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Task Force on Higher Education Financing and Student Outcomes

Letter from the Task Force on Higher Education Financing and Student Outcomes Co-Chairs

It is a time of remarkable and accelerating change in the U.S. higher education system. Institutions are innovating like never before, creating linkages with local economies, forging creative partnerships, and offering new opportunities, training, and skills. Since the Higher Education Act (HEA) was last reauthorized in 2008, colleges and universities have continued to serve growing numbers of adult learners, a trend that demands innovative teaching methods as well as additional resources to promote affordability. The past 10 years have also brought an explosion of student debt and a proliferation of distance learning.

These changes have occurred amid a transforming U.S. economy, one characterized by rapid movement away from manufacturing and toward service industries that reward technical skills. A middle-class lifestyle increasingly requires a postsecondary credential, whether it be a short-term certificate or a traditional four-year degree. Unfortunately, federal policy has remained largely centered on the latter, even though labor shortages exist in high-demand industries that often have differing educational requirements.

It is against this backdrop that the Bipartisan Policy Center has launched a Higher Education Task Force?to rethink the federal and state roles in higher education with the goal of better-promoting affordability and accountability throughout the system. We have agreed to co-chair this effort and are honored to serve alongside a bipartisan group of leaders with decades of experience in government, academia, higher education administration, and the business community. Over the next several months, we will deliberate on a range of topics in higher education policy, with the goal of articulating a vision for the future of public policy’s role in postsecondary education?one that recognizes the changing student body, institutional transformations, and the demands of America’s 21st-century economy.

In order for the United States to maintain a world-class higher education system, government must be responsive to this changing landscape. We must think creatively about how to address the serious challenges facing the system: rising costs and debt, stagnant outcomes, and an outmoded policy framework that is ill-equipped to promote accountability and serve an evolving student body. Only through reasoned debate, analysis, and compromise can we effect positive change and improve the higher education system for students and their families, setting the U.S. economy up for success in the decades to come.


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Higher Ed Co-Chairs

George MillerHoward P. Buck McKeon

Task Force Membership

Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (Co-chair)
Former U.S. Representative (R-CA)
Former Chairman, House Education and Workforce Committee

George Miller (Co-chair)
Former U.S. Representative (D-CA)
Former Chairman, House Education and Workforce Committee

F. King Alexander
Louisiana State University

Garrey Carruthers
Former Chancellor, New Mexico State University
Former Governor of New Mexico

Michelle Asha Cooper
President, Institute for Higher Education Policy
Former Deputy Director, Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, U.S. Department of Education

James H. Douglas
Former Governor of Vermont
Former Chair, National Governors Association

Brian K. Fitzgerald
CEO, Business-Higher Education Forum
Member, Dean’s Leadership Council at Harvard Graduate School of Education

Christine Gregoire
Former Governor of Washington
Former Chair, National Governors Association

Dianne G. Van Hook
President, College of the Canyons
Chancellor, Santa Clarita California Community College District

William J. Lennox, Jr.
Lieutenant General, United States Army, Retired
Former President, Saint Leo University

Tom C. Leppert
Former Mayor of Dallas
Former Corporate CEO

Adam Looney
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis, U.S. Treasury Department

Martha J. Kanter
Executive Director, College Promise Campaign
Former Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education

Walter M. Kimbrough
President, Dillard University
Former President, Philander Smith College

Cheryl A. Oldham
Vice President of Education Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Former Acting Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education

Wil Del Pilar
Vice President of Higher Education Policy and Practice, The Education Trust
Former Deputy Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Education Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education

John F. Tierney
Former U.S. Representative (D-MA)
Executive Director, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation




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