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AASCU Emerging Paradigms for Public Higher Education Summit

George Covino

In late February, representatives from 38 four-year public institutions met in Washington, D.C. for a discussion around emerging paradigms in public higher education. Convened by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and supported by a grant from USA Funds (now Strada Education Network), the meeting was an opportunity for participants to share information from government, institution and industry experts.

Some highlights from the agenda:

  • Amy Jones, Director of Education and Human Services Policy for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, opened the meeting with a Washington Update. Some of the issues being discussed by the Committee include the need for assisting students with selecting the best pathway through higher education, simplifying the financial aid process and better money management education and counseling for student loan borrowers.
  • Sandy Baum, Senior Fellow with the Urban Institute, shared information on shifting finances in public education. Data indicates that over the last decade, colleges are spending more per student, tuition is increasing at a faster rate and state subsidies are declining. Dr. Baum also addressed the myths and realities of student loan debt. She shared that the average debt for students at four-year public institutions is $28,000 and 60 percent of students at these institutions borrow to fund their education. I’ve been a big fan of Dr. Baum’s work and highly recommend her book, “Student Debt: Rhetoric and Realities of Higher Education Financing.”
  • Marie A. Cini, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Maryland University College, shared information on analytics and retention, and David Bousquet, Vice President, Enrollment Management, East Stroudsburg University, provided information on enrollment management and public institutions.
  • I had the opportunity to speak about the nonacademic barriers to student success and was encouraged to hear the many things being done by attendees to provide students with assistance in choosing a pathway, funding and applying for college, managing money, boosting productivity, getting hired and repaying education loans. I was excited to share how Student Connection’s Success Center can help students overcome these barriers.
  • Colleagues from Education at Work, Frostburg State University, Northern Kentucky University and Roadtrip Nation provided a panel discussion on innovative alternatives for making the connection between college and career. While many institutions rely on activities within their career services offices, Northern Kentucky University shared how they are partnering with Education at Work to provide students with professional-level experience and an opportunity to earn money while in school. Frostburg State has partnered with Roadtrip Nation to provide assistance to students in choosing a pathway that will help them be successful.

My experience has shown that anytime AASCU convenes a meeting like this, it’s well-managed and valuable for all attendees. This was no exception. While there may be disagreements about how we get there, it was inspiring to hear the commitment and passion that all attendees demonstrated for student success.

George CovinoGeorge Covino is Student Connections’ vice president, student success.