Office of the Provost

Student Experience Project (SEP) – Equity Champions Community of Practice

Learn more about SEP

Learn more about Equity Champions

Transforming the college student experience so that every student is supported to succeed

SEP logo

UToledo continues to be an active participant in a national initiative of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) in the Student Experience Project which is designed to improve student success among underrepresented minority students, with $250,000 in grant funding over three years.

UToledo is one of six member universities selected to develop initiatives and actions to make the process of earning an undergraduate degree as welcoming and inclusive as possible.


The Student Experience Project (SEP) is a collaborative of university leaders, faculty, researchers and national education organizations committed to innovative, research-based practices to increase degree attainment by building equitable learning environments and fostering a sense of belonging on campus.

The Challenge

Colleges and universities are enrolling more diverse student populations than ever before. Yet, one-third of new college students will not graduate within six years. There remains a need for additional support and action to provide every student with an equal opportunity to graduate from college.

The Student Experience Project was created to tackle inequities in college success by transforming the student experience. By focusing on building community and a sense of belonging on campus, the SEP is committed to a future of higher education where all students—particularly students who face barriers entering college—feel supported to persist through academic challenges until graduation day. 

 UToledo SEP Leadership


  • Denise Bartell, Associate Vice Provost for Student Success
  • Melissa Oddo, Project Manager, Student Experience Project
  • Brian Ashburner, Associate Dean, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Lesley Berhan, Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement, College of Engineering
  • Mingyang Liu, Survey Statistician Office of Institutional Research

UToledo's Equity Champions 

The Equity Champions project, started in Summer 2020 , creates a continuous support network in which instructors are able to learn together, share ideas, and develop resources to support equity in classes. Equity Champions have implemented evidence-based changes in their classroom that have improved student’s sense of belonging, identity safety, and growth mindset. They have revised their syllabi to include student attuned-language, created welcome letters and videos, and shared their own personal stories of belonging. They have used an innovative new tool called Copilot-Ascend which assessed the immediate impact of changes in their classrooms.  

For a high-level overview of their accomplishments inside the classroom and a look at the data to support the collective increase on Social Connectedness, Social Belonging, and Identity Safety from the fall '20 to spring '21 semester:

 View Equity Champion Spring '21 Summary Report            View Equity Champion Fall '20 Summary Report

Who are They?

Equity Champions are instructors who teach first year gateway courses; they are committed to making evidence-based changes in their classrooms to improve student outcomes by focusing on belonging, identity safety, and growth mindset.​​ Spring '21 Equity Champions instructors are from the College of Engineering, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Education, Arts & Letters, Heath and Human Services, and Business. 

Equity Champions are a community of practice engaged in a continuous network of support to learn together, share ideas, and develop resources to support equity. The work gives students the opportunity to share about their experiences in classrooms so Champions can use their insights to improve success and reduce equity gaps. 

What They are doing?

Equity Champions are implementing change ideas and activities such as revising syllabi to include student attuned language, creating welcome letters, and sharing belonging stories.  They continue with work such as developing Wise feedback for assignments, using exam wrappers, and addressing diverse representation in course materials.​

​To assess the impact of changes, Equity Champions will use a tool from SEP called Copilot-Ascend, a survey that gathers feedback on students' experiences in the course. They will administer the survey four times throughout the semester, after implementing key changes, to learn how the changes impacted students' experiences in the class .​

What They hope to accomplish?​

The Student Experience Project is an important part of UToledo's efforts to support success and reduce equity gaps for students. We will use what we learn from this project to improve the experience for current and future students in our classes by continually examining students' experience and making evidence-based changes that improve learning. ​

Equity Champions Community of Practice- Fall 2021

From the College of Arts and Letters: 

