On March 16th, the Higher Education Compact hosted its 5th annual Dashboard Release Event at the Cleveland State University Student Center. The Dashboard report measures Cleveland’s progress towards reaching key attainment goals related to college readiness, access and completion.
Cleveland State University President Ron Berkman began the morning by welcoming more than 150 attendees. His remarks were followed by a panel discussion featuring College Now Greater Cleveland CEO Lee Friedman, Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon, Cuyahoga Community College President Alex Johnson and Kent State University President Beverly Warren. The discussion addressed the reasons behind the downward enrollment trends, the role of college affordability in promoting enrollment and completion and the need for greater supports to students once enrolled in college.
Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of the University of Rutgers-Newark, served as the keynote speaker for the event. Chancellor Cantor sees current trends in postsecondary attainment as a major creator of inequality: high-income students are much more likely to obtain a postsecondary degree than their equally skilled low-income peers. Concurrently, fewer job opportunities remain for those without some post-high school degree or credential. According to Cantor, “we need to commit to educating more of our children, educating them together, and doing the education on our part together.”
At the University of Rutgers-Newark, Chancellor Cantor is working to shift mindsets around what it means to be college ready. Instead of “‘you come to us – and you better already look like what we want” it should be “we’ll come find you and show you that you can succeed with us and contribute to us.’” She also emphasized the importance of using an asset-based mindset that sees strength in experiences and talents of students. To belong to the Honors Living Learning Community – the school’s honors college – a student must demonstrate their leadership skills, grit and commitment to social justice; it’s no longer just about merit. Nancy is quick to share that “these students are not the ones in your traditional honors colleges”.
Newark also utilizes a collective impact model that promotes collaborative cross-sector partnerships committed to increasing enrollment and attainment. Through these efforts, they are strengthening pre-college to college pathways and establishing tailored pathways from two year to four year postsecondary institutions.
The event concluded with remarks by Higher Education Compact Director Maggie McGrath thanking attendees and commenting on the need to keep moving forward, together.