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What's New at the DHE

Bridges to College FY15 Grants Announced

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. 

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. 

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

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 premiereIn 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

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

Request for Proposals: Public K-12/Higher Ed Partnerships to Offer Enrollment Opportunities for Students with Severe Disabilities

Funding opportunityAugust 6—The Executive Office of Education External link has announced the second in a series of grant funding opportunities to implement and enhance partnerships between high schools in public school districts and public institutions of higher education (IHEs) to offer Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment (ICE) for students, aged 18–22, with severe disabilities.  Public colleges and universities interested in seeking funding to support a year-long planning process to develop an inclusive concurrent program are encouraged to apply, using this request for proposals External link. Proposals are due no later than September 29, 2014.

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

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

Smiling IT worker holds laptop

The Technology Talent Initiative Workforce Plan (.PDF) 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 Plan (.PDF) 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

Massachusetts Higher Ed Leaders Join National Coalition Mobilizing in Support of Common Core Standards

Higher Ed for Higher Standards logoJune 11—Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Richard M. Freeland and a dozen public college and university presidents have joined more than 200 college and university leaders from 30 states in a new coalition, Higher Ed for Higher Standards External link, to mobilize in support of the Common Core State Standards, the Department of Higher Education announced today.

Postsecondary leaders view the Common Core, with its focus on college and career readiness, as critical for improving student success. In 2010, Massachusetts became the 27th state to adopt the internationally benchmarked standards in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics.

“I see this as an important opportunity to reaffirm our established support for Common Core,” said Commissioner Richard M. Freeland. “Here in the Commonwealth the standards are providing a strong foundation for new assessments and improved collaboration between our high schools and colleges.”

Massachusetts public higher education leaders joining the coalition include:

  • Robert V. Antonucci, President, Fitchburg State University
  • Gail Carberry, President, Quinsigamond Community College
  • Robert Caret, President, University of Massachusetts
  • Carole A. Cowan, President, Middlesex Community College
  • John L. Cox, President, Cape Cod Community College
  • Pam Y. Eddinger, President, Bunker Hill Community College
  • Lane A. Glenn, President, Northern Essex Community College
  • Ellen Kennedy, President, Berkshire Community College
  • Robert A. Martin, Interim President, Framingham State University
  • Patricia Maguire Meservey, President, Salem State University
  • J. Keith Motley, Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Elizabeth Preston, Interim President, Westfield State University

>> Read full press release (.PDF)

MA Board of Higher Education Adopts Nation’s 1st Statewide Civic Learning Policy for Public Campuses

Community Colleges, State Universities, UMass Campuses to Deepen Focus on Preparing Students for Engaged Citizenship

May 8—The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) has adopted a first-in-the-nation policy on civic learning for public college and university students and will work with the Commonwealth’s community colleges, state universities and University of Massachusetts campuses to incorporate civic learning as an "expected outcome" for undergraduate students beginning in the 2014-15 academic year, the Department of Higher Education announced today.

"With this vote the BHE urges Massachusetts' public campuses to reaffirm a shared commitment to the civic learning which is essential if students are to meet their future responsibilities as citizens," said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. "This work is at the core of our mission in higher education. It is a commitment that I believe should be met with urgency.”

“This is such an important development both for Massachusetts and for the entire nation,” said Carol Schneider, President of the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). “In the last few decades, even as more and more Americans have enrolled in higher education, policy leaders have fallen silent on the way college can and should help ensure a strong future for democracy. We have long needed determined leadership to make civic learning in college just as important as preparation for careers. Massachusetts is showing us the way forward by reconnecting college, careers and civic vitality.”

The new policy drew heavily on a report from a study group assigned to offer recommendations to guide campuses in the work of preparing future citizens.

"The Board's endorsement of this policy validates the commitment and hard work of the study group and its passion for ensuring that this great experiment called 'Democracy' survives and thrives for many years into the future,” said Daniel M. Asquino, chair of the Study Group for Civic Learning and Engagement and President of Mount Wachusett Community College. “We all must work toward the goal of learning and practicing the principles of civic learning and civic engagement."

