Community Perceptions and Expectations of Higher Education Event Features Congresswoman Susan Wild, Reporter Susan Snyder
November 11, 2019, @ 10:59 AM
In order to commemorate 50 years of collaboration, the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) is hosting a year-long learning series regarding the future of higher education. The fifth event in this six-event series took place on Friday, November 8, 2019 at Cedar Crest College. The focus of this event was community expectations and perceptions of higher education and is set to host Philadelphia Inquirer’s Susan Snyder and Congresswoman Susan Wild for Pennsylvania’s 7th District.
Topics for this session included accessibility, tuition costs, student debt, varsity blues, and free public education. The speakers addressed the disconnect between members of the higher education community and the perceptions of the external community followed by an open forum of questions from the LVAIC community.
Susan Snyder spoke specifically to the challenges higher education is facing in this changing landscape and how these changes mirror the changes she addressed in her reporting in the 1990s. She highlighted the ways the public’s perception of higher education fails to align with the current state of affairs for private institutions. For instance, she outlined the ways the cost of higher education fails to match the increasing cost of educating a student. In light of these challenges, she also ameliorated the ways the state system of higher education continues to struggle, particularly due to a lack of funding, stating, “a study last month that showed Pennsylvania is one of 19 states that cut funding for public colleges and universities by more than 20 percent per student between 2008 and 2018.” She shared that many legislators balk at the high cost of educating students that public institutions require in tax dollars and private institutions require in tuition. This view is not unique to legislators, though, as many readers reach out to Snyder sharing their opinions on the rising cost and imminent demise of the higher education industry.
Congresswoman Susan Wild offered an overview of the changes to the Higher Education Act currently proposed as a way to overcome some of these challenges and make higher education more accessible. The full Higher Education Act is available here. This act would allow for different loan repayment options and offer more federal financial resources to underserved students. While emphasizing her belief that higher education should be accessible to all people, Wild emphasized the challenges ahead. While the federal government is grappling with the need for drastic changes in the way students receive support for continuing their education with postsecondary degrees, the current plan for allocating federal resources is still unclear.
Following their remarks, Susan Snyder and Congresswoman Susan Wild served on a panel and fielded questions from the LVAIC community. With nearly 100 participants, these questions ranged from the goals of the Higher Education Act to how the Lehigh Valley higher education community can advocate for a better understanding of the private higher education industry. Both Wild and Snyder emphasized that this problem reaches beyond the Lehigh Valley and beyond private higher education. Rather, it spans as far broad as public institutions in the state system and as deep as K-12 throughout the country. While this challenge is widespread, faculty and staff from across the LVAIC community have the opportunity to serve as spokespeople for the value of higher education, liberal arts, and private education through reaching out to elected officials and communicating with the media.
More information regarding these speakers and this session is available on the series website. For more information regarding Representative Susan Wild, visit her website. For more information regarding Susan Snyder, visit her blog. The final session of the LVAIC Facing Higher Education’s Future series will be on December 11 at Lehigh University featuring Higher Education Futurist Bryan Alexander and highlighting Next Steps for Higher Education. Registration for that program is available now on the event website.LVAIC Higher Education Leaders Institute Explores Institutional Advancement » « Your View by six college presidents: Private colleges have a huge impact on Lehigh Valley