News & Announcements

  • Cover of The Degree Gap

    Massachusetts Facing Decline in College-Educated Workforce

    New Higher Ed Report Calls for Stepped-up Degree Production by Public Colleges and Universities

    Boston, MA – June 8, 2016 – The rate at which Massachusetts residents earn college degrees will pivot from growth to decline by 2022 unless the state’s public higher education system, which educates more than half of all undergraduates, is able to increase the number of students who enroll and earn diplomas, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education reported today. 

    The Degree Gap, the Department’s annual Vision Project report on the status of public higher education in the Commonwealth, was released at an event held at The Boston Foundation this morning. The report suggests that employers who are already having difficulty meeting current workforce needs in high-demand fields will face even greater challenges in the next few years, as the state’s high school population continues to decline at the same time that an estimated 660,000 college-educated workers plan to retire.  Of those job openings requiring post-secondary education or training, two-thirds will require a college degree. Increasingly, the higher education system will also be called upon to leverage its traditional role of offering associate’s and bachelor’s degrees by also offering certificate and continuing education programs to ensure that students develop career skills needed to be successful.  The demographic challenges facing the state mean that public colleges and universities are likely to fall short of meeting the need for new associate and bachelor’s degrees by 55,000 to 65,000. The Degree Gap predicts that 80% of those “missing” degrees needed to fill the state’s talent pool in the next decade will be at the baccalaureate level or higher.

    The Degree Gap highlights important issues our Commonwealth must address to prepare our workforce to fill jobs which are currently going unfilled, and help employers find skilled employees in the future,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “It’s clear we need more degree earners and certificate program graduates, including those in the critical STEM fields, and I am pleased our administration has already taken steps to start tackling these challenges.”

    “Studies have shown that the vast majority of Massachusetts job openings in the next decade will require a degree or certificate beyond high school, and our administration is working hard to expand training and educational opportunities,” said Secretary of Education Jim Peyser.  “The higher education system is a critical partner in helping our students and workers meet the needs of our changing economy, and we are focusing on ensuring they are prepared to succeed in college and in their careers.”

    The Degree Gap affirms that the state’s public higher education system must redouble its efforts to help more students earn college credentials, especially those from underrepresented communities who are much less likely to earn degrees,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education. “I will urge the leadership of our system to focus on what we are calling ‘The Big Three’ priorities for the coming academic year: making college more accessible and affordable, closing achievement gaps, and improving completion rates.”

    The report’s findings align with several recent economic forecasts that project that a lack of available talent may constrain economic growth. Although the Commonwealth has more adult degree-holders than any other state—51.5 percent of adults ages 25–54—the state is projected to end the decade with fewer working age college-educated residents than it began with unless the rate of degree production improves.

  • Students hold up #ItsOnUs signs at the Student Leadership Retreat in Fall 2016

    Board of Higher Education Issues Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Recommendations

    New Report Lauds Campuses for Improvements Made Since 2007 Virginia Tech Shooting, Urges New Focus on Sexual Violence Prevention

    Worcester, MA – June 14, 2016 – Massachusetts public colleges and universities have made significant strides in their efforts to improve campus safety since 2008 when the Board of Higher Education first ordered a review, but will need to continue to develop new safety protocols and trainings due to heightened concerns about sexual violence, active shooters and other emerging threats, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education reported today. 

    Securing Our Future: Best Practice Recommendations for Campus Safety and Violence Prevention, a 120-plus page report prepared by TSG Solutions, Inc.was presented to the Board of Higher Education during its final meeting of the year at Worcester State University. In formally accepting the report, the BHE directed the Commissioner of Higher Education to work with campus leaders to coordinate implementation of the recommendations and help secure necessary resources.

    The document does not offer a one-size-fits-all prescription for improving campus safety, but puts the focus on the need for “nimble and flexible capabilities” that allow campuses to integrate safety and violence prevention efforts into strategic planning, budgeting and other ongoing priorities addressed by campus leaders.

    “I thank the Department of Higher Education and the statewide task force members who came together to bring their expertise to bear on the important report on campus safety and violence prevention,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Chair of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. “I am proud that Massachusetts has taken the lead as the first state to order a comprehensive review of campus safety, which includes both active shooter threats and the prevalence of sexual violence, for all its public campuses.” 

    “The report makes clear that strong local governance and better statewide coordination are essential to building a safe foundation for teaching and learning,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. “We cannot divorce campus safety concerns from academic or student affairs. I am pleased to see the level of progress that has been made to date, and am indebted to our team of consultants for identifying the need for a holistic and systemic approach to violence prevention in our campus communities.”
      
    “We know that one in four or five female undergraduates are sexually assaulted while in college, underscoring the urgency of this particular issue,” said Dena Papanikolaou, general counsel to the Department of Higher Education. “The status quo is unacceptable. I believe we have a moral obligation to promote the safety of students and staff on all of our campuses.”

  • Jim Peyser at BHE Meeting

    Board of Higher Education Votes Changes to Leave Policies Governing State Universities, Community Colleges

    Vote Impacts Employee Leave and Employment Contracts for Former Presidents

    Worcester, MA – June 14, 2016 – The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education voted today to amend the leave policies for non-unit professionals (NUPs) at the state’s fifteen community colleges and nine state universities in an effort to better align such policies with those governing University of Massachusetts employees, public higher education systems in other New England states, and Massachusetts state employees. The changes will impact approximately 1650 employees.  

    The Board voted to eliminate the current policy allowing employees to convert unused vacation days into sick time. Going forward under the new policy, any vacation days that remain over a 64-day balance would be forfeited by the employee if not used. The 64-day vacation balance would be reduced over the next two and a half years to a maximum of 50 days that can be “carried” by an employee.

    Additionally, the Board voted to:

    • Reduce the number of vacation days allotted to higher education employees to a maximum of 25, a reduction from a previous allocation of 30 days per year for the longest-serving employees.
    • Standardize the number of personal days allotted to employees across all three segments of the higher education system. All non-unit professionals employed at the state’s community colleges and state universities will receive a total of five annual personal days, effective January 1, 2017.

    “These changes will bring our employment policies for non-unit professionals at community colleges and state universities into alignment with those in place at the University of Massachusetts, at public colleges and universities across New England, and for state employees,” said Higher Education Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago, who ordered an expedited review of the policies in March. “They will allow us to remain competitive with other institutions in our bid to attract top talent, while also making good on our commitment to be effective stewards of state resources.”

    In addition to the policy changes approved by the Board, the Department of Higher Education staff will continue to offer training opportunities for local boards of trustees and will distribute “best practice” materials for their use in overseeing presidential leave time. Presidents will be expected to regularly report their leave time to their campus board chair, and additionally, to provide an annual summary of their leave to the Commissioner of Higher Education as part of the presidential evaluation process.

    The Board also approved a separate policy that prohibits campus boards of trustees from entering into contractual agreements with outgoing or former presidents without the approval of the Commissioner of Higher Education. The motion spells out a series of guidelines for trustees to follow in considering such post-employment contracts and reaffirms current BHE policy, which states that “no sitting state university or community college president shall be offered a severance agreement involving compensation to be paid subsequent to the time he/she no longer performs the duties of president.”

  • 29 Who Shine logo

    “29 Who Shine” Awards Kick Off 2016 Commencement Season

    Governor Baker, Education Leaders, Media Publishers Honor Community College, State University & UMass Graduates for “Contributions to the Commonwealth”

    Boston, MA - May 9, 2016 –The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education today announced the Class of 2016 winners of the 29 Who Shine awards, the Commonwealth’s annual ceremony honoring one graduate from each community college, state university and University of Massachusetts campus. The awards highlight students’ individual achievements and contributions of the civic and economic well-being of the Commonwealth, resulting from their collective efforts and public investment in their education.

    Today’s ceremony, taking place at 12 noon at the Massachusetts State House, will be attended by Governor Baker, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Education Secretary Jim Peyser, UMass President Marty Meehan, chancellors, state university and community college presidents, students and family members. The Massachusetts Maritime Academy 7th Company Marching Band will also perform at the ceremony.

    Each one of Massachusetts’ 29 public college and university campuses selected its own honoree for the 29 Who Shine awards based on criteria established by the Department of Higher Education. Students are required to be state residents who have strong academic profiles and a record of civic engagement.

    "Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and I congratulate all 29 of the 2016 award recipients and thank them for their substantial contributions to their campuses and local communities," said Governor Charlie Baker. "Each of the 29 Who Shine honorees represent our future citizenry and workforce and have already made a positive impact on the Commonwealth.”

    “It’s exciting to see how this exceptional group of student leaders have chosen to put their brainpower and civic engagement to work in so many different ways that benefit our state -- through STEM, through the arts, and through teaching, and medicine,” said Secretary of Education Jim Peyser. “We wish all of them well in their next steps, whether in their careers or additional scholarly pursuits.”

    “Each of these students is a shining example of what our public higher education system can produce,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education. “The outstanding students on this year’s list of 29 Who Shine honorees have come from many countries and overcome many obstacles. I am so proud of what they have achieved and look forward to seeing how they continue to put their talents to work on behalf of us all.”

  • Governor Baker announces the Commonwealth Commitment agreement in a crowd of hundreds on the steps of Middlesex Community College

    New Commonwealth Commitment Plan to Increase Affordability, Drive Degree Completion

    “2+2” Plan Based on Transfer from Community College to UMass or State U’s Offers Per-Semester Rebates, Freeze Costs for Qualifying Students

    Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joined public higher education leaders today to announce the Commonwealth Commitment, an innovative college affordability and completion plan to help more students achieve the dream of a college degree.

    The Commonwealth Commitment commits every public campus to providing 10% rebates at the end of each successfully completed semester to qualifying undergraduate students, in addition to the standard MassTransfer tuition waiver received upon entering a four-year institution from a Community College. Students who meet the program requirements will, depending on the transfer pathway they choose, be able to realize an average savings of $5,090 off the cost of a baccalaureate degree.