This week’s unanimous Board action reaffirmed a March 2012 vote to add civic learning as a key outcome of the Vision Project, the state's strategic agenda to achieve national leadership among state systems of public higher education. With that vote, Massachusetts became the first state to commit to finding a way to actually measure the civic learning of its students using methodologies similar to those used to track academic progress.

At its meeting at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, the BHE voted to define the scope of civic learning as follows:

The knowledge component of civic learning includes an understanding of the United States, including its history and governmental traditions, other world societies, and the relationship(s) between and among these cultures and nations.
• The intellectual skills component refers to qualities of mind necessary to engage effectively in civic activities.
• The applied competencies component refers to the practical skills and capacities needed to engage effectively in civic activities.
• The values component refers to understanding the social and political values that are associated with democratic and civic institutions.

The Board encouraged the state’s public campuses to develop their own programs and curricula to foster civic learning as defined by the new policy, while also announcing a four-point action plan to advance the system wide goals through:

1) Increased attention to civic learning as a goal in campus strategic plans;
2) Facilitation and support for campus work in civic learning through conferences and meetings to share best practices and provide funding for campus projects;
3) Development of new ways to measure and report students' civic learning outcomes;
4) Collaboration with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a cross-sector plan for civic learning from kindergarten through college.

The Board’s vote builds upon a long history of fostering civic engagement through service learning and other opportunities for students at the state’s public campuses.

Now well into its second “Decade of Civic Engagement,” Mount Wachusett Community College is embedding civic learning into its culture and serving as a state and national model. During the FY13 academic year, 144,000 hours of service learning, volunteerism, internships, co-ops, practicums and field experience were performed, with a value of $3.24 million to the North Central Massachusetts region.

Next fall, Fitchburg State University, in partnership with Mount Wachusett, will use the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ LEAP VALUE rubrics to develop a new means of evaluating and assessing students’ civic learning.

The Massachusetts Maritime Academy, at the urging of its own students, has made civic engagement experiences mandatory for all freshmen.

Ten public campuses – including all five campuses of the University of Massachusetts – have received the Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, an honor given to only 163 public campuses in the U.S.

A complete copy of the Board's Civic Learning policy is available here.

4th Annual “29 Who Shine” Awards Kick Off 2014 Commencement Season

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

May 1—The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education has announced the Class of 2014 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 academic achievements and civic contributions to the Commonwealth. Profiles, including home towns and student photos, are available here.

Among this year’s honorees who will attend the State House awards ceremony at 12 noon on May 8th are student veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, students who achieved academic honors despite becoming homeless, and students who launched local organizations to combat sexual assault on campus, promote autism awareness, and create lending libraries for students who cannot afford to buy textbooks. The “29” also include graduates who taught computer skills to domestic abuse survivors, conducted medical research to limit the spread of infectious diseases, and volunteered in local nursing homes and schools.

“The 29 Who Shine represent the best and the brightest of our public higher education system,” said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. “I’m inspired by how these graduates are giving back to their communities and at the same, for many, also working full time to support their families. And even with all they have going on these students achieved high academic honors. These are the types of people who you want as your neighbor and I’m very proud of each of them.”

Each 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 a strong academic record and a history of civic engagement.

“Our public college and university graduates are ‘here to learn and here to stay,’” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “These outstanding individuals are citizens of the state who plan to build their lives and livelihoods here in Massachusetts. They have delivered a big return on the taxpayers’ investment in their education and we are delighted to honor their achievements.”

The May 8th awards ceremony begins at noon at the Grand Staircase at the Massachusetts State House. The festivities will be attended by campus presidents and UMass chancellors, legislators, students, family members and faculty. Each student honoree has selected a faculty or staff mentor who provided guidance and support throughout the student’s years in college. The faculty will be honored at a celebratory luncheon sponsored by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, following the awards ceremony.

