Blog posts tagged in Presidents Blog

Posted by on in The AMC Observer
AMC Observer -1Welcome to the Anna Maria Observer, a new blog created to give students the chance to communicate with each other and share observations and questions about campus life at AMC through photos, videos and informal discussions.

Since I will be moderating this forum, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Mauro DePasquale and I am currently in my last semester as a senior at Anna Maria College studying Art and Business and working toward an MBA. I recently graduated from a local community college where I earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Arts.

I feel that my time here at Anna Maria exemplifies a successful educational experience. I began my career at AMC as a non-traditional transfer student with a strong desire to continue studying all things art. However, upon meeting my future advisor, Professor Alice Lambert, my interests expanded.

Professor Lambert recognized abilities and interests in me that I had yet to appreciate, and with her suggestion I began my current studies of Art and Business, placing much of my focus on business and marketing studies. Thanks to my advisor, my mind was opened to a whole other world of interests that I had yet to even know I had.

With less than three months left until I complete my undergrad degree, I have already learned the practical knowledge required to land a great job and I did just that. With the help of Career Services, I was recruited by the Anna Maria Marketing department to assist with website management and social media communication development.

This is an ideal job for me because it has been a goal of mine since I began college to work for one. College students represent the near future of our world, and among them I feel the most change and influence for the betterment of society can occur.

That brings me full circle to the goal of this blog to communicate, brainstorm and build on ideas with other students of Anna Maria, and to explore what it is that can make our college experience more engaging, more entertaining and ultimately more meaningful.

I hope that you will join me in these discussions and observations. I welcome guest posts, and open the comment section up to anyone interested in the conversation.

Please contact me with photos, videos, news, questions or other ideas that you think might be worth sharing with others. As the moderator, I will try to include materials that I think are a good fit for this forum.

See you around campus!

Posted by on in President's Blog

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama announced the release of the new College Scorecard. First proposed by the President over a year ago, the Scorecard is intended to provide prospective students and families with better information about affordability and value. The online Scorecard is also intended to provide easier access to information and to facilitate comparability.

The Scorecard provides information on five key areas related to affordability and value:
     1) Costs
     2) Graduation Rate
     3) Loan Default Rate
     4) Median Borrowing
     5) Employment

In this address, the President called on Congress to “change the Higher Education Act so that affordability and value are
included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.”  He went on to say that the White House’s new Scorecard would help students and families “compare schools based on simple criteria -- where you can get 
the most bang for your educational buck.”

This initiative is just one element in the President’s ambitious plan for his second term.  Just after his State of the Union Address, the President released what is described as a “blueprint” entitled “The President’s Plan for a Strong Middle Class and a Strong America.” This plan includes four (4) overarching goals, each with a number of initiatives. The document also includes a promise that accomplishing all of this will not “add a dime to the deficit.”  The goals and initiatives are:

     1) Making America a Magnet for Jobs
             -Bringing good manufacturing jobs back to America
             -Slashing reliance on foreign oil and increasing American energy security through clean energy
             -Rebuilding and upgrading our infrastructure so our businesses have the tools they need to compete
            - Rebuilding our housing sector to grow our economy and put more construction workers back on the job
            - Encouraging fair trade and leveling the playing field by opening new markets for American made products
             -Investing in the best ideas to lead the world in innovation

2) Equipping Americans with the Skills they Need
            -Providing high-quality preschool for every child
            -Building the skills that lead to high-quality, high-wage jobs
            -Holding colleges accountable for cost, value and quality
            -Fixing our broken immigration system so everyone plays by the same rules and we attract the best 
and brightest workers
            -Ensuring our veterans have the care, benefits, education, and job opportunities they have earned
3) Ensuring Hard Work Leads to a Decent Living
            -Rewarding hard work by raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour
            -Building new ladders of opportunity into the middle class
            -Securing equal pay for equal work
            -Making our homes and neighborhoods safer
4) Cutting the Deficit in a Balanced Way
            -Building on progress reducing the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion in a balanced way
-Reducing the deficit by $4 trillion as part of an overall plan for jobs and share growth and tax and 
entitlement reform

It is an ambitious plan, especially in light of the continued acrimony and lack of cooperation in Washington. And while I
applaud the President’s commitment to skills development, I think the Scorecard is both simplistic and flawed. It certainly
makes for good rhetoric and has some value. But it is lacking in a level of depth, detail and accuracy to really help
prospective students and their families make the right choice.

Next week I will tell you my rationale for this assessment.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

Posted by on in President's Blog

I intentionally focus my public comments (op-ed pieces, blogs, etc.) on issues related to higher education and Catholic higher education.  Often, I comment on social trends as they relate to higher education.

Like most college presidents, I have many other ideas and opinions.  But I am always careful to limit my statements to those about which I legitimately have some knowledge and professional expertise.

