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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.


    Partnering for Prosperity - CoverPartnering for Prosperity - Advancing the Institutional and State Agenda Through an Effective Collegiate State Relations Program  

    Collegiate state relations is the continual, collaborative process of engaging state policymakers to maximize support needed to achieve institutional and state objectives. Building and sustaining a state relations program helps the college focus on achieving its mission and promoting its value to individuals and society. A number of dynamics—economic, fiscal, political and demographic—are among many forces that beckon institutions to renew their strategy for engendering mutually beneficial relations with state government. A state relations program should be orchestrated in a manner that reflects the history, culture, values and governance structures that are unique to each state. Read more

    Previous Publication

    2013 Task Force coverCreating a New Compact Between States and Public Higher Education
    A Report by the AASCU Task Force on Making Public Higher Education a State Priority

    A Legacy of Support for American Public Higher Education
    Throughout our history, Americans have placed their confidence in public colleges and universities to strengthen and revitalize our communities, states and the nation. As the U.S. builds an economic foundation in the second decade of the 21st century, it is clear that our national economic security must be sustained through a workforce with the knowledge, skills and creativity to adapt to an ever-changing global marketplace. To achieve this future, policymakers must look to the successes of the past—opening the doors of opportunity by providing access to an affordable, high-quality public higher education. 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

    • Thomas L. Harnisch, 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