Public Purpose Magazine, Winter 2018
2018 Winter PP cover

Between The LinesPlaces of Public PurposeBy Susan M. Chilcott
Michael T. Benson, president of Eastern Kentucky University, and Hal R. Boyd, then a J.D. candidate at Yale Law School, wrote an article for the Summer 2015 issue of Thought and Action, the journal of the National Education Association, titled, “The Public University: Recalling Higher Education’s Democratic Purpose.” Their article centers around three figures—George Washington, Justin Morrill and Harry Truman—and their visions “for higher education and democratic engagement.” Benson and Boyd write, “The a sanctuary of citizenship where young and old come to expand their skills, broaden their horizons, and prepare themselves for the rigors of 21st century citizenship.”

Table of Contents

Inside Dual EnrollmentWhat do leaders of public universities need to know about high school courses that offer college credit?By Stephen G. Pelletier
F or university leaders looking for scenarios that can produce the proverbial “win-win,” dual or concurrent enrollment programs might in fact present an opportunity for “winwin- win.” Under the right circumstances, dual enrollment programs can position future college students for success while they simultaneously boost university enrollment numbers and provide a productive channel for community outreach via work with local high schools. It’s no surprise, therefore, that such programs are growing. And while more research is needed, a growing body of studies show the impact of dual enrollment. The confluence of those factors makes the time right for a closer look: What can a university gain from offering dual enrollment, and what are the potential pitfalls? In this space, what do leaders of public colleges and universities need to know?

Building a Healthy DemocracyAs AASCU’s American Democracy Project celebrates 15 years, higher education’s role in preparing students for lives of civic engagement is more critical than ever.By Karen Doss Bowman
The 2016 presidential election marked Brianna Dodson’s first time voting. A senior at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), she had missed out on earlier opportunities to vote in elections because she misunderstood the process and missed registration deadlines. Now, as a student ambassador for the American Democracy Project at CSUSM, Dodson promotes awareness among her peers about the importance of voting and involvement in the democratic process. Often, she says, students are confused about voter registration— unsure whether they’re supposed vote in the county where they go to college or at their parents’ addresses.

Promoting Civic Education, Civic Engagement and Civic Responsibility: A Higher Education ImperativeBy Robert L. Caret
The magnitude of the challenges we face today—across society and in in higher education—eclipse any I have encountered in my 23 years leading two campuses and two university systems. Divisions arising from political ideology, race and ethnicity, wealth and poverty, and other areas, have become a focal point of national debate and, increasingly, campus unrest. The impulse within the student population to get involved and to act is laudable. Unfortunately, lacking other tools, and perhaps out of a sense that only confrontation will succeed, many students resort to hecklers’ vetoes, violent protests and other counter-productive approaches.

Places of Public PurposeBy Constantine W. (Deno) Curris
Though the early 19th century marked the establishment of the nation’s first public universities, it is widely recognized that the passage of the Morrill Act establishing our land-grant universities was the impetus for the development of public higher education throughout the states. In signing this legislation, enacted in the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln described the authorized land-grant institutions, not as “public universities” but rather as “the public’s universities.” The Morrill Act delineated its purposes “to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, including military tactics, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes.” In accepting these grants of land to finance public universities, virtually every state elaborated on those purposes with words such as “providing education for the working classes” and “promoting scientific agriculture.” The common ingredient in the establishment of these institutions was that they were to serve societal needs. They were to be places of public purpose. 

Interview with Muriel A. HowardAs she steps down as president, Dr. Muriel A. Howard reflects on her experiences leading AASCU.Conducted for Public Purpose by Stephen G. Pelletier
In July 2017, AASCU President Muriel A. Howard announced that she would retire in 2018. Dr. Howard was named president of AASCU in April 2009. She was the first African-American to lead one of the six presidentially-based higher education associations in Washington, D.C., and was AASCU’s first female president. As AASCU’s leader, Howard was an avid advocate for public higher education at the national level. She worked to influence federal policy and regulations, consulted regularly with individual presidents and chancellors, developed collaborative partnerships and initiatives to advance public higher education, and helped design and deliver professional development programming to help current and prospective leaders of public colleges and universities hone their leadership skills.

