Skip to main content


Erasing Equity Gaps Using Collective Impact 

Employing a collaborative approach to manifest our shared goals and leverage common datasets, tools and assessments across our many unique programs

In recent years, UC San Diego has been widely recognized for tremendous accomplishments in research, innovation, and the arts; employing a successful cross-campus collaboration to address the pandemic in Return to Learn; for compassionate support of vulnerable communities; and for providing an outstanding education to an increasingly diverse student population. During the same period, an array of reviews, including our WSCUC reaccreditation report and data from the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES),  Staff@Work, and Academics@UCSD surveys, have consistently highlighted key opportunities for improvement. The largest opportunity that the various reviews have identified is for us to unify our many efforts to make members of the university feel informed, mentored, valued, heeded, and enabled to do their best work 

Indeed, one of the most striking lessons from our response to the pandemic has been the effectiveness of the many instances where individuals and groups from many parts of the university came together to jointly transition previously separate efforts to the remote environment or to create innovative solutions to unfamiliar challenges. The examples span everything from teaching and summer programming to student recruitment and onboarding to health and safety initiatives to communication and strategic planning. They demonstrate that by uniting our efforts, we can achieve our aspirations for improving the university experience and promoting student, staff, and faculty success.

Working collectively and coherently to become a more inclusive, student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented university, Collective Impact (CI) will be used to: 

  • Scale up the size, connectivity, and impact of our research collaborations
  • Be as proudly innovative in education as we are in scholarship
  • Empower every Triton to succeed – undergraduates, graduate students, staff and academics

As our university has rapidly expanded, various schools and offices have created unique programs that address the needs of individuals in particular disciplines, career paths, or personal circumstances.  Yet, these valuable programs cover only a fraction of the Triton community. To erase the equity gaps that divide us, we must find ways to reach everyone. 

Academic Affairs invites you to join “Erasing Equity Gaps via Collective Impact” – an initiative to leverage and enhance the disparate mentoring, training, and support systems at UC San Diego that have the potential to jointly improve the experience, climate, and performance for all of our undergraduates, graduate students, staff, and academics.  


A new approach, not new work

Employing the CI framework at UC San Diego doesn't mean creating new work for those working to erase equity gaps. Instead, the goal is to work in a coordinated, collaborative way toward agreed-upon goals that will be measured using the same metrics. In short, it will be doing your same work in a new way.

Why it's important to begin using this new framework now

Our campus is not unfamiliar with the equity gaps that continue to exist on our campus, despite the work of many individuals to address these inequities. Our recent experiences dealing with the pandemic have demonstrated that the collective power of our concerted actions amplifies the effect of these individuals' work. 

In January 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom released his budget proposal, which pledged to deliver five years of a 5 percent general fund increase for the UC and CSU systems, IF we close equity gaps for underserved groups.This is our chance to make monumental progress on erasing these gaps by applying a collaborative approach more widely.

Attaining our aspirations using Collective Impact

Collective Impact only works if there are shared goals and guidelines for how we work together most effectively. 

Shared Overarching Goals

  • Erasing equity gaps for undergraduates, graduate students, and employees
  • Developing a culture of educational innovation
  • Promoting large-scale, interdisciplinary, community-engaged research initiatives
  • Uplifting the arts and humanities within our campus identity
  • Emphasizing the interplay between societal and scientific advances

Habits of Purposeful Collaboration

  • Institutionalizing inclusive, equitable practices
  • Extending our partnerships throughout campus and the wider community
  • Cultivating diverse revenue streams to support new academic initiatives
  • Pursuing continuous improvement – including lessons from the COVID area
  • Employing CI to manifest our shared goals and leverage common datasets, tools, and assessments across our many unique programs


Collective Impact Approach

The key elements of the collective impact model are: 

  • Setting a common vision for change and a joint agenda for approaching the issue
  • Developing a shared system for measuring results
  • Coordinating mutually-reinforcing activities for maximum impact 
  • Strengthening communications among participating stakeholders
  • Establishing a dedicated team to facilitate the logistical and administrative aspects of the overarching initiative

If we leverage existing initiatives by creating collective impact networks among programs and fostering communities of practice among individuals, we can scale and strengthen the onboarding, mentoring, training, and support systems that have the power to dramatically improve experience, climate, and performance for all.  In doing so, we will also more appropriately recognize and reward the work involved, which has far too often been invisible.

