Recent NAICU Conference Discusses Key Issues

I recently had the opportunity to attend the NAICU (National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities) annual meeting for higher education leaders in Washington, DC, where session topics ranged from “Assessing Institutional Quality through Graduates’ Earnings” to “Higher Education Tax Benefits and the Fiscal Cliff” to “Student Aid and the Federal Budget: What’s Ahead?”

The meeting was important for a number of reasons.  At this time, education leaders are concerned about how far the government will reach in its directives and how useful the
measures will be in the government’s “scorecard.”  The scorecard reports graduation rates, net price and loan default rates.  While these are important measures, they are
aggregated at such a high level they do not factor in important elements like student characteristics of quality and financial need and institutional size/type.  Also, the uncertainties about funding and tax benefits that relate to higher education make planning for it difficult.

As a recently elected member of the NAICU’s Board of Directors, I joined 23 other college and university presidents who are working to address these key issues.

Given this critical time for colleges and universities, I find it a privilege to have a voice with lawmakers and discussions with key influencers of the higher education landscape. At our February Board meeting, among other topics, we discussed student aid, college affordability, student debt, and college completion.  One part of the meeting entailed a trip to Capitol Hill to discuss these issues with members of the Senate and House of
Representatives.

Many of the potential federal budget cuts would impact public higher education to a larger extent than private institutions such as Nichols.  However, any possible reductions in Pell Grants, limitations on deductions for charitable contributions, and the development of a federal “scorecard” may have tremendous impact on both public and private colleges and universities.

Thanks for your ideas!

Many departments across campus have been working hard at taking student requests and making them reality.  After chatting with some people around campus, I learned that we’ve recently done many things to make the student experience even that much better.

Since last fall, we have:

  • added study spaces
  • added vending machines
  • provided lockers for commuter students
  • extended library hours
  • repainted residence hall areas
  • enhanced Wi-Fi coverage
  • developed an online store for athletics gear
  • added Union Station to the shuttle schedule
  • placed game tables in the Fels Center, and
  • extended the hours of food operation in the Fels Center.

There are many other projects that were completed and are currently underway, too.  These projects demonstrate Nichols’ collaborative environment.  We are all here to help and work together to accomplish as much as we can for our students and the entire campus community.  Any reasonable request will be reviewed—we are happy to listen!