Higher Ed Waits for Congress to Act; ACE Takes Pulse of College Presidents


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Aired Nov. 4, 2021

With the House heading toward a vote on the Biden administration's domestic spending plan, the hosts talk about what is in the bill for higher education—and what has been left out. They also speak with Morgan Taylor about ACE's latest Pulse Point survey, where college presidents identified their most pressing concerns: enrollment, campus mitigation strategies for COVID-19, supporting individuals affected by the crisis in Afghanistan, and addressing student mental health.​

Here are some of the links and references from this week’s show:

Reconciliation Framework Increases Maximum Pell Grant, Cuts Free Community College

2021 Fall Term Pulse Point Survey of College and University Presidents​

Hosts and Guests

 Read this episode's transcript

​​Jon Fansmith: Hello, and welcome to dotEDU, the higher education policy podcast from the American Council on Education. We're going to be joined a little bit later by Morgan Taylor, an esteemed ACE colleague and our associate director of research. But before we get to Morgan, I am joined by my beloved co-host Mushtaq Gunja, who has been dancing. This is obviously famously visual medium podcast, but I can see Mushtaq, and he has been dancing and then he unmuted and there was no music, and he kept dancing. So I'm very confused. Mushtaq, what are you doing right now?

Mushtaq Gunja: I just have... I dance to the beat of my own drummer Jon Fansmith. It is lovely to see you. It is lovely to see you, Sarah Spreitzer. I thought that maybe you started with beloved because the Virginia Governor's race is happening right now. And there's a controversy about the banning of the beloved book, Beloved, one of my favorites that I read in high school by Toni Morrison, but I'm guessing that's not really it. Hi, Sarah. How are you?

Sarah Spreitzer: I'm great. I'm excited to see what's going to happen in Virginia today and in all the other elections. When you have a non... I guess it's not even the midterms, right? But this is kind of an exciting election year, and everybody is really watching Virginia closely. And so it's exciting.

Jon Fansmith: I always find these elections that occur between national elections sort of amusing in that they seem to be freighted with all this importance and significance. And you wonder is that because it legitimately is? Is Virginia a bellwether? As goes Virginia so goes the nation? Or is it simply, there's just not that much for political pundits to talk about election wise. So you need to talk about something and here we are. I don't know, Mushtaq, you follow elections very closely, what do you think?

Mushtaq Gunja: I think it's the latter. Meaning that I think that political pundits really love elections and then want to infuse those elections with incredibly wide ranging implications. And sure, probably the elections here will auger something for the 2022 midterms, but it's a little bit hard to know what, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Virginia governor's race and New Jersey's governor's race are close races, which means that you can put whatever spin on it that you possibly want and be able to infuse it with whatever sort of information importance you might have. But I know one thing that political pundits will no doubt do tonight, tomorrow morning, is link these, especially the Virginia election, to what's happening next door and what's happening with reconciliation and infrastructure and the rest. Mr. Fansmith, I know that you follow this stuff incredibly closely. What is happening as of noon on Tuesday afternoon?

Jon Fansmith: As of this moment, as we record it, a whole lot... I feel like I see this a lot. There's a whole lot happening and not a lot happening. There are fevered negotiations to bring the reconciliation bill in. I think people probably thought that was going to happen last week when the framework was introduced. The framework is sort of the term for the top line of $1.75 trillion, and then the various components that were agreed to within it. Since then, it seems like there was agreement, now it seems maybe there's less agreement. The timing seems to be up in the air. We have a really good sense of what's in the bill. And we can talk a little bit about what the higher ed parts of it are, because I think that's a pretty interesting thing to dive into. But if anything, we probably know less about what's going to happen now than we did last week. Last week, it seemed like there was a pretty clear path forward. Now the negotiations are ongoing. Senator Manchin's made a couple public comments. It seemed to cast doubt on whether he'll support the bill. And obviously, if he doesn't, or if Senator Sinema doesn't, the bill doesn't go anywhere. So a whole lot up in the air. They're going to try and move it at least in the House this week, we'll see. Speaker Pelosi leaves for an international trip early next week. Her goal was to deal with this before she left. That might add a little impetus to it. But the same dynamics keep applying. It's a tricky thing to bring in for a landing.