Additionally, publishers of most daily newspapers across the state have donated full or half-page advertisements to honor the students as a group on May 8. Supporters of the 29 Who Shine Publishers Campaign include The Boston Globe, GateHouse Media New England, Springfield Republican, Lowell Sun, Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

>> More information on the 29 Who Shine Awards

Op-Ed: Are our students ready for college?

Mitchell Chester speaking, from the Boston Globe Richard Freeland speaking, from the Boston Foundation

By Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Richard Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education

The Boston GlobeMarch 27—Massachusetts’s chief economic asset in the global economy is its unparalleled brain trust — the preparation and production of a highly educated citizenry and workforce. As a national leader in education, the Commonwealth has seen its elementary and secondary students rise to the occasion time and again with increased rates of proficiency on state and national exams.

But beneath the surface of this strong student performance, a more nuanced picture emerges. Nearly 31 percent of Massachusetts’s public high school graduates who enroll at one of the state’s public colleges or universities — including 65 percent of all community college students — place into one or more noncredit-bearing, remedial courses. Achievement gaps between students of color and white students are higher than the national average, as are the gaps between the college enrollment rates of students of color and white students. In a state where 72 percent of the jobs will require college degrees or training by 2020, the fact that so many students are deemed unprepared for college should set off alarms.

Educators need new assessment tools that guide them in instituting earlier and more effective interventions to support struggling students. ... >> Continues on BostonGlobe.com

800 Lawrence High School Juniors Invited to “Go Public!” at UMass, State Universities, Community Colleges

Teens Hear From Public College Students Studying Math & Science, Get College Planning Advice

April 17—Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland joined campus admissions representatives, student ambassadors and faculty from Massachusetts community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses to promote math and science programs and opportunities for students in the state’s public higher education system. He urged 800 Lawrence High juniors to “finish strong” in their senior year in order to lay the groundwork for college success.

>> Read the press release (.PDF)

>> Learn more about "Go Public!"

Board of Higher Education Seeking Public Comment on Program Review Policy

Policy streamlines program review process for Massachusetts-based, private higher education institutions in good standing

Closeup of a pen being used to sign a letter

March 20—The Board of Higher Education is seeking public comment on the 2014 BHE Program Review Policy seeks to streamline the program review process by allowing for expedited internal and external reviews of new programs proposed by Massachusetts-based, private higher education institutions that are accredited without sanction by NEASC and otherwise in good standing with state and federal authorities. A description of the purpose and intent behind the proposed new policy, along with a summary of the proposed changes, is included in the Board of Higher Education Motion, BHE 14-04.

All comments must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 11, 2014. The BHE is expected to vote on adopting the policy at its regular monthly meeting scheduled for May 6, 2013.

>> More info, including instructions for submitting comments

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

Commissioner Freeland speaking from a podiumFebruary 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

MA Board of Higher Education Supports New Nursing Compact

Endorses Effort to Streamline Student Transfer to Four-Year Programs

Salem State Sim LabPhoto credit: Salem State University

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

Department of Higher Education 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 Forfeit Aid

Senator Elizabeth Warren at FAFSA Day
Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses the crowd at Charlestown High School on College Goal Sunday

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)

MA 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

Pen with paper

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

Winners of the grant pose in front of Vision Project bannerGrant makers and recipients gather at the Department of Higher Education. From left: Carole Cowan, President, Middlesex Community College; Richard Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education; Stan Jones, President, Complete College America; Jack Sbrega, President, Bristol Community College; William Messner, President, Holyoke Community College; Dale Allen, Vice President for Community Engagement, Quinsigamond Community College; and Dominique Raymond, Vice President, State Alliance Relations, Complete College America.

