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    The AASCU Political Perceptions and Policy Priorities Project serves as a resource for research, advocacy and thought leadership on strategies for strengthening the relationship between public higher education and state government. Complementing the vast array of AASCU’s state government relations and policy analysis work, the project’s goals are to: acquire a greater understanding of the political context of higher education policymaking in the states; develop a framework for appropriately responding to state political dynamics; and recommend strategies for boosting higher education as a state budgetary and policy priority.

    A number of forces are driving the need for a stronger relationship between public higher education and state government. These include ever growing competition for limited state dollars, increasing labor market demand for college educated workers, and college affordability and student debt concerns. This project seeks to understand state lawmakers’ perceptions about higher education issues and how college leaders can best respond to those perceptions in order to work effectively with political leaders in meeting state needs and goals.

    Project Leadership

    Guidance on the project is being provided by a task force, staff from AASCU’s Division of Government Relations and Policy Analysis, as well as selected scholars on the political economy of higher education. The AASCU-appointed Task Force on Making Higher Education a State Priority consists of higher education leaders whose careers have spanned higher education and state politics, with a number of task force members having held elected office.

    Project Outcomes

    The project will generate analysis, commentary, and data and information for use by higher education leaders, those who advocate on behalf of public colleges and universities, as well as those who impact and inform state higher education funding and state policies affecting higher education. The first product of the project is a report by the Task Force on Making Public Higher Education a State Priority, shown below. This report will be followed by a series of papers that provide thought leadership and applied strategies for strengthening the relationship between public higher education and the state political system.

    2013 Task Force coverNew Publication!

    Report by the Task Force on Making Public Higher Education a State Priority
    Creating a New Compact Between States and Public Higher Education
    June 2013

    This report examines the current dynamics of the public higher education-state government relationship and calls for crafting a new state-campus compact based on trust, mutual understanding and shared responsibility. Establishing a new compact will require that longstanding political perceptions of higher education and difficult policy issues are addressed. The report outlines four commitments state higher education leaders can make to advance a new compact and seven strategies to elevate higher education as a state budgetary priority. Read more 

    Task Force on Making Public Higher Education a State Priority

    • William A. Sederburg (Chair), Retired Commissioner, Utah System of Higher Education, and AASCU Senior Scholar
    • Judy A. Bense, President, University of West Florida
    • Linda M. Bleicken, President, Armstrong Atlantic State University (Ga.)
    • Frank T. Brogan, Chancellor, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
    • John C. Cavanaugh, President, Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area
    • Susan A. Cole, President, Montclair State University (N.J.)
    • Joseph Garcia, Lt. Governor of Colorado and Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education
    • Darryl G. Greer, Senior Fellow, Higher Education Strategic Information and Governance, William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey 
    • Glen D. Johnson, Chancellor, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
    • William E. “Brit” Kirwan, Chancellor, University System of Maryland
    • Teresa S. Lubbers, Commissioner, Indiana Commission for Higher Education
    • Brian Noland, President, East Tennessee State University
    • Richard Novak, Fellow, Ingram Center for Public Trusteeship and Governance
    • Eduardo M. Ochoa, President, California State University - Monterey Bay

    Project Directors

    • Daniel J. Hurley, Director, State Relations and Policy Analysis
    • Thomas L. Harnisch, Assistant Director, State Relations and Policy Analysis

    Project Contributing Scholars

    • David Tandberg, Assistant Professor of Higher Education, Florida State University
    • Michael McLendon, Associate Dean and Professor, Education Policy and Leadership, Southern Methodist University