Sarah Spreitzer: Well, and the longer it sits out there, I think the more people find fault with the package that was put together in the House. Don't you think, Jon? And so we're now a week into having the framework and no one seems happy with it.

Jon Fansmith: Yeah, and some of that was inevitable, right? I mean, we went from a bill that was envisioned, certainly by progressives, as a $6 trillion bill, to an agreement for a $3.5 trillion bill, which the House drafted. They had a $3.5 trillion bill. And now a month later we have that again to $1.75 trillion. It's, I think, sort of a funny thing. If you're outside the beltway, you're just told what was going to happen, what's in this bill, you'd say this is great. This is huge investment in all these areas of real interest and revolutionary change in federal policy. But the conversation beltway is almost entirely, how did it get so low? Who's getting screwed, who got dropped, who got kicked out? What trade-offs were made? I think you started with this big bill and expectations were very high and this is sausage making, right? When you get to the finish line, there's a whole lot more dissatisfaction than satisfaction with final result. And that's true for the higher ed stuff. I mean, I think we've had this conversation, but we started with a proposal that would've spent $111 billion on higher ed that was in the House bill. President Biden's request was hundreds of billions more for higher ed than that. The final bill will have about $22 billion for higher education. And again, $22 billion of additional funding above and beyond everything else the federal government's providing, especially through the pandemic and the relief, is a huge deal. And there're some things that are really new about it. They have a workforce and completion grant program, which is really the first sort of federal effort in this area. There're huge investments for HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs around both research and development infrastructure, as well as just direct support to those institutions. And then sort of interestingly, there is a $550 increase to the maximum Pell Grant, that coupled with the $400 we expect to see appropriations, would be the single largest increase in one year in the Pell Grant's history since the beginning of the program. So again, all very, very big things. But again, if your frame of reference was what President Biden asked for, even what the House did, it looks much smaller, doesn't it? The big piece, obviously, is free community college was taken out, and that was really the centerpiece, both funding wise and policy wise in this bill. When that went, you started to see a lot of reduction across the board. But so there are other parts of that bill... Oh, sorry, I cut you off.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. Sorry. I was going to say, when you touched on the Pell Grant, even with the Pell Grant, there were some changes, right? With that increase and some policy decisions that were made.

Jon Fansmith: Yeah. And it's important to note this increase is not a permanent change. They're actually only doing it for four years. They had a limited amount of money to spend. So part of it was, if they made it for eight years, they couldn't do it permanently, it's reconciliation doesn't let you do that. But if you stretched it out for eight years, you're stretching that money out. It's a smaller increase each year. So they made the decision to put as much over a reasonable period of time as they could. The other thing they did, and this is really the biggest policy swing that we've seen in a while, certainly as it pertains to Pell Grants, they only made it available to students at nonprofit institutions. And that has never been the case for Pell. Pell has been institutionally neutral. It's awarded to the student, the student takes it like a voucher wherever they want to go. This is a big deal. It's already gotten a lot of attention actually, because it is such a big deal. Staff will tell you part of that is to better target the funds. It can provide a bigger award at those institutions than if everything else was eligible. But there's certainly concern about setting up a new standard by which institutions get what levels of funding, complexity for students in understanding how that funding works for them. It really is something that we haven't seen before. And it was put in at the last minute. This was a surprise really across the board. We had no inkling it was coming. Which most of the other things, we had a pretty good sense of what was going to be in there.

Mushtaq Gunja: Well, and one of the things that struck me about the framework was the reference to Dreamers and eligibility for Title IV. Sarah, I know this is stuff you follow very, very closely. Want to tell us a little bit about it?

