Public Purpose Magazine, Spring 2016
Public Purpose Magazine - Spring 2016 Issue Cover

Between the LinesWhere Challenge and Opportunity MeetSusan M. Chilcott
There is much lost ground to be recaptured in the current climate of mistrust for higher education institutions. Fortunately “Opportunities for All” provides us with a great launching pad to achieve a common ground appreciation for our invaluable contributions to our students, our states, and American society. — Don Betz, President, University of Central Oklahoma

This quote is from EndSights—page 28—in which Don Betz makes the case for AASCU members to embrace the Opportunities for All campaign. Don has been the president of three AASCU institutions and brings knowledge, commitment and passion for addressing the circumstances in which state colleges and universities (SCUs) find themselves. Many SCUs face financial struggles; research suggests that the role our schools play in American public higher education is neither well understood nor appreciated by key stakeholders— opinion leaders, lawmakers, prospective students, parents, and the public. During the next two to three years our goal is to change this perspective.

REPUTABLE UBuilding, polishing and protecting a university’s reputation takes vigilance, hard work—and a strategy.By Stephen G. Pelletier
Every university leader knows how fragile an institution’s reputation can be. From misuse of funds and student misbehavior to sex scandals and campus shootings, any number of threats can quickly undermine years of hard work to define, promote and protect an institution’s image. The fallout might be quickly repairable—or cause long-lasting damage. Crisis management strategies can help a university triage specific threats. But arguably more important is what an institution does before a crisis strikes. It’s when the institution is not in crisis mode that it needs to invest in defining and polishing its reputation.

Developing an Active Citizenry Through Student Political EngagementBy Michelle R. Davis
Shortly before election day on the campus of the University of Houston-Downtown, hundreds of students gather for a rally to hear from inspirational speakers, interact with local artists and politicians, and applaud hip-hop groups and other musicians.
Then, en masse, the group walks several blocks to a polling station nearby and everyone votes. Texas law allows early voters to cast their ballots at any polling place, so organizers of the “Walk 2 Vote” event capitalize on that, said senior John Locke, the president of the Student Government Association.

Playing to Your StrengthsState Colleges and Universities Know that Differentiation MattersBy Gayle Bennett
Last summer, Gallup polled U.S. college and university presidents, in part asking about their institution’s purpose, brand and culture. The survey found that many higher education leaders use the same words and phrases to describe these things. As John Hitt, president of the University of Central Florida, points out, this isn’t too surprising, since the underlying mission of any higher education institution is to transmit and apply knowledge.

The Opportunity is Now!A National Call-to-Action for America’s State Colleges and UniversitiesBy Karen Doss Bowman
Never before have state colleges and universities (SCUs) faced such urgent challenges. Increased scrutiny of state higher education budgets has led to diminished funding, even as tuition costs have escalated. At the same time, survey evidence suggests that the role of SCUs are not well understood, even though perceptions of these schools are generally favorable.

Anatomy of a Successful Consolidation: Six Critical and Essential ElementsBy Ricardo Azziz
A recent Moody’s Investor Service report predicted that closure rates of small colleges and universities will triple and that mergers will double in the coming years (visit website). The decision to consolidate or merge institutions is never an easy one, but one that is being considered and implemented more frequently by higher education leaders. The experience at Georgia Regents University (GRU; now named Augusta University), the result of the consolidation of Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) and Augusta State University (ASU), can serve as a guide to successfully completing these often very complex mergers.

One of the most frequent questions I receive is, “What are the critical elements that position a consolidation or merger for success?” Overall, the experience at GRU indicates that while there are myriad issues integral to success, there are six critical and essential elements: a compelling unifying vision, the right sense of urgency, a committed and understanding governing body, the right leadership on the ground, a robust project management system, and sufficient dedicated resources. In brief, let’s review what each of these might entail.

Food Insecurity in Higher EducationEnding Hunger on Our Nation’s CampusesBy Erika Thompson
Twenty years ago, a graduate school classmate confided that she used the refunds from undergraduate and graduate school loans to feed her kids. “Pat” was in her 40s and about $100,000 in debt. Since her end goal was to be a middle or high school English teacher, Pat knew that she would spend the rest of her life paying off those loans. Ironically, Pat’s situation to even qualify for multiple loans, and then have loan refunds to cover basic needs, could be seen as ideal compared to today’s college students, especially those who have yet to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Proposed Pell Bonusand “15 to Finish”By Barmak Nassirian
The Obama administration’s FY 17 budget request includes a proposal for a Pell Grant “bonus” of an additional $300 for Pell recipients who take 15 credit-hours. The administration estimates that some 2.3 million, or 29 percent, of the 7.7 million projected total Pell recipients next year would be eligible for the bonus. The proposal is motivated by the obvious observation that students taking only 12 credit hours—the current definition of full-time under Title IV and at the vast majority of institutions—would need five years to finish a baccalaureate program.

Honoring ServiceCelebrating Academic AchievementsBy Kathy Snead
One of the iconic rites of spring on any college campus is the traditional pomp and circumstance of a graduation procession. Graduation exercises and commencement speeches are the hallmark of degree completion—signifying the culmination of years of academic coursework, examinations and capstone projects reflective of one’s selected field of study. For the veteran or military student and his/her extended family, that sense of accomplishment and degree attainment is especially gratifying given the part-time nature of enrollment, interrupted attendance due to deployments or mobilizations, and the guiding principle of “mission first.”

Presidents & PracticesBuilding a UniversityBy Richard R. Rush
Over the past 30 years, I have had the distinct pleasure, honor and responsibility of serving at the executive level of universities. I have assisted in the opening of two new universities for the California State University system, and I have served as a president at both Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU) and California State University Channel Islands (CI).

Currents & Transitions
A focus on leadership has been an AASCU priority since its founding 55 years ago, and with the complex and challenging landscape that is public higher education today, leaders of state colleges and universities need an exceptional skill set to be successful. To gain a better understanding of the critical issues facing presidents and chancellors, AASCU undertook an in-depth study to determine and clarify the leadership qualities that can help public colleges and universities succeed and thrive. The study sought to provide a deeper understanding of the key competencies required of current and future public university leaders.

EndSightsOpportunities for All: Our Work BeginsBy Don Betz
Some ideas make so much sense that we often wonder why we didn’t think and act on them before. Such might be the case for AASCU’s new identity campaign, “Opportunities for All.”