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social mobility summit

Social Mobility Summit

Clayton State University’s Social Mobility Summit provides a meaningful platform to evaluate the role of higher education as a key driver of social mobility and to identify ways that institutions of higher education can best partner with community stakeholders to promote social mobility. This Summit is designed to discuss common determinants of social mobility while also looking at the unique barriers present in the greater metro Atlanta area. The Summit will include panels, workshops, and discussions focused on issues related to social mobility, such as access to education, economic opportunity, and student success. This Summit is part of Clayton State University’s ongoing commitment to advancing social mobility on our campus, in the broader community, and throughout the state of Georgia.   

Register now for the Social Mobility Summit!

Summit Parking

Summit attendees should park in the Student Activities Center parking lots: Lot K and Lot L. Please refer to the Campus Maps and Directions for more information.

Opening Speaker – President Ellen J. Neufeldt

President Ellen J. NeufeldtPresident Ellen J. Neufeldt is nationally recognized for her trailblazing leadership in higher education and dedication to advancing student social mobility. Since becoming Cal State San Marcos president in 2019, Ellen Neufeldt has worked strategically to dismantle barriers to educational access. She leads the national conversation on student social mobility, now widely accepted as a key measure for assessing college and university effectiveness. 

While serving as vice president of Student Engagement & Enrollment Services at Old Dominion University, President Neufeldt launched a national center for social mobility as well as the annual Social Mobility Symposium, a gathering now in its sixth year where higher education leaders from across the country discuss ways to create pathways (to social mobility) for students and the communities they serve.

President Neufeldt was selected to join Biden-Harris Administration officials and national educational institutions and leaders to discuss innovative strategies and resources for colleges and students to expand access to higher education as a pathway to social mobility in the wake of the 2023 Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action. Neufeldt serves on the boards of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, LEAD California, and the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, illuminating her commitment to CSUSM’s role in cultivating partnerships that create opportunities for students and enrich the communities served by the university. Neufeldt is a tireless advocate for redefining what it means to be a student-centered university in the 21st century.

The Education Trust Speaker – Senior Vice President Wil Del Pilar

Senior Vice President Wil Del Pilar

Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D., serves as Ed Trust’s Senior Vice President. In this role, Wil spearheads Ed Trust’s mission to highlight inequities and outline solutions in order to improve access, success, affordability, and completion in higher education for low-income students and students of color. Prior to joining Ed Trust, Wil served in Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration as deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education, where he developed and implemented the state’s strategic vision for higher education. 

Wil has experience in the Pennsylvania Department of Education, including management of the College Access Challenge Grant and the Pennsylvania Information Management System, and has held senior development positions, as the director of development at Pennsylvania State University and at the University of Florida’s Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. In both positions, he fought to secure funding to support access and success initiatives for historically underrepresented students.

In addition to his policy and development experience, Wil has a wealth of institutional experience, working in admissions at Chapman University in Orange, California, and the University of California Santa Cruz, as a financial aid counselor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and as a research assistant at Penn State. Wil holds a doctorate in higher education/higher education administration from The Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree from California State University-Dominguez Hills, and a bachelor’s degree from Chapman University.

Action Planning Leaders – Dr. Carin Barber & Melanie Graham

Dr. Carin BarberDr. Carin Barber is the Director of Strategic Projects in the Office of the President and Deputy Director of Government Relations at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). With over 20 years of experience in higher education teaching, research, and administration, she has previously served in roles at William & Mary, Old Dominion University, Eastern Michigan University, and Southern Methodist University. Carin earned degrees from Eastern Michigan University (Ed.D.) and Virginia Tech (B.S.Ed., M.A.Ed.).




Melanie GrahamMelanie Graham serves as the Director of Special Projects in Student Enrollment, Engagement & Services at Old Dominion University where she leads social mobility efforts. Melanie served in Peace Corps Ukraine as a university instructor teaching English as a foreign language and was then awarded a Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship to work at the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports on national reforms for youth and education policies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Radford University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Old Dominion University.




Summit Schedule

Time Event
8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Registration, Continental Breakfast, and Resource Fair Time 1

9:00 a.m. – 9:10 a.m.

Kickoff: Welcome Address

  • Dr. Georj Lewis, President at Clayton State University
9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

What is Social Mobility?

  • Dr. Ellen Neufeldt, President at CSU-San Marcos
10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

The Education Trust Presentation

  • Dr. Wil Del Pilar, Senior Vice President at The Education Trust
11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Resource Fair Time 2

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Leaders Panel & Lunch

  • “Education, Industry, Policy, and Partnerships: The Multipronged Approach to Achieving Social Mobility”
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The Academe and Social Mobility

Panel 1: The Liberal Arts as a Driver of Social Mobility | College of Arts & Sciences

  • Dr. Kevin Demmitt, Professor of Sociology
  • Dr. Kathryn Pratt Russell, Professor of English
  • Dr. Carolyn Walcott, Assistant Professor of
  • Taralyn Keese, Senior Lecturer of Sociology & Social Work
  • Moderator: Dr. Joshua Meddaugh, Professor of Political Science, Chair of Social Sciences

Panel 2: Financial Literacy, Post-Secondary Education, & Social Mobility | College of Business

  • Kate Cotter-Reilly, Lecturer of Accounting

Panel 3: Social Mobility: Advancing Students' Health | College of Health

  • Dr. Elicia Collins, Associate Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean 
  • Dr. Comfort Obi, Associate Professor of Nursing
  • Moderator: Dr. Dwayne Hooks, Dean of College of Health & Interim Dean of College of Arts & Sciences

Panel 4: Technology, AI, and Social Mobility | College of Information & Mathematical Sciences

  • Dr. Muhammad Rahman, Professor of Computer Science & IT
  • Dr. Ken Nguyen, Professor of Computer Science & Director of Cyber Security Lab
  • Dr. Byron Jeff, Associate Professor of Computer Science
2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.


2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Strategic Plan Discussion

  • Dr. Georj Lewis, President at Clayton State University 
3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Champions for Change: Action Planning for Social Mobility

  • Dr. Carin Barber, Director of Strategic Projects, Deputy Director of Government Relations at CSU-San Marcos
  • Melanie Graham, Director of Special Projects in Student Enrollment, Engagement, & Services at Old Dominion University

As we conclude our day of learning, let's turn insights into action. Together, we will collaborate to develop a comprehensive plan with tangible steps aimed at fostering student success and closing equity gaps on our campuses. Through interactive discussions, participants will explore current campus social mobility practices, identify areas for improvement, and formulate actionable items to help our students reach the finish line.

4:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Closing Remarks

  • Dr. Don Stansberry, Vice President of Student Affairs at Clayton State University 
  • Dr. Joshua Meddaugh, Professor of Political Science, Chair of Social Sciences


Summit Executive Committee

  • Don Stansberry, Co-Chair Social Mobility Summit, Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Joshua Meddaugh, Co-Chair Social Mobility Summit, Professor of Political Science, Chair of Social Sciences
  • Virginia Bonner, Professor of Film Studies
  • Deborah Deckner Davis, Professor of Psychology
  • Taralyn Keese, Senior Lecturer, Social Work Minor Program Coordinator
  • Michael Little, Executive Director of Government & External Affairs
  • Jada Mitchell, Executive Director of Student Success
  • Matthew Sansbury, Assistant Professor of English, Director of First-Year Writing & The Writers’ Studio