News Release from AASCU


Contact: Jennifer Walpole (202) 478-4665


Washington, D.C.—In a report issued today by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), higher education leaders from across the U.S. call for a new partnership between state government and public higher education in order to address critical educational, workforce and economic needs. The report is informed by a 17-member Task Force on Making Public Higher Education a State Priority, a group commissioned by AASCU to identify strategies for strengthening the relationship between state government and public higher education. The task force is comprised of higher education leaders with extensive experience at the campus, system and state level, including several who have served in state-level elected office.

Against the backdrop of decades of declining state investment in public higher education, the report, Creating a New Compact between States and Public Higher Education, appeals for a shared commitment by state policymakers and higher education officials to broaden college access, make college more affordable, improve student outcomes, and ensure high academic quality. The report is available at

“The inextricable link between the economic prosperity of our states and a well-educated populace demands that the leaders of both state government and higher education execute a strategy that ensures access to an affordable, high quality college education,” said AASCU President Muriel A. Howard. “We believe this report will serve as a catalyst for implementing a long-term investment strategy that enables public colleges and universities to position their states to compete fully in the knowledge-based global economy of the 21st century.”

The report urges public higher education leaders to make four commitments as part of a new compact between states and public higher education: make institutional accountability the foundation of the compact; build an institutional agenda linked to state needs; address college affordability concerns; and convey institutional outcomes. Further, the report notes that the establishment of a new compact can only be achieved through a vigorous dedication to these obligations, as well as an equal commitment by state policymakers to provide consistent and sustained public higher education funding and support for the policies needed to achieve shared goals.

“An essential first step in creating a new partnership must be a candid state-level conversation about the needs and expectations of state government and higher education on a range of policy and fiscal issues,” said William A. Sederburg, retired commissioner of the Utah System of Higher education, chair of the task force and an AASCU senior scholar. “A new compact between state policymakers and public higher education leaders must be based on mutual understanding, trust and accountability.”

The report includes an analysis of higher education funding in a state political context and offers seven strategies that college and university leaders and their advocates can utilize in efforts to boost public higher education as a state investment priority. Citing a number of major dynamics that are colliding simultaneously and which portend troubling long-term economic and societal consequences, the report calls on political and higher education leaders to act with urgency in creating a new compact between state governments and public higher education institutions.


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AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.