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

Governor’s STEM Advisory Council releases STEM Plan 2.0

STEM Plan 2.0 Provides Increased Focus on STEM Education as the Engine for Creating Growth and Opportunity Across the Commonwealth

Cover of STEM Plan 2.0November 13—Governor Deval Patrick today announced a renewed strategic plan for tying economic development to educational enhancement in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) at the tenth annual Massachusetts STEM Summit at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. STEM Plan 2.0, entitled A Foundation for the Future: Massachusetts’ Plan for Excellence in STEM Education: Expanding the Pipeline for All (.PDF: 3MB), with its refined goals and improved data metrics, sets direction for the years ahead and highlights concrete strategies for use locally to catalyze action around the goals of the Plan in order to prepare the Commonwealth’s residents to be STEM literate. This report is the second in a planned series of periodic reports (every three years) to track progress against the goals and to set new standards.

>> Download STEM Plan 2.0 (.PDF: 3MB)
>> Read the press release External link
>> More info on DHE's STEM initiatives

Student Speakers Urge Worcester Teens to "Go Public!" at Community Colleges, State Universities and UMass

Students from Gear Up on stage at Springfield Central High School
Students representing several of Massachusetts' public colleges and universities take the stage at the Worcester "Go Public!" event. Photo courtesy of Worcester State University.

November 12—Students from Massachusetts community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses came to Worcester’s North High School to promote science, technology, engineering and math – the STEM fields – to 400 students from four of the city’s high schools.

The event featured six student speakers from UMass Medical School, UMass Lowell, Quinsigamond Community College, Mount Wachusett Community College, Fitchburg State University and Worcester State University. Following the auditorium program, students met with campus admissions representatives to learn more about careers in fields such as medicine, robotics, chemistry and engineering. They also tried their hands at STEM-related activities, such as extracting the DNA from strawberries.

The Worcester event was co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and GEAR UP, a federally funded program serving more than 7,000 students in seven high poverty districts (Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, Lawrence, Boston, New Bedford, & Holyoke) with the goal of improving high school graduation rates and increasing enrollment and success in college.

>> More info on Go Public

DHE Issues Request for Proposals for STEM Starter Academy

On October 24th, 2013, the DHE released a Request for Proposals to the 15 community colleges for the STEM Starter Academy, which commits $4,250,000 to Massachusetts Community Colleges to address the needs of students who are interested in pursuing STEM pathway programs of study, yet who lack the academic preparation needed to succeed. Proposals may be submitted for student support services and activities, student stipends, or structured STEM programs of study. Proposed projects will build on current campus initiatives, or initiatives from other Massachusetts Community Colleges that can be quickly replicated. Projects should be designed so as to be easily scalable to other campuses.

Applications are due by 5:00pm on Monday, November 25 and should be submitted to Kathy Taylor, Director of Office of Workforce Coordination, at STEMSA@bhe.mass.edu. Award notification will occur by December 20. All funds must be expended by June 30, 2014.

>> STEM Starter Academy Request for Proposals (.DOC)
>> STEM Starter Academy Frequently Asked Questions (.DOC)

DHE Releases 2013 Vision Project Annual Report

Second Annual Report Highlights Signs of Campus Progress on Graduation Rate Goals, New Efforts to Reform Costly Remedial Education Programs

Cover of the Within Our Sights reportOctober 21—In keeping with the Patrick Administration’s commitment to invest in public higher education, Massachusetts community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses are reporting initial signs of progress in their efforts to graduate more students and better prepare them for jobs in the Commonwealth’s knowledge-based industries, according to a major new report released today by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.

Within Our Sights: Inside Campus Efforts to Achieve National Leadership in Higher Education is the second in a series of annual reports tracking progress through the Vision Project, a Board of Higher Education-approved strategic plan to achieve national leadership among state systems of public higher education. Across Massachusetts, public campuses are working to expand college access, raise graduation rates, improve the quality of student learning, align degree and certificate programs with the needs of local employers, prepare future citizens, close achievement gaps and pursue research that drives economic development.

>> Download the “Within Our Sights” report
>> Download the press release
>> More info

UMass, Community Colleges, and State Universities Urge Springfield High School Students to "Go Public!"

