Make America Great for Everyone- Finally

Thoughts on MLK Day 2019

Andrew K. Koch, PhD

This moment was brought to you by our Constitution.  And me, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019.

Stick with me here -- because the argument I am about to make is an inconvenient truth based on our nation's original sins. If we do not recognize and reconcile these sins of the past, and how they shape the present, our nation's future will be anything but great.

The concept of America -- as a land of freedom, equal opportunity, and respect for all -- is great. I am willing to go so far as say it is the greatest concept for a nation ever. But the reality is that we must strive every day to make this concept true. Because we have not lived up to our values. And our laws and legal systems have made that so.

Simply stated, our nation's enabling document - the Constitution - and the laws that have been passed and based on that document for the more than 230 years since its ratification, make the realization of the nation's greatness a challenge. And all we need to do is look at that document to see why.

On its first pages - Article 1, Section 2 -- the Constitution excludes "Indians not taxed" and "all other persons" from "counting" in the nation. The "all other persons" phrase means Black slaves. These "other persons" did count as 3/5 of a human - per the verbiage of that same Constitutional Section. And this formula -- the Three-Fifths Compromise -- was there solely for the benefit of Southern whites who needed that arithmetic to guarantee that they would not be out-voted or out-represented by their Northern white male counterparts.

In Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, we find that the "importation" of "such persons" is allowed, albeit with a tax, through 1808. After that, interstate sales, birth, and some smuggling filled the labor market need for chattel Black slaves. That taxation part meant that our national government was funded, in part, through the sale of Black slaves -- per the Constitution, "a Tax or duty . . . not exceeding ten dollars for each Person." But note how the Founders could not even use the name given to the "persons" they were excluding even as they codified their subordinate position as an imported commodity that generated tax revenue. Indians were Indians, but Blacks were "such persons" -- 3/5 of one generating up to ten dollars per head.

Even though Abigail Adams implored her hus­band, John Adams, to “remember the ladies” as he and his male Founders wrote the Constitution, women are not explicitly granted rights in the Constitution. Later - over 130 years later - women got the right to vote via the 19th Amendment. But equal rights are not guaranteed -- the Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified.

The 13th and 14th Amendments eliminated slavery and granted the theoretical constructs for equal protection under the law. But they did not eliminate subordination nor eradicate the race-based and gender-based systems that were at the very foundation of our nation's enabling documents and legal systems.

These inequitable systems continued to operate and were further deepened in their exclusionary laws long after the passage of both Amendments. You do not get Jim Crow segregation laws, miscegenation (inter-race marriage) laws, the Dawes Act (which sought to abolish tribal and communal land ownership for Native Americans), the Chinese Exclusion Act, legalized redlining, and a host of other forms of legislation well into the 20th century if "equal protection under the law" was universally understood as being applied to all races and genders.

 If you have gotten this far, then know I share this for a few simple reasons.

I believe in the concept of America. It is the greatest national concept I know.

And I believe, the nation can be greater tomorrow than it is today.

I also believe that professing that America can be made "great again" ignores the nation's race- and gender-based exclusionary past and present, and, by doing so, perpetuates that history into the future.

That kind of vision for the future is what empowers teenage white boys to disrespect a Native American elder who served his nation during the Vietnam conflict.

That kind of vision means we never were great.

And it means we will never truly live up to what our nation can be.

America can only be truly great if it recognizes and reconciles the race-based and gender-based inequity upon which it was founded.

Make America great for everyone.


Digging into the Disciplines I: Accounting for Failure-The Impact of Principles of Accounting Courses on Student Success and Equitable Outcomes

Andrew K. Koch, PhD, President and Chief Operating Officer, Gardner Institute

Brent M. Drake, PhD, Vice Provost for Decision Support, University Nevada, Las Vegas & Gardner Institute Fellow

The content found on this document comes from a broader study examining the rates of D, F, W (for any form of withdrawal on the transcript), and I (for incomplete) grades (DFWI rates) in introductory courses at thirty-six different colleges and universities in the United States. The thirty-six institutions include seven community colleges, two proprietary (for-profit) four-year institutions, eight independent (private) four-year institutions, and nineteen public four-year institutions – twenty-nine four-year and seven two-year total. The twenty-nine total four-year institutions further break down into six Baccalaureate Colleges, fourteen Masters Colleges and Universities, and nine Doctoral Universities

The data displayed in this document includes aggregate and disaggregate DFWI rates for Principles of / Introductory Accounting courses at 32 of the aforementioned institutions (18,217 students earning grades), Introductory Calculus courses at 32 of the institutions (13,253 students earning grades), and Introductory Chemistry courses at 31 of the institutions (20,987 students earning grades). 

A detailed report that explores the issue and describes the data, method, limitations, and implications of this research, written by Drs. Andrew Koch and Brent Drake, will be released by the Gardner Institute in early 2019.

To learn more download the full article here.

If you would like to receive future issues of Digging into the Disciplines. Subscribe Here.

National Student Transfer Week

The Gardner Institute would like to recognize all the institutions who have demonstrated a strong commitment to transfer students through completing the Foundations in Excellence - Transfer self-study. Transfer students account for over 60% of students who receive baccalaureate degrees.

Congratulations to these two-year institutions:

•      Ashland Community and Technical College

•       Big Sandy Community and Technical College

•       Bluegrass Community and Technical College

•       Bossier Parish Community College

•       Columbus State Community College

•       Elizabethtown Community College

•       Gateway Community and Technical College

•       Hazard Community and Technical College

•       Henderson Community College

•       Hopkinsville Community College

•       Jefferson Community and Technical College

•       Kirkwood Community College

•       Lone Star College-Montgomery

•       Lone Star College-North Harris

•       Madisonville Community College

•       Malcom X College

•       Massachusetts Bay Community College

•       Maysville Community and Technical College

•       Mercer County Community College

•       Minnesota State Community and Technical College

•       NorthWest Arkansas Community College

•       Olive Harvey College

•       Owensboro Community and Technical College

•       Palo Alto College

•       San Antonio College

•       Somerset Community College

•       Southcentral KY Community and Technical College

•       Southeast KY Community and Technical College

•       St. Cloud Technical & Community College

•       Truman College

•       Tulsa Community College

•       Waubonsee Community College

•       Waycross College (Now South Georgia College)

•       West Kentucky Community and Technical College

And these four-year institutions:

•       American Public University System

•       Arizona State University

•       CUNY Brooklyn College

•       CUNY Lehman College

•       CUNY Queens College

•       East Carolina University

•       Georgia Gwinnett College

•       Illinois State University

•       Indiana State University

•       IUPUI

•       Kean University

•       Kennesaw State University

•       Langston University

•       Lourdes College

•       Northeastern State University

•       Northwood University

•       Oklahoma State University-Tulsa

•       Rogers State University

•       Shenandoah University

•       SUNY –Oswego

•       SUNY –College at Brockport

•       Texas A & M University-San Antonio

•       University of Central Florida

•       University of Houston-Clear Lake

•       University of Main-Fort Kent

•       University of Northern Iowa

•       University of Southern Maine

•       University of Texas Brownsville

•       University of Tulsa

NACADA and Gardner Institute announce charter cohort of 12 institutions for Excellence in Academic Advising.

NACADA and Gardner Institute announce charter cohort of 12 institutions for Excellence in Academic Advising.

Monday, Oct 1, 2018, at the NACADA Annual Conference Dr. Charlie Nutt, executive director, NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising announced the charter institutions for Excellence in Academic Advising (EAA). EAA is an evidence-based, redesign process that helps institutions create and implement a comprehensive strategic plan for academic advising. The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (Gardner Institute) partnered with NACADA to create the EAA process to change and affirm the role and influence of academic advising in higher education.

The twelve institutions, selected from a large pool of applicants with diverse advising structures, represent a diverse range of institution types. Schools within the cohort include 2-year and 4-year institutions, small private liberal-arts colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well as large, private, online, regional and state institutions, public and private research universities.

The charter cohort include:

•       American Public University System (APUS)

•       Claflin University

•       College of the Mainland

•       Florida International University

•       Frostburg State University

•       Johns Hopkins University

•       State University of New York at New Paltz

•       University of Hawai’i at Manoa

•       University of Southern Maine

•       University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire

•       Wheaton College Massachusetts

•       Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

The two‐year program kicked off at the NACADA annual meeting in Phoenix this week. The inaugural cohort will be guided through evidence‐based decision making, planning, and an implementation process to improve their academic advising efforts. They will engage in an institution‐wide initiative using NACADA and the Gardner Institute’s nine “Conditions of Excellence in Academic Advising.” These standards acknowledge the role of academic advising in promoting student learning, success, and completion as well as the complexity of higher education and organizational change. Excellence in Academic Advising Fellows will support the development of a set of evidence‐based institutional recommendations for change, as well as provide support for plan implementation.

“Academic advising is a key component of student success, persistence, and degree completion on many campuses,” said Charlie Nutt, NACADA executive director. “By examining advising through multiple lenses and implementing evidence‐based recommendations, institutions can ensure alignment with priorities for student success.”

About this significant collaborative effort, John Gardner, Gardner Institute chair and chief executive officer, noted that, “The launch of the Excellence in Academic Advising initiative is the most important development for improving the quality of academic advising and raising its overall level of priority on US campuses since the establishment 39 years ago of the National Academic Advising Association.”

Drew Koch, Gardner Institute president and chief operating officer added, “We believe the combination of analytics, sage and trusted external guidance, and wise internal institutional knowledge that we are building into the EAA model will yield measurable improvement in institutional outcomes related to academic advising – especially for our nation’s most historically underserved and underrepresented students. There are important completion agenda and equity imperative considerations at work here. We are delighted to be part of this historic endeavor.”

NACADA is a global association of professional advisors, counselors, faculty members, and administrators working to enhance the educational development of students in higher education through research, professional development, and leadership. The Gardner Institute is a non‐profit organization dedicated to partnering with colleges, universities, philanthropic organizations, educators, and other entities to increase institutional responsibility for improving outcomes associated with teaching, learning, retention, and completion.

For more information, contact