President's Message: CPE's strategic agenda provides higher ed cornerstone
July 06, 2021
In architecture, the cornerstone is the first brick placed in the foundation of a building. Every subsequent brick is laid relative to the cornerstone, which usually is inscribed with the builder's name and construction date. Thus, the cornerstone has both structural and historical significance.
The statewide strategic agenda is the cornerstone of public higher education in Kentucky. It establishes the vision to which we aspire, the objectives we aim to achieve and the measures that define our progress. Public colleges and universities align their strategic plans to the statewide strategic agenda. It lives on as a record of past achievements and assumptions, which informs the next iteration of the plan.
Although the current strategic agenda, "Stronger by Degrees," runs until the end of 2021, the planning and development process for 2022-30 is well underway. With the help of Eastern Kentucky University's facilitation center, CPE has conducted dozens of focus groups with hundreds of constituents. We've reached out to national policy organizations and higher education leaders in other states. We've talked with university presidents and administrators, legislators, employers, K-12 educators, alumni, students and parents. Through these conversations, we're getting a sense of the big challenges and opportunities we'll face in the years leading up to 2030, the date associated with our 60% educational attainment goal.
- College affordability is a top concern. College is becoming out of reach for low- and middle-income families, and COVID has exacerbated this crisis. Sticker shock must not erode higher education's value, since college-educated workers are needed to fill the majority of new jobs. The recipients, timing and amount of aid must be examined, as well as new funding streams and operational efficiencies.
- The last strategic agenda focused on the right priorities, but strategies could be even more aggressive and targeted. Research-based practices that have been proven effective (such as dual credit and intrusive advising) should be implemented to scale.
- As the traditional-age college population declines, institutions will need to double down on recruitment efforts for adults and underserved populations. Prospective students should be targeted as early as middle school, and the frequency and intensity of interventions should increase.
- The recent pandemic and social justice movements shone a bright light on racial inequities in higher education. Concerted and urgent efforts are needed to close achievement gaps and increase diversity, equity and inclusion.
As a next step, CPE will review trend data on key metrics and perform additional modeling to determine degree productivity levels needed to reach the 60x30 attainment goal. The Council's Academic and Strategic Initiatives Committee will be instrumental in guiding the plan's development from start to finish, as well as other standing CPE committees.
By the end of the year, CPE will lay the first stone in a plan for the next era of public higher education in Kentucky. Once the blueprint is finished, I'm counting on you to help us build it.
Last Updated: 7/26/2021