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NISTS Conference goes online Feb. 23-25

December 1, 2020

The annual conference for the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) will be held virtually in 2021, and connections between participants will remain a critical link in the event.

"It is the only national conference where you will be surrounded by other professionals who are just as passionate about transfer student success as you are," said Emily Kittrell, assistant director of NISTS, based on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Dahlonega Campus.

According to the latest figures available from the National Student Clearinghouse — for the fall 2011 cohort of first-time freshmen — more than a million students from that group transferred within six years. That accounts for 38 percent of that cohort.

The theme for the Feb. 23-25 event is "Not So Secret Transfer Agents." Kittrell said the conference will highlight the vital role of transfer professionals and others within the higher education community in connecting transfer students with the resources they need to navigate the transition between institutions.

"Every interaction is an opportunity to propel students forward or set them back," Kittrell said. "The concept of transfer agents acknowledges faculty and staff's power in the relationship and emphasizes their responsibility to share their transfer knowledge, particularly with students from historically underrepresented groups."

Dr. Estela Mara Bensimon, founder of the University of Southern California's Center for Urban Education, will serve as the keynote speaker. She has published extensively about racial equity, coining the term "equity-minded" and developing the Equity Scorecard — a process for using inquiry to drive changes in institutional practice and culture.

Bensimon and her colleagues identified and elevated the role of transfer agents in improving transfer outcomes for low-income students and students of color.

"Ample evidence confirms that race and income transfer gaps are pervasive," noted Dr. Janet Marling, executive director of NISTS. "Transfer is inherently an equity issue, and we're thrilled that this year's conference attendees can learn from Dr. Bensimon's expertise and more fully assume their role as transfer agents."

Attendees will watch Bensimon and participate in other activities using a conference mobile app and coordinating website. This eliminates travel expenses and reduces registration costs. The conference registration fee is $199 for professionals and $149 for presenters and full-time students. Registration is available on the NISTS website.

NISTS will streamline the event to be mindful of different time zones, with an "engaging and compact" schedule that starts during late morning Eastern Standard Time. The conference program features practical, research-based strategies and will include a trio of new sessions:

  • An "Ask the Experts" panel where attendees can seek assistance on specific transfer issues.
  • A coffee chat with prominent transfer researchers to discuss current findings and look ahead to potential future trends.
  • An award-winner spotlight that gives Transfer Champion honorees a chance to share their wisdom and lessons learned.

The 2021 NISTS Conference was scheduled to be in Portland, Oregon. It is now set to travel to Portland in 2023 and 2025.

NISTS was founded in 2002 by Dr. Bonita Jacobs, president of UNG, in response to a lack of professional development opportunities and research literature focused on transfer students. Through research, education and advocacy, NISTS empowers practitioners, faculty, and administrators to be transfer champions — agents, connectors and advocates — who challenge the status quo to improve the transfer student experience.

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