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Clock Tower Accords Progress

Since October 2014, Saint Louis University's administration, faculty, staff and students have made significant progress toward fulfilling the 13 points of the Clock Tower Accords. This document is a roadmap to a more equitable SLU, city and region.

A student stands and speaks into a microphone holding a piece of paper while other students, seated, look on
Aric Hamilton, 2022-2023 president of the SLU Student Government Association, participates in the tradition of reading excerpts from a speech the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered during a visit to Saint Louis University in 1964.

Our progress in addressing the letter and spirit of the 13 Clock Tower Accords follows.

1. Increased budget for the African American Studies Program

Status: Accord Accomplished!

Outcomes of the additional funding and department status include:

2. Increased financial aid resources for retention of African American students at SLU
Two students wearing caps and gowns high five each other in a crowded arena.


Status: Accord accomplished!

Financial Aid and Scholarships

  • Since 2019, alumni and non-alumni donors have directed more funds than ever to need-based scholarships.
  • SLU boosted the average total of financial aid or scholarships awarded to economically disadvantaged students by 17 percent since 2014.
  • The financial need of student applicants is not considered during the admissions process. 
    99% of first-time freshmen at SLU receive financial aid in 2022
  • $140 million in federal aid awarded to SLU students in 2022
  • $270 million in institutional aid is made available to SLU students annually 
  • For economically disadvantaged undergraduate students, financial aid is offered through a variety of scholarships, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, Dr. Donald M. Suggs Scholarship, Boys Hope Girls Hope Scholarship, Access Academics Scholarship, and the Jonathan C. Smith, Ph.D., Memorial Endowment Scholarship.

Resources for Increasing Retention and Improving Graduation Rates

  •  In 2023, SLU’s Division of Student Development developed and launched a new role to prioritize student success, the inaugural assistant vice president of the first-year experience. This role will lead the coordination of student and family support structures for SLU students as they move through their college experience from onboarding to graduation. The Parent and Family Engagement Office will now be structured under this role and led by the director of Billiken Parent and Family Programs while continuing to work closely and collaboratively with the Dean of Students Office. Two seminal leadership programs for our newest Billikens, Billikens’ First Chapter (BFC) and Students' Opportunity for Achievement and Resources (SOAR) will also be structured under this role.

  • SLU launched its newest learning community. The THRIVE: Black and Talented Learning Community helps students deepen their cultural understanding and awareness of the African Diasporic experience and develop the skills and tools to address institutional and societal change.

  • • In 2022, SLU became a JED Campus, beginning a multi-year effort geared toward fostering a stronger culture of well-being, hope and resilience that is systemic and lasting. The JED strategic plan is built on an equity framework for mental health, addressing access to needed resources and supporting belonging for all students, with explicit objectives for reaching those from underrepresented racial/ethnic and LGBTQ student groups. Some planned systemic changes in support of the JED initiative include adding additional staff members to academic advising, dean of student’s office, and the counseling center staff to better support students throughout their time at SLU.

  • In 2021, SLU announced the inaugural assistant vice president for student well-being, a position created to coordinate and expand SLU student-wellness services across the Division of Student Development and the University.

  • In 2021, the division also launched Billikens’ First Chapter, a destination for connecting our scholars with resources on and off campus throughout the first year of college.

  • In 2021 and 2022, SLU rolled out the Ignite Seminars through the CORE in which students are introduced to what makes teaching and learning at SLU distinctive and transformative.
  • Pre-College, Access and TRIO programs established offices at SLU dedicated to the recruitment, retention and graduation of diverse student populations, especially first-generation college students.
  • The EAB Navigate Student Success Management Software was implemented in 2022 with the creation of the EAB Manager Position to track the success of all students and identify students in need of additional support and resources.
3. Evaluation of SLU’s current scholarship programs to better serve African American populations
Two students pose while sitting at a dinner with plates of food and soda cans in front of them.


Internal research is routinely gathered on TRIO program Students' Opportunity for Achievement and Resources (SOAR) and Billiken’s First Chapter outcomes for all students. When analyzed for understanding retention of Black/African American students from first to second years at SLU, the outcomes are positive, showing high retention rates in the SOAR program, similar to all other racial/ethnic groups of students (2020: 100%; 2021: 92.3%; 2022: 90%). The programs will continue to be monitored for outcomes of all students and to make improvements of programming to fit our diverse student body. 

Black/African American Student Retention Rates from 
First to Second Year When Taking Part in Resource Programs

Program Number of Participants Year 1 2020 2021 2022

TRIO program-


2020: 6
2021: 34
2022: 29


82% 86%
Billikens’ First Chapter 2021: 55 N/A  62% N/A
No Program Participation 2020: 61
2021: 106
2022: 115


65% 80%
4. Additional college prep workshops for students in the area’s most disadvantaged school districts
A child looks at a laptop screen and raises her hand while sitting in a classroom with other students her age.


Status: Accord accomplished!

5. Establishment of a K-12 bridge program, including summer programs, in the Normandy and Shaw neighborhoods to help increase the numbers of college-bound students from neighborhoods in those areas
Two students look at a notebook while one hold a pencil.


Status: Accord accomplished!

