Over the past several years, WSSU has had to reframe its mission and motto against an increasingly digital backdrop. What does student success look like in a digital world? And what skills and experiences will help to close the equity gap, giving students the ability to compete as they join the workforce?
For Dr Robinson, the task ahead is all about preparing students for an uncertain future — and doing so in an equitable way. Given that many of tomorrow’s jobs don’t even exist yet, students need to stay flexible and cultivate an attitude of lifelong learning. They also need equal access to technology and real-world opportunities as they prepare to enter the workforce, from digital tools to hands-on internships, study abroad programmes, undergraduate research opportunities and mentorships. WSSU calls those “high-impact practices” because of the powerful effect they have on student achievement.
“When our students graduate and start to look for jobs, employers won’t just be looking at their degrees,” says Dr Robinson. “They also want to know what’s in their portfolios, which skillsets they have and which technologies they’ve been exposed to.”
By investing in technology and high-impact practices, WSSU is creating better opportunities for young people of colour, many of whom come from underprivileged communities. One major investment the university has made in digital literacy was to provide all students with Adobe Creative Cloud. WSSU is the first HBCU to be designated an Adobe Creative Campus.
“There’s so much excitement and energy around being the first HBCU to become an Adobe Creative Campus,” says Dr Robinson. “The investment in digital literacy is helping us break down barriers between disciplines and produce multidimensional students that are as well-versed in creativity and communication as they are in the hard sciences.”