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President to President
Molly Corbett Broad's weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders.

Budget Committee Continues Work

November 18-22, 2013 ~ Vol. 14, No. 38

  • House-Senate Budget Committee Continues Work
  • White House Meets With Higher Education Leaders
  • Senators Convene Task Force on Regulatory Burdens
  • ED to Continue Gainful Employment Negotiations, Announces Panel on Student Aid and Program Integrity
  • Up-and-Coming Higher Education Leaders: Apply Now for ACE’s Fellows Program
  • IN BRIEF: Obama Announces Tech Training Grants; House Hearing on Perkins Career Education; Nicholas Carr to Speak at ACE Annual Meeting; Student Achievement Measure Project Moving Ahead​

As we approach Thanksgiving, there has been little news from the House-Senate Budget Conference Committee working on a plan for FY 2014 spending. As you may recall, the committee has a Dec. 13 deadline to return a proposal to both chambers, an outcome of the October deal to reopen the federal government.

There are no specific repercussions if the Dec. 13 deadline to report back to Congress is missed, and a new government funding mechanism does not need to be put in place until Jan. 15. The Budget Conference Committee must make recommendations on broad spending levels before the individual appropriations bills can be considered. But whether the committee can reach a compromise that will be approved by the full House and Senate remains an open question.

Along with my colleagues at the other major higher education associations, ACE met this week with chief White House economic adviser Gene Sperling and several other senior aides to talk about college access and attainment for low-income students.

It was the White House's third meeting on these issues in the past month, signaling a renewed focus on the administration’s goal of having the world's highest proportion of college graduates by 2020, formally known as the American Graduation Initiative. The administration is planning to convene a meeting in early to mid-December to discuss ways to increase the participation of low-income students in higher education. In our meeting, the administration was particularly interested in identifying successful campus initiatives in this area and in discussing ways these efforts could be expanded. 

Four members of the U.S. Senate’s education committee announced Monday that they are forming a bipartisan task force to examine the impact of federal regulations on colleges and universities. ACE will provide organizational assistance for this initiative, which will be co-chaired by Nicholas Zeppos, president of Vanderbilt University (TN), and William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. 

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) said that they were concerned some regulations were excessively burdensome for higher education institutions, a concern we have long shared. The task force will conduct a comprehensive review of Department of Education regulations and reporting requirements affecting colleges and universities and make recommendations to reduce and streamline them, while protecting students, institutions and taxpayers. 

Education Department (ED) officials said this week that the negotiated rulemaking panel working on gainful employment—originally scheduled to wrap up this week—will continue discussions next month. These rules are an effort to ensure students who enroll in some higher education programs—especially those at for-profit schools—will earn enough money to repay their student loans.

The discussions of the department’s proposals have been contentious, and the possibility of an agreement seems remote. In the absence of a consensus, ED will move forward with its favored approach to the rules and can choose to accept or ignore guidance from the committee. Whether or not consensus is reached, the proposed rule will then go through the usual process: It will be released for a public comment period (typically 30-90 days), then finalized. The timeline for those steps is unknown.

Meanwhile, ED is seeking nominations for members of another negotiated rule-making committee to propose regulations related to federal student-aid programs and program-integrity matters. Topics to be discussed include the use of debit cards for disbursing aid money, state-authorization requirements for programs enrolling students online, and the definition of credit standards for PLUS-loan borrowers. The first negotiating session is expected to take place in February. To apply for this panel, send your request by Dec. 20 to Wendy Macias at

Please encourage up-and-coming leaders on your campus to apply for the 2014-15 class of the ACE Fellows Program. The application deadline is Jan. 2.

Established in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program identifies and prepares participants for senior leadership positions on campuses throughout the country. The program combines placement at another higher education institution with retreats, interactive learning opportunities and campus visits to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year. It is also flexible—working with the nominating and host institution mentors, ACE Fellows design an individualized learning contract that articulates their plans for the year, including the choice to spend a full year, a semester, or a schedule of periodic visits away on another campus.

Potential applicants can watch a recent informational webinar about the ACE Fellows Program or can click here to apply now. For additional information or to speak to a staff member, please call (202) 939-9420 or email


President Obama announced a $100-million grant competition Tuesday to help students earn college and industry credentials while still in high school. Starting early next year, the Youth CareerConnect program will distribute 25 to 40 grants, ranging from $2 million to $7 million, with a 25 percent matching requirement from the recipient. The funding will come from the Department of Labor. Recipient schools will be expected to combine “a rigorous academic and career-focused curriculum” with career advice and opportunities for job shadowing, field trips and mentoring. More at Politico

Also Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee heard testimony on reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, the primary law governing vocational education programs.The expired Perkins Act is one of the few pieces of legislation that the House Education and the Workforce Committee has hopes of moving forward in the final legislative weeks of year. There is little chance the final version will contain the president’s Youth CareerConnect plan, but the Senate could possibly include it in any Perkins bill they propose. 

I am pleased to share with you that bestselling author Nicholas Carr will deliver remarks to presidents and chancellors during Presidents Day 2014 at ACE’s 96th Annual Meeting, March 8-11, in San Diego. Mr. Carr’s latest book is The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. While the Annual Meeting is open to provosts, deans and other members of the senior executive team, ACE is planning a range of sessions designed specifically for presidents and chancellors during Presidents Day on March 9. 

A number of institutions already have signed up for the Student Achievement Measure (SAM) Project, a collaborative effort by the higher education association community to track student attendance across institutions. SAM provides a more complete picture of undergraduate student progress and completion than can be calculated under the federal government’s Student Right-to-Know Act, which is limited to measuring the completion of first-time, full-time students at one institution. The institutions are beginning to post progress and completion rates on the project’s website. I encourage you to look closely at this initiative

Best wishes to you and your family for a happy, restful Thanksgiving. President to President will return after the holiday.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE​