Illinois Higher Education Equity Symposium

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Reclaiming and Restoring our Stories: Reimagining Student Success

October 19 - 20, 2023

The Illinois Higher Education Equity Symposium will gather educational leaders, legislators, and community partners from across the state to create, sustain, and expand equity for every student, employee, and community member. You are invited to this two-day symposium to help disrupt roadblocks to ensure a thriving Illinois.

On June 7, 2022, Governor JB Pritzker signed HB5464 into law. He affirmed, “Access to affordable, quality higher education shouldn’t be a privilege. Today, we take a step forward in ensuring everyone – especially our historically underrepresented students – have the resources and investment necessary to thrive in our first-rate public education system.”

HB5464 requires State public universities and community colleges to develop and implement equity plans and practices to increase the access, retention, completion and student loan repayment rates for minority students, rural students, adult students, women, and people with disabilities who are traditionally underrepresented in education programs and activities.

Agenda for 2023 - coming soon! 

KEYNOTE:  Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr.


Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr, the last living eye witness to Emmett Till’s kidnapping will serve as the Keynote Speaker for the 2nd Annual Illinois Higher Education Equity Symposium on October 19-20, 2023 in Collinsville, Illinois. “The horror happened 67 years ago, but it never left the Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr. It never will. Parker was just 16 years old when his cousin and best friend, 14-year-old Emmett Till, was lynched. Till's murder spurred outrage and prompted an international call for justice. "We're here now because he still speaks from the grave. His story resonates and brought about a lot of changes," “Just tell the story. It’s history. It’s real. Tell what happened,” he said.

Additional Symposium Presenters

Symposium Data Points

  • According to the Illinois Board Higher Education (IBHE) 2019 Data Analysis Equity Gap Report:

  • College enrollment has dropped 34% for African American students in Illinois.

  • Rural high school students are more likely to enroll in a community college after high school graduation (66% compared to 47% of students from non-rural communities).

  • Only 53% of economically disadvantaged high school graduates go to college within 6 months compared to 74% of students who are not eligible for Pell funding.

  • African American, low-income, and rural students have less access to advanced placement (AP) programs than their White counterparts.

  • African American, Latino/Hispanic, and low-income students are more likely to be placed in developmental education in two-year and four-year colleges in the state of Illinois.

  • White college freshman advancement rates to sophomore class status are 70% compared to 53% for Latino/Hispanic students and 33% for African Americans students.

  • Advancement rates from freshman to sophomore class status are 71% for students who do not receive Pell funding compared to 49% for low-income students who are Pell eligible.

  • 2019 Public Universities' college completion rates were highest for White students at 70%, followed by equity gaps with Latino/Hispanic students' graduation rates at 52%, and African American students at 38%.

  • Graduation rates for low-income students are 50% compared to 74% for students who do not receive Pell funding.

  • Approximately 19% of rural county residents hold bachelor’s degrees compared to 37% of non-rural county residents.