN has already arrived at this point!  It is important for us to lead the way for our sister campuses, and campuses across the nation.
  • Dr. Bensimon is a Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at the USC Rossier School of Education and Co-Director of the Center for Urban Education, which she founded in 1999.
  • Race, empathy and student success are the themes of Dr. Bensimon’s work.  Recommendations based on her work have been implemented at over 40 campuses across the country.
  • Dr. Bensimon spent a few moments thanking the folks who helped make this event happen.

It’s important for us to mobilize our power on behalf of others…we have so much more power than we realize:  social networks, authority to make change in our institutions, and more.

Has much changed between 1964 and 2016?  Sometimes it’s hard to see…

Why is Race Talk So Difficult?

  • We’re fearful we’ll say the wrong thing, we’re afraid of being called a racist.
  • Fear of conflict is an obstacle to discussing and addressing racial/ethnic inequity.
  • In higher education, we’re overly polite at times (collegiality)
  • Shared a comic to highlight disparities in the accumulation of generational differences
  • “The Diversity Agenda” makes it easier to NOT talk about race.  The history of the word is tied to the 2003 Supreme Court decision about the University of Michigan (could race be used as one of the admissions criteria?  Answer:  yes).
  • Diversity Misunderstood and Misused:  Chief Justice Roberts asks:  “Why does diversity matter in a physics class?”

Details of Racial Inequality

  • Wealth gap is real.
  • Mortgages are the primary means of wealth for the middle class; mortgages are denied to black and latino families than whites.
  • Black and latino students are more likely to attend poorly funded school.  On average, these students are shorted $733
  • Affluent schools have AP courses, which helps students with access to advance more quickly.
  • Grad rates at CSUN:  4 year 14%, 6 year 48%, 8 year 55%
  • Aggregate data doesn’t tell the whole story! (Will need to see if the slides will be made available…I’ll post if I find it).
  • Detailed slide of CSUN’s Student and Faculty Representation by Race/Ethnicity, Fall 2014.  Big takeaway:  white students are the minority (26%), and white faculty are by far the majority (65%).  However, this “is fairly typical and not something for us to feel too bad about.”

Language Used To Talk About Race

  • Avoid ambiguous term like At Risk, Non-Traditional, Minority, URM (Under Represented Minority)
  • The CSU does this a lot and I really think it shouldn’t.  People don’t identify themselves like this, neither should we.  I to personally agree with this in a big way
  • Caucasian, European, American; why are these terms not ok?   A German Anatomist (Johann Friedrich Blumenbach) who was into racial classification identified these “races” as a measure of Christian perfection.

The Meaning of Equity

  • Diversity != Equity
  • The antidote to diversity, rooted in civil rights principles.
  • Redistribution of resources to provide for those with the greatest need
  • Financial aid is a form of equity.
  • Racism is created by structural inequality.

Structural Racism

  • Important to recognize and name it
  • Institutions are molded to certain values and certain people.  They have historicity associated with them.
  • “Neutral” often masks structural racism
  • We need to be equity-minded to help be more systemically aware; need to focus and put the emphasis on the institution.
  • Understand inequity as a dysfunction of structures, policy, and practices
  • Question assumptions and take action to eliminate

Example:  Euniversity of Wisconsin Eau Claire

  • Honors program was 100% white
  • Criteria:  ACT test scores
  • NOW:  they use multiple entrance criteria

Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine

  • Faculty experience the institution differently
  • A series of slides highlighted the differences between perceptions of campus racial climate, depending on your own race
  • We typically think that “Student Commitment + Student Effort = Student Success”
  • Cultural practices may not exist in some schools and households
  • Inequitable outcomes != emerge from deficits in:  motivation, direction , engagement, effort, discipline, study skills, time, commitment.  NEED TO REFRAME THIS
  • We need to focus on what we can control within the institution.  Require new:  institutional structures, cultures, practices, routines
  • We need to look to the data to notice racial inequities.  Go course by course, section by section!  This is hard work, and sometimes there is fear by faculty that it may unearth uncomfortable facts.
  • Essential Equity Practice:  Disaggregate > Report > Set Goals.
  • Report the state of equity by department.  The numbers that result are manageable!

Can You Make Race Talk a Routine?

  • Yes / No?
  • What will it require?
  • Who will lead it?
  • What stands in the way?

