By Lorenzo L. Esters, Senior Program Director, USA Funds
USA Funds® believes that students should consider their experience in postsecondary education as an investment that pays lifelong dividends. This “college value” consideration should play a key role as they determine their best path through college to career.
Careful attention to college value is important for institutional leadership as well. To bridge higher education and today’s workplace, government and public officials and college presidents and boards of trustees must act with an informed perspective. With every decision they make, trustees and other college leaders must keep the success of their students and graduates — and ways to measure that success — as a top priority.
Specifically, college trustees and other institutional leaders need to understand how to use data to evaluate the efficacy of their policies. The elected officials who appoint trustees need to know how to identify governing board candidates who are able to focus on student success and completion priorities. The climate for this kind of work is possible only when the governing boards of colleges and universities function effectively — supporting a data-informed focus on student success and meeting the needs of the workforce.
That’s why USA Funds is working with theAssociation of Community College Trustees and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to educate college and university leadership and governing board members. The work focuses on the appropriate use of student data, achieving career readiness priorities, and applying technology to advance the institution’s mission. We also are supporting development of a guide for new trustees on policy directions that support student success and equity.
I recently had the opportunity to speak during ACCT’s Governance Leadership Institute, sharing the ways that USA Funds is working to advance our college value approach with the help of institutional leadership. We look forward to sharing more details of our work with ACCT in the fall.
And this week AASCU announced a grant from USA Funds to help fund AASCU’s newly developed Emerging Leaders Program and support the redesign of the Millennium Leadership Initiative. Both AASCU efforts will help incorporate college value in leadership development.
USA Funds’ college value initiative is part of our overall focus on Completion With a Purpose℠, enhancing college completion rates and graduate success after college, in rewarding careers and fulfilling lives.
Previously I’ve shared in this blog five critical action items for college leaders to advance the principle of Completion With a Purpose. And institutional leaders’ role in the college value component of Completion With a Purpose is no less important.
Governing board members and other college leaders can make a significant impact on the success rates of students and graduates. These leaders can ensure that their institutions are launching those students and graduates on a path that leads to the rewarding careers and fulfilling lives that are at the core of evaluating college value.
USA Funds’ own multi-pronged approach to college value includes:
- A collaboration with Gallup to conduct the first-ever daily poll of U.S. adults on topics related to higher education.
- The commissioning of research by Gallup on the experiences and outcomes of minority graduates and graduates whose highest level of education is an associate degree.
- A $3.5 million investment in four projects in 12 states designed to develop distinctive models for measuring and reporting college value.
By supporting institutional leadership education, we hope to build on our student success and college value efforts. Our goal is that, through establishing a framework for leaders’ decision-making focused on student success, we’ll help schools in ensuring that students make college and career decisions that lead them to fulfilling careers and lives.