​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Higher Ed Rewired podcast features inspirational stories from faculty and staff who are transforming the higher education landscape. They bring listeners along on their journey of engaging students with innovative practices, overcoming institutional challenges and creating groundbreaking research. Each episode will inspire and expand the listener's understanding of the foundations of student success in higher education.

Visit Graduation Initiative 2025 to learn more about the California State University’s effort to increase student success across the 23 campus system.

Coming soon! Beginning August 19, 2019, subscribe on iTunes or listen here.

Higher Ed Rewired

Higher-Ed ​Rewired

Higher Ed Rewired

The Higher Ed Rewired podcast features inspirational stories from faculty and staff who are transforming the higher education landscape. They bring listeners along on their journey of engaging students with innovative practices, overcoming institutional challenges and creating groundbreaking research. Each episode will inspire and expand the listener's understanding of the foundations of student success in higher education.

Visit Graduation Initiative 2025 to learn more about the California State University’s effort to increase student success across the 23 campus system.

In April 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 7, also known as the “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act" or the “Stop WOKE act". This bill prohibits teaching certain concepts related to race and sexual orientation in schools. This is just one legislative act across the country that attempts to limit academic freedom. So why are foundational American values, free speech, and academic freedom being increasingly threatened in academia? And what can higher education faculty and students do to protect their first amendment right to free speech?

In this episode, we will speak with the president of the American Association of University Professors about how to define these rights, campus activists who are involved in filing a lawsuit against the Stop Woke act about how it affects them personally, and we'll hear legal co-counsel on how this case reflects broader legislative trends in America.

Resources for Season 4, Episode 3

According to the Census Bureau, California’s population grew three times more in the last ten years than available housing units. As enrollment at the University of California and California State University systems increased, the statewide housing shortage has made it challenging for campuses to address the situation. State policies around housing have also made it difficult to fix the widening gap between affordability and student housing.

In this episode, as a case study, we take a closer look at the housing situation in Santa Cruz and the policies that have perpetuated the crisis. We will speak with a team of researchers and professors at UC Santa Cruz, a local attorney, and a current California Senator about future policy changes that can bring more affordable housing to students.

Resources for Season 4, Episode 2

The current housing crisis for students cannot be ignored. A 2019 survey on student housing revealed that most students in California have experienced some type of housing insecurity with the highest risk being students from marginalized communities. The traditional on-campus basic needs centers are not enough to help the students in this crisis and universities are now trying to adapt their programs to be able to further help students and keep them in college.

In this episode, we speak with the executive director of the Center for Equitable Higher Education at CSU Long Beach about the current student housing crisis; a student who shares his real-life experiences with the struggle to find housing; and a former case manager who created the Crisis Assistance and Resource Education Support program at Sacramento State by using data and personal stories from students in need.

Resources for Season 4, Episode 1

Higher education is beginning to reassess the college experience in response to the pandemic. Universities are updating curricula to offer larger or more robust professional programs, expanding remote options to ensure students with disabilities and other needs have equal access, and adopting innovative pedagogical methods to effectively teach students from all backgrounds in a variety of modalities.

In this episode, we speak with the president of Ohio University about how recent enrollment shifts may affect which programs universities choose to expand; two students with differing views on the future of remote courses; and a geology professor at Coastline College about the benefits and challenges of remote instruction and what college will look like moving forward.

Resources for Season 3, Episode 8

In 2021, Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes introduced assembly bill, AB469 to make applying for financial aid through the FAFSA and the California Dream Act application a requirement for high school seniors in California.

In this episode, we speak with the vice president of the Public Policy Institute of California, the executive director of the Education Trust-West, and the director of education services at the Montebello School District to discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks of this policy and what the next steps should be to ensure more students from underrepresented communities can finance their education.

Resources for Season 3, Episode 7

During the worldwide pandemic, Esports programs stepped in to fill the void that social distancing created. Students in these programs had the unique opportunity to gather in virtual worlds and stay connected. The sense of belonging the programs fostered did not go unnoticed and universities began to see Esports as a remedy for student recruitment and retention.

