Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

 Email  Share  Print

Up Front: Winter 2012



​Vocational Education Income Losing Ground, Study Finds

Skills acquired through vocational education are often touted as a key entryway to the workforce. But a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found initial vocational labor-market advantages decrease over time, and those students with a general education background are more likely to be employed at age 50.

Rapid technological advances are undermining vocational students’ ability to adapt their skills to a changing labor market, the study found. On the other hand, those with a general education initially face worse employment prospects, but experience improved employment probability over time.

For a full copy of the study, please visit: papers/w17504.pdf.

New Commission to Study College Attainment

Six presidential higher education associations recently joined the American Council on Education (ACE) to create a new Commission on Higher Education Attainment, which will work to improve college retention and attainment rates.

“President Obama’s call for the United States to have the highest level of postsecondary educational attainment in the world by 2020 highlights the importance of higher education to our nation’s future,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “We believe achieving this important objective will not be possible without clear and decisive leadership by colleges and universities, which is why we are launching this effort.”

Commission members were nominated by each of the founding presidential associations. E. Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University, will serve as chair, and Andrew K. Benton, president of Pepperdine University, Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College, and George A. Pruitt, president of Thomas Edison State College, will serve as vice-chairs.

General topics to be explored include the changing nature of students, higher education’s ability to attract and retain the increasing number of adults seeking a degree or credential, the current capacity to accommodate more students, and opportunities to increase efficiency and productivity.

The commission is expected to complete its work by fall 2012. For more information, please contact Erin Hennessy, director of public affairs, at ehennessy@

New Managing Editor for The Presidency

The Presidency is under new management. Scott Harris recently joined ACE as director of publishing, and as part of his portfolio will oversee operations of this publication.

Prior to joining ACE, Scott served as senior editor for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). During his time at the AAMC, Scott oversaw the association’s award-winning news publication, the Reporter. Scott has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Scott looks forward to helping make The Presidency the best publication it can be for its vitally important audience. He welcomes input from readers at

Action Plan on Hispanic Grad Rates

The largest and fastest-growing minority in K–12 public schools is also the demographic most struggling to earn a degree in postsecondary education. According to a recent progress report released by the College Board, Hispanic students’ attainment of an associate degree or higher was about 19 percent in 2009, or less than half the national average.

“We know these students have the needed capabilities, but they need more support, and they need more encouragement,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton.

In Florida, for example, where Latinos comprise a higher-than-average portion of the population, the Hispanic graduation rate stands at 28.5 percent, but a wide achievement gap still exists.

To boost Hispanic-student degree attainment in Florida and across the country, the College Board created 10 recommendations for improving success. Recommendation highlights include identifying and helping at-risk students earlier in the process, upgrading financial aid systems, controlling costs, using resources more wisely, and insisting state governments meet funding obligations.

For the full report, visit

States Serve as Laboratories for Performance Improvement

Six states will seek and test new ways to improve accountability in higher education as part of a new project commissioned in the fall.

As part of the initiative, developed by the National Governors Association, Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, and Utah will work with outside experts and consultants to identify performance-improvement measures and incorporate those measures into their decision-making processes.

For more information, go to

Key Ballot Measure Rejected

On election day, voters in Ohio overwhelmingly rejected a law that would have curtailed bargaining rights for public employees, including professors at public college and universities.

About 60 percent of voters voted against the law, known as Senate Bill 5, which sought to rein in collective-bargaining rights, and included language defining public-college professors as “management-level employees,” exempting them from union representation.