THE BLOG
11/18/2016 02:35 pm ET Updated Nov 19, 2017

President Donald Trump and Student Success

Donald Trump is the new president-elect of the United States, and I ponder what his leadership may mean for higher education.

As president of the University of La Verne, an institution that prides itself on a commitment to quality education and graduating students who are successful professionals and contributors to their communities, I wish to ensure that we stay dedicated to our students and our institutional mission. Ours is a federally-designated Hispanic-serving institution. We have more than 3,600 Latino students, a near majority of first-generation students and more than 1,400 students receiving Federal Pell Grants.

On the day after the election, we held a campus-wide forum to enable students to voice what was on their minds. Our students were respectful of the electoral process and the outcome of the election. Their wish is to see a president who works to unify America and truly believes there is power in diversity.

Since the election, the president elect has adopted what appears to be a collaborative and conciliatory tone. Based on "Donald Trump's Contract with the American Voter," we know he plans to introduce several measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days of his administration. Among them is a School Choice and Education Opportunity Act that contains several goals, including making two and four-year colleges more affordable.

From my perspective, enhancing financial support alone will not improve student outcomes. While scholarships and other forms of student aid are important, it is also critical to create an academic environment where all students have the support and opportunity to succeed.

As an institution of higher education, it is important that we see this moment in history as a call to action. We must remember our values of lifelong learning, ethical reasoning, civic and community engagement and diversity and inclusivity. I encourage our new president to recognize the sense of community and success we are building on our campuses.

At the University of La Verne, we provide a thriving Latino Student Forum, a First-Generation Club, a Common Ground Club that promotes religious diversity, a multicultural center and regular programming focused on student identity. These efforts have yielded success academically as well as greater professional success after graduation.

Our signature four-year undergraduate program, The La Verne Experience, includes mandatory civic and community-engagement activities, bringing curricular theory into practice and preparing graduates who are committed to working together to improving their neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and country.

It takes courage to commit to success for all our students and that is what higher education must do -- educating our students and supporting our community. We cannot lose sight of these goals as we lead by example. We look forward to these elements being a part of our new president's views and efforts for educating all our students.