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. So that was a really great thing to see in the reconciliation framework. It would extend Title IV eligibility to those that are eligible for DACA, so Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or TPS, or DED, which is Deferred Enforced Departures. And so it would expand Title IV eligibility to this population that has previously been blocked from getting Title IV federal student aid. And so that would include Pell work study, student loans. And so it's really great. And to do that it makes a slight amendment to the Higher Education Act (HEA). I don't think it's going to be a big cost because it's not a very big population that they're expanding it for, but we were really pleased to see that.

Mushtaq Gunja: I didn't understand whether the eligibility for Dreamers for Title IV was something that was done under reconciliation and thus is time bound, or whether it was indeed sort of a change to HEA and thus is a permanent fix. Do you guys know the answer to that?

Jon Fansmith: We do. Yes. So you can't do something permanent under reconciliation unless... Well, reconciliation is just a rabbit hole, right? But there are some conditions under which you can do things permanently under reconciliation. In most cases, you have a limit of up to 10 years. For this provision, it is time limited. It's time limited to eight years. And that's in part because higher education provisions are usually forward enacted. So the funding comes the year down the road, the next academic year, the provisions take effect the next academic year. So if they were to actually say 10 years, it would push them actually past the 10 year window of reconciliation. So it's an eight year provision through fiscal year 2029. Obviously, we would've loved for it to be permanent. Sarah, I know has been tracking the broader pathways to citizenship and other immigration issues that have been really contentious outside our world as well. But yeah, this is definitely a time limited one.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. And I think that's one of the biggest questions beyond whether or not this reconciliation package actually moves, is what's going to be in the immigration portion of it. Because the Senate Parliamentarian has struck down two previous proposals that would provide a pathway to citizenship for certain populations like Dreamers, TPS holders, essential workers. And so they do have a Plan C that I believe is being presented this week to the Parliamentarian that would basically expand parole and allow people to be here under deferred action and to get work authorization. But that's also tied to green card provisions that would recapture green cards and put them towards the current backlog, which is a huge problem. And so it's unclear whether they will move that only together or if the provision to help Dreamers, TPS holders, essential workers is struck down, if they'll still move of the green card provisions. And so I feel like the entire bill that came out of House Judiciary were kind of in a wait and see mode right now.

Jon Fansmith: But these are not the only things happening in Washington, even though it really is the 800-pound gorilla around here right now. We have a negotiated rule making process that has gone underway, Mushtaq. This is in your old domain, the Department of Education. You want talk a little bit about that?

Mushtaq Gunja: Sure. Well, it is. I think the negotiators are meeting, actually, as we speak right now for another round of this negotiated rule making that is tackling literally every aspect of our regulatory framework under the sun but is spending a lot of time right now on issues related to student debt and student loans. When some of those loans can be discharged and... We'll keep everybody updated. We're in the middle of the negotiations, but it feels spirited, which is good. Jon, Sarah, you guys have been following this too. Any initial reactions to what we've heard?

Jon Fansmith: Yeah. I mean, your spirited comment is right in line. And for people who may not follow this that closely, this is the Department of Education invites representatives of all the key stakeholder groups. And the platonic ideal of it, they come together as a meeting of minds and hash out regulations that meet everybody's concerns. The reality of it is you get a whole lot of conflicting interest in a room where they tend to battle with each other. And sometimes you get consensus, most of the time, you don't. I think we've reached consensus three times in the last decade over dozens of negotiated rule makings. And certainly, from what we've seen in the first year-round so far, I think we are headed to a lack of consensus, the Department also, by the way, regards consensus as the uniform agreement, not a majority vote. So, any one person can object and certainly, inherently going, you could handicap one or two members of the rule making committee that look likely to object to the final proposals. And just a couple other things about this one, because it is an interesting one. It's the first one, the first major rule making under the Biden administration. And we knew, I mean, they were very clear. They had a huge ambitious agenda of things they wanted to address, not simply rolling back things the Trump administration did or restoring things that were promulgated under the Obama administration. But big areas they want to tackle them because Congress isn't doing legislation really anymore. Regulation is where you can make policy happen. So part of the reason I think it's spirited is there's a lot of interest and a lot of commitment to seeing some things enacted. The other thing is it's the first of what will be many Title IX accountability for institutions. There's actually an ongoing sort of subcommittee of the current one that's dealing with prison education, and how do you implement the eligibility financial aid eligibility for incarcerated individuals? So there's a lot of things that are kind of happening at the same time and they're all meaningful. And they also tend to build on each other. How you handle closed schools is going to have a lot to do with what you do on accountability down the road. So a lot of things that are sort of interlocked and kind of a below the radar thing, but really impactful for students and institutions.