Students from Gear Up on stage at Springfield Central High School

September 25—Students from Massachusetts community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses gathered at Springfield’s Central High School on Wednesday, September 25 to promote science, technology, engineering and math – the STEM fields – to 450 students from three of the city’s high schools.

The new effort to promote STEM majors and career training opportunities is part of the statewide “Go Public!” campaign to highlight academic excellence at the state’s 29 public campuses. The morning event at Central High featured six student speakers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Westfield State University, and Springfield Tech, Holyoke and Greenfield Community Colleges. School corridors were filled with hands-on interactive activities that gavestudents from Central, Putnam Voc Tech, and the Springfield High School of Science and Technology the chance to learn more about careers in nursing, robotics, chemistry and mechanical engineering.

Governor Deval L. Patrick videotaped a personal message to students, urging them to complete four years of high school math and three years of lab sciences in preparation for college-level work. “You might design video games or conduct research in a cancer lab,” Patrick says in his message. “Whatever you dream – you can realize it when you ‘Go Public.’”

Massachusetts Public Colleges and Universities, Regional Campus Consortia Win $7.5 Million to Close Achievement Gaps, Raise Graduation Rates

Commissioner Freeland and Secretary Malone announce $7.5 million in Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund grants at Roxbury Community College
Commissioner Freeland and Secretary Malone announce Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund grants at Roxbury Community College. Photo credit: KulbakoPhoto.com.

September 23—Massachusetts education officials joined leaders of the state’s public colleges and universities today to announce the 3rd annual Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund grants designed to spur innovations and improve educational outcomes in public higher education.

The grants totaling $7.5 million were announced at Roxbury Community College (RCC), recipient along with the University of Massachusetts Boston of a consortia grant to help student who transfer to UMass from RCC remain on track to complete their programs of study.

“In many ways, this is higher education’s own ‘Race to the Top,’” said Education Secretary Matt Malone. “A number of these grants are being used to scale up programs that have proven track records. We’re not just throwing money at problems; we are rewarding campuses that have spent money wisely and have results to show for it.”

“These grants give campuses the tools to make real change in the lives of students,” said Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland. “I was impressed with the high caliber of the proposals we received this year, as was the panel of national experts who helped us decide on the awards.”

>> Press release (.PDF)
>> Performance Incentive Fund FY 2014 Fact Sheet (.PDF)

Community College Dorms in MA Now a Possibility

Two female students smile as they carry moving boxes into a residence hall

June 18—The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) today approved a policy change (.PDF) to allow consideration of campus proposals to build residence halls at any of the state’s 15 community colleges. The measure was approved on a unanimous vote at the Board’s last scheduled meeting of the year.

BHE policy in effect since 1980 precluded consideration of residence halls at community colleges. The vote to change the policy establishes Massachusetts as the 40th state to permit the construction of student housing on community college campuses. Nationwide, 22 percent of community colleges offer student housing, mostly at medium-sized institutions located in rural areas. The concept is neither new nor novel; other states have more than 20 years’ experience in offering and managing student housing at two-year institutions. The overall percentage of community college students housed in residence halls, however, remains relatively small.

“I want to stress that this is not a decision to initiate a program of student housing construction at community colleges,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “Rather, this is a vote to be prepared to consider proposals in cases where they may enhance the educational experience of our students.”

The Department’s research indicates that residential life at community colleges has a positive impact on academic outcomes such as graduation rates. Students who live on campus are more fully integrated into college life, resulting in overall higher levels of academic achievement. A similar, positive association between dorms and academic achievement has long been substantiated at four-year colleges and universities.

“Among all community colleges across the nation, we see a statistically significant association between the existence of student housing and increased graduation rates,” said Carlos Santiago, Ph.D., Senior Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs at the Department of Higher Education.

To date, only one Massachusetts community college has expressed public interest in a student housing proposal. Mount Wachusett Community College, located in Gardner, has indicated that it would investigate the feasibility of establishing a residential life program and facility if the Board declared its willingness to consider such a proposal.