Last week at an event I attended, I was chastised for not publicly supporting the gun control issue.  The person who spoke to me was both uninformed and misguided.  In fact, college presidents across the country have been actively involved in lobbying for more gun control legislation.  And I am one of the presidents involved in this movement.

There have been two presidential initiatives to address concerns about gun control and gun safety.  One initiative was led by President Lee Pelton of Emerson College and began with a letter sent to President Obama in December, 2012 which I co-signed with 255 other college presidents:

 Dear Mr. President,

Following your eloquent remarks at the Newtown memorial service, I am writing on behalf of the many college and university presidents who have signed this letter in support of your plans to “use whatever power [your] office holds to engage [our] fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”

We are writing to lend our individual assistance as well as that of our academic communities in supporting a long overdue national conversation about mass killings and gun violence.

We acknowledge, as you have, that these are complex issues that bring into play competing interests that will require us to balance the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms with the concerns of those calling for more stringent restrictions on gun ownership.

Nevertheless, we ask that urgent attention be paid to developing measures that would have the effect of curtailing easy access to assault weapons, especially guns that can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition without reloading and have no place in the hands of civilians.

After the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School where young children and adults were gunned down in a blink of an eye by rapid fire weapons of human destruction, we believe that it would be nearly impossible for anyone with heads that think and hearts that feel to conclude that the status quo is acceptable.

We also ask that serious and sustained consideration be given to a comprehensive assessment of mental health and other societal issues in the United States that might have contributed to the numerous mass killings that our nation has endured in recent years.

History requires that we not stand idly by.  We will be judged by our actions in the days and weeks ahead, by how we answered, as a nation and as individuals, the question “what will we do?”

Our nation looks to colleges and universities to solve its most pressing problems and these are issues on which we stand ready to provide a way forward.

We, therefore, pledge to do what we do best in our academic communities: engage thought leaders, faculty, students, staff, trustees and friends in meaningful debate and dialogue, which, in turn, might lead to positive action.

We write to you in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the nation’s most effective prophets and servers of the community, who said, “I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.”

 The White House acknowledged receipt of the letter in late December.  Subsequently, these presidents established a website: The College Presidents’ Gun Violence Resource Center.  The Resource Center has four main features:

  • Permit signatories to post their campus events, news, and announcements about their efforts to lead discussions about gun violence.
  • Enable signatories to view all posted campus initiatives.
  • Provide links to speakers, gun violence research centers, news, and other information that will help signatories design, plan, and facilitate their campus activities.
  • Offer a forum where signatories will be able to communicate with one another in confidence on topics of interest to them.

 The second initiative also included a public statement in December co-endorsed by 350 of my colleagues:

 December 19, 2012 

On the same day our nation learned in horror that 20 first graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, young people around the country were learning if they had been accepted to their favored colleges and universities.  For many years now, our nation’s leaders have engaged in fevered debates on higher education, yet lawmakers shy away from taking action on one issue that prevents thousands of young people from living lives of promise, let alone realizing their college dreams.  That issue is gun safety.

Among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80% of all gun deaths occur in the United States and 87% of all children killed with guns are killed here.  In 2010, 2,694 young people were killed by gunfire. 1,773 were victims of homicide; 67 were elementary school-age children.  If those children and teens were alive today, they would fill 108 classrooms of 25 each.

We are college and university presidents.  We are parents.  We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents.  We urge both our President and Congress to take action on gun control now.  As a group, we do not oppose gun ownership.  But, in many of our states, legislation has been introduced or passed that would allow gun possession on college campuses.  We oppose such laws.  We fully understand that reasonable gun safety legislation will not prevent every future murder.  Identification and treatment of the mental health issues that lie beneath so many of the mass murders to which we increasingly bear witness must also be addressed.

As educators and parents, we come together to ask our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of our children by enacting rational gun safety measures, including:

  • Ensuring the safety of our communities by opposing legislation allowing guns on our campuses and in our classrooms

  • Ending the gun show loophole, which allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background  check

  • Reinstating the ban on military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines

  •  Requiring consumer safety standards for all guns, such as safety locks, access prevention laws, and regulations to identify,  prevent and correct manufacturing defects

The time has long since passed for silence and inaction on the issue of reasonable and rational gun safety legislation. We hereby request that our nation’s policy leaders take thoughtful and urgent action to ensure that current and future generations may live and learn in a country free from the threat of gun violence.

In January, the group involved with this initiative held an event in Washington, DC at the Capitol and a number of college presidents were joined by Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, as well as other national associations who share our views.

Next week, I will share why I joined these two initiatives.  My reasons have to do with both my views on gun control, as well as my views on the role and responsibility of college presidents in the public square.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)


Two weeks ago, I shared the results of a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trust entitled, “How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford? The Impact of the Recession on Recent College Graduates.” This study focuses on the practical issues of finding a job and earning money.