Mushtaq Gunja: Can I say something optimistic about negotiated rule making? I sat in on-

Jon Fansmith: You'll be the only one, but yeah, sure, go ahead.

Mushtaq Gunja: Well, I know. I might be, and I also like jury duty. So, there are two things they're a little weird about me. I think both of you are right. Consensus is unlikely to be reached. I still think that the process is really sort of cool from a small democratic point of view. I mean, lots of differing views will be discussed. I think that's cool. I think that's great. I think the student voices that have been added are really good too. It reminds everybody grounds, everybody about what we're talking about, and the people that these regulations sort of ultimately affect. It allows in some cases for us to go a level deeper than some of the sort of top line arguments, which I think is great. Probably consensus won't be reached. I think it's still, it is time consuming, and the coffee's not that good. But I think that in general, it feels to me like it's a really worthwhile process. And I haven't sat in on very much of it this time, but I'm always happy when I see the notice of the rule making committees.

Jon Fansmith: Well, that's a lovely note to end that discussion on too, Mushtaq. And maybe actually a good transition point to another worthwhile and productive process, which would be ACE's Pulse Point surveys. How about that first segue, Morgan? You've been very patient waiting as we talk through the minutia of higher education policy making right now. But just as a reminder to our audience, Morgan Taylor is the associate director of research at ACE. You have a really interesting portfolio of issues you focus on. So I'm actually going to let you tell people about that. But first, just welcome. Thanks for joining us. And let me just say, I always appreciate working with you. I always learn something when we interact. And I'm sure that our audience is going to feel exactly the same way. So welcome. You want to tell folks a little bit about what you do at ACE?

Morgan Taylor: Yeah, thanks for having me, and thanks for being so kind, Jon. I'm not sure how much you do learn every time you talk to me, but I do appreciate the sentiment there. So yeah, my portfolio here at ACE really runs the gamut around things related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. And so I lead our portfolio of work on race and ethnicity in higher education. I also run our Pulse Point surveys, which I'll talk about today. And I do a lot of work on minority-serving institutions, which is exciting. So a lot of good stuff. I'm quant in nature. So, I talk data, which is always fun.

Jon Fansmith: And you explain the data, to me at least, which is always fun for me. So I don't say something that makes to me sound foolish. But you mentioned the Pulse Point survey, talk a little bit about the origins of that, what we've been doing with that, why are we doing a Pulse Point survey? What does that look like?

Morgan Taylor: Yeah. So our Pulse Point survey series, we started a couple years ago and did them about once every quarter or so. And we really have been doing them more frequently and regularly since April 2020. And they're really short surveys aimed to get the pulse and perspectives of presidents on key issues in higher education. And so starting in April 2020, once the pandemic hit, we decided that we needed to understand more quickly what the needs of our members were, and how we could help support them. And so we started doing monthly Pulse Point surveys related to COVID-19 and how institutions were responding to the global pandemic. And we have since continued that, and we are now in November 2021 and still go going strong with regular Pulse Point surveys.

Jon Fansmith: Well, and the concerns of presidents, what they're thinking about, COVID particularly recently, but just more broadly, I know is one of the focuses of the survey. And there's one issue, I'm asking you a question I already know the answer to. But there's been one issue that presidents consistently put way above all others. And if you want to identify that and then talk a little bit about the consistency with which you've seen that response.

