2018 NASPA Annual Conference

Extended Learning Session: Closing the Equity Gap: Design Strategies for Institutional Transformation

Broadly, American higher education was designed to serve a specific type of student. In the last 50 years, the compositional diversity of our campuses, along myriad axes of identity, has changed dramatically.  Yet our campus practices, including our co-curricular programs and services, remain largely unaltered. This disconnect between our sociohistorical foundations and our current student demographics produces a vast equity gap, whereby marginalized and low social capital students emerge from our institutions with severely diminished outcomes when compared to their privileged peers. We can disrupt this cycle. This extended session will equip participants with four innovative design strategies that they can implement to transform their campuses and their own practices through intentional, justice-centered interventions. Session participants will be engaged by the presenters in a series of mini-TED style talks, punctuated by table-top working sessions where they will operationalize these design strategies in small groups. Participants will emerge empowered and prepared to tackle their institution’s equity gaps.


**Due to overwhelming popularity, this event is full and is no longer accepting RSVPs.**


Tuesday, March 6
10:00 am to 12:00 pm

Presented by

Dr. Sumi Pendakur
Chief Learning Officer and Director of the USC Equity Institutes - University of Southern California
Dr. Vijay Pendakur
Dean of Students - Cornell University

Dr. Sumun Pendakur, Ed.D., is the Chief Learning Officer and Director of the USC Equity Institutes at the USC Race and Equity Center.  Sumi leads three of the Center’s signature activities, all of which focus on advancing racial justice in higher education and other sectors.  Sumi serves as a consultant, speaker, and facilitator regionally and nationally, helping campuses, non-profits, and other organizations build capacity for cultural competence, social justice, and equitable practices.  She is a scholar-practitioner, whose research interests include Critical Race Theory, Asian American and Pacific Islander students, change agents, and institutional transformation.  Sumi is passionate about empowering students, faculty, staff, and administrators to be empowered agents of change in their spheres of influence. 

Most recently, Sumi served for the last 5 years as the Assistant Vice-President for Diversity and Inclusion at Harvey Mudd College. Sumi was a member of the President’s Cabinet and served as the co-Chief Diversity Officer, partnering with Academic Affairs, to focus on campus-wide efforts related to access, equity, campus climate, and inclusion.  She also directed HMC's social justice education center, the Office of Institutional Diversity (OID).

Prior to Harvey Mudd College, Sumi spent 7.5 years at the University of Southern California, where she served as the director for Asian Pacific American Student Services.  In 2011, she won the USC Remarkable Women Award and the USC Rossier School of Education Dissertation of the Year Award.  In 2014, she won the Outstanding Mid-Level Professional Award from the NASPA Asian Pacific Islander Knowledge Community.  

Pendakur is a graduate of Northwestern University with a double major in Women’s Studies and History and a Minor in Spanish. She holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Michigan. She received her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from the USC Rossier School of Education.

Sumi is married to actor Sunil Malhotra and is the proud (and permanently tired) mommy of 4-year-old Shashi Veer Pendakur Malhotra.

Dr. Vijay Pendakur serves as the Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students at Cornell University. Prior to this appointment, he worked on campus-wide student success initiatives for underserved populations as an Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at California State University – Fullerton. Before joining the team at Fullerton, Dr. Pendakur served as the Director for the Office of Multicultural Student Success at DePaul University in Chicago. He is the editor of the recent book, “Closing the Opportunity Gap: Identity-Conscious Strategies for Retention and Student Success,” as well as numerous chapters on Asian American racial identity development, color-blind racism, and critical leadership pedagogy. He holds a bachelor's degree in history and East Asian studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a master's degree in U.S. history from the University of California, San Diego, and a doctorate in education from DePaul University.