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Western Interstate Commission Higher Education (WICHE)


CUE-WICHE Partnership for Equity and Policy

With funding from the Ford Foundation, CUE and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) formed a partnership to advocate for racial equity in states’ student access and success initiatives.

The two-year project is assisting state system leaders and practitioners in using performance data to develop and implement policy changes that will increase degree completion, especially for students of color. In addition, a group of up-and-coming policy analysts will have opportunities to engage in work to promote racial equity.

This project demonstrates the utility of CUE’s tools and processes in helping states bring about sustainable changes in policy and practice to ensure that they meet their college completion goals and do so in a manner that is equitable for all students.

WICHE States

The first participating state is the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE). NSHE leaders have begun taking steps to prepare its universities and community colleges to meet the challenges of the coming decade.

In collaboration with WICHE and CUE, Nevada’s higher education leaders are using the Benchmarking Equity and Student Success Tool™ (BESST) to analyze system level data. The BESST™ tracks outcomes for a cohort of students through selected milestones in the educational pipeline. The BESST™ pinpoints trouble spots along the way and can be used to identify intervention points. Its interactive format also allows the system leaders and practitioners to set short-term objectives, as well as longer term equity goals.

By leveraging WICHE’s expertise in state and system policies to improve higher education outcomes and CUE’s expertise in using data and critical inquiry tools to improve outcomes for underrepresented students, NSHE will be in a better position to continuously monitor student achievement, including college completion and degree attainment for underrepresented students.

Policy Affiliates


Dr. Brian Pusser, an associate professor of higher education and director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, directs the CUE-WICHE Affiliate Program. The goal of this component of the grant is to create a group of equity-minded policy professionals who are trained in the methods of critical policy analysis.

The four affiliates were chosen based on their academic and professional achievements and potential to advance equity in policy development.

The 2010-2011 Affiliates are:

Sonia Ortiz-Mercado
Dean, Student Services and Special Programs,
California Community Colleges

Anne-Marie Nunez
Assistant Professor
University of Texas, San Antonio

Heather Wathington
Assistant Professor
University of Virginia

Magdalena Martinez
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs
Nevada System of Higher Education

Each of these scholars will work with Dr. Pusser and the CUE/WICHE staff on individual projects related to critical analysis of state policies that impact racial equity.

Center for Urban Education
University of Southern California
Rossier School of Education
Waite Phillips Hall, Suite 702
Los Angeles, CA 900089

Phone: (213)740-5202
Fax: (231)740-3889