William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, opened ACE’s 95th Annual Meeting Sunday evening with the Robert H. Atwell Lecture, “The Completion Imperative: Harnessing Change to Meet Our Responsibilities.”
Noting the economic necessity of a college degree in the 21st century, Kirwan identified social equity as the most urgent and compelling element of the college completion agenda.
Higher education will have contributed to creating a permanent economic underclass in the United States if more is not done to address the problem, he said. He outlined four areas that higher education leaders should focus on, stressing that none require a significant financial investment, but rather “a new mindset and a willingness to lead change:”
- Matching students with the best and most challenging college or university for their abilities.
- Reforming financial aid policies and practices—especially the Pell Grant Program—stressing need-based aid over aid based on merit where there is no need.
- Building a stronger culture of completion on campus.
- Using disruptive strategies and technologies to provide a high-quality education at a lower cost.
See Kirwan’s full remarks below (38.44 mins).