This approach is consistent with our university history, our spirit of innovation, and our inclusive aspirations.  Its collective orientation will encourage individuals to flexibly address local needs, while staying connected for maximum impact. The focus on assessment will push us to blend the best of our prior in-person experiences with the virtual tools we have learned this year.  And its drive for greater reach and inclusivity will push us to reach campus-wide scale.

Together over the past several years, we have developed shared goals outlining our aspirations for UC San Diego and some principles for how we can partner most effectively.  These will serve as essential guidelines for our work in a collective impact framework going forward.

 This video explains how the Collective Impact framework can be used to tackle a wide range of issues. 

The Five Phases of CI

The five phases of Collective Impact help to build a sustainable framework that is customized to our campus community. We have already completed the first two phases of CI for the existing Working Groups, and we are currently in the process of phase 3.


The CI Network at UC San Diego

Part of implementing the CI model includes developing a Collective Impact Network.  In this model, stakeholders are organized into a network that builds capacity for more efficiency and greater impact.

At UC San Diego, the Collective Impact network elements might map onto campus like this:

  • University Partners: individuals, initiatives, academic programs, administrative units
  • Working Groups: often led by cross-cutting units such as the Library, Teaching + Learning Commons, Graduate Division, EDI, or Student Affairs
  • Steering Committee: drawn from multiple levels and areas
  • Backbone: unifying data, organizational, facilitation and assessment services provided by Extended Studies (funded centrally)

Additional Infographics Exploring CI

In summer 2019, university community members started working together to more clearly define our aspirations and how we can best pursue them.  The initial conclusions are captured in the set of conceptual maps linked below, including what we already do, what we are striving to become, and what we must achieve to further excel as a student-centered, research-focused, and service-oriented public university. 

Leadership principles mind mapstudent success mind map

staff success mind mapfaculty success mind map



At a more granular level, the group also took a deeper dive into one aspiration for our students: timely graduation; the infographic linked below summarizes the array of methods university partners have been using in recent years to address this complex issue. 

Infographics like these can be helpful tools for starting conversations with colleagues about how we can achieve more together.   

UC San Diego Initiatives Employing CI Principles

Here are some examples of ongoing initiatives that are being undertaken in the spirit of Collective Impact.  All of them are interested in finding new partners and ideas to engage with, so please contact them to get connected.

Black Academic Excellence Initiative

UC San Diego’s Black Academic Excellence Initiative helps strengthen support for our Black campus community and aims to improve the presence and experience of Black faculty, students, and staff.

Black Academic Excellence Initiative

Center of Operational Excellence - Academic Affairs Resource Administration

The Center of Operational Excellence (COE) is an Academic Affairs resource center started by AVC Marie Carter-Dubois, promoting best practices in administrative processes. As a unit within the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the COE will partner with Divisional Deans and Assistant Deans, Professional Schools, Academic Affairs administrative units to remove barriers to their success. Further, the COE collaborates across UCSD Health Sciences, UCSD Health Systems and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) to promote best practices across the institution.

The data-driven, lean approach to problem solving focuses on reducing waste like unnecessary processing and movement, underutilizing talent, lengthy wait times, and defects caused by rework or incorrect information. Working with the COE will foster effective financial stewardship and drive continuous improvement in support of the academic mission of UC San Diego.

Changemaker Institute

The Changemaker Institute serves as the nucleus of UC San Diego’s ecosystem for changemaking and changemaker education and provides a supportive infrastructure for interdisciplinary, cross-campus collaboration in research, education, community engagement, and advocacy.  The Changemaker Institute leverages valuable expertise and experience, enhances cross-campus and community partnerships, strengthens existing initiatives, and catalyzes innovation.  It is the embodiment of UC San Diego’s commitment to transform higher education into an instrument for positive change and social impact.

Latinx/Chicanx Academic Excellence Initiative

The Latinx/Chicanx Academic Excellence Initiative is designed to ensure that California’s fastest-growing student population feels welcome, supported, and able to thrive at UC San Diego. This means attracting and supporting a diverse faculty, staff, and student community—making UC San Diego a place where generations rise.

Latinx/Chicanx Academic Excellence Initiative

In Winter 2021, UC San Diego hosted its first-ever Hispanic Serving Institute (HSI) Summit focused on actions to help UC San Diego be a university where LatinX generations rise. 

Mentoring for All

UC San Diego is committed to supporting our students in achieving their goals at the university and in their pursuits beyond graduation. Mentors — formal and informal — assist students in their success, connect students with campus resources, and serve to enhance student well-being. This support and engagement are crucial in the university's mission to embrace and epitomize student-centeredness.