In other action on Tuesday, the BHE approved a policy (.PDF) requiring every public campus to develop an academic credit evaluation policy regarding a student's military training, coursework, and experience for academic credit, in accordance with the VALOR Act External link signed by Governor Patrick in May 2012.

>> Policy Regarding the Establishment of Student Housing at Community Colleges (.PDF)

Ten Community Colleges Receive Rapid Response Grants to Target "Skills Gap"

Commissioner Freeland, wearing safety goggles, speaks with employees in a warehouse at Web Industries who are receiving on-site classroom training delivered by MassBay Community College educators.
Commissioner Freeland (right) speaks with employees at Web Industries who are receiving on-site classroom training delivered by MassBay Community College educators. Photo credit: Amanda Bishop.

May 28—Ten Massachusetts community colleges have been awarded the state’s first-ever Rapid Response grants to respond to education and workforce training needs within 90 days of a company’s request, the Patrick-Murray Administration announced today. The campus recipients of the grants—Berkshire, Bunker Hill, Cape Cod, Greenfield, MassBay, Middlesex, Mount Wachusett, North Shore, Northern Essex and Roxbury Community Colleges—were announced today during a tour of Web Industries in Holliston, where MassBay Community College has just launched English as a Second Language (ESL) and computer literacy training for the company’s multi-lingual employees.

"A stronger community college system is good for students, employers and the whole Commonwealth," said Governor Deval Patrick. "These additional resources will further accelerate this transformation, and help get people the training they need to advance in the workplace.”

The grant program reflects the goals of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s community college agenda, specifically the commitment to create new opportunities for locally developed, regionally specific jobs and skills training. The campus recipients of Rapid Response grants will work with health care, manufacturing, engineering and clean energy companies, all of whom require training and educational advancement opportunities that reflect specific industry requirements or business challenges.

“These grants offer a lifeline to employees who are eager for training but who may lack the means to advance their education,” said Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland. “For our community colleges and local business and industry, the grants offer a chance to work together in common cause, building those ‘middle skills’ so essential to meaningful employment opportunities and industry growth.”

>> Press release (.PDF)
>> Summary of Rapid Response grant winners (.PDF)

Governor Patrick, Education Leaders To Salute Community College, State University and UMass Graduates for Academic, Civic Achievements

Image of 29 Who Shine banner hanging on the front of the Massachusetts State House
Each year, a "29 Who Shine" banner drapes the State House for the week of the ceremony.

May 2—The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education kicked off the 2013 college commencement season by honoring the winners of the 29 Who Shine Awards, recognizing 29 public college and university students for their academic achievements and civic contributions to the Commonwealth. The students, one from each of the state’s 29 community college, state university and UMass campuses, were recognized by Governor Patrick in a State House ceremony on Thursday, May 2, 2013.

This year’s honorees include five students who have created non-profit organizations and/or small businesses in their local communities, and one student who hopes to market computer inventions for which he holds patents. One third of the students are graduating with degrees in high-demand fields for which Massachusetts has a critical need for employees, such as the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), health care and finance sectors. An additional one third of the group are adult students, age 25 or older. Four are parents.

“Our data tell us that one year after graduation, nine out of every ten public college and university students remain here in Massachusetts, living and working or furthering their studies,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “These students truly represent the future citizenry and workforce of the state. They are very high caliber, a sign that our future appears to be in good hands.” Each of the student honorees has chosen a faculty or staff mentor who provided them with motivational support and intellectual guidance on campus. These mentors will be honored at a luncheon in the Great Hall of Flags, sponsored by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, to be held immediately after the awards ceremony.

Across the state, publishers of more than a dozen daily newspapers honored the 29 Who Shine with donated full and half-page advertisements running on May 2. Additionally, Clear Channel Communications, owners of JAM’N 94.5 and KISS-108 radio stations in Boston, donated free radio advertising during the month of April to honor the students.

