In this episode, we’re excited to welcome Dr. Bridget Burns to Trending in Education to talk about innovation in higher education. Named one of the “Most Innovative People in Higher Education” by Washington Monthly, Bridget is the founding Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA). The UIA is the groundbreaking national consortium of public research universities working together to test and scale innovations that close achievement gaps and improve outcomes for all students. Since its founding in 2014, the UIA campuses have increased their low-income degrees awarded by 37% (producing over 30,000 additional low-income graduates to date) and increased graduates of color by 73%. The Alliance has been featured in national outlets like 60 Minutes, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fast Company, and in the documentary “Unlikely“. The UIA has inspired and supported the formation of more than 15 other university networks working to improve postsecondary success for low-income students.
We begin by hearing Bridget’s origin story as an education professional which takes us back to her roots in rural Montana and community college before finding her way into higher education and ultimately the UIA. We explore how the UIA was founded and their mission of understanding how universities can innovate, how they can test ideas across different university cultures and contexts, and how they can spread the word about what they’re learning. Bridget shares what it was like to work with Michael Crow at ASU as the UIA was first coming together and as it’s grown and evolved since. Bridget provides examples of how innovations have emerged across the 11 member institutions of the UIA and looks ahead to where she sees the organization heading in the future. She also shares her perspective on new and emerging media like Tik Tok and its relevance in reaching the rising generations. It’s a fascinating conversation and we thank Dr. Burns for sharing her time and perspective to the show.
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