Boyer Commission blueprint on undergrad education underscores urgency for change

In an effort to address persistent equity gaps in undergraduate educational outcomes, the Boyer 2030 Commission has issued a new report on advancing equity, student success and excellence: The Equity/Excellence Imperative: A 2030 Blueprint for Undergraduate Education at U.S. Research Universities.

In the report, the Boyer Commission – composed of higher education, philanthropic and business leaders – makes the case that equity and excellence are inextricably entwined in higher education. The report also underscores the urgency of making widespread evidence-based changes across universities to promote equity and excellence, and emphasizes that the scope of change needed requires involvement of “leadership from the very top.” The year 2030 in the commission’s name was selected as a target date for universities to adopt the report’s recommended changes.

Role of CSU-based UERU

The Boyer Commission was convened in 2021 by the Association for Undergraduate Education at Research Universities (UERU). UERU is a national association with more than 100 research university members and is based at Colorado State University. CSU Associate Provost Steve Dandaneau is the association’s executive director.

In 2013, CSU Chancellor Tony Frank and Interim President Rick Miranda, serving in their respective roles at the time as president and provost, supported former Colorado State University Associate Provost Alan Lamborn’s vision to bring UERU (formerly called the Reinvention Collaborative) to CSU. UERU is the only national organization to focus exclusively on undergraduate education at research universities.

Deep changes needed

“The change called for in this report goes beyond the idea that diversifying the community of students, faculty and staff will lead to equity and inclusion. Institutional structures need to change. Resources must be allocated and difficult decisions made about what can no longer be done. These changes require the resolve, power, perspective, and vision that only senior leadership can provide. That said, faculty and staff will be at the heart of change.”

  • Boyer 2030 Commission, The Equity/Excellence Imperative

The Chronicle of Higher Education published the article “Excellence in Undergraduate Education Must Include Equity, Says Influential Group” to time with the release of the Boyer 2030 Commission report.

Boyer report cover“Tony, Rick and Alan saw the value this association could bring for all of higher education, and the leadership CSU could provide by anchoring it here,” said Dandaneau. “The new Boyer 2030 Commission Report is a direct outgrowth of the type of collaboration UERU drives and CSU supports. CSU hosts the Lamborn-Hughes Institute every summer in Fort Collins to bring UERU partner institutions together in pursuit of strategies to promote equity and excellence for undergraduate students.”

The summer institute was established in 2018 and named in honor of Lamborn and Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes for their years of dedication to advancing student-centered collaboration. Hughes also serves as an UERU board member.

“The summer institute has been a powerful opportunity for research universities to create teams of faculty, student affairs professionals, DEI experts, enrollment managers and student support staff who work collaboratively to increase access, retention and graduation rates while also closing achievement gaps,” said Hughes.

New recommendations

The new Boyer report lays out several recommendations for what the commission refers to as “Provocations for Equity/Excellence.” They include:

  • Increasing college access and affordability;
  • Leveraging digital technology;
  • Facilitating clearer degree pathways;
  • Broadening participation in high-impact educational experiences;
  • Adopting holistic advising;
  • Nurturing mental health and wellbeing;
  • Rewarding faculty for teaching excellence;
  • Establishing a supportive campus culture where freedom of speech is protected; and
  • Preparing students for success in life, work and participation in democratic society.

The Boyer 2030 Commission report is a follow-up to the landmark 1998 report issued by the original Boyer Commission convened by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. That report, “Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America’s Research Universities,” featured a host of transformational recommendations in areas such as research-based learning, interdisciplinary education, information technology, capstone experiences, community building and faculty reward systems.

“Like the original Boyer report, this study should have a transformational impact on the ways colleges and universities serve their students and prepare them for productive, successful lives post-graduation,” Miranda said. “The centering of equity in how we manage our academic programs will be critical in the coming years.”

About the Boyer 2030 Commission

The Boyer Commission is a diverse group of renowned leaders whose experience and expertise provide distinctive perspectives on undergraduate education at the nation’s 266 doctoral universities characterized by high and very high research activity, as defined by the Carnegie Classification. The 16-member commission is co-chaired by Association of American Universities President Barbara Snyder and President Emeritus of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson.


• Barbara R. Snyder, president, Association of American Universities
• Peter McPherson, president emeritus, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

Commission Members:

• Michael Crow, president, Arizona State University

• Andrew Delbanco, president, Teagle Foundation

• Roger Ferguson, former president, TIAA-CREF

• Kathleen Fitzpatrick, director of digital humanities, Michigan State University

• Kevin Kruger, president and CEO, NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education

• Gary May, chancellor, University of California, Davis

• Sarah Newman, director of art and education at metaLAB, Harvard University

• Lynn Pasquerella, president, American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U)

• Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO, Excelencia in Education

• Claude Steele, Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, Emeritus, Stanford University

• Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief, Science

• Eric Waldo, founding executive director of Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher

• Mary Wright, associate provost for teaching and learning, Brown University

Ex officio: Elizabeth Loizeaux, Boston University; former president of UERU