Public Purpose Magazine, Summer 2017
2017 Summer PP - cover

Table of Contents

Between The LinesAt the Core: Commitment and ComplexitySusan M. Chilcott
Opportunities for All marked its first anniversary in June. AASCU undertook this research-based branding campaign because members voiced a need for more help from AASCU in telling their stories, influencing stakeholders, and communicating the state college and university brand.

On page 15, you’ll read case studies from two talented communications professionals—Brenda Alling, campus director of marketing and communication, Washington State University Vancouver, and Steve Swan, vice president for university relations and community development, Western Washington University—who believe not only in the mission and values of their universities, but also in the mission and values of state colleges and universities as a whole. Alling and Swan are implementing AASCU’s national campaign, and understand what it can accomplish for our sector of public higher education.

Leading by ListeningBy Holly Simmons
These days, a good college president can’t just stay in the ivory tower. 

“I believe very strongly in the role of the president being the spokesperson and not just hiding behind other people,” said Steve Jordan, president of the Metropolitan State University of Denver. 

Colorado, MSU’s home state, passed legislation April 28, 2017 that campuses cannot have free speech zones. A free speech zone is the limitation of protest or demonstration to particular locations on a school campus. Such ‘zoning’ goes back to the 1960s and ‘70s, when the Vietnam War and Civil Rights made college campuses a hotbed of demonstration. 

The Erosion of Presidential TenureAre university presidents leaving too soon?By Karen Doss Bowman
The university presidency has become an increasingly complex and stressful job, encompassing responsibilities ranging from strategic planning and relationship-building to budgeting and fundraising. As institutions have struggled with reduced state funding and increased scrutiny over the past decade or so, the tenure of college presidents has become shorter. Whereas university presidents often stayed in their positions for 10 to nearly 20 years in the past, the last decade is seeing many presidential tenures coming to an end after three to five years. Some have come to an abrupt end following financial misconduct, sports scandals or disagreements between presidents and governing boards; others have simply ended due to retirement or for personal reasons. 

New York Pioneers Free Public College:Is This the Future of Public Higher Education?By Barmak Nassirian
One of the many unexpected byproducts of the contentious 2016 presidential election was the emergence of higher education as a major political issue in the Democratic primary cycle. When Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders proposed free public college at an initial federal cost of $47 billion that he would offset by imposing a “Robin Hood” tax on Wall Street, the idea was as far out of mainstream policy conversations about higher education affordability as one could get. Indeed, before the Sanders proposal, the farthest either political party had strayed beyond the standard student aid construct of the past 50 years had been the introduction of a variety of tax credits. The vocabulary of access, therefore, was entirely limited to policies under which the federal government’s primary role would consist of providing vouchers for eligible students to pay for college expenses. 

Building A Culture of Trust Through Healthy Shared GovernanceBy Philip Rous and Sarah Shin
The term “shared governance” often means different things to different campus constituencies. Although the term is used frequently in academic settings, it is subject to misunderstandings that arise from diverse perspectives. One perspective sees faculty as having the primary role of governing the university and shared governance as a means by which faculty delegate the more mundane task of managing the day-to-day operation of the institution to administrators so that faculty can devote their efforts to the core academic mission of teaching and research. Another prevalent view, especially among some administrators, is that shared governance creates inertia in the advancement of the university’s mission and therefore impedes innovation and progress. These perceptions reveal a lack of understanding as to what is ‘shared’ with whom, and what the responsibilities of each group are. 

Report on Teacher Education Looks to the FutureBy Jolanda M. Westerhof

As the student population of the United States continues to grow in size and diversity, the demand for quality teachers will further increase. AASCU member institutions prepare over 50 percent of new teachers, and these teacher education programs play a critical role in addressing this need. In recent years, however, the context in which teacher preparation programs operate has grown increasingly complex, and the improvements in practice and other innovations have been overshadowed by heavy scrutiny and shifting expectations. 

Formed in 2016, the AASCU Task Force on Teacher Education—composed of higher education practitioners and experts and co-chaired by State University of New York at Fredonia President Virginia Schaefer Horvath and Richard Caulfield, chancellor at the University of Alaska Southeast—undertook a survey of presidents, provosts and education deans at state colleges and universities to gain a better understanding of where the teaching profession is today. 


As state college and universities, we often wrestle with how best to tell our stories. 

In today’s political climate, one of the most important stories we can share is about the value of a college education. We’re getting beat up. Legislators question our value. State funding is falling off. In the media, article after article bash us for rising tuition rates, student loan debt that is too high, and they speculate about whether the value of a college degree has fallen off. 

But they don’t know what we know—that the payoff of a college degree is more than just income. They don’t know that degree holders live longer, or that they are less likely to be unemployed or incarcerated and more likely to be civically engaged. And they underestimate our passion and perseverance in making a college degree—and all the benefits that come with it—a reality for more people. 

So how do we share this story with prospective students, parents, legislators and our myriad other stakeholders? Together, that’s how. And Opportunities for All gives us the tools to promote a unified brand and message for our state colleges and universities efficiently and effectively. So let’s take a quick look at our two institutions and our efforts around the campaign so that you can understand how it benefits your institution already–and how it will pay even bigger dividends with your participation. 

In light of the increasingly competitive civilian job market, the Pentagon has placed new emphasis on better preparing transitioning servicemembers for employment in the civilian workforce. One of the easiest ways for servicemembers, most of whom have significant expertise in an occupational specialty, to enhance their civilian employment opportunities is to make themselves even more competitive and leverage their military experience by completing a certificate program providing marketable skills. Military policemen transitioning to become local police is only one example of this concept. 

Presidents and PracticesShowing Our Value: Fighting Declining Support for Higher EducationBy Merodie A. Hancock
Direct state support across the nation for public higher education over the past 25 years has been waning. In a 2014 AASCU Policy Matters paper, Daniel Hurley notes, “State appropriations per full-time equivalent (FTE) student has declined 30 percent.”

This trend continues. Further, public narrative is calling into question the value, mostly via an earnings capacity cost-benefit analysis, of higher education. Moreover, results of a recent Pew Research Center survey found that there is growing doubt about the value of higher education.

Given this environment, it is more important than ever that the public colleges and universities in this country develop and promulgate solid defenses for our continued existence now and in the future.

Currents and Transitions
The Equal Opportunity Project: Reclaiming the American Dream
The Equal Opportunity Project, led by Professor Raj Chetty of Stanford University, examines the decline of the American Dream. Traditionally defined as children surpassing their parents in earnings, the study postulates that the achievement of the American Dream, also known as income mobility, is attributed to “lower Gross Domestic Product growth rates and greater inequality in the distribution of growth.” A child born in 1940 had a 92 percent chance of making more money than his parent. A child born in 1980, only a 50 percent chance. 

EndsightsShattered DreamsBy Ángel Cabrera

children who were brought to the United States by undocumented immigrants face major, often insurmountable, barriers to attend college. This reality harms not only them, but all of us. 

Some states, such as Alabama and South Carolina, explicitly bar undocumented immigrants from attending public colleges and universities. Others—such as Indiana and Missouri—accept them, but require that they pay out-of-state tuition, which can be more than two or even three times what in-state students pay. In all states, undocumented students are denied access to Pell Grants or federal student loans, essential sources of financial aid for millions of people in the United States.