    This plan is the first agreement of its kind in the nation and was signed by University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan, Worcester State University President Barry Maloney and Middlesex Community College President James Mabry, representing the three segments of the public higher education system, and Higher Education Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago at a ceremony held this morning at Middlesex Community College.

    As part of the Commonwealth Commitment’s goal to increase cost savings and predictability, tuition and mandatory fees will be frozen for program participants as of the date they enter the program. Students will begin their studies at one of the state's 15 community colleges, enrolling in one of 24 Commonwealth Commitment/Mass Transfer Pathways programs that will roll out in fall 2016 (14 programs) and fall 2017 (10 additional programs). They must attend full-time, and must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0. After earning an associate's degree in two and a half years or less, students will transfer to a state university or UMass campus to earn a baccalaureate degree.

  • Commissioner Carlos Santiago

    Commissioner Santiago Addresses "Educational Divide"

    Santiago highlights the need to graduate more students with degrees from our public institutions

    I want to highlight a serious issue we are presently grappling with in this country: what is known as the “educational divide,” or the differences experienced by those with a postsecondary degree and those without one. Our students understand the importance of earning these degrees, and many of them are also aware of the public benefits that flow from a highly educated citizenry and workforce. At campus visits this year I have faced the following question from students: “If the state benefits from us earning degrees, why don’t our colleges get more funding?” The answer I provide to such questions comes in the form of a history lesson.

  • Commissioner Santiago Statement on PARCC/MCAS Recommendation
  • Campaign poster that reads 'If I see the potential for sexual assault, I'll be an active bystander. Do Something.'

    Task Force Seeks to Update 2008 “Best Practice” Recommendations on Campus Safety

    Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force seeks to enhance response to campus sexual violence

    At its first meeting of the 2014-15 academic year, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education declared a “zero tolerance” for sexual violence, including “stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, harassment and sexual assault, which can have devastating effects on individual victims, as well as serious negative consequences for colleges and universities.”

    The zero tolerance statement was a follow-up to a 2008 campus violence prevention initiative which included the establishment of a campus safety and violence prevention work group.  With the assistance of a consultant, the work group conducted a study and prepared a report entitled, Campus Violence Prevention and Response: Best Practices for Massachusetts Higher Education (June 2008).

    The 2008 best practices document, though a solid document for its time, has its shortcomings.   Drafted in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, it focuses almost exclusively on active shooter violence and does not fully address campus sexual violence, including the risks of assaults of minors on campus. 

    The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) has now issued an RFP for consultant services to support an assessment of existing state policies and procedures on campus violence prevention and response. Working with a Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force, the consultant will make recommendations to help enhance public and private higher education institutions’ efforts to properly identify, prevent, and respond to campus violence, with a special focus on campus sexual violence.


    PHOTO: A poster from the “UMatter at UMass” campaign encouraging students to learn to be “active bystanders” who take action early—before a situation escalates—to help ensure the safety of their own campus.

  • Massasoit Community College student working at a food bank

    Massachusetts Public Colleges and Universities Open Food Pantries, Expand Services to Assist Students in Need

    Some Public Campuses See Increase in Food Insecurity, Homelessness among Students

    Massachusetts’ public colleges and universities are expanding their outreach to students experiencing food insecurity, according to the results of an informal campus survey conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE).

    With mobile food markets, vouchers good for free meals in the dining hall and the establishment of both on and off-campus food pantries, the state’s community colleges, state universities and University of Massachusetts campuses are stepping up their assistance to students in need, the Department’s second annual questionnaire on student food insecurity shows.

    “I am very proud to see faculty, staff and fellow students mobilizing on campuses across the state to assist students, especially during this holiday season,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. “Even during the busy end to the fall semester, we are seeing our campus communities conduct food drives and stock pantry shelves  to support students at risk of going hungry.”

    Results of the 2015 DHE questionnaire on food insecurity showed that 25 of Massachusetts’ 28 community college, state university and University of Massachusetts undergraduate campuses have opened food pantries or have begun to direct students to nearby off-campus food pantries, up from 19 campuses in 2014. Twelve campuses have begun tracking the use of food pantries to gauge whether food insecurity is a growing problem. Additionally, 20 campuses answered “yes” when asked “Are you aware of any homeless students enrolled at your campus?” Thirteen of those campuses said the number of homeless students was on the rise in 2015.

    “This qualitative information from our campuses is important for us to track, as it has implications for our work to improve students’ academic outcomes,” Santiago said. “We cannot expect to students to excel in their studies or graduate on time if they are experiencing hunger or homelessness.”

    In addition to food pantries, a number of campuses said they were expanding other types of non-academic support services to meet student needs. Anecdotal accounts from campus staff indicated that some students, trying to curtail loan debt, may be forgoing meal plans as they try to curb living expenses.

    “We call this ‘the new normal’ in the student support arena,” said Shirley Fan-Chan, Director of the University of Massachusetts Boston Office of Urban and Off-Campus Support Services (U-ACCESS) and Chair of the Massachusetts Post-Secondary Homeless Students Network. “This new generation of students is working to support themselves and going to school full-time, but the cost of living has increased for them and in order to pay their bills, something must be compromised. Too often, that ‘something’ is food or shelter.”


    Photo courtesy Massasoit Community College

  • Commissioner Santiago Statement on PARCC/MCAS Recommendation

    On ESE Board Vote for ‘Next-Generation MCAS'

    Commissioner Santiago Commends Board Vote for MCAS-PARCC Hybrid

    November 17, 2015 – Boston, MA

    Statement of Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago on Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Vote to Create “Next Generation” Student Assessment Program:

    As Commissioner of Higher Education in Massachusetts I am pleased to commend Commissioner Chester and the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on today’s vote to begin work on a next-generation, computer-based assessment program that builds on the best elements of both PARCC and MCAS.  Today’s vote reflects our shared commitment to college readiness and the depth of higher education’s involvement in the PARCC assessment work.

    Speaking before the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education last month, I reiterated that, since 2008, higher education has been deeply involved in all aspects of this collaborative process to advance readiness for college and careers for all high school graduates. Far too many Massachusetts high school graduates begin their college experience in non-credit developmental (remedial) education, which represents a broken system for many students, some of whom fail to move forward into credit-bearing coursework.

    A new, jointly developed and adopted college readiness assessment, together with our shared definition of college and career readiness, will not eliminate the need for remediation but will send a clear message of what constitutes college knowledge, skills and practice. Together they will also drive more rigorous instruction, allow us to addresspersistent “readiness gaps” in high school and most importantly, provide a pathway into entry level credit-bearing college coursework for high school graduates.

    Our public colleges and universities will continue to contribute expertise through both theK-12 and higher education Technical Advisory Committees and Expert Review Panels to assist inmoving the Commonwealth toward its goal of administering a next-generation assessment that is squarely focused on academic success for all studentsbeyond high school.


  • Students from Springfield High Schools pose with signs that read '#GEARUPMass' '#GoHigherMA' 'Future Sports Agent' and 'I'm Ready'

    MA Dept. of Higher Education Announces Massachusetts College Application Celebration Beginning November 16

    GEAR UP Access Program to Help Students Fill Out 5,000 Applications to College

    October 28, 2015 – Springfield, MA – The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s GEAR UP college access program announced today that it is spearheading a statewide effort to increase the number of college applications from Massachusetts students in low-income and underrepresented communities, with the goal of helping 5,000 students submit at least one college application before the end of the calendar year.

    GEAR UP is partnering with the Massachusetts Educational Financing Agency (MEFA) and Your Plan for the Future, Massachusetts’ public college planning portal, to provide staff and volunteers, college admissions representatives and financial aid counselors to help students at more than a dozen high schools apply to the college of their choice. Students will get assistance at workshops and tutorials held throughout the school day. GEAR UP Director Robert Dais announced the statewide application drive at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield,  where he hosted the Department of Higher Education’s “Go Higher!” event to promote opportunities at the state’s 28 public undergraduate campuses. At the event, which included a student speaker program and an admissions fair, students from Springfield and Holyoke High Schools had the chance to apply for on-the spot acceptance to Springfield Technical Community College and Holyoke Community College.

    “At ‘Go Higher!’ events across the state, we are reaching 1st generation students who may feel that college is not for them,” said Carlos Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education. “Our message is that in Massachusetts, where brainpower is our most precious resource, every student needs to develop a plan for education after high school.”

    GEAR UP, a federally funded program, provides support for the college-going process and scholarships worth up to $4,000 in East Boston, Holyoke, Lowell, Lawrence, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester. In addition, GEAR UP is bringing the Massachusetts College Application Celebration to Athol, Chicopee. Fitchburg, Ludlow and Monson, with more communities expected to join.

    “Whether applying to a two-year or four-year college, a public or private university, we know that students need and deserve help with their applications,” said Robert Dais, GEAR UP MA Statewide Director. “We see too many seniors begin the application but then get stuck, especially those students who do not have outside support. Our Massachusetts College Application Celebration is a real community effort, with so many folks from different organizations stepping up to help students ‘Go Higher’ in their journey beyond high school.”

    "GEAR UP,  you changed my life by helping me apply to college,” wrote Lauren Brouillard, a graduate of the New Bedford High School Class of 2014 who applied to and is now enrolled in the pre-med program at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “As I begin my pre-med studies to pursue my dream of becoming an anesthesiologist, I would like to thank you for helping me and believing in me.”  

    EXCEL Download the complete list of Massachusetts College Access Celebration event.


  • Fall Undergraduate Enrollment 1988-2015 shows decrease in enrollment from 2012-2015

    Fall 2015 Enrollment Estimates Reported to Board of Higher Education

    Community Colleges, State Universities See Cyclical Declines; UMass International Student Enrollments Rise Sharply

    October 27, 2015 -- Fall River, MA -- A new enrollment report presented today to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education shows that overall undergraduate enrollment at the Commonwealth's public colleges and universities has declined by 1.8% since fall 2014, while increasing at three University of Massachusetts campuses and at one state university.

    The Fall 2015 Early Enrollment Report, based on enrollment estimates provided by 28 public undergraduate campuses, shows an overall 4.3% decline in open enrollments at the state's community colleges in the last year (representing a loss of 4,181 students); a slight 0.8% decline at the nine state universities (representing a loss of 320 students) and a 1.7% increase in overall enrollments at the four undergraduate campuses of the University of Massachusetts (a gain of 952 students).

    Massachusetts is one of fifteen states located in the Northeast and upper Midwest whose populations of high school students are projected to shrink by more than five percent within the next eight years. Many of the community college enrollment declines correspond to population losses in certain regions of the state, such as Cape Cod and the Berkshires.

    "These enrollment trends are part of a boom-to-bust cycle that is normal and reflective of both demographic changes and economic trends," said Carlos Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education for the Commonwealth.  "Still, the overall enrollment dip does give us cause for concern because the Commonwealth is already experiencing significant shortages of college-educated residents needed to fill jobs in high-demand fields. With a shrinking high school population and looming retirements, we will need to work harder and smarter to increase the pool of potential college graduates in the coming years."

  • MCLA students in a lab

    Baker-Polito Administration Urges Massachusetts Students to Take Four Years of High School Math

    College Students Spreading Word of New Math Admissions Standards at “Go Higher!” Events

    Fitchburg, MA – September 24, 2015 – Education Secretary Jim Peyser today joined Higher Education Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago and students from across the state’s public higher education system to remind high school seniors that beginning next fall, four years of high school math - including math taken during the senior year - will be required for admission to any state university or University of Massachusetts campus.

    The new minimum standard for admission, approved by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education in 2011, will apply in 2016 to all in-state and out-of-state applicants hoping to attend any of the four UMass undergraduate campuses or nine state universities. Freshman applicants will be required to complete Algebra I and II, Geometry or Trigonometry, (or comparable coursework), and must complete a mathematics course during their senior year. A two-year Algebra I course will be counted toward the fourth-year math requirement; a Pre-Algebra course will not. The new minimum admissions standards do not apply to the community colleges, which use “open” admissions and enrollment policies.

    There are no state-level requirements to complete a particular sequence of academic coursework in the Commonwealth; such mandates are set by individual districts. According to a recent survey by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 65.7% of Massachusetts school districts do require four years of mathematics for all students, while the remaining one-third of districts do not.

    Additionally, beginning in fall, 2017, all students applying for admission to a UMass campus or a state university will need to have three years of science, including at least one lab science, in addition to four years of math. Computer science courses may be credited as a science or math elective, according to the new standards, “based on the inclusion of rigorous mathematical or scientific concepts and topics.”

  • Students walking on the Bunker Hill Community College Campus

    Baker-Polito Administration Launches “Go Higher!” Event Series, Web Portal

    New Campaign Urges High School Students to Prepare for College & Career Options After High School

    Boston, MA – September 9, 2015 – The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education is launching a new campaign to promote student access and awareness of opportunities across the public higher education system, with a slate of events for high school students and a new web site to help them prepare for college and career choices after high school.

    The “Go Higher!” campaign reminds students that by 2020, 72% of the jobs in Massachusetts will require some post-secondary education. At high school events across the state, students from the University of Massachusetts, state universities and community colleges will speak directly to more than 8,000 high school students to share their experience choosing a college and a major, adjusting to campus life, and preparing for careers through internships and research opportunities.

    “I am really excited about the chance to present my experience as a community college honors student moving on to a four-year university,” said Micah Klayman, a graduate of Quinsigamond Community College who has transferred to Worcester State University to earn his bachelor’s degree. “What I really want high school students to know is that our public colleges and universities are not only affordable but also amazing places for students to grow as leaders and scholars. After my experience, I am steadfast in that belief.”

    The campaign was developed in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 15A, Section 5, which mandates the Board of Higher Education to conduct “a sustained program to inform the public of the needs, importance and accomplishments of the public institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth.” It is produced by the Department in collaboration with the GEAR UP college access program and the 29 campuses of the public higher education system.

  • Students walking on the Bunker Hill Community College Campus

    Baker-Polito Administration Awards $2.4 Million to Boost College Access, Student Success

    Two grant programs expand college opportunities, allow high school students to earn college credit

    BOSTON, MA – September 3, 2015 – As nearly 300,000 students return to Massachusetts' community colleges, state universities and University of Massachusetts campuses this week, the Department of Higher Education (DHE) awarded $2.4 million in competitive grants to increase access to college by students across the Commonwealth.

    Twenty-five campuses were awarded grants through the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership(CDEP) to expand the state's dual enrollment programs, which allow high school students to take college courses and earn credit for free or at a reduced cost.  CDEP funding increased from $750,000 in FY15 to $1 million in FY16. The DHE has set a goal of increasing dual enrollment from 2,000 to 3,400 students and is using a new dual enrollment video, outreach to high schools, and social media to promote opportunities on campuses.

    Also awarded were Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund (VP-PIF) grants to support partnerships aimed at increasing the college-going and college completion rates of under-represented, low-income and first-generation students. Seven campuses were awarded a total of $500,000 in new funding, with continuation grants going to 16 additional campuses to support ongoing projects.

    “Increasing collaboration between high schools and higher education is important to making a college education more affordable and creating more opportunities for students across the Commonwealth to succeed in college and their careers,”  said Governor Charlie Baker. “These awards also present opportunities for college campuses and their regional partners to focus creatively on boosting college completion rates and advancing more students from diverse and underserved populations.”

    "Together, our competitive Dual Enrollment and Performance Incentive Fund grant programs help growing numbers of students realize the dream of obtaining a college degree," said Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago. "It is terrific to see UMass, state university and community college faculty and staff working together and also with local school districts to widen the pathways from high school to college. This is at the core of the mission of public higher education, which is to strengthen Massachusetts families, communities and industries by educating our future citizenry and skilled workforce.”

    Photo courtesy Bunker Hill Community College

  • BHE logo and Robert Johnson Headshot

    Governor Baker Appoints Members to UMass and Higher Education Boards

    Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., will replace Maura Banta as member on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education

    August 11, 2015 -Governor Charlie Baker appointed Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., as a member of the Board of Higher Education, and Robert Epstein and Robert J. Manning as members of the Board of Trustees for the University of Massachusetts (UMass).

    “These new Board members have a strong commitment to excellence in higher education, and I’m confident that they will be catalysts for taking our public state and community college system to the next level,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As President of Becker College in Worcester, Dr. Johnson understands how to lead and manage a career-oriented college that is responsive to the changing needs and demands of employers and communities. UMass Lowell alumnus Rob Manning has previously chaired the board with distinction and has shown an exceptional level of commitment to making our public universities world-class institutions. As a successful entrepreneur and graduate of UMass Amherst, Bob Epstein has already had a tremendous impact on our campuses, after launching the ‘Reason to Give’ Scholarship, which helps UMass students whose parents lose their jobs.”    

    “These leaders bring an incredible level of experience and commitment to higher education in Massachusetts,” said Secretary of Education, Jim Peyser. “I am delighted to work alongside these new members who will be innovative leaders on our boards.”

    “I am honored to serve the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D. “It is a pleasure to be a champion for ensuring our young people receive a quality higher education. This appointment presents a tremendous opportunity to advance higher education in this transitional economy, which will enhance the lives of not just our students, but all of our citizens.”

    “I am delighted to be appointed by Governor Baker to be a trustee of UMass,” said Robert Epstein.  “I am passionate about the university and hope to sustain its position as the crown jewel of our commonwealth.”

    “I’m thrilled to be back as a trustee of UMass and I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Governor Baker and I’m proud to be a part of his team,” said Robert J. Manning.  

    Dr. Johnson will replace Maura Banta on the Board of Higher Education. Mr. Manning will replace the open UMass Lowell Alumni seat vacated by Zoila Gomez and Mr. Epstein will replace Ruben King-Shaw, Jr., who served two full terms and is not eligible for reappointment.  

    About Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.

    Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., became the tenth president of Becker College in July 2010. Under Dr. Johnson’s leadership, Becker College has been named one of the “best institutions for undergraduate education” by The Princeton Review for four consecutive years and the College’s game design program has been ranked by The Princeton Review for the last six years, including, in 2015, the 9th best undergraduate program in the world. In 2011, Becker was designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as home to the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI), a statewide center for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Johnson holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Trident University International (formerly Touro University International), a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Cincinnati, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Morehouse College. Dr. Johnson is a member of the Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan policy organization of chief executives, university presidents, and labor leaders, and serves on the boards of a number of state and local organizations.

    About Robert Epstein

    Robert Epstein was raised in Brockton and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Upon graduation he joined his family business and helped to take a small regional operation into the largest beverage alcohol distributer in New England.  Horizon Beverage Group has been in business for over 82 years and employs over 800 people in 5 states. Mr. Epstein remains active in numerous civic and charitable endeavors particularly Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Hospice of Cape Cod, and UMass Amherst.

    About Robert Manning

    Robert J. Manning is chairman and co-chief executive officer of MFS Investment Management and a trustee of the MFS Funds Board. Prior to that, he held the title of president and chief investment officer, as well as several leadership positions in the Fixed Income Division. MFS manages $450 billion in assets globally and employs 2,000 people. He received a Master of Science degree in Finance from Boston College and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Mr. Manning is a member of the Investment Company Institute’s board of governors and a trustee of the Boston Medical Center’s Pension and Endowment Funds. In 2011, he received a Doctor of Humane Letters from UMass Lowell, where he endowed the Manning School of Business.  

    Pictured: Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.

  • MCLA students in a lab

    New for Fall 2016: New Math and Science Standards for Admission to UMass, MA State Universities

    Admissions standards are increasing for the classes entering college in fall 2016 and fall 2017

    The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education has adopted new admissions requirements in math and science to better align the state’s MassCore and four-year public university admissions standards. The goal is to make sure students are ready for college-level work.