As of fall 2021, just over 3,400 students are in mentor relationships, with more than 2,500 of those students being incoming, first-year and transfer students through the initiative's Mentor Collective program. 

The Mentoring for All committee launched during Winter Quarter 2021 as one of the key elements of our university's initiative to erase opportunity gaps via a Collective Impact framework. The committee is dedicated to ensuring that every UC San Diego student who wants a mentor has access to a mentor.

The Mentoring for All initiative will:

  • Enhance and elevate the visibility of existing mentor programs on our campus;
  • Implement inclusive and student-centered training programs for both mentors and mentees; and
  • Engage our alumni, donors, staff, and faculty in supporting the success of our students through the demonstrated best practice of mentoring.

Committee Members:

  • Ebonee Williams, Director of Virtual Experience and Peer Engagement Initiatives (Chair)
  • Christine Alvarado, Associate Dean for Students, Jacobs School of Engineering
  • Cristina Della Coletta, Dean, Arts Humanities
  • Karen Doescher, Associate Director for International Students, Career Services
  • Frank Garrett, Director or Programs and Operations, Division of Physical Sciences
  • Mark Hendrickson, Associate Professor, History
  • Reina Juarez, Director of CAPS
  • Student Representative, Vice President of Campus Affairs, Associated Students
  • Danielle Melman, Associate Athletic Director, External Engagement and Marketing
  • Sonya Neal, Assistant Professor, Cell & Developmental Biology
  • Student Representative, President, Graduate Professional Student Association
  • Matt Newsome, Vice President, Cubic Transportation Systems (Alumni)
  • Tamara Schaps, Assistant Dean, Graduate Strategic Initiatives, Graduate Division
  • Charles Stanley, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Sixth College
  • Michael Trask, Associate Directors of Admissions
  • Dennis Trinidad, Associate Professor, Family Medicine and Public Health
  • Jodi Wiseley, Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs and Operations


Return to Learn

UC San Diego's Return to Learn response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a very good example of using a Collective Impact framework to tackle an emerging issue quickly and effectively.

Partners across the university -- individuals, initiatives, academic programs, administrative units - were all working toward commonly agreed upon goals to keep the learning happening and keep the campus community safe. 

Working groups such as Emergency Operations, Events, Research Continuity, Educational Continuity, and Business Continuity redirected their meetings and efforts to work with across units to execute ideas and goals set forth by steering committees. 

The Steering Committee structure included the COVID Monitoring Team (CMT), which conducts daily data assessment; the COVID Response Team (CRT), which advises whether rapid, substantial pivots are needed to keep campus operating; the Return-to-Learn Steering Committee (RTL Steering which makes policy recommendations based on data; and the Chancellor's Cabinet, which reviews CMT, CRT, RTLSC recommendations and advises the Chancellor on what actions to take. 

The backbone of UC San Diego, which includes UC San Diego Health, the Office of Strategic Initiatives, Environmental Health & Safety, Procurement, the Registrar's Office and others, have always been in place, and served as the offices that provided experts and actions to support all of these efforts.

Summer Bridge

In 2018, we convened a steering committee charged with assessing all academic summer success programs and other transition enrichment programs. Based on the committee's findings, changes were made to streamline operational matters such as application processes, and align programming to maximize impact. 

The Teaching + Learning Commons ( partnered with OASIS ( to revamp Summer Bridge, a six-week transition program that provides students with the opportunity to earn college credit, develop skills for academic success, connect to university resources, and receive support throughout their first academic year at UC San Diego.

Triton Weeks of Welcome

Welcome week is an annual tradition that fosters Triton Spirit for both new and returning students. Starting in 2019, we re-launched welcome week as Triton Weeks of Welcome (TWOW), as part of a concerted effort to coordinate onboarding efforts across the university. A wide range of events and activities appeal to diverse interests and help connect new students to important university resources as well as their fellow Tritons.

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research (UR) empowers students from diverse backgrounds to become integrated into the UC San Diego research community; UR staff and faculty partners provide undergraduates with opportunities to gain skills to be successful in their academic journeys and post-baccalaureate careers. 

The Triton Research & Experiential Learning Scholars (TRELS​) program is sponsored by the Council of Provosts of the Undergraduate Colleges at UC San Diego and the Office of Undergraduate Research (UR) . TRELS empowers students to pursue intellectual opportunities beyond the classroom, by providing support in the form of funding and mentorship.