Morgan Taylor: Yeah. So mental health of students has reigned supreme as the most frequently reported top of mind issue for college presidents since April 2021. And so... Or excuse me, April 2020. We have seen that this is the sixth time that student mental health has been the most frequently reported top of mind issue for presidents. And so as the pandemic hit, students were already balancing a lot and now they have to balance more. Figuring out how to work, attend school, keep bread on the table for their families during a global pandemic while also staying healthy. And so it really can do damage to the mental health of students. And we are seeing that. It's a pressing issue among college presidents. It flags for us that this is a great area that ACE can provide programming and support so that institutional leaders have the tools that they need to support their students.

Jon Fansmith: And we do have a great colleague, Holly Chessman, who does a lot of work in this area and there're resources and materials that are available on our website in this area. So those will be in the show notes. But there are other concerns. Obviously, COVID 19 has... I think, frankly, mental health of students was a preexisting concern of presidents in a lot of ways. But what are the ones that you've seen that have really, as a response to the impact of the pandemic, what are presidents saying are top of mind?

Morgan Taylor: Yeah. So in addition to mental health of students, we're seeing a lot of presidents, over half of presidents on this last survey, are reporting that enrollment numbers for the next academic term is a key issue for them. And that's not surprising. New data came out from the Student Clearing House that students are less likely to persist, and that's linked directly to the pandemic. And so we're seeing that enrollment numbers remains a top line concern, mental health of faculty and staff. This has ebbed and flowed as number two item for the past several months that we've done this survey. And mental health of faculty and staff, as they have to come to grip with working on campus, working through a pandemic, serving their students, it really does weigh on folks on campus as well. So we can't forget about faculty and staff when we think about mental health. We also see long term financial viability. We're to the point now where institutions have received support from the federal government through different funding. And with the dip of enrollment, it's not surprising that long term financial viability of the institution is a really top concern for college presidents. We would expect to see that. And then-

Jon Fansmith: Yeah. Well, I was just going to say, and the enrollment numbers are obviously very concerning, but even within the enrollment numbers, probably the areas of biggest concern is the students who are most likely to drop out or not enroll as disproportionately low income students, students of color, the populations we've always struggled the most to serve the needs of. Are those issues around diversity and equity and inclusion, are those popping up on presidents concerns?

Morgan Taylor: Absolutely. Rounding up the top five issues, we'd see racial equity issues. It's tied with retaining current faculty and staff. And those sometimes go hand in hand. We know that environment and culture and inclusion is really big for retention of our faculty and staff. But yeah, racial equity issues remains a very top line concern for college university presidents.

Sarah Spreitzer: And Morgan, do you think some of that is in following kind of some of the racial justice activities that we saw last year? Is this institutions trying to kind of figure out where do they fit in kind of this new environment?

Morgan Taylor: Absolutely. We had a summer of reckoning where we had increased visibility of racism on campus, racism in our communities around black and Asian bodies. And now students are wanting change. And so we're seeing that. We're seeing that institutions are now taking a more concerted lens around DEI and how can they center racial equity and diversity equity and inclusion in all of their institutional practices and policies. This is a very large concern for a lot of institutional leaders, and they are acting on it. It's very positive for this change to happen. And students are always going to keep pushing for it.

Mushtaq Gunja: Yeah. The timing of this is sort of interesting, right? The summer of 2020 was when we saw so much of the racial protests on the streets. And then many of our campuses weren't fully physically open in the fall of 2020. And now that many of them, most of them, are sort of back in the fall of 2021, the timing of the summer to the sort of year and a few months later is interesting. And I think we haven't quite seen as much of the protest activity on campus as I think we might have had we been physically on campus in, I guess, the fall of 2020, but I think it's coming, right? And I think in some ways the push that students are making that you're seeing reflected in the these pulse point surveys is capturing something that I think is really important. I think it's a little bit ahead of the curve in some ways too. Morgan, speaking of mitigation, or sort of being back on campus, our campuses have been figuring out how to reopen physically, many of them never closed of course, but I feel like it's a fuller more open sort of semester. What have you been finding in the pulse point surveys as it relates to campuses reopening?