It is not an opinion piece.  Rather, the study provides a series of analyses drawn from the data collected in the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 2003-2011.  The CPS is administered monthly and sponsored jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The Pew study focused on recent college graduates (aged 21 to 24).  And the data is clear … a college degree is still the best investment for career opportunity and the best protection from a downturn in the economy.  It is clear that all young workers were impacted by the recession with fewer jobs and lower wages.  But what this study reveals is that the declines for college graduates were far less severe than those without this level of education.

Here are some of the conclusions taken from the report:

Before the recession, just over half (55 percent) of young adults with a high school degree (HS) were employed, compared with almost two-thirds (64 percent) of those with an associate's degree (AA) and 7 in 10 (69 percent) of those with a bachelor’s degree (BA).

Job losses during the recession made existing employment gaps even worse.  The employment declines for those with HS and AA degrees were 16 and 11 percent, respectively, compared with seven percent for those with BA degrees.

Before the recession, BA graduates had more than twice as many college-level jobs as AA graduates and more than four times as many college-level jobs as HS graduates. This advantage did not deteriorate during the recession.  Six percent of the HS and AA groups lost college-level jobs compared with only three percent of BA graduates.

Although wages decreased for all education groups, the decrease was less pronounced for recent four-year college graduates. The decline in weekly wages was only five percent for BA graduates, whereas the corresponding declines were as high as 12 and 10 percent for AA and HS graduates, respectively.

During the recession, the non-working population increased in size for all three education groups, but the share of that population attending school did not increase.  Approximately two-thirds of all non-working graduates were attending school, a proportion that did not differ much by degree type.

The proportion of BA degree-holders who made the transition from being excluded from the labor market (i.e., not working or in school) to employment barely changed during the recession.

By contrast, the proportions of HS and AA graduates who found employment declined significantly with the recession—by approximately 10 percent for those with AA degrees and eight percent for those with HS degrees.

The findings show that the deteriorating market situation of recent college graduates, while real and troubling, is nonetheless less extreme than that experienced by less-educated groups.

There is no doubt that the end of the recession and economic growth will benefit everyone.  But this study provides some good news for those working on their degrees.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

Last week I attended the annual CIC (Council of Independent Colleges) Meeting.  I serve on the Board of Directors of this international organization.  CIC is an association of nonprofit independent colleges and universities that has worked since 1956  "to support college and university leadership; advance institutional excellence; and enhance public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society.”  There are over 600 member institutions.

This annual meeting is for presidents only. And while the sessions and presentations are valuable, the real benefit is in the time spent speaking with my colleagues and learning about strategies and successes that may help our institution.  A central refrain during this meeting was the concern about the consistent questioning of the value of a college degree … especially at a private, independent college where tuition is relatively high.  There have been media stories and anecdotes galore regarding the challenges of the current recession and job market and the waste of time and money in attending college.

At the CIC Meeting, our focus was a discussion of the inherent value of education, and especially a liberal arts education, which is at the center of the educational experience at most independent colleges.  I agree with this and have written about liberal education many times.  But upon my return to the office, I was pleased to find a new report released by the Pew Charitable Trusts.  This report, entitled, “How Much Protection Does A College Degree Afford? The Impact of the Recession on Recent College Graduates,” focuses on the practical issues of finding a job and earning money.

Historically, study after study has demonstrated clearly that a college degree “not only increases the chances of upward mobility” (job opportunity, higher pay, career advancement), “but also reduces the chances of downward mobility” (unemployment, job loss, stagnant income).  However, in these challenging economic times, there is a perception that the “labor market is beginning to unravel for recent graduates.”  And these perceptions have led to a number of featured articles and stories (not research) about the high levels of debt, the limited job opportunity, and the lack of value of a college degree (in other words, why do you need a college degree if you are going to end up living in your parents’ basement!).

The Pew study focused on recent college graduates (aged 21 to 24). And the data is clear … a college degree is still the best investment for career opportunity and the best protection from a downturn in the economy.

The study provides a series of analyses drawn from the data collected in the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 2003-2011. The CPS is administered monthly and sponsored jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It is “the primary source of labor force statistics for the population of the United States.  The CPS is the source of numerous high-profile economic statistics, including the national unemployment rate, and provides data on a wide range of issues relating to employment and earnings.  The CPS also collects extensive demographic data that complement and enhance our understanding of labor market conditions in the nation overall, among many different population groups, in the states and in sub-state areas.”

The samples analyzed included graduates between the ages of 21 and 24 in the pre-recession period, the time of recession, and in the post-recession period (as defined by the Bureau of Labor).  The analyses compared those with a high school degree, a two-year degree, and a four-year degree.  Next week I will share a more detailed summary of the results.

But in the meantime, let’s get our children back to campus … it really is a good investment!

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)