Writing to inform the AASCU Board of Directors about the transition, then-Board Chair Deborah F. Stanley, president of the State University of New York at Oswego, noted, “During her tenure as president, Dr. Howard provided both exemplary leadership to AASCU, as well as expert guidance and support to our members. Her advocacy on behalf of state colleges and universities has forged a positive path during difficult fiscal and political environments.” Stanley further observed that Howard “will leave a significant legacy in expanding the understanding of our mission through Opportunities for All, and for engaging our members’ voices in the grand challenges of our time: immigration policy, environmental and climate concerns, and diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Opportunities for All l Quick Start GuideHow to kick-start your involvement with the campaign
Joining the Campaign 
In 2013, AASCU conducted a survey on public perceptions of State Colleges and Universities (SCUs). We found the public had low awareness of the cost/value of SCUs compared to other types of colleges and were split as to whether college is worth the investment. By using consistent messaging and developing a unified voice, SCUs can amplify the message of their value and impact on students, society and the economy. The participating members in the Opportunities for All (O4A) campaign will act as force multipliers—reaching more students, opinion leaders, voters, state lawmakers and other key audiences than one institution could alone. But once you sign the pledge at, what are the next steps? This starter guide will help you understand the process for implementing the campaign, leading to wider public awareness of SCUs and increased regional and national support for your institution.

And That One Talent Which Is Death to HideThe View from a Quarter of a Century as a University PresidentBy Susan A. Cole

This speech is an excerpt from President Cole’s lecture at AASCU’s 2017 Annual Meeting in La Jolla, Calif., on Oct. 24. A tradition at the AASCU Annual Meeting for more than 30 years, the President-to-Presidents lecture is a signal honor bestowed by the AASCU Board of Directors on one of its colleagues. The full speech is available online at

Many years ago, on one cold winter morning, as I rode to Erasmus Hall High School on the Flatbush Avenue bus in Brooklyn, I memorized Milton’s 19th sonnet to the starts and stops and background noises of a city bus. And that sonnet stuck with me, even while I repudiated what its words seemed to say. God does not need man’s work? Wrong. I was taught by my immigrant parents that work in the world was the very essence of life, and education was the pathway to good work. Who best bears a yoke, serves best? Wrong. I was taught that no person should ever have to bear a yoke. We should be free to live a full and unharnessed life, and we should keep struggling until we are free. And, I was taught, education is necessary to freedom. They also serve who only stand and wait? Absolutely wrong. I was taught that a person must work hard for what she wants and that only a fool stands and waits to receive what she has not worked for. So much for Milton. What did he know? I believed my mother, not Milton, and so, starting from a very young age, I worked, and I have kept working ever since to what is now no longer a very young age. I knew, even as a child, that my responsibility was to find within myself that one talent that, if left hidden and unrealized, would be like death. And, moving through the years, I found my talent. I build public universities. It is my talent, and it is my passion.

Embracing the Role of FundraiserWhy Academic Leaders Should Learn About Donors-Advised FundsBy Muriel A. Howard, Ph.D.
When I became president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in August 2009, the nation and its higher education institutions were reeling from the Great Recession. Despite the stock market recovery over recent years, many families and institutions have yet to regain their financial footing. Giving patterns have changed, and institutions are still adjusting. Even while institutions struggle to develop a new generation of donors, costs per student continue to increase, as does student debt. Many colleges have been forced not only to raise tuition, but also to rely on it to cover a larger share of operating expenses—a significant adjustment for many public institutions. These decisions are having a ripple effect on prospective students and the ability of colleges to achieve the goal of need-blind admissions.

According to the 2017 American Council on Education (ACE) “American College President Study,” the combination of fundraising, alumni and donor relations ranks among the three most important presidential responsibilities. For some presidents, fundraising is their top priority. In the current environment, deans and other academic leaders are expected to play a greater role in building donor relationships and securing philanthropic contributions. Most work closely with development officials, meeting with prospective donors, learning about their philanthropic objectives, and strengthening their connections to the institution. These conversations can be crucial, especially in securing potentially transformational philanthropic contributions. Although the details of donations are often left to development professionals, academic leaders must have strong

Presidents & PracticesDelicate Diplomacy: Communicating with Complex CollaborationsBy James C. Schmidt, with Maureen Schriner
The new model of collaboration for public universities is complex, an interdependent web of relationships to shepherd major initiatives, to serve student and community needs, and to maximize scarce resources. It takes a lot of connections to click.

Case in point, the Confluence Arts Center rising in downtown Eau Claire, Wis., has grown in the decade since local visionaries proposed an arts center to what we endearingly call “the mother of all collaborations.” Confluence partners include the city, county and state governments; community, business and arts leaders; and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Once the Confluence opens in 2018, connections will continue to expand.

Currents & Transitions

EndsightsRegional University FocusBy Walter V. Wendler
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2015 slightly less than 20 million students were enrolled in U.S. post-secondary educational institutions. Community colleges enrolled 6.2 million students; national research universities enrolled slightly less than 4.2 million students; and doctoral, masters and baccalaureate universities—regional institutions—enrolled slightly more than 4.2 million students. The balance of enrollment occurred at specialized public, private, nonprofit and for-profit institutions.

Regional colleges and universities are workhorses of opportunity; yet, in many cases, one or two flagships drive educational policy. In some states, such as Illinois, private institutions serve on coordinating boards and shape public higher education policy.