In this episode, we will speak with the director of the National Association of Collegiate Esports, the EA Sports Association president at CSUDH and two Esports directors in the CSU system about how they’re transforming the program and how Esports is providing students a reason to pursue higher education.

Resources for Season 3, Episode 6

In 1967, Project Rebound was created to matriculate formerly incarcerated students into the CSU directly from the criminal justice system. Since the program’s inception, hundreds of Project Rebound students have obtained bachelor’s degrees and beyond. Project Rebound students system-wide have earned an overall grade point average of 3.0, have a zero percent recidivism rate, and 87% of graduates have secured full-time employment or admission to postgraduate programs.

In this episode, we will speak with the executive director of Project Rebound at Cal State San Bernardino, Annika Anderson about how she advocated for office space and resources on their campus. We’ll hear from formerly incarcerated staff member, Paul Jones and matriculated students, Robert Sandoval and Marta Barreto about the unique obstacles they face and the unique benefits they offer communities. And how this model can expand beyond California to transform campuses and students nationwide.

Resources for Season 3, Episode 5

In 2019, amidst rising tuition and student debt, The Gates Foundation created a new panel called the Postsecondary Value Commission to examine the return on investment of the college degree across gender and race. Members of the panel measured “postsecondary value” in terms of earnings, access to high-quality jobs, and economic mobility and security.

Higher Ed Rewired had a conversation with the commission’s research analyst, University of Texas System Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Research and Advanced Analytics, David Troutman, Vice President and Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at IBM, Justina Nixon-Saintil and Filmmaker, Quincy Ledbetter. Listen as these experts discuss how higher education should be rethinking its role in the workplace.

Resources for Season 3, Episode 4

For colleges and universities, the “great resignation” might be an opportunity to reach working adults looking to upskill for a new job. They could transform the college experience from a four year academic experience... to alifelonglearning experience.

So how are colleges adapting to stay competitive? And will these demands change the face of college as we know it?

Higher Ed Rewired spoke with Paul Fain, author of The Job newsletter at Inside Higher Ed, Julie Newman-Biggers, director of career development at Clemson University, Allison Salisbury, Senior Vice President at Guild Education and Chipotle field recruiting analyst, Iris Vazquez Morales. They share their ideas and experience on how the university model can evolve to emphasize career preparation, prepare student for future opportunities, and bring a new demographic of students to the table.

Resources for Season 3, Episode 3

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed structural weaknesses and inequities across the nation in all major industries - housing, government, finance, health care, and education. This revelation resulted in educational institutions across the nation successfully reworking the more traditional aspects of student success such as instructional modality, classroom technology, and basic needs. However, most institutions continue to seek the elusive answer to the problem of finding the best practice in addressing the fragility of mental health services on the college campus.

Higher Ed Rewired has a roundtable discussion with three student leaders from the California State University as they recount what the pandemic meant for their mental health. We also meet with Dr. Eric Wood, Director of Counseling and Mental Health at Texas Christian University, and Dr. Sarah Lipson, Co-Principal Investigator and Associate Director of the Healthy Minds Network, as they provide solutions and discuss what universities should be doing to address the mental health crises on the college campus.

Resources for Season 3, Episode 2

In a sweeping decision amid the height of the pandemic, universities across the country decided to remove the SAT/ACT as an admission requirement and go test-optional. In the absence of this tool, institutions have been forced to rethink their approach to admissions and take a holistic look at the students who apply.

Higher Ed Rewired spoke with Gary Clark, Director of Undergraduate Admission at UCLA, David Holmes, the executive director of the Character Collaborative, Kelly Rosinger, assistant professor of education at Pennsylvania State University, and Angel B. Pérez of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. They share their research and experience on how this change has affected admission at test-optional institutions and what this may look like for the future of enrollment management for higher education.

