As the premier framework for classifying higher education institutions, the Carnegie Classifications are critical to federal reporting, often align to federal funding streams, and serve as the foundation for public facing rankings systems that drive institution decision-making and inform student enrollment choice. For instance, an emphasis on research has incentivized institutions to intensify research operations, often at the expense of other impact areas, such as efforts to improve access, equity and success for marginalized students. Redesigning the Carnegie Classifications to recognize efforts that equitably improve student success – like those that benefit student parents and families – could help shift the incentive structure in higher education toward justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI). That is why Imaginable Futures invested in the American Council on Education (ACE) partnership with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to redesign the classification system to establish new norms that influence how institutions allocate resources. Over the next five years, ACE and the Carnegie Foundation will work with a diverse group of stakeholders, including institutional leaders, expert researchers and data scientists, policymakers, philanthropies, and others across higher education to revise the classification system to better capture institutional commitment to JEDI-focused work, including the development of a new Social and Economic Mobility classification.
Now, more than ever, we need high quality higher education to be a right available to all. This is in the interest of all Americans, and it is in the national interest. This is where I believe ACE can and must play a vital role in convening and mobilizing the entire higher education community to work together to help promote the value of higher education to a wide array of stakeholders.