    Both in-state and out-of-state students applying to Massachusetts four-year public higher education institutions, including UMass, will need:

    • Four years of high school math, including in their senior year, beginning with the college freshman class entering fall 2016.
    • Three years of lab-based science, including the natural/physical sciences or technology/engineering courses, beginning with the college freshman class entering fall 2017.
  • Chart from Developmental Math PResentation

    STEM Starter Academy Summer Bridge Programs Underway Across the State

    STEM Starter Academies work to recruit and graduate more Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Students

    The STEM Starter Academy is an initiative of Massachusetts community college 15 campus system to inform, engage, recruit, retain and graduate significantly more students through STEM Pathway programs leading to job placement or transfer to university STEM programs and careers. Championed by Speaker Robert DeLeo, the STEM Starter Academy initiative complements and extends curriculum pathway programs on our campuses that are aligned to competency expectations of employers in high-demand STEM fields and others.

  • Anne Renneburg Speaks at the Herter Scholars Luncheon

    High School Students Awarded Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship in Ceremony at the State House

    The scholarship helps Massachusetts students, reducing the cost of attending a college or university of their choice

    Twenty-five 10th and 11th grade students from Massachusetts high schools were honored at the Herter Scholars Luncheon at the State House on May 28, 2015. The Herter Scholarship is a state-supported program whose mission includes providing educational opportunities to Commonwealth students who have overcome major adversity in their lives and exhibit academic potential for post-secondary success.

    The honorees were joined by family members, school representatives, legislators, members of the Board of Higher Education and Herter Scholar Alumni, including speakers Anne Renneburg and Ta’Nika Gibson.

    Renneburg (pictured above) was one of the first Herter Scholars in 1972. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Saint Anselm College and her Master of Science in Maternal Child Health from Boston College. She now works in school health while volunteering at the MetroWest Free Health Program and serving as a mentor to nursing students.

    Renneburg shared her own story of triumphing over adversity with the help of the scholarship after losing both of her parents in separate tragedies by the time she was 13 years old. She said, “Much can be learned even in the midst of a crisis — I not only lived it, but I saw it over and over in my years of nursing the sick and their families.” She advised the awardees, “allow your past to make you better, not bitter.”

    Gibson was a 2008 Herter Scholar, and a graduate of classical studies at New York University and Eastman School of Music. Hailed by The Boston Globe for her “clear and ringing voice,” she has performed in many theatrical productions and was chosen to sing the national anthem for Michelle Obama and other political dignitaries in 2014. Gibson performed “America the Beautiful” and “What a Wonderful World” at the luncheon.

  • Deputy Commissioner Sean Nelson presents the new State University Fudning Formula to the Board of Higher Education on June 16, 2015

    Board of Higher Education Approves Performance Funding Plan for State Universities

    Nine Universities to Receive Portion of State Funding Based on % of Students Earning Diplomas

    BOSTON, MA – June 16, 2015 – In an effort to hold the state’s public colleges and universities more accountable for the number of students who successfully complete degree programs, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education today approved a new performance-based funding formula for the Commonwealth’s nine state universities, one that will tie a portion of their future state funding to the overall number and type of graduates they produce.

    “This funding formula was developed at the direction of the Massachusetts legislature and with the close cooperation of and in consultation with the state university presidents,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education.  “It will reward our public campuses for helping some of our neediest students earn their degrees, and it also will improve our ability to provide graduates who are ready for work in the knowledge-based industries that drive economic growth.”

    The state university funding formula will be applied to $5.6 million expected to be allocated to the institutions in a new line item in the FY2016 budget.  The funding, which is separate from the base appropriation for individual campuses, will be distributed to campuses once the new state budget is approved.  It is based on a complex formula of metrics and weights developed by NCHEMS, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.  An institution’s share of the funding will be determined in part by its five-year graduation rates, year-over-year increases in degrees awarded, the numbers of students who reach 30 and 60 credit hours each year (with additional points awarded for low-income students who qualify for federal Pell grants), as well as numbers and types of degrees awarded (with additional points awarded for degrees in “priority fields” such as STEM, health, business, and education.)  Campuses are also given points for “degree productivity,” the cost of producing a degree per $100,000 in total revenue.  The metrics used in the formula align closely with the Vision Project, the BHE-approved strategic agenda for higher education.

  • Chris Gabrieli

    Chris Gabrieli is sworn in as the New Chairman to Board of Higher Education

    Governor Charlie Baker officially welcomes Chris Gabrieli in a ceremony at the State House

    April 14, 2015 - Governor Charlie Baker swore in Chris Gabrieli as the Chairman of the Board of Higher Education in a ceremony today at the Massachusetts State House. Gabrieli is the co-founder of three non-profit education innovation and reform initiatives, and has served in several higher education board roles at Harvard, Boston University’s School of Public Health and Clark University.

    Governor Baker announced the appointment of Chris Gabrieli and Dr. Sheila Harrity to the Board of Higher Education in March, and designated Mr. Gabrieli as the new Chairman. 

    “These new Board members not only have practical experience as leaders in education, but also have a strong commitment to excellence in higher education in both academic and vocational fields,” said Governor Baker when he announced the new appointments. “Chris Gabrieli’s background as an advocate for public education and an innovative social entrepreneur gives him first-hand insight into the challenges and opportunities to make positive change happen for students. I am proud of our Commonwealth’s world-class institutions of higher education and I’m confident that these new Board members will help ensure that our state and community colleges get the attention they deserve and continue to rise to the next level.”
      
    “I look forward to working with these top-notch education leaders who have made an impact both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Secretary of Education Jim Peyser. “The combination of their background in education as advocates, practitioners, and thought leaders will add great value to our ability to make a difference in the lives of the students and families.”

    “I am delighted to welcome Chris Gabrieli to the Board,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “He has a deserved reputation as an education reformer with a deep and personal commitment to students in the Commonwealth. I know him to be an innovative thinker who has worked very hard to give young people in urban districts more time to learn and more opportunities for academic success.”

    Pictured (from left): Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Board Chairman Chris Gabrieli, Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, Governor Charlie Baker

  • Governor Baker announces appointment in his chambers

    Baker Administration Announces New Commissioner of Higher Education

    Secretary Peyser Endorses the Unanimous Decision by the Board to Appoint Dr. Carlos Santiago as the Next Commissioner

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015 – BOSTON – Education Secretary James A. Peyser today announced the new Commissioner for Higher Education, Dr. Carlos Santiago, who currently serves as the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Senior Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs. This announcement follows the Board of Higher Education’s (BHE) vote today, which unanimously recommended (12-0) in favor of Dr. Santiago’s candidacy.    

    “I congratulate Dr. Carlos Santiago on his appointment as the next Commissioner of Higher Education,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Massachusetts is a leader in education, but we are faced with an increasingly competitive global marketplace and continuing achievement gaps.  With Carlos at the helm, I’m confident our public higher education system will rise to the challenge.” 

    “I wholeheartedly endorse the selection of Dr. Carlos Santiago by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and thank him for his willingness to step into this important role,” Secretary Peyser said, who today formally endorsed the Board’s recommendation. “I look forward to working more closely with him to improve the quality and affordability of public higher education.  I’m particularly excited about building on Carlos’s leadership in increasing rates of on-time college completion and strengthening partnerships between our colleges, public schools, and employers.”

  • Chart from Developmental Math PResentation

    Public Campuses Report Fewer Students Placing into Remedial Math

    1st Results from Pilot Program Show More Students Succeeding in College-Level Courses

    May 7, 2015 – BOSTON – A pilot program to overhaul remedial math programs at Massachusetts’ public colleges and universities is showing early signs of success, with more students placing directly into credit-bearing coursework and then moving on to complete those courses at better-than-expected rates, the Department of Higher Education reported today.

    A preliminary analysis of campus data from University of Massachusetts, state universities and community colleges shows that students who placed into college-level math courses based on their cumulative high school GPA are, at some campuses, completing credit-bearing math courses at rates comparable to or higher than those of students whose placements were based on their Accuplacer® scores. Since 1998, public campuses in Massachusetts have relied on Accuplacer© as the primary means of  determining placement in entry-level math and English courses. National research indicates that high school GPA is a better predictor of success in college, and that placements based on Accuplacer scores may lead to too many students being placed into remediation.

    “Here in Massachusetts as in other states, there is growing concern about how few students move on to complete math courses and ultimately, their degrees,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “I am delighted to see our state among those taking the lead in overhauling programs that have often proven to be a barrier to course and degree completion.” 

    “We expected to see a drop in the numbers of students assigned to remedial courses, but we were not expecting to see so many students succeeding in college-level math courses at these rates,” said Carlos Santiago, Senior Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs at the Department of Higher Education. “This is testament to the innovative approaches being adopted by campuses as they adopt new instructional methods and placement practices to help students transform failure into success.”

    Currently, more than one in three Massachusetts high school graduates who enroll at a public college or university place into developmental education courses.

    At the University of Massachusetts Boston, where the number of developmental math course sections has been cut in half and the number of students enrolled in such courses cut by two-thirds from fall 2013 to fall 2014, data suggest that student success in completing entry-level, for-credit math courses is as strong, if not stronger than in prior years when students were placed into remediation classes, Maura Mast, Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at UMass Boston, told members of the Board of Higher Education in a presentation last week. UMass Boston plans to discontinue its developmental education program beginning in the fall.

    “We feel we’ve seen a very dramatic shift,” Mast said. “We’ve reduced barriers to the four-year college degree.”

    At the state’s community colleges, where the need for remedial math is most acute, only 18 of every 100 students enrolled in such courses complete a credit-bearing course within two years. The progress reports delivered to the Board of Higher Education suggests that campus efforts to overhaul remedial math instruction are producing stronger student outcomes. Data summarizing the recent progress can be found here.

    At Bristol Community College in Fall River, 86% of the students placed into college-level math based on a high school GPA of 2.7 of better went on to complete the course, compared with 68.8% of the students placed on the basis of their Accuplacer cut score. Even students with GPAs below 2.7% had higher course completion rates than the Accuplacer control group.

