Public Purpose Magazine, Spring 2018
2018 Public Purpose Spring Issue - Cover

Between The LinesAdvocacy: Past, Present and FutureSusan M. Chilcott

There was a time, long ago and far away, when institutional advocacy was essentially a one-person job. No longer. In the highly politicized climate of the 21st century, advocacy has become a process of mobilizing people and communities on behalf of the university. 

In her article “Champions for Higher Education,” writer Karen Doss Bowman explores the role advocates play in boosting support for state colleges and universities. She cites a number of institutional examples that seem to coalesce around one point: “There’s strength in numbers. Chancellors, presidents and government relations staffers are advised to form coalitions and rally champions who can reinforce their messages and promote their institutions’ interests.” 

Karen quotes Vincent Pedone, executive director of the Council of Presidents of the Massachusetts State University System and a former state representative in Massachusetts, who recommends that public institutions in a particular state join forces to coordinate their advocacy efforts. “You can present a unified voice in lobbying the legislature when it comes to funding,” says Pedone. “If we find commonality in our messaging, it allows us to speak with a strong, single voice.” 

Table of Contents

Champions for Higher Education: Advocates Play Larger Role Than Ever in Boosting Support for Public Colleges and UniversitiesBy Karen Doss Bowman

As the United States has become highly politicized and divided over the past decade or more, public perception of higher education has soured. The price tag for college tuition has risen steeply as state investment in higher education has been dramatically reduced. At the same time, a host of political, social and demographic challenges have made it increasingly complicated to advance the higher education agenda. 

Never before has the work of higher education advocates been so critical—and so complex. 

“Advocacy for higher education is essential right now because competition for scarce state resources is so intense,” says Tom Harnisch, AASCU’s director of state relations and policy analysis. “Higher education advocacy takes a tremendous amount of political acumen when you have to juggle so many issues. For example, a legislator may not be on your side for one issue, but they might be more receptive to you on another. Therefore, it’s essential to build and maintain those relationships, even when you disagree.”

An Interview with AASCU New President, Dr. Mildred GarcíaConducted for Public Purpose by Stephen Pelletier

Dr. Mildred García became the new president of AASCU on January 22, 2018. Prior to her taking office, García sat down with Public Purpose to discuss her aspirations for AASCU’s future.

When Dana Hoyt, the president of Sam Houston State University (Texas) and the 2017-18 chair of the AASCU Board of Directors, announced the appointment of Dr. Mildred García as AASCU’s new president, she noted, “She has a strong commitment to AASCU institutions and understands their distinctive mission.” Further, she said, “We believe she is uniquely positioned to lead AASCU as public higher education confronts some of its most formidable challenges of the 21st century.”

García—the first Latina to lead one of the six presidentially based higher education associations in Washington, D.C.—comes to AASCU from California State University, Fullerton, where she had served as president since 2012. García previously served as president of California State University, Dominguez Hills, and became the first Latina president in the largest system of public higher education in the country. Prior to that, García served as the CEO of Berkeley College (N.J.), where she was the first system-wide president for all six campuses. She has also held both academic and senior-level positions at Arizona State University; Montclair State University (N.J.); Pennsylvania State University; Teachers College, Columbia University (N.Y.); and the Hostos, LaGuardia, and City Colleges of the City University of New York.

On Brand: Strengthening Your Marketing Through AASCU’s National CampaignBy Victoria Markovitz

Each state college and university (SCU) has unique traits it wants to share with key stakeholders, such as current and prospective students and the community. However, SCUs in general have core tenets that make them stand out from other higher education choices. By working together, SCUs can continue to tout their individual strengths while also widely promoting their common benefits. 

AASCU, following member requests, launched the Opportunities for All (O4A) campaign in 2016 to bring heightened awareness to the value of SCUs in general, while providing leeway for individual SCUs to highlight their standout features. The campaign’s intent is to complement and strengthen institutional messaging while allowing SCUs to amplify the reach of their marketing efforts by joining a national campaign. Together, SCUs can serve as force multipliers that extend messaging to student populations and other target audiences that could not be reached by one institution alone. 

AASCU talked to senior communications professionals at four SCUs that are actively involved in the campaign—California State University, Sacramento (Sac State); Framingham State University (FSU, located in Massachusetts); Mississippi University for Women (The W); and the State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego)—to discuss how O4A helped them enhance their individual branding campaigns, and why they choose to include O4A in their marketing efforts. 

The Challenges Ahead for Higher EducationBy Dr. John Haeger

After more than four decades in higher education and 20 years as an administrator, I cannot help but conclude that higher education needs transformational change to propel state colleges and universities (SCUs) into the future. The status quo is unacceptable to the public, the federal government, countless boards of regents and students. 

Is American higher education really as good as we tend to think? There are a shocking number of students who fail courses in the first two years of college, contributing to six-year graduation rates around 50 percent. Also indefensible is that fewer than 25 percent of students finish in four years. Few businesses could sustain their existence with statistics as dismal as those in higher education. 

The crisis is particularly acute in the institutions I know best. In the Carnegie Classification, they are SCUs offering master’s and limited doctoral degrees, often with a research focus. There are over 250 such institutions in the United States, educating over 400,000 students annually. The overall student body is less academically qualified, and their faculty contain fewer research stars than premier state universities. Students are typically first generation college-goers, and academic training often leaves them with critical shortcomings, particularly in math and science. The retention and graduation rates in these institutions are substantially lower than in the premiere land-grant institutions, and their double-digit failure rates in key freshman courses are the best-kept secrets across the campus and the state.