  • Access Academies (originally created in 2005) expanded and was integrated into SLU’s School of Education in 2020 for successful middle school enrichment, and high school and college support programs of students from disadvantaged families in the St. Louis Catholic school system. In 2022, Access guided 41 eighth graders from our three partner middle schools into their top-choice college-prep high schools and celebrated 42 high school seniors as they received over 80 college acceptances and $1,550,000 in scholarship offers. Access Academies serves students across the Metro East and St. Louis region including the south St. Louis city, north St. Louis city, and North St. Louis County neighborhoods.
  • Pre-College Access and Programs create summer and after-school bridge programs that engage and excite elementary and high school students in the Shaw neighborhood and the Normandy School District. One of the programs, Upward Bound, annually serves 60 students from the Ferguson-Florissant School District.
  • Educators at Confluence Preparatory Academy and SLU’s School of Education created a summer college program allowing students to see four-year universities in St. Louis. Throughout June, advanced sophomores, juniors and seniors from CPA can visit various universities throughout St. Louis and earn high school credit.
  • SLU’s Educational Talent Search (ETS) identifies and assists students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. Each year, this program serves over 500 under-served youth in the St. Louis Public Schools.
  • The Shut it Down Program operated from 2016-2021 in St. Louis city and county schools to end the school-to-prison pipeline under the direction of Norm White through trauma-informed and anti-racist professional development of teachers and administrators. Due to grant funding ending, the program ended in 2021.
  • Supports also exist regionally for students through College Bound, Missouri College Advising Corps, and UMSL Bridge Program.
6. Establishment of a community center
A health care worker holds something against a patient's arm while another health care worker observes.


Status: In Review

  • SLU’s Center for Social Action regularly partners with community centers such as LifeWise STL and Midtown Community Services, who work with neighborhoods near campus, by providing volunteer, financial, and organizational support.
  • SLU partners with more than 300 programs in which our students, staff and faculty are working alongside local teachers, nurses, doctors, business people, clergy and activists. For example, programs such as SLU Legal Clinics, Campus Kitchen, Casa de Salud, Mobile Health Clinic and pre-college STEM programs have positively affected the lives of our disadvantaged neighbors.
  • We recognize the importance and impact that community-led, community-run centers have and we are committed to embedding our efforts across existing centers alongside assessing the community’s need for a SLU-managed or -operated center.
7. Mutually agreed upon commissioned artwork

Status: In Progress

  • In 2023, the exhibit Activism Through Art: Reflections on Ink Tributes was co-sponsored by the Division for Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement at the SLU Museum of Art
  • In October 2023, the Division of Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement launched a mural contest for artwork to be displayed in the Center for Global Citizenship according to three themes. One of the three themes centered around #OccupySLU. Members of the SLU community were able to publicly vote on mural submissions through social media. Winners of the mural contest were selected in November 2023 and artwork will be up in the CGC by the end of the Spring 2024 semester.
  • In 2023, a call for an art installation commemorating the Mill Creek Valley community on the SLU campus commenced through the Arts Chamber of Commerce.
8. Development of an academic center for community and economic development to be integrated with the community center
A teacher holds a book open while elementary students sit at a table in a classroom. A bulletin board behind the teacher reads "stoplight paragraphs."


Status: In Progress

9. Creation of a Race, Poverty and Inequality Steering Committee

Status: In Progress

  • Established in 2009, the President’s Diversity Council amended its charter to act formally as the race, poverty and inequality steering committee.
  • In 2020, a new campuswide committee was announced on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, but was only able to meet twice before Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., unexpectedly died in 2021.
  • In 2023, the Division for Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement announced the formation of the SLU Belonging Campaign with 30 members from across campus (inclusive of the President’s Office) for strategic planning and activities to manifest cultural and institutional transformation at SLU, regionally, and nationally.
10. SLU sponsorship of a national conference on racial equality

Panelists sit in arm chairs while discussing a topic.Status: Accord accomplished!

Beginning in 2015, SLU has hosted six regional and national conferences on racial equality.

11. Appointment of a Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Community Engagement
Jonathan Smith speaks to incoming students during Welcome Week.


Status: Accord accomplished!

  • In 2015, the late Dr. Jonathan Smith was appointed as special assistant to the President for Diversity and Community Engagement. He was later promoted as the inaugural vice president for the new office of Diversity and Community Engagement.
  • From 2021-2022, Amber Johnson, Ph.D., served as interim vice president and the office grew into a division, adding the Center for Social Action, special assistants on STEM recruitment, administrative and faculty leadership for addressing faculty equity and strategic initiatives.
  • In fall 2022, Rochelle D. Smith, M.S., was appointed as the next vice president for the Division for Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement.
12. Establishment of a diversity speakers series

Status: Accord accomplished!

In 2015, Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., initiated the first Diversity Speakers Series that continues to occur annually on campus through cross-campus partnerships. To date, SLU has brought over 20 nationally recognized speakers and experts on race, faith, and social justice. Division of Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement has expanded the original Diversity Speaker Series to include increased support to cross-campus partners through co-sponsoring diverse speakers across respective areas.

Previous speakers include:

View the Complete List Here

13. Bi-weekly meetings with an inclusive group, including the president, to continue to advance SLU’s efforts to address inequality and poverty in the community

Status: Accord accomplished!

  • With the appointment of a chief diversity officer as a vice president in the president's cabinet and the establishment of the Division for Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement, the president and his office consult and meet regularly to advance SLU’s effort to address inequality and poverty in the community
  • In 2020, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion subcommittee for the Board of Trustees was established.
  • In 2022, the Diversity Champions were established in the Division for Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement. The champions include representatives from each college/school and other offices for coordinating efforts to advance excellence in inclusion, diversity and belonging.