    “While using high school GPA and transcripts as a measure of preparedness might not be perfect, I feel that it is certainly a better measure than the Accuplacer exam and a step in the right direction,” said Dan Avedikian, Chair of the Math Department at Bristol.

    In 2013, amid growing concern that too few students ever move on from developmental coursework to complete credit-bearing courses and degrees, the Board of Higher Education authorized a one-year period of campus experimentation to overhaul developmental math programs. The Board’s Policy on Developmental Math  gave campuses broad latitude to design changes, with some choosing to develop new curricula or utilize new placement methods, while others increased support services to students. Eighteen of the state’s 29 public campuses have launched pilots using high school GPA, or GPA combined with other standards, such as SAT scores, to determine student placement in math courses in lieu of the more widely used Accuplacer placement test. 
      
     The goal of the BHE policy is to increase by 20% the number of students completing a college-level math course within two years of enrollment.

    slideshare presentation Adding up the Progress: Transforming Developmental Math

  • Chris Gabrieli

    Chris Gabrieli is sworn in as the New Chairman to Board of Higher Education

    Governor Charlie Baker officially welcomes Chris Gabrieli in a ceremony at the State House

    April 14, 2015 - Governor Charlie Baker swore in Chris Gabrieli as the Chairman of the Board of Higher Education in a ceremony today at the Massachusetts State House. Gabrieli is the co-founder of three non-profit education innovation and reform initiatives, and has served in several higher education board roles at Harvard, Boston University’s School of Public Health and Clark University.

    Governor Baker announced the appointment of Chris Gabrieli and Dr. Sheila Harrity to the Board of Higher Education in March, and designated Mr. Gabrieli as the new Chairman. 

    “These new Board members not only have practical experience as leaders in education, but also have a strong commitment to excellence in higher education in both academic and vocational fields,” said Governor Baker when he announced the new appointments. “Chris Gabrieli’s background as an advocate for public education and an innovative social entrepreneur gives him first-hand insight into the challenges and opportunities to make positive change happen for students. I am proud of our Commonwealth’s world-class institutions of higher education and I’m confident that these new Board members will help ensure that our state and community colleges get the attention they deserve and continue to rise to the next level.”
      
    “I look forward to working with these top-notch education leaders who have made an impact both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Secretary of Education Jim Peyser. “The combination of their background in education as advocates, practitioners, and thought leaders will add great value to our ability to make a difference in the lives of the students and families.”

    “I am delighted to welcome Chris Gabrieli to the Board,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “He has a deserved reputation as an education reformer with a deep and personal commitment to students in the Commonwealth. I know him to be an innovative thinker who has worked very hard to give young people in urban districts more time to learn and more opportunities for academic success.”

    Pictured (from left): Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Board Chairman Chris Gabrieli, Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, Governor Charlie Baker

  • Dual Enrollment Video

    Governor Baker Unveils New Dual Enrollment Video at Go Public! Event

    The Governor says his FY2016 budget proposal would double funding for the program so more students can participate

    Governor Charlie Baker joined hundreds of students, parents and campus admissions representative for Go Public! at Marblehead High School March 24, using the occasion to tout the value and academic quality of programs at UMass, state universities and community colleges. The Governor unveiled the Department of Higher Education’s new dual enrollment video and told the crowd that he believed so much in the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership’s benefits that his Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal, now before the Legislature, would double funding for the program to enable more students to participate.

    Watch the Video

  • The 29 Who Shine 2015 honorees gather with Commissioner Freeland outside the State House

    5th Annual “29 Who Shine” Awards Kick Off 2015 Commencement Season

    Governor Baker, Education Leaders, Media Publishers to Honor Community College, State University & UMass Graduates for Contributions to the Commonwealth

    Boston, MA - May 13, 2015 – The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education today announced the Class of 2015 winners of the 29 Who Shine awards, the Commonwealth’s annual ceremony honoring one graduate from each community college, state university and University of Massachusetts campus for their civic contributions to the Commonwealth. Governor Charlie Baker will join education leaders, legislators, faculty, students and families at the ceremony tomorrow, May 14th, at 12 noon at the base of the Grand Staircase at the Massachusetts State House.

    Student profiles, including home towns and head shots, are available here.

    Each one of Massachusetts’ 29 public college and university campuses selected its own honoree for the 29 Who Shine awards based on criteria established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Students are required to be residents of Massachusetts who have strong academic profiles and a record of civic engagement.

    "I want to congratulate all 29 of these outstanding Class of 2015 graduates for the recognition they have received and thank them for their substantial contributions to their local communities," said Governor Charlie Baker. "Each of the 29 Who Shine honorees, in addition to being an accomplished student, is civically engaged in ways that improve the quality of life in Massachusetts.”

    “We know that nine of every ten public college and university students remain in Massachusetts one year after graduation, working or pursuing further studies,” noted Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “These awards are a reminder that our public higher education graduates truly are the future citizenry and workforce of the Commonwealth.”

    Among this year’s honorees are students who have started local companies (Ryan Lombaradini, electrical engineering major, Springfield Technical Community College),  created programs to boost student interest in science and technology careers (Mikaelle Olivier, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, founder of STEM-in-Action program for middle school students in North Adams) and aided the homeless (Shu Yang, UMass Medical School, created a weekly foot care clinic at Worcester’s largest emergency homeless shelter.) The group of honorees also includes a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a current member of the Massachusetts National Guard, and students who have devoted thousands of hours to volunteering for organizations ranging from Sociedad Latina in Boston to the Department of Children and Families office on Cape Cod.

    The May 14th awards ceremony at the Massachusetts State House will also be attended by Education Secretary Jim Peyser, UMass chancellors, and state university and community college presidents. The UMass Amherst Minuteman Marching Band will perform at the ceremony.

    Each of the 29 Who Shine has named a faculty or staff mentor who provided guidance and support throughout the student’s years in college. These faculty will be honored at a celebratory luncheon sponsored by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, following the awards ceremony.

    Again this year, publishers of most daily newspapers across the state have donated full or half-page advertisements to honor the students as a group on May 14. Supporters of the 29 Who Shine Publishers Campaign include The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, GateHouse Media New England, The Springfield Republican, Lowell Sun, Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

  • Visualization of an academic transfer pathway, composed of a combination of gen-ed, foundational, elective and additional courses that total to the first 60 credits needed to fulfill freshman & sophomore requirements in a major

    “Great Progress” on Transfer Pathways Reported to BHE

    Two-Year Project to Help Students Map Clearer, Faster Routes to Degrees

    With a whopping 2600 unique and separate campus articulation agreements in place across the Commonwealth, students and their academic advisors can find it difficult, “if not impossible” to navigate the transfer system, DHE Senior Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs Carlos Santiago told the Board of Higher Education on Tuesday.

    The good news for students, as well as sending and receiving institutions, is that Massachusetts is now on the way to replacing a patchwork system of individual transfer requirements with an integrated system that will allow for seamless transfer, particular from community colleges to state university and UMass campuses, while also promoting the Vision Project “Big Three” goals aimed at boosting college completion rates, Santiago said.

    The BHE heard a detailed update on Phase One of the work to map course equivalencies for 6,000 foundational courses in six disciplines: Biology, Chemistry, Economics, History, Political Science, and Psychology. Complete transfer pathway maps are slated to be completed this spring. Phase Two work on ten more disciplines—Business, Criminal Justice, Communications and Media Studies, Computer Science, Early Childhood Education, English, Liberal Arts, Mathematics, Sociology and STEM foundations—is slated to be completed by the end of 2016, and together the two phases will capture 70 percent of transfer students’ majors. The Department of Higher Education is building a new web-based interface, backed by a course-to-course equivalency database, that will allow transfer students to map their route to a bachelor's degree with fewer detours, lost credits and unexpected costs.

    “This use of technology to help facilitate system integration is brilliant,” said Fernando Reimers, BHE member and professor of International Education and Director of Global Education and International Education Policy at Harvard University. “This gives us a platform to help not only students but also high school guidance counselors. And it makes it all very transparent for education leaders.”

    Santiago added that the new system will also be available for use as an advising tool, and to help academic planning teams design programs based on a full slate of state resources. Given the cooperation and involvement of campus faculty in designing the system, Santiago predicted that Massachusetts will be able to complete work on its transfer pathways without the need of a legislative mandate.

    “We've been lagging behind other states in this work," Santiago said, “but we think we're caught up.”

  • Massachusetts Board of Higher Education Launches Search for New Commissioner

    Commissioner Search Committee posts detailed position profile and a call for nominations and expressions of interest

    BOSTON – Thursday, February 19, 2015 – The search for a new Commissioner of Higher Education to succeed Richard M. Freeland has officially begun with the posting of a detailed position profile and a call for nominations and expressions of interest.  Potential candidates are asked to submit their qualifications to “strengthen the impact, accessibility, and quality of higher education in Massachusetts,” the Board of Higher Education (BHE) announced today. The profile is posted on the Commissioner Search website and may be viewed here: www.mass.edu/commsearch

    “The Commissioner's overarching challenge is to carry out statutory authority, provide strategic vision, expert theoretical and practical knowledge, principled leadership and effective direction in an environment that is rapidly shifting and largely decentralized,” the profile reads, noting higher education's increasingly important role as an engine for workforce development and contributor to the economic wellbeing of the Commonwealth. The document also notes the opportunity for “innovative leadership” to achieve system-wide improvements in both performance and funding.

    “Given the Board's strategic focus through the Vision Project on accountability, efficiency and quality, this search presents an opportunity for us to build on recent progress to establish a top-tier system of public higher education in Massachusetts,” said Dani Monroe, chair of the Search Committee and member of the Board of Higher Education. “We know that the Commonwealth needs our system to produce greater numbers of highly qualified graduates; we believe our next Commissioner should be fully focused on ways to help more students earn the degrees and certificates needed to secure jobs and lead fulfilling lives.”