>> Meet the 29 Who Shine

Governor Patrick Announces Scholarships to 800 Massachusetts Students Pursuing High-Demand Careers

Bunker Hill Community College students walking to class
Students in the chemistry lab at UMass Boston.

March 26—Governor Deval Patrick today joined Education Secretary Matthew Malone, Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland, UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley and 100 students to announce the Commonwealth’s new High-Demand Scholarships, awarded to students pursuing careers for which the state has an urgent need for skilled talent. The Commonwealth’s knowledge-based economy relies on a high-knowledge, well-skilled workforce for continued growth, and these scholarships will help ensure that Massachusetts has the talent needed to remain competitive in the 21st century.

“These scholarships encourage students to pursue studies in the high-needs fields where we have thousands of job openings,” said Governor Patrick. “Step by step, we are better aligning our public colleges and universities to meet the workforce needs of our growing economy.”

High-Demand Scholarships will assist students majoring in the Commonwealth’s growing health care, science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), business and finance sectors, and those planning careers in fields like computer science, engineering, nursing and the life sciences. Of the available scholarships, 52 percent were awarded to UMass students, qualifying them for spring semester scholarships of $3,250 each. Twenty-eight percent of the scholarships were awarded to state university students, eligible to receive $2,750 each and 20 percent of the awards went to community college students, who will receive $2,000 each this semester. The average GPA for a High-Demand Scholarship recipient is 3.76, and more than half the recipients have demonstrated high financial need. In order to qualify, students must attend one of the state’s public institutions.

>> View the fact sheet on the 2013 High-Demand Scholarships (.PDF)
>> Read the press release External link
>> Watch the announcement ceremony on YouTube External link

Former Hispanic College Fund CEO, Former Boston Public Library CFO Join DHE Staff

Carlos Santiago (left), incoming Senior Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs; Sean Nelson (right), Deputy Commissioner for Administration and Finance
Headshot of Carlos Santiago Headshot of Sean Nelson

March 17—The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education announced today that Dr. Carlos Santiago, former Chief Executive Officer of the Hispanic College Fund, will join the Department effective April 8 as Senior Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs. The Department also announced that Sean Nelson, former CFO of the Boston Public Library, the nation’s oldest public library, has assumed the position of Deputy Commissioner for Administration and Finance.

Both Santiago and Nelson will work closely with Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland to advance the goals of the Vision Project, the Commonwealth’s strategic agenda to achieve national leadership among state systems of public higher education.

Prior to leading the Hispanic College Fund, Dr. Santiago served as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee for six years. He worked closely with (now former) Governor Jim Doyle to enhance the stature of UW-Milwaukee as the state's 2nd largest research institution. As a result of these efforts, $365 million in public and private investments were secured for new campus construction and other initiatives. UW-Milwaukee also opened two new schools, the School of Public Health and the School of Freshwater Sciences, and expanded doctoral programs by one-third during Dr. Santiago’s tenure.

Sean Nelson, recently named Deputy Commissioner for Administration and Finance, oversaw the Boston Public Library’s $41 million annual operating budget and $15 million capital budget in concert with the strategic planning goals and initiatives of the Library and its board of trustees.

In addition to his four years as CFO at the BPL, Nelson has served as the Chief Financial Officer for the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety and as a Fiscal Policy Analyst at the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. A New Bedford native, he received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and his Master’s in Public Policy from Tufts University.

>> Press release (.PDF)

Board of Higher Education Joins Board of Elementary & Secondary Education in Defining College and Career “Readiness”

Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland speaks while members of the Board of Higher Education and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education look on.
Commissioner Freeland speaks at the January 29 joint meeting of the Boards of Elementary & Secondary Education and Higher Education, which featured a collaborative discussion of the draft definition prior to the individual Boards' votes in February and March.

March 12—The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) voted today to accept a new definition of what it takes for students to become ready for life after high school. The BHE action follows a “yes” vote on the state’s new college & career readiness definition taken by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on February 26th.