Morgan Taylor: Yeah, so we're finding the vast majority of campuses are reopened this fall, which is encouraging, right. I absolutely loved my college experience. And I think one of the things that was the most exciting for me at the time was the ability to be on campus. And so a lot of students missed out on that last year, which is sad, especially for those folks that were leaving home for the first time to get that experience to be independent and off on their own. And so we did ask questions around COVID mitigation strategies. This is something it's really big right now. If campuses open and they bring students back, with faculty and staff, a large concern is the pandemic's not over. And so we wanted to hear from them what they're doing around mitigation strategies. And if they've had pushback. We're constantly hearing about tension between state, local and federal governments around implementation of COVID mitigation strategies. And in our survey, we saw that the majority are reporting that their state and local governments are actually not restricting the type of mitigation strategies that they can implement on their campus, which is comforting to hear.

Sarah Spreitzer: I thought it was interesting, Morgan, when I was looking at the results of one of your recent surveys that more than 81% said that they had a mask mandate, but only 46% had a vaccine mandate on campus. And I'm wondering if that's going to change as the federal government rolls out their vaccine mandate if we'll continue to see that grow? And I've also just noticed as the Delta wave has kind of receded, I've seen more and more places, local governments, kind of lifting the mask mandate. So I wonder if those two numbers will somewhat switch when we look at our spring semester.

Morgan Taylor: Yeah. That is something that we are curious about too. And we actually have a survey that's getting ready to go into the field soon about the politicization of prevention measures. And we do ask specific questions around masks and vaccines. And so, it'll be interesting to see how these numbers split, because we do know that vaccine mandates are going to start to pop up more and more, especially with the federal government requirements.

Sarah Spreitzer: So Morgan, one of the issues I've been spending a lot of time working on is support for our displaced students and scholars coming from Afghanistan, following the evacuation and withdrawal from Afghanistan. I think you just did a recent survey about how institutions were planning to help support Afghani students and scholars. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Morgan Taylor: Yeah. And so we did ask presidents, is your institution providing support for students and refugees who have been affected by the crisis in Afghanistan? And one in five president has reported that their institutions do have some sort of support services for folks who have been affected. And so, the top issues or the top services that we're hearing about is they're establishing enrollment pathways for Afghan refugees and students at their campus. And then they're also creating teaching and research opportunities for scholars. I think a lot of times we talk about students who are impacted and sometimes forget about faculty and staff. And so having those research opportunities also make sure that scholars who are contributing our global research can have the ability to do some research and teaching opportunities here in the states.

Sarah Spreitzer: And Morgan, this is a great example, kind of where our work intersects like between research and government relations. We just sent a letter this week to Secretary of State Blinken about these students and scholars that our institutions are stepping up to help. A lot of these are students and scholars that they may have obligations or an existing relationship with that they worked with them when they were in Afghanistan. But now that these students and scholars have left Afghanistan and they may be in third countries, they're trying to travel to the United States to take up these scholarships or these offers of employment. But unfortunately, in many cases they're being denied visas because they're unable to prove non-immigrant intent to the satisfaction of the consular officer, because they may not have property or family to return to in Afghanistan. It doesn't mean that they don't ever want to return to Afghanistan. It's just that the political realities mean for the time being, they're not going to return any time soon. And so we sent a letter asking that the State Department allow for some flexibility in looking at nonimmigrant intent for those students and scholars, so that they could come here to take advantage of those scholarships and those places of employment. But it's interesting because I think that the White House is very much focused on shifting to questions on how to support refugees who have made it here to the United States, which is an enormous job, right? I mean, it's an enormous population that's coming here to the US that needs to be resettled, that needs to be housed, needs to be clothed, needs to be fed, need to find jobs. And so we're also working on that aspect too. And I'd be interested in knowing in future surveys, if there's going to be that shift to kind of supporting refugees who are here rather than offering the scholarships and the placement to the scholars and students that are coming from Afghanistan.