  • Massachusetts FAFSA Day

    Massachusetts Community College Students Invited to Apply for New UK College Scholarship

    Two Business Students Will Study Abroad, Earn Free Bachelor's Degrees

    Boston, MA -- February 4, 2015 -- Massachusetts community college students hoping to launch careers in business and entrepreneurship will have a unique opportunity to study abroad and earn their bachelor's degrees for free through a new scholarship program launched by Shorelight Education in partnership with Bath Spa University and the Commonwealth, the Department of Higher Education announced today.

    Shorelight, a Massachusetts-based company that partners with leading nonprofit universities to increase access for international students, has established the Shorelight Global Scholarship Program to  give two Massachusetts students a full two-year scholarship worth an estimated $85,000 USD including tuition, housing and airfare. Students will attend the undergraduate School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Bath Spa University in Bath, England, and are expected to complete the coursework required to earn a bachelor's degree.

    "This is an extraordinary opportunity for highly motivated students to earn a four-year degree while also having an opportunity to study abroad," said Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland. "I commend Shorelight Education and Bath Spa University for creating the scholarship program and for recognizing the talents and creative potential of our community college students."

  • Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Announces 2015 STEM @Scale Awards

    $643,000 Awarded to Expand 11 Projects Proven to Boost Student Interest, Ability in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

    BOSTON – Friday, February 13, 2015 – Eleven college and school-based programs proven to spark student interest and prowess in science, technology, engineering and math - the so-called STEM fields - have been awarded more than $643,000 through the Commonwealth’s @Scale program, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education announced today.

    Among the projects chosen for support, based in part on their ability to be scaled up in other regions of the state and secure private funds to match investment by taxpayers, are Quinsigamond Community College’s Advanced Robotics Initiative (ARI), which engages Worcester Public School students in after-school robotics engineering challenges; Science from Scientists, which sends trained scientists into classrooms to conduct hands-on lab activity; and the STEM Pathways to Prosperity Project, which will give students at all nine of the Commonwealth’s state universities clear routes into STEM careers. Projects selected for @Scale endorsement are designed for easy replication and scale-up while also demonstrating success in achieving student performance outcomes.

    “By replicating successful models across our Commonwealth, the @Scale program creates opportunities for students of all ages, backgrounds and interests to pursue careers in STEM fields,” said Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, Honorary Co-Chair of the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council. “Each of these projects has developed an innovative approach to STEM education, and the funds provided by @Scale will help guide their efforts as they train their students for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”


    Photo courtesy MassBioEd Foundation

  • New Report on Massachusetts Public Higher Education Shows Progress in Closing Achievement Gaps; Outlines Plan to Increase College Completion Rates

    3rd “Vision Project” Report shows gains among Latino students; forecasts shortage of college graduates needed for key sector growth Degrees of Urgency Cover

    BOSTON -- October 28, 2014 – At a time of rising demand for skilled college graduates in the Commonwealth, the Department of Higher Education’s third annual Vision Project report shows progress being made to raise graduation rates and close achievement gaps among public college and university students in Massachusetts, but also projects a shortage of skilled graduates needed to meet the needs of employers in key industry sectors that fuel economic growth, based on an expected drop in the state’s high school population in the coming years. 

    “The Vision Project report provides state leaders with a road map that allows us to think and respond proactively to the issues in higher education we will face in the next decade,” said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone.”At the same time it allows us to celebrate achievements by our campuses and by the Patrick Administration. There are many points of progress contained in this report, and I am proud that our public colleges and universities share a vision for the future.”

     “Degrees of Urgency: Why Massachusetts Needs More College Graduates Now,” was released this morning before a group of 275 business and civic leaders gathered at the Boston Foundation.  The report outlines system and campus-level achievements aligned with the Vision Project goal of leading nationally among state systems of public higher education.

  • HEFC Report Recommends Increased State Funding for Public Colleges and Universities

    The Higher Education Finance Commission (HEFC) recommends increased funding to establish Massachusetts as a top system of public higher education

    The Department of Higher Education released a report by the legislatively mandated Higher Education Finance Commission, which strongly recommends much-needed increases in state funding for our public colleges and universities, and also state financial aid over the next five years.  The report emphasizes the importance of establishing Massachusetts as a top 10 state in the nation with regard to state support for public higher education as well as performance, and highlights the urgent need to enhance the quality of our public higher education system in order to meet workforce needs and secure the social, civic, and economic prosperity of the Commonwealth.

    "Massachusetts must build one of the top 10 public systems in the nation with regard to both overall performance and state investments in order to provide an affordable as well as high-quality education for all students," the report says.


    Photo courtesy Bridgewater State University.

  • Massachusetts FAFSA Day

    Register for FAFSA Day

    Students, families, and adult learners who want help applying for financial aid for the 2015-2016 academic year should attend a FAFSA Day Massachusetts site

    FAFSA Day Massachusetts is a non-profit, volunteer-driven program providing free assistance to students and families seeking to complete the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

    The next program will take place on February 22, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. at many locations around Massachusetts. Some sites will hold their events on other dates and times, so visit the FAFSA Day website for location details.

  • Massasoit Community College student working at a food bank

    UMass, State Universities, Community College Campuses Scale Up Efforts to Help Hungry Students

    Faculty, Staff Report Growing Levels of Food Insecurity on Campus, Cite Impact on Student Academic Performance

    BOSTON – Tuesday, November 25, 2014 -- Nineteen of Massachusetts’ 29 public college and university campuses have opened food pantries or have begun to distribute food to hungry students who in some cases are choosing between paying educational expenses and buying food, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) reported today.

    A recent informal survey of statewide student support services conducted by the DHE shows that the number of campus-based food pantries, including those operated by student organizations or clubs, has grown to twelve in recent years, with seven additional campuses providing a variety of services to address food insecurity, such as vouchers for cafeteria meals and food drives to aid students and their families.

    “There is a long history of Massachusetts public college and university students being civically engaged in hunger relief efforts in their communities, especially during the holiday season," said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. "Now we see that growing numbers of students themselves are in need of assistance. This has troubling implications, especially at a time when we are redoubling our efforts to boost graduation rates and fill the so-called 'talent pipeline.' We cannot expect students to perform well in their studies and to graduate in a timely fashion if they are going hungry." 


    Photo courtesy J.W. Lynch / Massasoit Community College

  • Joint Meeting of MA Board of Higher Ed and Board of Elementary & Secondary Ed

    MA Board of Higher Education Orders Review of Campus Sexual Assault Policies

    Commends Campus Responses, Prevention Efforts

    FALL RIVER, MA -- Tuesday, October 21, 2014 -- The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) today unanimously approved a resolution directing Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland and the Department of Higher Education to coordinate a statewide effort among the public colleges and universities to strengthen campus policies around sexual assault prevention, and to review the Board's own guidelines on prevention and response.

    At its first meeting of the 2014-15 academic year at Bristol Community College, the Board declared a "zero tolerance" for sexual violence including "stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, harassment and sexual assault, which can have devastating effects on individual victims, as well as serious negative consequences for colleges and universities."

    "Our fiduciary and moral responsibility is to develop a system wide policy to address this issue," said Board member Henry Thomas, the University of Massachusetts representative to the BHE.

  • David Cedrone, Associate Commissioner for Economic and Workforce Development, Presents at the December 9, 2014 Board of Higher Education Meeting

    December 9th Board Meeting

    Board of Higher Education Approves Budget Request, Hears Workforce Development Recommendations

    FY2016 Budget Request

    The Board of Higher Education approved the budget request for Fiscal Year 2016 at its meeting on December 9, 2014. The priorities outlined in this budget reflect the analyses and recommendations contained in Degrees of Urgency: Why Massachusetts Needs More College Graduates Now, as well as the October report by the legislatively-mandated Higher Education Finance Commission.

    >> FY16 Budget Request
    >> FY16 Budget Presentation

    Strategic Workforce Planning: Next Focus

    The Board also heard a presentation by David Cedrone, Associate Commissioner for Economic and Workforce Development, on the next phase of strategic planning in workforce development. The Department of Higher Education is currently focused on filling projected shortages and advancing education in Healthcare and IT/Technology industries, and is looking to expand into other high-growth fields. Cedrone recommended the next focus be on the Manufacturing sector, where all recent workforce growth has been among college-educated workers. According to his presentation, 78% of current manufacturing job postings in Massachusetts require some college education and 69% require bachelor’s or above. The Manufacturing sector also appears to overlap heavily with the Bio sector, so a Manufacturing plan with an emphasis on Bio would benefit both industry sectors.

    >> Strategic Workforce Planning Presentation

    Visit the Policy and Report Library for BHE meeting agendas, reports and presentations,

  • Commissioner Freeland Speaks at 2014 Trustees Conference

    Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland to Step Down at Close of 2014-2015 Academic Year

    Resignation Caps Four+ Decades in Higher Education Leadership Roles

    BOSTON -- Tuesday, October 21, 2014 -- Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland has informed the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) that he intends to leave his post at the end of the 2014-15 academic year, the Department of Higher Education announced today.

    “I have arrived at this decision after considerable reflection and with acute awareness of how much work remains to accomplish the goals for public higher education toward which we are all striving,” Freeland told  the Board at its first meeting of the year at Bristol Community College in Fall River. “But from a purely personal perspective, this is the right time for me to step aside.  I hope I have contributed to the advancement of our public colleges and universities, which have never been more central to the economic future of the state and the well-being of our citizens, including the thousands of students we serve.” 

    >> Read the press release

  • Joint Meeting of MA Board of Higher Ed and Board of Elementary & Secondary Ed

    New Appointments Made to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education

    Maura Banta of IBM and Tom Hopcroft of Mass High Tech Leadership Council Bring New Business Vision to BHE

    October 17—The Department of Higher Education today announced that Governor Deval Patrick has appointed Maura O. Banta, IBM’s Director of Citizenship Initiatives in Education, and Tom Hopcroft, President & CEO of the Mass Technology Leadership Council, Inc. (MassTLC), to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education effective immediately.