Reactions / Q&A

  • Catherine Stevenson (director of dev math at CSUN):  parallels between developmental education for students and for faculty are profound.  Students can succeed if you can show them what they need to do and then provide “do-able actions.”  How do you help institutions find those practical steps.  Dr. Bensimon:  we use data to inform actions; we train faculty on the protocols to use to help implement those changes.  Example:  work-study students may not have been trained to understand and identify student help-seeking as a cultural practice (some cultures do no encourage reaching out for help and view it as a personal failure).  Another example:  syllabi can be modified to help facilitate learning.  This has been a powerful tool for faculty in reviewing and re-stating pedagogical philosophy.
  • Nicole Olson (graduate student):  I think we can make race talk a routine, but it will require awareness of biases.  Senior administration, departments, faculty and student working groups can help to address this.  Dr. Bensimon:  can you give an example when race was NOT discussed?
  • Catherine, Financial Aid:  I think it can be done, I see it in my own department.  You have to have the courage to talk about it!  My director has done this without fear – we talked about the Mizzou situation, and was a safe space for us all to talk about things.
  • Dr. William Watkins:  have we ever actually talked about race directly on this campus?  Yes, particularly during CA proposition 209.  Dr. Bensimon:  sometimes laws are made to be broken 🙂
  • Admissions & Records:  we recently went into full impaction, and race often hasn’t come into play in the discussions we’ve had in A&R (personal note:  this has been discussed extensively among Student Affairs leadership…what this tells me is that we need to do more active outreach on our own campus!).  Dr. Watkins:  we’ve been so focused on the public, we haven’t provided enough education internally.  We’re going to change that right away via internal focus groups.
  • SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) is often a barrier.  Dr. Bensimon:  we have a tool that analyzes the language used on university web sites…and number of clicks it takes to get to certain info.
  • Becky from Library:  if white is preferable to “European,” does this apply to Middle Eastern students?  How does that break down and is it useful when speaking about race?  Dr. Bensimon:  we don’t address that issue specifically, but we’re clear about the basis of research, which is that equity and status in this country have a basis in slavery, racism and economic barriers.  I don’t actually know how Middle Eastern students identify themselves.
  • Vanessa Bustamante:  goals are important!  My studies on gap analysis re: faculty hiring were not easy in Academic Affairs.  When I moved to Student Affairs, my studies opened up dramatically.  Dr. Bensimon:  we’re doing work with CLU  right now.  Another audience member – didn’t catch her name: We cannot have real clear goals on hiring due to proposition 209.

The Kurogo 2016 Mega Post

Hello superfans!

Once again, here’s my Kurogo conference mega post.  My notes are perhaps not quite as detailed as last year, due to my involvement in organizing the venue this year.  If you’ve never helped to organize a multi-day event like this, believe me the devil is COMPLETELY in the details 🙂  As always, any errors, omissions or inaccuracies are all mine.  If there’s anything you see you’d like me to update / edit, please hit me up via twitter @paulschantz.  I hope you find my notes helpful!

Thursday, March 24

Wednesday, March 23

Tuesday, March 22


End User Personalization


  • Marty Johnson, Georgetown University
  • Adam Smeets, Dominican University

A look into the crystal ball on the future of personalized mobile experiences.

Marty:  Small bite-sized data that can be subscribed to or delivered directly to me without me asking for it.  In my email client, wouldn’t it be great if I could update contact info based on incoming email?  Google makes recommendations to me based on my preferences and it’s a little creepy but it works well.  Our students are asking for a lot of this kind of predictive functionality.

Adam:  “trust capital,” how do we think about the privacy of our users?  In IT, we frequently jam a bunch of data and features together, but we don’t often think about the ethical considerations of doing so.  Emergency management is something we’ve been considering, i.e. “mustering.”


  • What happens when things don’t work?  MARTY:  depends on the thing, i.e. is it just a free salad?  Probably not a problem.  ADAM:  unless it’s 20,000 students wanting a free salad!  MARTY:  sometimes getting accurate info from faculty is not easy.  ADAM:  we had an issue with Peoplesoft data where a few students did not have enough credits to graduate, now THAT’S a major error.
  • Is there a point of diminishing returns for personalization?  MARTY:  if you can build a platform that’s cost-effective, then it makes sense.  ADAM:  what’s the goal, and how does your strategy meet that goal?  You have to be able to measure this in a way that shows you’re driving value.
  • Should students be required to purchase modern smartphones?  MARTY:  out of 1,800 admitted students, only 30 did not have a smartphone.  The overall cost for subsidizing is relatively small, but provide ways for students to get them for themselves.  ADAM:  no, it should not be a requirement.

Using Beacon Technology to Enhance Communication


  • Matt Willmore, University of Notre Dame
  • Kris Rogers, Indiana State University

Are Beacons the future of messaging? How can you incorporate them on your campus to enhance the university experience?

Indiana State University

  • We use three different types of beacons:  Radbeacon Dot, X2, USB
  • Shared a map of the areas they’re covering:  Career Center, Quad, Book Store, USU
  • Many of our partners downtown are working with us to strengthen relationships with our student body

Notre Dame University

  • You need a BlueTooth 4.0 standard device (same tech used for FitBit, AppleWatch, and increasing amount of consumer devices.
  • The largest housing Radius makes takes 4 AA batteries, and the vast majority of the size is taken up by the batteries.
  • Low-cost, low-power one-way transmitter; transmits between 1 and 10 times per second; every transmission is the same: “I’m a beacon with the UUID [X], major identifier [Y] and minor identifier [Z]
  • Can also do ranging, i.e. the phone can estimate how far away it is from the beacon.
  • UUID: Universally Unique Identifier; a generated alphanumeric string that you assign to beacons to uniquely identify them.
  • Major/minor identifiers: numbers to designate which beacon is transmitting.

