The rubber began to hit the road last Tuesday for the Colorado Higher Education Strategic Planning Steering Committee when it met on the Auraria Campus for several hours to begin reviewing proposals on how the state’s colleges and universities will be funded and run in the future.
The 14-member steering committee, appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter in January and charged with developing a comprehensive roadmap for the future of public higher education in Colorado, debated 22 recommendations prepared by its four subcommittees. Metro State President Stephen Jordan sits on the Mission Subcommittee; other college presidents are on other subcommittees.
The steering committee has five broad goals:
-Identify systematic approaches that enhance and improve the educational pipeline for youth and adult learners.
-Lessen geographic, economic and demographic disparities in access, retention and completion/graduation from a broad array of quality educational programs.
-Strengthen the link between K-12, higher education and the state’s economy.
-Ensure fiscal stability and affordability of Colorado public higher education into the future.
-Provide recommendations for systemic governance reform.
The four subcommittees—accessibility, mission, pipeline and sustainability—have been working to draft recommendations that align with these goals. (To see the full list of recommendations, click here.)
At the Aug. 3 meeting, the steering committee debated the recommendations rigorously, without reaching a conclusion on how to rank them. Recommendations dealing with finances generated the most debate, including what a minimum baseline of public funding for higher education in Colorado should be, and how that funding should be allocated (one contested recommendation was to give state higher-ed dollars directly to students).
Jordan spoke at the meeting on the need to serve more first-generation-to-college and lower-income students and students of color, as well as enabling colleges to accommodate enrollment growth, among other issues.
The steering committee meets next on Sept. 22. Its final report is due to the governor and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education on Nov. 4. Public meetings on the recommendations are being planned for late September, with exact dates and times to be announced. Unless otherwise noted, all committee meetings will be held at the Department of Higher Education, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1600.
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