    ”I am very pleased to appoint Maura and Tom to the Board of Higher Education,” said Governor Patrick. “I know their background in business partnered with their dedication to innovation and education will be a huge asset to the board’s future.”

    >> Read the press release

  • Governor Deval Patrick speaks at North High School in Worcester

    High School Students in New Bedford and Worcester are Encouraged to "Go Public!"

    Students learn about student life, academics and financial aid offerings at Massachusetts Community Colleges, State Universities and UMass

    October 15— Governor Deval Patrick joined Secretary of Education Matthew Malone and students from Massachusetts Community Colleges, State Universities and the University of Massachusetts (UMass) to welcome 350 high school students to Worcester’s North High School to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors and discuss the benefits of higher education at the Commonwealth’s 29 public campuses. Senior high school students from Worcester South, Worcester North and Burncoat High Schools attended the event.

    “The ‘Go Public!’ campaign to promote excellence and opportunity at our public colleges and universities, particularly STEM majors, is vital to the growth of the Commonwealth,” said Governor Patrick. “We are focused on educating and training the next generation to compete in the global workforce.”

    >> Read the full press release
    >> More photos on Flickr

    October 14— New Bedford High School students also attended a "Go Public!" event on Tuesday, where they learned about student life, academics and financial aid offerings at the state's 29 public colleges and universities. Students and representatives, along with state and local officials, encouraged the New Bedford students to take advantage of the opportunities provided to them and keep working towards a college degree.

    "Don't let anyone tell you you can't do it," said Sean Nelson of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, who is a 1987 New Bedford High School graduate.

    >> "Keep your eyes on the college prize, students urged," New Bedford Standard Times
    >> Photos on Flickr

  • Commissioner Freeland speaks from a podium

    Bridges to College FY15 Grants Announced

    The Bridges to College Program grants funds to support adult college transition services

    The Bridges to College Program grants funds to support adult college transition services to increase the number of low-income, underrepresented, entry-level adult workers who enter and succeed in postsecondary education.  Adult basic education providers, including local education agencies, community-based organizations, community colleges and correctional facilities, were eligible to apply for this grant. Providers must have achieved recognized success in bridging academic gaps of underserved adult learner populations, with this work leading to college entrance, retention, and success.

    FY15 Grantees:

    1. $95,000 to Catholic Charities/El Centro Adult Education Program.  This grant will focus on low-income, immigrant, adult learners in the City of Boston. A significant challenge faced by non-native English speakers is that graduation from English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Level III generally does not enable students to place directly into credit-bearing college courses. This program fills a glaring need by providing ESOL Level IV and V classes, along with additional support from a college coach and math instructor who will provide tutoring and college admissions guidance.
    2. $95,000 to Hampden County Sheriff’s Department (HCSD), working in partnership with Springfield Technical Community College.  This grant builds on and strengthens the approach taken in FY 14. It will fund two 14-week sessions (fall and spring) offering academic remediation in math, language arts, and computer literacy and research skills to custodial inmates from lower security and ex-offenders currently on parole or probation.  Instruction would also include financial literacy, a one-credit class at UMass, and extensive career guidance.
    3.  $95,000 to Jewish Vocational Services, working in partnership with MassBay Community College.  This grant will enable JVS to scale its adult college transition program, now in its fifth year, into Framingham and MetroWest.  It offers an intensive college preparation curriculum focused on the English, math, science and computer skills required to complete a post-secondary credential, as well as comprehensive academic and career coaching.  The new MetroWest initiative will include an English for Academic Success component that will develop students’ skills in the areas of college note-taking, organization, advanced study, time management, group projects, and research.
    4. $95,000 to Northern Essex Community College (NECC).  This grant will expand Northern Essex’s Transition to College and Career Pathways programs in order to increase the number of adult learners in Lawrence who are able to enter and complete college. The target population is unemployed and under-employed adults who have career aspirations in high demand fields—health, STEM, and advanced manufacturing—but lack the skills needed to succeed in college. The health curriculum was developed last year through a grant from the Smith Foundation. This grant will provide the resources needed to create the STEM and advanced manufacturing curricula. 
  • Filmmaker Mary Mazzio, iRobot CEO Colin Angle, Higher Education Associate Commissioner David Cedrone, Congressman Joe Kennedy, STEM Advisory Council Director Allison Scheff and NBC-Telemundo's Rocky Egusquiza pose around the Underwater Dreams poster at the premiere

    Documentary Film Premiere Rallies Science/Tech Community to Enhance State's Economic and Educational Future in STEM Education

    Congressman Joe Kennedy, Vertex Pharmaceuticals CEO Jeff Leiden Host Capacity Crowd at Boston Museum of Science Screening

    August 7— Patrick Administration officials joined with nearly 300 business, policy and educational leaders for the Massachusetts premiere of “Underwater Dreams,” the true-life story of how a group of Hispanic high school students from a high-poverty school district in Arizona beat MIT and other world-class competitors in a NASA-sponsored underwater robotics competition.

    The premiere, held at Boston’s Museum of Science, was sponsored by the Governor Patrick’s STEM Advisory Council, which is co-chaired by Congressman Joseph Kennedy and Vertex Pharmaceuticals CEO Jeff Leiden, in association with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. The screening was part of the STEM Advisory Council’s ongoing public event series to create community discussions about the importance of science, technology, engineering and math education and workforce opportunities.

    "This movie is a powerful testament to the impact STEM education can have on the life of a student, a family and a community," said Congressman Kennedy. "It's also a sharp reminder that we have much more work to do to ensure that every kid -- no matter who they are or what they start with -- gets access to the opportunities a STEM education can provide. That so many stakeholders from across the private and public sectors in Massachusetts came together last night to celebrate this film underscores what a compelling story it tells. I want to thank Mary Mazzio, Dr. Jeff Leiden, the entire STEM Council and all of the event sponsors for making last night possible." 

    Following the screening, members of the audience engaged with Congressman Kennedy, Colin Angle, Co-founder and CEO of iRobot, and the film’s producers in Q&A about the film and Massachusetts’ work to improve STEM educational opportunities for students at all grade levels, from Pre-K through college.

    “It was wonderful to see business leaders turn out for this screening,” said Mary Mazzio, director of “Underwater Dreams.” “To be able to engage the likes of (iRobot CEO) Colin Angle, (executive producer and real estate executive) Jeb Bush Jr., and Congressman Kennedy was electrifying. We are seeing educators and students react dramatically to the film. If it can serve as a catalyst to excite the next generation of scientists and engineers who are in desperately short supply, then the film will have done its job.”

    In 2009, Governor Deval Patrick signed Executive Order No. 513 creating the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. Last year, Governor Patrick released a renewed strategic plan for tying economic development to educational enhancement in the fields of STEM.  Massachusetts is recognized as a national leader in STEM education as a result of the Patrick Administration’s strategic investments in programs and initiatives that are developing a highly skilled workforce, fostering economic development and ultimately positioning the Commonwealth as a leader in the 21st century innovation-based global economy.

    The Council’s screening was made possible with generous support from the Museum of Science, The Boston Foundation, the New England Council, iRobot, the Latino STEM Alliance, and individual donors. For more information on the work of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, please visit our new web site at www.mass.edu/stem.

    >> More photos on Flickr
    >> STEM Council website

    In the photo (from left): Filmmaker Mary Mazzio, iRobot CEO Colin Angle, Higher Education Associate Commissioner David Cedrone, Congressman Joe Kennedy, STEM Advisory Council Director Allison Scheff and NBC/Telemundo's Rocky Egusquiza at the Underwater Dreams premiere. Photo credit: Derek Kouyoumjian

  • Smiling IT worker holds laptop

    Facing Shortages, MA Board of Higher Ed Approves Workforce Plans for Technology, Health Care Sectors

    Plans address shortages of skilled employees in two distinctly different, high-demand industries—technology and home health care.

    June 17—Citing the need to address shortages of skilled employees in two distinctly different, high-demand industries—technology and home health care—the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) has approved new workforce development plans to enhance educational opportunities for students and meet employer expectations, the Department of Higher Education announced today.

    Technology Talent Initiative Workforce Plan

    The Technology Talent Initiative Workforce Plan is the first comprehensive statewide assessment of the technology sector’s workforce requirements, offering a detailed analysis of the scope and scale of the technology talent gap and the role of the public higher education system in addressing shortages.

    “This report demonstrates that there is a critical gap between the number of degrees granted in Computer Science and Information Technology at our public (campuses), and the current and projected growth in jobs requiring those credentials,” according to the report accepted by the Board. “Data suggest that, in the aggregate, degree-granting in these fields should double to fill the gap in qualified talent.”

    “Through the Vision Project, our strategic agenda for public higher education, we have been working hard to align our educational programs with the needs of employers in the innovation economy,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “This workforce plan is the result of extensive collaboration between the Department and industry leaders, a partnership that will help us better prepare students for dynamic careers in tech industries.”

    “A major roadblock to expansion of the high tech sector in Massachusetts is the shortage of qualified talent," said Tom Hopcroft, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. “We have the jobs to fill, but not the people to fill them. This important report helps ensure we are aligning our public higher education curriculum with the needs of the innovation economy by fostering more graduates in the computing and information technology fields. A qualified workforce is essential to support the growth of this vital economic sector in Massachusetts.”

    The report cites an analysis of online job postings showing that 15% of Massachusetts jobs requiring a college degree are in technology related professions. In contrast, only 4% of degrees and certificates granted are in computer science and IT fields. The report also includes data showing that the number of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields is projected to grow by 23% overall through 2020, and that the largest share of those jobs will be in technology fields, outnumbering new jobs “in architecture, engineering, life sciences and physical sciences combined.

    To address the shortages of qualified workers, the plan calls for a review of program capacity in state college and university computer science and IT programs.. Working groups will be convened this summer and fall to address specific issues such as the need to increase internship opportunities and provide smoother transfer pathways from community colleges to state university and UMass campuses.

