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2020 Annual Report

Break Through

As a global pandemic threatened lives and livelihoods, 2020 brought to light obstacles to social justice. The COVID-19 crisis forced a breakthrough to a greater understanding of the deeply engrained inequities in our society and it helped grow and strengthen a movement for racial justice.

Adler University was motivated by the breakthroughs and challenges of 2020 to deliver on our mission: educating our students to create a more just world.

A Year of Adaptation and Resilience

Adler University is no stranger to challenges. We have been training our students to challenge the status quo for almost 70 years.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, it upended everyday life and exposed inequities in our communities. It was clear that our work to prepare our students to create a more just society was more essential than ever.

Adler University responded by quickly transitioning to a virtual learning environment so we could continue to provide a world-class education to our students while keeping our community members safe.

We made early decisions to remain with virtual instruction as the pandemic progressed, and communicated proactively and frequently with our community. As a result, high numbers of new and returning students came to the University in fall 2020 to advance their careers.

As protest and advocacy for Black lives jumpstarted a global reckoning on racial injustice, Adler University took a hard look internally. We heard loud and clear from our Black community that we needed to do more to truly live up to our social justice mission. We began taking action to dismantle systemic racism within the institution, which you can read more about below.

Adler University was able to rise to the challenges presented by 2020 because our work is guided by our Adlerian ideals. We outlined those principles and values in A Movement for Justice, a report we published in 2020 that redefines socially responsible practice.

The world needs our students and alumni to break through obstacles to justice, community wellness, and democracy around the world.

We are training our students to become champions for social justice. Together, we’re creating the world that Alfred Adler envisioned, one where everyone can thrive.

student retention rate for the summer-to-fall terms, an increase from 96.6% for the spring-to-summer terms
graduation rate for 2019-20 academic year, including 86% of ethnic minority students
students enrolled in fall 2020, our largest fall enrollment ever
increase in new students in fall 2020 compared to the previous year, more than four times the national average increase in graduate program enrollment as reported by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

Addressing Rise in Domestic Violence

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Connecting Veterans Virtually

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Explaining COVID-19 Impact on Chicago’s Black Communities

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Offering Mental Health Advice

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Advocating for COVID-19 Prevention in Prisons

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Counseling Youth During the Pandemic

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Discussing Higher Ed’s Response to the Pandemic

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Driven by a passion to address the injustices exposed by COVID-19, our students, faculty, and staff performed essential work to engage communities and advance social justice.

Meeting Our Strategic Goals in a Time of Uncertainty

Even during an extraordinarily challenging year, Adler University remained dedicated to achieving our strategic goals. We also collaborated to adapt our goals to respond to the breakthrough movements of 2020.

Dismantling Systemic Racism within the University

Adler University has always valued diversity and social justice. In 2020, as the world focused on racial injustice and how institutions perpetuate racism, we realized we needed to do more to fully live up to our mission and values.

We launched the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, which had been in development since the summer of 2019. The Center provides programs, trainings, and resources that support the success of all students, staff, and faculty.

The Center is coordinating our long-term efforts to transform Adler University into an anti-racist institution. We are listening to and working closely with our Black community members. With their input, we are taking concrete steps throughout the University to create an inclusive and welcoming environment where everyone can succeed.

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Providing Emergency Support to Our Students

Adler University created the Emergency Response Scholarship Fund to support our students experiencing economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Board of Trustees led a successful fundraising effort among our supporters in the United States and Canada.

We also surpassed our fundraising goal for the Campaign for Social Justice, raising more than $10 million to support student scholarships, our community work, and capital projects.


in emergency scholarships were given to 465 students in May and October 2020, thanks to generous donors and funding from the U.S. CARES Act.

$10.26 million
raised for the Campaign for Social Justice.

Improving Learning and Community Engagement

Throughout the year, we implemented plans to raise standards for student success and continuously improve all University processes. Examples of achievements included rebuilding the design of all online courses, hosting the first annual Online Campus Adler Action Day, and developing a plan for international student services and retention.

We hosted voter registration drives and advocacy events, and offered new workshops and resources on academic writing for students. We also worked with our community partners to adjust students’ practica and internship experiences to accommodate new health and safety guidelines necessitated by the pandemic.

Expanding our Academic Offerings

All campuses delivered instruction under a new, unified academic calendar, which allows the University to offer programs and courses with cross-campus enrollment.

Additionally, we launched a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program on the Online Campus. On the Chicago Campus, we offered dual-degree programs, which give our Sport and Human Performance and Forensic Mental Health Leadership students the opportunity to also earn a degree in Rehabilitation Counseling or Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In fall 2020, we introduced our Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership program.

Achieving our Financial Goals

By carefully managing our resources during the pandemic’s early months, we ensured the University’s financial stability. We were able to hire additional faculty and staff in the fall of 2020 to strengthen our institution at a time when many in the higher education sector are struggling financially.

$40.5 million
FY20 revenue was 11 percent higher than FY19 budgeted revenue.

$1.3 million
Change in net assets remains positive, sufficient to fund initiatives for all three campuses.

Our Supporters

Thanks to our supporters’ generosity, Adler University is educating and training the next generation of leaders dedicated to social justice and community well-being.

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Your gift to Adler University is an investment in our students and helps us prepare them to break through barriers to community well-being and to create a more just society.

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