CampaignKit is the brains behind the signaling and messaging

  • 3 elements:  places (beacons & geofences), content (the message), and campaigns

What do you need?

  • Kurogo app with Radius SDK installed
  • Beacons!
  • Active campaigns
  • Users need device with Bluetooth 4, app installed, bluetooth enabled, notifications enabled for your app

Beacon Placement

  • As close to traffic as possible while being out of the way
  • Under tables or where people tend to congregate
  • Consider weatherproof beacons for outdoor applications
  • We label our beacons, with a spreadsheet to track them all

Beacons at Notre Dame

  • Passive data collection (to find out how many people we could have reached in a given location over a give period of time)
  • Targeted notifications at retail locations:  food & bookstore

Future Opportunities

  • Athletic venues
  • Events like alumni reunion
  • Line monitoring (presence monitoring for line length)
  • Room availability
  • Indoor navigation


  • Can you opt-out of specific messaging?  Not yet on the Kurogo platform.

Marketing and Promoting Your Mobile App


  • Kate Hash, University of North Carolina
  • Marieanne Quiroz, Cal State Northridge

Marketing your app to users is just as important as developing it. Learn best practices for maximizing adoption of your app.

Kate:  our app is a true partnership with our students.

  • Development and platform management is in my office
  • Students are responsible for all the content.

Timeline of CarolinaGO

  • Launched in 2014 as m.unc.edu
  • Native app went live October, 2014
  • 13,000 total downloads
  • We did brochures and QR codes

Why does the app exist?

  • One stop shopping for students:  LMS, Bus finders, gym / dining schedules, events
  • We were missing was an “anchor store” like a shopping center
  • What pain points are we solving/can we solve?  Peoplesoft mobile could serve as the anchor

Summer 2015

  • Peoplesoft mobile soft launch in mid-June
  • Redesign launched in early August
  • Quietly promoting app to new students
  • Promotion to new students via engagement with orientation leaders, signage at laptop distribution
  • The big bang August 14:  tweet, article in the Daily Tar Heel.
  • No real action…until:  formal notice to ALL students.  This gave us 8,000 new downloads.

Coming Soon

  • Extensive in-person outreach:  Fall Fest, Student Government, Greek Organizations
  • Push Notifications
  • First Year Student Summer Orientations:  mobile device setup room, communications designed for parents, educated orientation staff
  • Bus Ads

Key Lessons Learned

  • Tie promo efforts to positive app changes
  • ID pain points, fix them, advertise them
  • Work closely with students to understand how to reach them
  • Partner with other departments and collaborators
  • We do lots of in-person events

Marieanne:  Marketing & Promoting Your App

  • We have no permanent funding for marketing our app
  • We have a Portal/Mobile App Committee, which has representation from most areas on campus.
  • Our Student Marketing & Communications team is in our Outreach and Communications department; we have in-house writers and graphic designers.
  • We do a number of surveys:  annual IT survey, 1st time freshmen and 1st time transfers, feedback button on the app.
  • Focus groups:  push notification, CSUN mobile app; analytics, observations
  • Developed strategic marketing / communications plan:  content students want vs. what the university feels they need; develop timelines for additional content and develop marketing plans that correspond.
  • Our students love YouTube videos!  We produce these instead of how-to written materials…nobody reads those.
  • We have a “CSUN Navigators” program the first few days of class, where we have tents set up across campus, manned by people who help guide students (including how to download and use the app).
  • We do a lot of promotion during New Student Orientation
  • We do portal announcements and push notifications (there’s a “My Announcements” pagelet in the portal.  Students want deadline information, ticketing info
  • We also push the app in our prospective students portal (Hobsons); we also use our digital screens which are across campus and free for us to advertise on.

Future Marketing Efforts

  • KCSN Radio
  • More function-based marketing
  • Continued and expanded outreach to prospective students
  • Outreach to new students
  • Expanded use of analytics and data analysis
  • Expanded use of push notifications
  • Email campaign with use of updated videos


  • Have you used Social Media to promote your apps?  KATE:  we tweet things out, but more often we forward things to our Social Media Director for further outreach.  MARIEANNE:  yes, we do use a number of Social Media networks, and involve our Advancement team in a big way as well.
  • Where do recommendations from your governance group go?  MARIEANNE:  primarily IT and SM&C make the recommendations, and we review things.
  • Is there anything you wish the central department would know / should do?  KATE:  projects coming out of IT are generally not glamorous, so we’ve spent a lot of time working with our social media director and collaborating with other areas.  Knowing where your app is at the moment is super-important.  MARIEANNE:  we work collaboratively with our partners in Advancement and with branding & communications.


Continuing Adventures in Higher Ed & Technology