    Allied Health Direct Care Workforce Plan

    Home health aide checks on elderly patient Photo credit: myfuture.com

    At its last meeting of the year at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston (MassArt), the BHE also approved the Massachusetts Allied Health Direct Care Workforce Pla to create “stackable credentials” for workers in community-based settings. The largely female direct care workforce includes certified nurse assistants, medical assistants, personal care and home health aides, who typically work in low-wage, non-benefitted positions.

    “These are people who are on the new front lines of our health care system,” ” said David Cedrone, Associate Commissioner for Economic and Workforce Development. “We need to grow this workforce and provide them with educational pathways that allow them to acquire credentials that ‘stack’ to for-credit college courses, certificates, and degrees.”

    Our Commonwealth’s higher education network, specifically community colleges, serve as integral partners in training the direct care workers," said Lisa Gurgone, Executive Director of the Home Care Aide Council. "The DHE plan offers a vision for ways to both strengthen the existing relationships between long term care providers and the higher education network and strategies for developing new partnerships and opportunities to support this essential workforce moving forward.”

    Both plans build upon the Department of Higher Education’s innovative approach to workforce development, based on the creation of sector-specific workforce plans in collaboration with industry leaders, local employers, and campuses. The first of these plans focusing on the nursing profession led to the creation of the Nursing Education Transfer Compact (NETC), which supports attaining the goal of 66% of Massachusetts nurses holding Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees by 2020.

    >> Technology Talent Initiative Workforce Plan (.PDF)
    >> Allied Health Direct Care Workforce Plan
    (.PDF)

  • Commissioner Freeland speaks from a podium

    Commissioner Freeland Outlines Budget Priorities for House and Senate Ways & Means Committees

    Committees held joint FY2015 budget hearing focused on early, elementary and higher education

    February 25—“I want to reiterate that the recent investments in public higher education are paying off. Today, Massachusetts is better aligned to address the needs of growth industries in the Commonwealth and the near-term training and employment needs of both students and job seekers. And we are also creating a pipeline of future workers and leaders who are civically engaged and well-prepared for careers in Massachusetts’ knowledge economy,” Commissioner Freeland said. “Massachusetts public higher education can—and should—be a top 10 system of colleges and universities in terms of both performance and support. We have work to do to achieve this goal.”

    >> Read the full testimony

  • Students receive instruction with a simulation manikin

    Board of Higher Education Supports New Nursing Compact

    Endorses effort to streamline student transfer to four-year programs

    February 21—The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) is taking steps to make it easier for nurses to pursue advanced degrees, with the goal of improving patient outcomes across the Commonwealth. On January 28, the BHE endorsed a new Nursing Education Transfer Compact developed by the Massachusetts Action Coalition (MAAC), a partnership between the Organization of Nurse Leaders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. The goals of the Compact are to provide a “seamless, cost effective, timely and transparent pathway” from community college nursing programs, where students earn Associate degrees in nursing (ADN), to state universities and UMass campuses, where they can earn Bachelor of Science degrees in Nursing (BSN). Eligible students are those who have completed an ADN at a Massachusetts community college, passed the NCLEX-RN exam, and completed the requirements of the MassTransfer program, which allows students to transfer general education credits.

    Board members called on Commissioner Richard M. Freeland and campus presidents to work together to implement the voluntary compact beginning as early as fall 2014. “I’m very pleased with the Board’s action in support of this Compact,” said Freeland. “We know from research that nurses who advance their skills are better equipped to deal with the challenging medical cases presented by an aging population, within a health care system that is becoming more technologically complex. It’s good to see our public colleges and universities collaborating to design the clearer academic pathways nurses need in order to pursue higher education.”

    >> Read the press release (.PDF) 
    >> Learn more about the DHE's Nursing & Allied Health Initiative

  • Secretary Matthew Malone, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Commissioner Freeland hold up FAFSA Day football jerseys

    DHE Hosts "College Goal Sunday" Kickoff, Urges Students and Families to Seek Help with Financial Aid Forms

    Senator Elizabeth Warren joins state education leaders to highlight need for FAFSA completion; nearly 30% of students do not complete, may be forfeiting aid

    January 21—In keeping with the Patrick Administration's commitment to help low-income and first-generation students enroll and succeed in college, Education Secretary Matthew Malone and Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland joined U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren at Charlestown High School to urge Massachusetts students and families to seek help in filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at volunteer-staffed events set for January 26 and February 23, the Department of Higher Education announced.

    “It is critical to call attention to the free FAFSA help available for all Massachusetts students and families so that education can remain affordable,” said Education Secretary Matthew Malone. “It is heartbreaking to see accomplished and deserving students being denied financial aid because they couldn’t complete the FAFSA on their own. Our goal for College Goal Sunday is to make sure that every eligible student in Massachusetts has the help he or she needs to complete this essential application on time.”

    The 10th annual College Goal Sunday/FAFSA Day events will provide free assistance for students and families at 33 locations across the state. Without a completed FAFSA, many students forfeit their eligibility for federal, state and institutional aid as well as loans and work study opportunities.

    “I’m glad to join Commissioner Freeland and Secretary Malone today to encourage high school students and their families to participate in College Goal Sunday/FAFSA Day,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “There is money out there to help students across the Commonwealth pay for college, but they can’t access any of it if they don’t fill out the FAFSA application. Filling out the FAFSA can seem complicated, and that’s why there are financial aid professionals from across the state volunteering their time to help families. It’s important students know these resources are available so they don’t leave money on the table when they head off to college.”

    Senator Warren spoke at a College Goal Sunday/FAFSA Day kickoff event at Charlestown High, where she was joined by more than 200 students from Charlestown High School and Bunker Hill Community College. Secretary Malone presented Senator Warren with a College Goal Sunday football jersey, a token of the Commonwealth’s gratitude for her advocacy on behalf of working families and students burdened by college debt.

    A 2009 FAFSA Completion Project study commissioned by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) found that 45% of degree-seeking undergraduates at the state’s public colleges and universities did not complete a FAFSA. The findings led the BHE to require campuses to add FAFSA completion language to their admissions applications. Despite progress, advocates for low-income and first-generation students say it is still unacceptable to see that nearly 30% of all public higher education students in the Commonwealth may still be forfeiting precious financial aid dollars.

    “Data show that increasing FAFSA completion rates and making sure that students and families know about financial aid options has a positive impact on college completion rates,” said Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland. “It is in all of our interests – whether we are students, educators or employers – to make sure that students have the means to complete their degrees and certificates in a timely fashion. For many, federal aid is essential to reaching the goal of becoming a college graduate. College Goal Sunday can literally help them reach the goal line.”

    For more information please visit www.fafsaday.org
    >> Download the FAFSA Day brochure (.PDF)

  • Board of Higher Education Votes to Improve Math Remediation, Create New Math “Pathways” of Study

    Trustees encourage campuses to align math instruction with students’ career goals

    December 10—With 38% of public college and university students enrolled in non-credit remedial coursework during their first semester in college, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education has voted to encourage campus efforts to improve remedial math education, create new academic pathways for math instruction, and increase the number of students who are prepared to finish college and enter the workforce, the Department of Higher Education announced today.

    The Board approved a series of pilot initiatives, part of the Board’s Vision Project strategic agenda for public higher education, aimed at helping students advance more quickly to credit-bearing courses while obtaining the skills needed for college-level work. A task force convened by Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland reported in October that of the 11,000 community college students who took remedial math in fall 2010, 9,000 have yet to pass a credit-bearing math course. In Massachusetts, 60% of community college students, 22% of state university students, and 10% of UMass students take at least one remedial course, with the need for math remediation significantly outpacing that in writing and reading. Research indicates that students who are enrolled in remedial courses are much less likely to graduate from college.

    “Nationally, fewer than 25% of those who begin post-secondary education in developmental coursework ever acquire a degree”, the Task Force report noted.

    “This is indeed a national problem and Massachusetts is in the vanguard of states who are moving to improve remedial math instruction”, said Commissioner Freeland. “Our research indicates that students who take math that is appropriate for their interests and career goals are more successful in their courses and more likely to complete college. This should matter to everyone, given the Commonwealth’s growing need for high-skilled college graduates in the coming years.”

    >> Read the press release (.PDF)
    >> More info on DHE's STEM initiatives

  • MA Among Four States Chosen for National Push to Increase College Completion in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

    Complete College America cites Commonwealth’s “visionary leadership” in effort to raise graduation rates in STEM fields

    November 20—Massachusetts has won a grant from Complete College America (CCA) to aid the state’s efforts to increase the number of college students who complete degree and certificate programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, the Department of Higher Education announced today. The technical assistance grants awarded to Massachusetts, three other states and the District of Columbia are supported by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

    “Governor Deval Patrick, Commissioner Richard Freeland, and the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education have shown visionary leadership and an unwavering commitment to college completion,” Complete College America President Stan Jones said. “This ambitious plan will lead to more high-skilled, high-wage Massachusetts jobs by dramatically increasing the number of students with valuable STEM degrees. I’m confident that these efforts will not only strengthen Massachusetts, but they will serve as a blueprint for the rest of the country.”

    The grant will allow nine Massachusetts public campuses to design academic innovations through CCA’s Guided Pathways to Success (GPS) in STEM Careers Initiative. The goal of GPS is to help students persist in their studies and then graduate into promising STEM careers. During the two-year period of the grant, Complete College America will provide technical expertise to nine public campuses—eight community colleges and one state university—to help them develop STEM completion goals and analyze local labor market conditions and workforce needs. The initiative builds on progress already made through the Vision Project, Massachusetts’ strategic agenda for public higher education, and the Transformation Agenda, a multi-year, $20 million dollar project financed by the U.S. Department of Labor to create new community college training programs aimed at unemployed or underemployed adults.

    >> Read the press release (.PDF)
    >> More info on DHE's STEM initiatives