Collaborative Event Focuses on Sustainable Solutions to Student Challenges


The League for Innovation in the Community College and Mesa Community College (MCC) co-hosted a “Day for Visionaries and Innovators: Constructing a Blueprint for Radical Transformation” at MCC on February 16. The event is first in a series of forums that will serve as a foundation for a state model.

Rufus Glasper, Ph.D., President and CEO, League for Innovation, stated, “It is evident we need a new paradigm to address the needs of those who may not be meeting their full potential within the confines of the current college system.” He continued, “Today’s activity can serve to help with the development of a new engagement model based on the entire ecosystem of our communities and seek greater partnerships and integrated models that can be scaled nationally for positive student outcomes.”

“Our intent is to generate results by identifying innovative solutions and designing a creative approach to key areas impeding students from successfully earning a degree or credential,” said Sonya Pearson, Ph.D., MCC Vice President of Student Affairs. “The outcome was a collaborative blueprint on how we will proceed with shared accountability.”

Monica Sharma, author of Radical Transformational Leadership, was the keynote speaker. Trained as a physician and epidemiologist, Sharma worked for the United Nations for 22 years and is an international expert on radical transformational leadership.

Sharma’s presentation laid the groundwork for vibrant roundtable discussions focused on what students, particularly those who are typically underrepresented, need to pursue and complete a college education. Scholarships, housing, food security, transportation, workforce development, and career attainment were forefront in the development of a blueprint based on shared accountability.

More than 100 attendees representing local educational and community groups, city government officials, and industry leaders identified 50 strategies to meet student needs. Several are already being reviewed for design and implementation.

Pearson said the day sparked a renewed vision, energy, and passion for community leaders, students, and educators to be courageous pioneers, essential to transforming higher education strategies.

In the next month, the strategies will bring stakeholders from technology, housing, transportation, food services, city municipalities, veterans services, American Indian organizations, and public and private developers together to design integrated and intersectional models of sustainable solutions. The stakeholders, who share common goals, will need to commit to working in uncommon space to achieve greatness—providing more students with basic-need supports necessary to succeed in obtaining a higher education.

Learn more about this event here.