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Social Mobility Summit

The 2019 Social Mobility Summit, hosted by Winston-Salem State University, will highlight faculty research, student involvement, and individual stories. The program offers special insight into the challenges facing the lowest income groups in Forsyth County, NC and beyond.   

The academic research portion of the 2019 Summit is spearheaded by WSSU's Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM). Path-breaking research by CSEM’s faculty fellows as well as other prominent off-campus speakers will demonstrate how WSSU serves as a key instrument in improving social and economic mobility within our own Forsyth county. Attendees will get a wide-ranging exposure to not only reasons, but potential and actionable solutions to change lives most in need, that can serve as a blueprint for other counties across the country. 

The conference is partially sponsored by CollegeNET, an organization that created the Social Mobility Index. For four consecutive years, WSSU has appeared in the Top 20 schools in the nation on the SMI and has twice been named a Social Mobility Innovator.


Conference Schedule - Tuesday, April 2, 2019

2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.  

Pre-Summit Lecture:

"Understanding the Rising Cost of Affordable Housing: Supply, Demand, and Regulation"
      Dr. Ed Lopez, Professor of Economics, Western Carolina University

Edward J. Lopez is Professor of Economics, BB&T Distinguished Professor of Capitalism, and Director of the Center for the Study of Free Enterprise at Western Carolina University. He is past President of Association of Private Enterprise Education and the author of more than fifty scholarly papers. He co-authored Madmen, Intellectuals & Academic Scribblers (Stanford Press, 2012), which explores how political change and economics intersect through incentives. He writes frequently on the economics of ideas, entrepreneurship and politics. Outside academia, Prof. Lopez has worked as a staff economist for the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, as manager of policymaker education for the Mercatus Center, and as an economics program officer at the Institute for Humane Studies.

Dr. Ed Lopez


3:30 p.m  -  4:30 p.m. 



Networking/Break Time

WSSU Student Success Social Mobility Showcase-On Campus and  In Community

Attendees will have opportunity to visit several exhibits or displays of student success programs or services at WSSU from Advising Models, Tutoring and Retention Initiatives along with Career Services that have contributed to WSSU’s national ranking in Student Mobility Innovation.



WSSU logo


4:30 p.m. -  6:30 p.m. 

Opening Plenary:

"Solving Hawking's Problem: What are the dangers of the growing economic inequality in America and the role of higher education in improving social mobility?"
    Special Guest Speaker:  Jim Wolfston, CollegeNET President

Jim Wolfston is President of CollegeNET, Inc., a Portland, Oregon-based company that develops and operates Web-based, administrative systems for higher education institutions worldwide. CollegeNET supports greater affordability and access to higher education through its sponsorship of institutional student success programs and through direct college scholarships totaling more than $2.5 million to date. The company created the Social Mobility Index (SMI;, which measures the extent to which a college or university admits economically disadvantaged students at lower tuition, supports their academic progress through graduation, and prepares them to obtain well-paying jobs. Mr. Wolfston has spoken and written on broader policy and service issues for higher education, with articles published in the The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and the Wall Street Journal.

Jim Wolfston

"The Renaissance of East Greensboro: An Examination of North Carolina A&T’s Impact on Economic Mobility"
   Plenary Speaker: Chancellor Harold Martin, North Carolina A&T

Dr. Harold Lee Martin Sr. was elected 12th chancellor of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University on June 8, 2009, bringing more than 30 years of transformative leadership experience in higher education. He is the first alumnus to serve the university as chancellor. Prior to his election as chancellor of N.C. A&T, Martin was senior vice president of academic affairs for the University of North Carolina system (2006–2009), chancellor of Winston-Salem State University (2000–2006) and department chair, dean and vice chancellor for academic affairs at N.C. A&T. An advocate of community engagement, Martin serves on various boards in the Piedmont Triad and across the nation. A native of Winston-Salem, Martin received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from N.C. A&T, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Harold Martin

6:30 p.m. - 7:45 p.m.