  • Bashar Al Hariri, English- Fall 2021 
  • Bill Ayres, Political Science- Fall 2021
  • Sheri Benton, English- Fall 2021
  • An Chung Cheng, Asian Studies- Fall 2021
  • Evan Clarkson, Psychology- Fall 2021
  • Michelle Davidson, English- Fall 2021
  • Timothy DeGriselles, Philosophy & Religion- Fall 2021
  • Kevin Egan, Economics- Fall 2021
  • Matt Foss, Theatre & Film- Fall 2021
  • Elizabeth Gallinari, Psychology- Fall 2021
  • Dingzhong Hu, Psychology- Fall 2021
  • Jeanne Kusina, Women’s and Gender Studies- Fall 2021
  • Kayleigh Margis, English- Fall 2021
  • Christopher Martin, Philosophy- Fall 2021
  • Peter Mezo, Psychology- Fall 2021
  • Kristina Todorovic, Psychology- Fall 2021

From the John B. and Lillian E. Neff College of Business and Innovation: 

  • Barbara Brotzki, Management- Fall 2021
  • Erica Parish, Business Technology- Fall 2021
  • Alicia Price, Applied Organizational Technology- Fall 2021

From the Judith Herb College of Education:  

  • Elizabeth Razzoog, Educational Technology- Fall 2021 
  • Liu Sowa, Foundation of Education- Spring 2021, Fall 2021  

From the College of Engineering: 

  • Sorin Cioc, Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering- Fall 2021 
  • Anju Gupta, Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering- Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021 
  • Glenn Lipscomb*, Chemical Engineering- Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021
  • Luis Mata, Engineering Technology- Fall 2021
  • Arun Nadarajah, Bioengineering- Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

From the College of Health and Human Services: 

  • Ann Carrellas, Social Work- Fall 2021
  • An Dinh, Speech-Language Pathology- Fall 2021
  • Micah Garcia, Exercise and Rehabilitations Sciences- Fall 2021 
  • Stephanie Heuker, Microbiology, Anatomy, Physiology & Pathophysiology- Fall 2021
  • Beanna Martinez, Population Health- Fall 2021
  • Michael Prior, Social Work- Spring 2021, Fall 2021
  • Heather Robbins*, Exercise and Rehabilitations Sciences- Spring 2021, Fall 2021 
  • Justin Rush- Exercise Science, Fall 2021
  • Jiunn-Jye Sheu, Population Health- Fall 2021
  • Erika Zambarano, Exercise Science- Fall 2021

From the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics: 

  • Subodh Bhatta, Mathematics and Statistics- Fall 2021
  • Jillian Bornak, Physics and Astronomy- Spring 2021, Fall 2021 
  • Jonathan Bossenbroek, Environmental Sciences- Fall 2021 
  • Sally Harmych, Biological Sciences- Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021
  • Trieu Le, Mathematics and Statistics- Fall 2021
  • Greg Lewis, Mathematics and Statistics- Fall 2021
  • Ram Mukherjee, Mathematics and Statistics- Fall 2021
  • Hanh Nguyen, Mathematics and Statistics- Spring 2021, Fall 2021
  • Sandra Robinson, Mathematics and Statistics- Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021
  • Kathy Shan*, Physics and Astronomy- Fall 2021
  • Amy Toole*, Chemistry and Biochemistry- Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

From the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: 

  • Susanne Nonekowski, Medicinal and Biological Chemistry- Fall 2021

 From the University College: 

  • Kenneth Brown, TRIO Student Support Services- Fall 2021
  • Julie Radwanski, Academic Support Services- Fall 2021

*Equity Champion Faculty Leader

Research Fellows Community of Practice

  • Defne Apul, Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Glenn Lipscomb, Chemical Engineering
  • Arun Nadarajah, Bioengineering
  • Jared Oluoch, Engineering Technology
  • Heather Robbins, Exercise Science

Resource Fellows Community of Practice

  • Jeanne Kusina, Women’s and Gender Studies
  • Susanne Nonekowski, Medicinal and Biological Chemistry
  • Sandra Robinson, Mathematics and Statistics

view 2020-2021 Equity Champion participation

 Together, the SEP is using this research to test, implement, and scale innovative practices that transform the college experience into one where every student can access the support and resources they need to succeed.

For more information about SEP, contact Melissa Oddo, Project Manager, Student Experience Project at

Last Updated: 9/29/21