To help stakeholders understand the value of college, and to arm post-secondary institution leaders with the data they need to assess that value, USA Funds is supporting efforts by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to infuse college value into two leadership development programs. To gain insight about the Higher Education Leadership for Student Success and College Value project, I asked AASCU’s Mary Evans Sias, Director of the Millennium Leadership Initiative and Assistant to the President, to address questions about higher education leadership, college value, and how this work will help institutions and the students they serve.
During our conversation she stressed the importance of leaders of public colleges and universities to be more innovative and focused with respect to building institutional capacity, improving completion and graduation rates, and improving student success and college value. They must understand college value and why it is so important in addressing the reputational issues regarding the value of higher education. We’ve already begun to provide college value information to MLI and ELP participants, with Mark Schneider of American Institutes for Research this year conducting presentations on the meaning and importance of college value, and how to measure it. MLI participants are working in groups to examine leadership practices, institutional policies, and data collected from their own campuses that promote student success and college value. After participating in the college value project, MLI participants are expected to demonstrate specific leadership competencies based on student success and college value.
In answer to my question on what she anticipates will be the ultimate outcome of your focus on training higher education leaders about college value, Evans emphasized that the intent of MLI’s focus on college value is to help participants understand the importance of college value in today’s higher education arena. Participants will learn how to collect data on college value and how to effectively influence policies, programs and practices that will make a difference in improving the reputation of higher education institutions with the public, improve student success, and increase engagement with employers.