A Specter is Haunting Europe: The General Data Protection RegulationAnd it should scare you, too...By Barmak Nassirian
The European Union (EU) formally adopted a sweeping personal privacy and data safeguarding law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in April 2016 with an effective date of May 25, 2018. The GDPR replaced the EU's Data Protection Directive of 1995, and represents a significant expansion of personal privacy rights for EU “data subjects,” individuals, regardless of citizenship or permanent residence, who are in the EU while engaged in data transactions, and individuals whose data are “controlled” or “processed” by entities established within the EU. 

Taking the First Steps Toward InternationalizationThe Fundamental Role of Educational DiplomacyBy Dr. María Luisa Gutiérrez Peart

In February 2017, I had the opportunity to visit the United States as member of the Argentine university mission. This interesting U.S. Embassy initiative highlights the fundamental role of educational diplomacy in the internationalization of higher education. Nowadays, having the internationalization of institutions as an objective, principals or presidents can sign cooperation agreements or memorandums of understanding (MOU). They can also disseminate information related to courses or seminars organized in foreign universities, and host foreign students coming for summer or winter courses, which in most cases are offered by educational service providers. However, none of these activities, or all of them together, could completely guarantee a close, long-lasting, reciprocal and successful relationship between U.S. and foreign institutions. On the contrary, successful partnerships between institutions are founded on an ethical basis that is respectful of the “other” institution’s culture and needs. This will result in long-lasting partnerships that will prove beneficial to both parties. To achieve these objectives, it is necessary to know the educational system in which the potential partner is embedded, and to have a variety of options (e.g., public and private, big and small, with a lot of or little experience, located in large or smaller urban areas). Institutions should also prioritize learning about the important characteristics of this potential partner, including its mission, vision and values, priorities, weaknesses and strengths. It is important to have a mediator or interlocutor who can fully understand both parties and thus help build bridges between them.


The (New) War on Drugs: Giving Voice To The Complexities Of Opioid Addiction And Campus ResponsesBy Willette Brown-Fatoyinbo
America’s relationship with pain management dates to the Civil War era. Physicians relied on morphine, an extract from the drug opium, to reduce discomfort and promote sleep after surgical procedures. Although historic references, such as Dr. Horace B. Day’s book The Opium Habit (1868), hinted at the idea of opioid addiction, weak policy, easy access and behaviors linked to addiction continued. Fast-forward to 1971—President Nixon coined drug abuse as “public enemy number one” and leaned on a high moral code to fight the war on drugs. Consequently, as documented in books such as Punishment and Inequality in America, a boost in law enforcement and racial disparities led to disproportioned criminal arrests among low-resourced, minority communities. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines opioids as, “a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and many others…which trigger pleasurable effects and pain relief throughout several parts of the brain.” The 1990s introduced new medical research findings that suggested opioid pain medications were safe and a more humane alternative for post-surgery and terminally ill patients. Consequently, a shift in medical oversight, rise in pharmaceutical sales profit, and lack of public health knowledge formed a quiet storm now called the opioid epidemic.

Presidents & PracticesFundraising and Alumni Relations: A President's RoleBy Dr. Jack Thomas
Fundraising is the heartbeat of a university presidency. In 2011, the nation's colleges and universities received $30.3 billion in charitable contributions (Council for Aid to Education, 2012). The largest source of donations comes from foundations; the second largest source from alumni; and the third largest from corporations. To be successful in fundraising, in a long-term capital campaign, or an annual giving campaign, a university president must build, and be an integral part, of a solid fundraising team. A university president should have a solid understanding of and spend a tremendous amount of time on the fundraising process. Fundraising is a perpetual undertaking in which relationships with donors are cultivated and maintained. A president who has a firm grasp of development initiatives will use the university's values to serve as a guide and will involve the entire university. At Western Illinois University (WIU), each of our colleges and some specialized programs have a development director dedicated to raising funds for his/her division, while working closely with the dean or director, and in some instances, directly with the president. Administrators must be involved when visiting and hosting donors, coordinating events and engaging alumni, and a university president must cultivate a culture where others see themselves as institutional fundraisers.

Currents and Transitions

EndSightsKeeping Student Success at the Forefront of Strategic PlanningBy Dr. Laurence B. Alexander
Like many contemporary universities, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has offices and personnel dedicated to the familiar student-success pillars of recruitment, retention, progression and graduation. However, the growth and enhancement of this key division of the university has occurred methodically over the last five years through innovative practices and systems born out of inclusive strategic planning and institutional integration. When I joined this proud land-grant HBCU located in the Southeast Arkansas Delta, the institution had hit a rough patch: enrollment was in decline, admissions was a slow and cumbersome paper-driven process, and first-year retention and graduation rates were stagnant. It became clear to me early on that we needed to immediately put a laser-like focus on student success, or else. Already one of our strategic priorities, student success has become a focal point of the University of Arkansas system, the board of trustees, the state coordinating board, the funding formula, and accreditation. Consequently, student success cannot be assumed or considered as an afterthought. It is so vital to the bottom line and reputation that it is incumbent on the chief executive to underscore it by increasing the involvement of faculty, staff, students and alumni. Guaranteeing student success takes the support of the entire village.