Morgan Taylor: Yeah. That would be a great question to ask on future surveys, because it is one thing to provide support for folks who are coming over, but you have to sustain that support once they're here. We know that things don't stop once you just land on campus. The services are still needed once you arrive.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. Oh, sorry. Go ahead, Jon.

Jon Fansmith: No. It's just, I'd be really interested to see if one in five are saying they're doing something now, is that going to grow as there's understanding of best practices to serve that population and understanding of the challenges. You certainly hope that that's the case rather than well as the attention fades from the issue, maybe, focus fades too. So that'll be definitely something to watch.

Mushtaq Gunja: Morgan, speaking of future questions and lines of inquiry, I really enjoyed this Pulse Point series. I love seeing what's top of mind and then comparing it over time. I think that the long sort of tale of this has been great. What's the future of the Pulse Point surveys? What are you thinking about often we will do them, and do you have future areas that you sort of want to tackle?

Morgan Taylor: Yeah, so, we're going to keep doing them. We're no longer in our Institutional Response to COVID-19 series. But we're wrapping up and we'll release soon the results of our first Pulse Point survey outside of that series, which is exciting. We have another one that's going to go into the field this Friday in our President to President newsletter, which is also very exciting for us. And the main gist of it, Mushtaq, is that the data that we garner from this really will help inform our advocacy efforts, but also the programming and services that ACE offers through our Division of Learning and Engagement. It's really important to us that we tailor our programs and services to meet the needs of presidents and what is keeping them up at night. And so that's the main purpose of this survey, is so that we can better understand what our members need and then how we can best serve them. I don't suspect that mental health will come out of the top five anytime soon. And so, we may want to drill down on that and see what exact tools and services do institutional leaders need to help serve their students better. But we also know that faculty recruitment and retention also is going to start reigning supreme. We're getting into hiring season. Institutions are starting hiring for next academic term. And so those are also issue that we're seeing rise up to the top. Those numbers are jumping from survey to survey of presidents who are reporting that retention improvement of faculty and staff is important. And then lastly, the long term viability of the institution is something that I think will have effect, the COVID-19 pandemic will have effect on that for a very long time. And so I think, what exactly that looks like remains to be seen, but I would imagine that we have something around financial viability coming up too in the future.

Jon Fansmith: Well, obviously a lot to look forward to and we should probably... It sounds like you have a very full plate of things to address, Morgan. So we should probably let you get back to it. But thank you so much for coming on and talking with us. And just to reiterate to people listening, this is the kind of excellent work Morgan and her team are always doing for ACE. It's a huge asset to us in government relations. I know Sarah and I use your data in presentations and on the Hill and our advocacy work. So just wanted to thank you. On behalf of all the great people you work with, but you in particular too, since you're here, for everything you do for ACE and for us in particular. And especially thanks for coming on today and chatting with us. Hope you had a good time.

Morgan Taylor: Thank you so much for having me.

Jon Fansmith: Well, anytime. I'm sure we can have you back as we get more results in and more information to share. But that is our episode for today. And we look forward to talking with you all again soon. As always, you can check out earlier episodes and subscribe to dotEDU on Apple, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. For show notes and links to resources mentioned in the episode, you can go to our website at acenet.edu/podcast. And while there, please take a short survey to let us know how we're doing. You can also email us at podcasts@acenet.edu to give us suggestions on upcoming shows and guests. And a very special thank you to the producers who help pull this podcast together. Laurie Arnston, Audrey Hamilton, Malcolm Moore, Anthony Truheart, Catherine Ahmad, Carly O'Connell, and Fatma NGom. They do an incredible job making this happen and making Mushtaq, Sarah, and I sound as good as possible. And finally, before we leave, thank you so much for listening.​​​
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