Achieving the Dream Launches New Initiative to Engage Adjunct Faculty in Student Success


Atlanta, GA—Achieving the Dream (ATD) today announced an initiative to engage adjunct faculty in colleges’ student success agendas through the development or strengthening of college policies and practices that build leadership opportunities for adjunct faculty, improve professional development activities and engage all faculty in student-focused reform efforts.

Adjunct faculty represent a tremendous asset whose collective expertise should be leveraged on college campuses. We are proud to support this effort to develop and share strategies that empower adjunct faculty and enhance their impact on student success.

Ryan Kelsey, Education Program Officer

With funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, the initiative, known as Engaging Adjunct Faculty in the Student Success Movement, will support six ATD colleges in deepening the relationship between the colleges and their adjunct faculties to facilitate instructional reform and make faculties’ skills and experiences fully available to students.

The initiative also recognizes that adjunct faculty with close connections to their colleges can be more valuable to their students if they have access to information about college programs and resources, data on student performance and progress, and the informal knowledge developed by full-time faculty. Over time, the colleges may build capacity to include adjunct faculty in college governance structures and college-wide student success agendas.

“Building a true student-focused culture can only happen when colleges develop systems to integrate adjunct faculty fully into their culture and operations,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Colleges need the knowledge and dedication of their adjunct faculty in order to build their capacity to engage more students at a higher level.”

“Adjunct faculty represent a tremendous asset whose collective expertise should be leveraged on college campuses,” said Ryan Kelsey, program officer of the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Education Program. “We are proud to partner with Achieving the Dream on this effort to develop and share strategies that will empower adjunct faculty and enhance their impact on student success.”

“Our grantmaking focuses on increasing graduation rates for low-income students, students of color and first-generation students – for whom instructional quality and teacher engagement are critical to academic success,” says Amy Kerwin, Vice President of Community Investments at Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. “We look forward to leveraging ATD’s expertise in engaging faculty to drive student success, so we can put more students on the path to completion and better lives.

Adjunct or part-time faculty teach more than half of all students in community college, frequently in students’ first college-level courses and developmental education courses.

The initiative seeks to support community colleges in providing adjunct faculty with more opportunities to connect with the college, including knowledge of and satisfaction with professional learning, campus resources and policies relevant to adjuncts. For example, policy changes could lead to improved orientation, stronger communication channels, allocation of resources, data collection and reporting, and common hiring and evaluation processes.

Colleges involved in the initiative will form cross-disciplinary and cross-functional Adjunct Faculty Inquiry Groups and work within at least one science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) department.

ATD will partner with the Community College Research Center (CCRC) in documenting and disseminating the knowledge gained about designing and implementing professional learning opportunities, engagement strategies and campus policies to improve adjunct faculty’s instructional quality and level of institutional engagement.

The Engaging Adjunct Faculty in the Student Success Movement initiative provides an important opportunity for ATD to deepen its knowledge of teaching and learning, one of seven institutional capacities required for colleges to build a student-focused culture that supports noteworthy advances in student achievement. ATD unveiled the new capacity framework at DREAM 2016, ATD’s annual student success conference.

Colleges must be strong in each capacity area in order to successfully undertake the comprehensive student success efforts such as pathways and integrated planning and advising systems that are expected to improve student outcomes significantly. The colleges selected to participate in the adjunct faculty initiative will be among the first ATD institutions to use the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT) and will help ATD define basic, moderate and high levels of capacity in the teaching and learning area.

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective organizations in health, place-based initiatives, and education and human services. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $1.5 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. The Trust's Education Program seeks to advance American economic competitiveness as well as individual social mobility. In K-12, the Trust focuses on ensuring all students graduate high school prepared for college or careers by supporting teacher effectiveness and the adoption and implementation of high academic standards. In higher education, the goal of the Trust’s grantmaking is to increase the number and diversity of college graduates in STEM fields by improving persistence to graduation.

About Great Lakes

Knowing that education has the power to change lives for the better, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates was established as a nonprofit group focused on a single objective: helping students nationwide prepare for and succeed in post-secondary education and student loan repayment. As a leading student loan guarantor and servicer, we have been selected by the U.S. Department of Education to provide assistance and repayment planning to more than 8 million borrowers – as well as assistance to colleges and lenders nationwide. Our group’s earnings support one of the largest and most respected educational philanthropy programs in the country. Since 2006, we have committed over $160 million in grant funding to promote higher education access and completion for students of color, low income students, and first-generation students. For additional information, visit

About Achieving the Dream

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.