June 21, 2023

New Policy Brief Unveils Four Key Strategies for Aligning Higher Education with Regional Economic Growth

AASCU releases “Stewardship of Place” policy brief with policy recommendations for spurring economic growth and development through investment in regional higher education.

Kellee Edmonds
(202) 478-4662

WASHINGTON, JUNE 21, 2023 — The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), which represents 350 public colleges, universities, and systems throughout the U.S., today released a new policy brief which provides recommendations for how policymakers can align public investment in regional comprehensive universities to drive a regional economic return on investment and build thriving communities. The new policy brief, “Funding Stewardship of Place: Public Policies to Advance the Regional Stewardship Mission,” outlines four public policy priorities to drive co-investment in public higher education at the state and regional level.

The brief proposes the creation of a grant program that would leverage federal funding and requires contribution from partnering states—incentivizing state support for regional stewardship and promoting investment in public higher education. It also calls on state and federal policymakers to invest in programs and research opportunities that support economic and workforce development, support programs that promote civic engagement and public service, and include funding opportunities.

“As engines of economic, social, and civic prosperity for students, families, and communities, regional comprehensive universities play a crucial role in fostering upward economic mobility and helping diverse students achieve their educational, career, and personal aspirations,” said Dr. Mildred García, president of AASCU. “By aligning state and federal resources with regional comprehensive universities, we can unlock the full potential of these institutions and deliver a powerful force multiplier for community well-being and state and regional economic growth.”

The release of the new guide comes at a time when public colleges and universities continue to confront an array of challenges. While national undergraduate enrollment has begun to stabilize over the past year, many colleges and universities across the country continue to grapple with declines in student enrollment and financial volatility as a result of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The policy brief is the third and final companion in a series of reports that kicked off with the 2022 report “Recommitting to Stewardship of Place” rooted in the frontline experiences of regional comprehensive universities, which also included an April 2023 practitioner’s guide.

The policy brief was authored by Kevin R. McClure, Associate Professor of Higher Education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington; and Ashish Vaidya, Senior Fellow at AASCU. The policy recommendations were informed by a presidential task force of 10 current and former presidents of AASCU member institutions, including:

  • Mildred García, president of AASCU (Co-Chair)
  • Ashish Vaidya AASCU Senior Fellow (Co-Chair)
  • Cynthia Teniente-Matson, president of San José State University (CA)
  • Kelli R. Brown, president of Western Carolina University (NC)
  • Berenecea Johnson Eanes, president of City University of New York, York College
  • Jonathan GS Koppell, president of Montclair State University (NJ)
  • Mark A. Nook, president of the University of Northern Iowa
  • Kirk A. Nooks, former president of Gordon State College (GA)
  • Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, president of Oakland University (MI)
  • Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University

Please visit the AASCU website to access the full brief.


About AASCU: The  American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of 350 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. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise.