You cannot talk about the future of higher education without
talking about today’s students and the economic realities of our institutions
and the nation as a whole. That is why campus leaders gathered last week in
Portland, Oregon to discuss these topics at the ACE
West Summer Summit, "Demonstrating Value: Economic Trends and
the Changing Needs of Students."
The summit began with a half-day of content June 6 focused
on understanding the needs and perceptions of students. Participants heard from
Mushtaq Gunja, ACE vice president and chief of staff, who discussed current
student demographics and the implications for what individuals require from
higher education. Attendees networked with each other at a reception and dinner,
then had the opportunity to attend a screening of the documentary film Unlikely, which examines the challenges low-income
students face in pursuit of an education and meaningful career.
The main day of the summit entailed a series of panels,
workshops and discussions. The day opened with a panel by those who best know
the needs of students: students themselves. Attendees heard from Freedom
Education Project student advocate Morgan Denton and Leadership Enterprise for
a Diverse America scholar Joscelyn Guzman on the unique barriers faced by
non-traditional students, such as first-generation or adult students, and how colleges
and universities can help. Campus leaders took advantage of the question-and-answer
session at the end to ask the students for concrete steps they can take on
their own campuses to better serve their needs.
Another session, “Understanding Economic, Workforce, and
Labor Market Trends,” included a presentation by David Richardson, managing
director of research at the TIAA institute and a response by Anthony Carnevale,
director and research professor at the Center on Education and the Workforce at
Georgetown University. There was a lot of information to unpack, but the
audience sat with rapt attention as they heard expert insights on the economic
realities and strategies institutional leaders can use to best position their
institutions in light of market trends. There was also a panel delivered by
campus and association CEOs on how to take these trends into consideration,
alongside a student-centered approach, to make key institutional decisions.
In between each panel were interactive activities, which
helped attendees digest the information and kept everyone’s energy high.
Attendees also had time to visit a booth on ACE Engage, the peer-to-peer online
learning platform for higher education executives being developed by ACE. At
the booth, participants learned more about how to use the platform and tried it
out themselves. Each attendee received early access to the platform as part of
their registration for the summit. For more information on ACE Engage, contact email@example.com.
Summit attendees were encouraged to register as teams of at
least three individuals from the same institution. Those who did found this to
be a valuable opportunity to connect in person with their colleagues and apply
group discussions to their campus’ specific context. Some who came as solo
participants expressed the wish that they had brought along more members of
their own campus.
“Whether they came as individuals or part of a campus team,
participants left this event with a good understanding of current financial
trends in higher education nationally,” said Gailda Pitre Davis, director of
ACE Leadership. “This foundation will allow them to start thinking about how to
take this economic reality, coupled with shifting student demographics and
needs, and bring it back to their own institutions to serve students in a way
that better demonstrates the value of higher education.”
To learn more about ACE’s regional summits and stay apprised
of future events, click here.
Email questions to ACELeadership@acenet.edu.