CollegeNet"working" Reception

Please join other registered participants of the conference for a reception of refreshments and appetizers in Diggs Art Gallery.


CollegeNet logo

Conference Schedule - Wednesday, April 3, 2019











8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Light Breakfast

9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Panel: The Psychology and Economics of Poverty: New Micro and Macro Approaches to Economic Mobility

  • "Poverty and Decision-Making: New Evidence from Forsyth County, NC"
         Dr. Michele Lewis, Associate Professor of Psychology, WSSU
  • "Forsyth County, NC: Are We Helping Those at the Bottom of the Income Ladder?"
         Dr. Zagros Madjd-Sadjadi, Professor of Economics, WSSU

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Panel: Transportation and Urban Planning in Forsyth County: Different Paths to Improving Economic Mobility

  • "Does Urban Form Influence Economic Mobility in the Poorest Communities in Forsyth, NC?"
         Dr. Russ Smith, Associate Professor, WSSU
  • "Living without a car: Challenges to upward economic mobility in Winston-Salem and innovative solutions."
         Dr. Richardson, Professor of Economics, Director of Center for the Study of Economic Mobility

12:15 p.m - 1:30 p.m.
Jerry Anderson

Luncheon Lecture

“Our Place, Our Space- #27105”
Jerry Anderson, CSEM Community Scholar
Economic Mobility Opportunity Award Recipient 

Jerry Anderson, a native of Winston-Salem and is an activist, speaker and writer, focused primarily on education and collaboration for community action to address social and economic challenges in lower wealth communities.  In addition, Jerry is the owner of IMPACT SOLUTIONS of the TRIAD, a business renovation and landscaping company for homeowners and small businesses in surrounding communities.  He will discuss the challenges and opportunities for those living in zip code 27105, an economically distressed area in Winston-Salem. 

2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Youthful Attitudes and Economic Mobility: What works and what does not at the high school and university levels?

  • Can Youth-Led Participatory Research Promote Upward Economic Mobility for Adolescents Transitioning to Adulthood?
       Dr. Charity Griffin, Assistant Professor of Psychology, WSSU
  • How Did WSSU rise to among the best universities in the country in generating upward social mobility for our students?
       Dr. Anthony Graham, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for WSSU

3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Break/Networking/Optional Campus Tour

Attendees can visit and interact with WSSU community organizations that partner and collaborate with WSSU to provide high impact practices for student success while in college and after graduation.  In addition, attendees may sign up for guided tours of the historic and beautiful WSSU campus.

4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Closing Presentation

  • Student Voices - From Dialogue to Actions to Overcome Adversity 
       Introduction by Dr. Donna Durham-Pierre
  • Introduction of Special Guest Speaker
        Dr. Craig Richardson

“Is Money Really Green?  How to Desegregate the Dollar Bill”
     Dr. Shanté P. Williams, Founder of RW Capital Partners

Shante WiliamsDr. Shanté P. Williams is a Venture Capitalist, Inventor, Intellectual Property Strategist, Innovation Enthusiast, and Private Investor. She is the Founder of RW Capital Partners, an investment firm specializing in commercial real estate and technology development and the Chief Investment Officer of Black Pearl Global Investments. more about Dr. Williams

  • Introduction of the Chancellor
        Dr. Craig Richardson

Keynote Address :“Transforming Higher Education for 2020”
     Dr. Elwood Robinson, Chancellor of WSSU

Elwood RobinsonA native of Ivanhoe, North Carolina, Dr. Elwood L. Robinson graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in 1978 with a degree in psychology and then earned a master’s degree in the field from Fisk University in Tennessee. After completing a pre-doctoral internship at Duke University Medical Center – performing rotations in neuropsychology, psychiatric inpatient and behavioral medicine and health psychology – he began his doctoral work in clinical psychology at Penn State where he earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1986...  read more about Chancellor Robinson

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