Resources for Season 3, Episode 1

The complexity and challenges of the pandemic have posed extraordinary shifts to education as we have known it. Unique opportunities have risen out of the stay-at-home orders and the shift to remote learning, presenting a transformative time for postsecondary leaders. A number of these changes would have never been envisioned pre-pandemic, but rapidly becoming welcomed additions to our institutions. Higher Ed Rewired meets with three system leaders, California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro, Commissioner of Higher Education for the state of Texas Harrison Keller and Commissioner of Higher Education for the state of Louisiana Kim Hunter Reed, and asks what have they gleaned from the pandemic and what they envision for the future of higher education.

Resources for Season 2, Episode 8

Higher Ed Rewired engages listeners in a conversation with a panel of nationally recognized authors who will discuss their recent books and share insight on equity and student success. Listen to Tia Brown McNair “From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education“ (2020) and “Becoming A Student Ready College” (2016), Bryan Alexander “Academia Next: The Futures of Higher Education (2021) and Lindsay Pérez Huber “Why They Hate Us: How Racist Rhetoric Impacts Education” (2021) talk about everything from the books on their bedside stands to what inspired them as scholars in their field. Whether their work informs student success strategy or guides your professional development agenda, these are the authors you want on your summer reading list.

Resources for Season 2, Episode 7

College athletics is more than just sports. It includes televised broadcasts, beverage contracts and apparel sponsorships turning athletics into a $14 billion-dollar industry. The Fair Pay for Play Act, which passed through California legislators in 2020, will allow student-athletes to profit for their name, image and likeness. A vote to these rules change by NCAA is pending. Although NCAA had long-standing rules against compensation for intercollegiate athletes, many acknowledge the inequity in financial power and privilege at stake, changing policies for Division I intercollegiate athletics. How will these changes affect college athletics?

Resources for Season 2, Episode 6

For many students, navigating the college experience is unfamiliar and may sometimes feel alienating. Many institutions don’t operate much differently than they did 400 years ago, despite the student body being dramatically more diverse than it was back then. College campuses are beginning to transform to support students with their diversity of backgrounds and experiences. Higher Ed Rewired asks Anthony A. Jack of Harvard Graduate School of Education, Sarah E. Whitley of the NASPA Center for First-generation Student Success, and Ji Y. Son of California State University, Los Angeles, “Why is a sense of belonging important to student success for first gen students?”

Resources for Season 2, Episode 5

Topping the list of why students attend college is the desire to successfully enter into a career upon graduation. On-campus employment provides opportunities for students to gain experience in their future careers with academic and professional development opportunities, while at the same time, serving as a source of a financial resource.

Higher Ed Rewired spoke with Amelia Parnell, from NASPA, the professional organization for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and Debra Hammond, of the California State University, Northridge University Student Union on their research and practice on how higher education should rethink the student employment experience as a student success strategy.

Resources for Season 2, Episode 4

College Promise programs are not new to higher education, but they have gained momentum in recent years with the rise of “free college” initiatives across the country. They emerged from the need to increase a workforce to meet the labor demands of local communities and have evolved to address higher education access and equity. Given the variety of models that exist and the thousands of students who have participated in these programs, the questions are: What does it mean for a campus to make a promise and what has that promise meant for students and their communities?

This episode features Martha Kanter, Executive Director for the College Promise Campaign, Edward Smith, Program Officer with The Kresge Foundation, and Kate Mahar, Dean of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives at Shasta College. They share their research findings, innovative practices and recommendations on leveraging College Promise Programs to support student success.

Resources for Season 2, Episode 3

Whereas there is ample evidence of persistent equity gaps across the education pipeline, successfully closing the gap has thus far eluded higher education leaders and policy makers. What do we know about what works, emerging best practices, and why equity gaps are so stubborn? 

Higher Ed Rewired spoke with postsecondary education faculty researchers, Dr. Frank Harris III and Dr. Eric Felix of San Diego State University, to discuss their research and recommendations on the work required in closing equity gaps and rethinking inclusion. We also dive into the work at Pasadena City College that has driven institutional change by going beyond diversity and rethinking inclusion for their 27,000 students.

Resources for Season 2, Episode 2

College campuses are part of their larger communities, which positions them to be leaders during times of crisis. The border of the university facilities does not isolate itself from what is taking place beyond the gates into the surrounding community. In fact, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (2005), The Camp Fire in Chico, California (2018) and COVID 19 (2020) are historical catastrophes affecting higher education in unprecedented ways and they have stepped up to during these critical moments. The resilience of the faculty, staff and students at California State University, Monterey Bay during COVID 19 is evidence to how faculty, staff and students leaned into this extremely traumatic event to become a teachable moment.

Resources for Season 2, Episode 1


As a thought-provoking conclusion to season one, Higher Ed Rewired will highlight a conversation on the future of higher education between three national higher education innovators and experts. Doug Lederman, editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed, Michelle Weise, senior vice president of Workforce Strategies and Chief Innovation Officer for  Strada Education, and Alexandra Bernadotte, founder and chief executive officer of Beyond 12 tackle big questions like: How is higher education keeping up with our changing society? How can we change the way we support students to and through college? What is the relationship between higher education and the workforce? Where does higher education go from here?

Resources for Episode 8

CSU East Bay students engage in hands-on learning by building off-grid solar power and lighting systems designed to alleviate energy poverty—a lack of access to modern energy services. These programs introduce students to careers in STEM, engage students to work alongside K-12 in peer-led service-learning projects and address energy needs across the globe.

Resources for Episode 7

Using virtual reality (VR), CSU Channel Islands nursing students learn beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom. Dr. Jaime Hannans at California State University Channel Islands shares how students are able to rehearse and get feedback on their helping skills through VR simulations, and develop empathy through connecting with their virtual patients. San Diego State University’s Virtual Immersive Teaching and Learning (VITaL) promotes experimentation with curriculum design in unexpected majors by applying the scholarship of teaching and learning to these emerging technological tools.

Resources for Episode 6

Campuses are using artificial intelligence technology to respond and advise, on-demand, to students, faculty and staff via text or auditory messaging. Meet Cal State Fullerton’s iTuffy and Cal State Northridge’s CSUny, chatbots that extend accessibility of student support services 24/7 and engage students in a manner most conducive to them.

Resources for Episode 5

Undergraduate students at Cal State Dominguez Hills participate in meaningful experiences ranging from observational studies and laboratory experiments to biomedical and psychophysiological research. Students work closely with faculty mentors in the neuroscience lab partnering on scholarly writing and research. The program has been successful in increasing the aspirations of students towards careers in research and enrolling in competitive graduate programs across the nation.

Resources for Episode 4

Fresno State's Dr. Rajee Amarasinghe has led teams of math faculty to rethink instructional approaches to introductory mathematics courses. He shares strategies and interventions on transforming mathematics instruction, inspiring students towards careers in teaching and STEM and how his efforts are increasing student completion.

Resources for Episode 3

Cal State Long Beach assistant professor Dr. Rashida Crutchfield’s experience working at a shelter for youth experiencing homelessness informed her research agenda on housing and food insecurity in higher education. She offers insight on how the CSU has become a national leader with their Basic Needs Initiative and the importance of supporting students facing food and housing insecurity.

Resources for Episode 2

Cal State Fullerton's Dr. Julián Jefferies teaches critical approaches to education by taking groups of students on service-learning experiences to Latin American countries. First-generation, Latinx students apply course concepts to their interactions with the community-based organizations. Through these experiences they gain greater self-awareness, increase their sense of belonging to the campus and gain insight into needs of diverse communities.

Resources for Episode 1


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Please contact us at ​graduationinitiative@calstate.edu.

Season 2 by Western Sound
Season 1 ​Produced by Vox Pox Collective