Friday, May 25, 2012

Guest Blog: The higher ed discussion

Where are issues discussed that may determine the future of education in our Commonwealth? Recently (May 17) it was the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry Building in Harrisburg and the group was the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education.

I was privileged to attend the meeting with Bloomsburg University’s student Trustee Marcus Fuller (pictured right), who spoke from the audience on the importance of soft skills, community involvement and international education to tomorrow’s workforce.

As the meeting began, Chair Rob Wonderling listed the commission’s purposes:
  • Work together on behalf of the users of post-secondary education;
  • Ensure affordability, accessibility and employability;
  • Determine how to leverage advantages of higher education in Pennsylvania;
  • Identify best practices and remove government barriers;
  • And, finally, to listen to comments this spring, review information during the summer and deliver a proposed framework to Gov. Corbett in the fall. 
Guest speakers at the roundtable discussion represented colleges and universities, including our sister institution, Shippensburg University; organizations, such as the Association for College Admission Counseling; and business, including the host, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

They spoke of employment opportunities that go unfilled due to lack of qualified applicants … and programs that educate students for nonexistent jobs. Of the benefit of a system of 14 public universities – the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education – that enables students to graduate with manageable debt … and the possibility of changing funding to follow a student to any institution, public or private. Of meeting the educational needs of non-traditional students, including single mothers and citizens with criminal records … and competition from free online courses. Of the rich variety of institutions and educational opportunities that draws students from around the U.S. and the globe … and the needs of our state’s increasingly diverse citizenry.

Deep topics, all. And discussed in front of a small audience in a third-floor conference room overlooking the Capitol Complex.

Four more meetings are scheduled around the state, and comments can be submitted via If you care about post-secondary education in Pennsylvania, make sure your voice is heard.

Bonnie Martin is manager of communications and media relations at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.  

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