Perhaps never before have policy makers, students, and parents been as convinced as they are now that the path to a brighter future for their families and for our nation begins with higher education.
We know that higher education must encourage this momentum, and continue to make a compelling case for its value. There are few better ways to do this than to ask our alumni how they feel about their postsecondary education. I am particularly pleased to share with you the results of recent polling work done at the behest of the ACE board that asked exactly that question. In a national poll of recent college graduates and similar institution-level surveys of 21 colleges and universities, recent graduates overwhelmingly indicated that they were satisfied with their education. Nearly 90 percent of respondents rated their college experience as worth the time and money required. Eighty-one percent of alumni felt their institution effectively prepared them for the workforce and to meet future societal challenges. Additional information about the poll results, including areas in which we must make additional progress, can be found in the feature story on page 34.
A second area in which higher education must continue to beat the drum regards our role in a global economy. We in the United States simply don’t have the luxury of allowing our commitment to ongoing globalization go unexamined. The rapidly evolving “new world order” that features the ascent of institutions in China, India, South Korea, and Canada demands a response. That is why ACE this fall launched a Blue Ribbon Panel on Global Engagement, chaired by New York University President and ACE Board of Directors Chair John Sexton. The panel will help develop a new agenda to expand the capacity of American higher education to both navigate and influence the new global environment. I am grateful that Lou Anna Simon, president of Michigan State University, has agreed to serve on the panel and share her perspectives on this issue—and I commend to you her piece on the World Grant Ideal, which begins on page 22.
Closer to home, American higher education must remain focused on issues of access and success for those who have been historically underrepresented on our campuses. ACE’s Minorities in Higher Education: Twenty-Fourth Status Report, released in October, should serve as a reminder that despite our progress in this vitally important area, much work remains to be done. The data indicate that young Hispanics and African Americans have made no appreciable progress in postsecondary attainment as compared to their older peers, and attainment rates have dipped for the youngest group (aged 25–34). President Charlita Shelton of the University of the Rockies offers her thoughts on how institutional diversity initiatives can help address this challenge in her article on page 28.
These issues all present unique challenges, particularly in the face of constrained resources. I am grateful for the inspired leadership of ACE’s board and membership in helping define the agenda we must undertake together. And I hope you will plan to join me and your colleagues from across the country and around the world to consider these and many other issues at ACE’s Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, on March 5–8, 2011. Additional information about the meeting is available at www.aceannualmeeting.org
I wish you and your family a restful and restorative holiday season.
Molly Corbett Broad
American Council on Education