Voting on the definition marks the first time that the two boards overseeing the state’s K-12 schools and public colleges and universities have partnered in formal agreement on what it means to be prepared for success in college and in the workplace. The three-page definition is intended to provide better coordination between schools and colleges, with the goal of aligning curriculum and expectations for students.

“The Commonwealth has defined a set of learning competencies, intellectual capacities and experiences essential to all students to become lifelong learners, positive contributors to their families, workplaces and communities, and successfully engaged citizens of a global 21st century,” the new Massachusetts Definition of College and Career Readiness (.PDF) reads. The definition identifies the ability to read and comprehend “sufficiently complex texts,” to write effectively when using and/or analyzing sources, and to be able to build knowledge through research as essential competencies. Also included in the definition are workplace skills, such as the ability to accept direction and criticism, and qualities that students should be able to demonstrate, such as critical thinking skills and the ability to direct and evaluate their own learning.

“It is more important than ever to know what it takes to be prepared for college and career success, and today’s vote means that students and families will have information that they need to make the best choices about high school and beyond,” said Education Secretary Matthew Malone. “I applaud the leadership of Commissioner Chester, Commissioner Freeland, and our Boards of Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education, and commend them for working together and taking this important step forward.”

The definition emerged from ongoing work by the Departments of Higher Education and Elementary & Secondary Education to close the gap between what students are expected to have mastered before receiving a high school diploma, and the knowledge and skills needed to be successful after they graduate.

>> Press release on Board of Higher Education vote (.PDF)
>> Massachusetts Definition of College and Career Readiness (.PDF)

In-State Tuition for DACA Beneficiaries

Go Public: Discover your community colleges, state universities and UMassNovember 19—Governor Deval Patrick announced today that, under existing Board of Higher Education policy, certain young immigrants who meet criteria under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be considered eligible for in-state tuition at the Commonwealth’s 29 public college and university campuses, provided that they meet residency requirements.

>> View the fact sheet on In-State Tuition for DACA Beneficiaries (.PDF)

Massachusetts Student Veterans Encourage Fellow Vets to "Go Public!" at Community Colleges, State Universities and UMass

Go Public: Discover your community colleges, state universities and UMassNovember 2—The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education today announced that Massachusetts community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses will host a dedicated GO PUBLIC! event for prospective students who are military veterans on Thursday, November 8 at 6 p.m. at Bunker Hill Community College. The GO PUBLIC! program is part of a statewide series of events to promote the academic excellence and value of public higher education. The program will be hosted by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). Veterans Services Secretary Coleman Nee and Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland will also address students during the program.

The GO PUBLIC! program is part of a statewide series of events to promote the academic excellence and value of public higher education. This November event will feature three student veterans who will share their personal experiences in making the transition from military service to college life, and marks the first time that the entire public higher education system has united in a single, coordinated effort to promote its programs and opportunities directly through veteran-to-veteran information sharing.

Fifty-eight percent of Massachusetts veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill currently choose to attend a community college, state university or UMass campus (see attached file for detailed enrollment information). Among them are the three students who will address prospective student veterans at the November 8th event: Matthew Hobert, Bunker Hill Community College; Daniel Leenhouts, Framingham State University; and Lindsey Fairweather, UMass Boston. Also attending the November 8 GO PUBLIC! event at Bunker Hill Community College are admissions and veterans’ benefits staff to provide information to prospective students. The event is free and open to all U.S. military personnel and family members.

>> More info on Go Public
>> Press release on Bunker Hill Community College event (.PDF)

Enrollments Up at Public Campuses Despite Smaller High School Population

Bunker Hill Community College students walking to class
Photo courtesy of Bunker Hill Community College.

New data analysis released by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education confirms that, while the state’s high school population is slowly declining, many public campuses across the state continue to see a rise in undergraduate enrollment. Much of the growth is being fueled by increases in the numbers of Latino students and older students who are seeking college degrees, the data show.

The 2012 Early Enrollment Report presented to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education on October 16 reveals significant one-year enrollment growth at five campuses: Framingham State University (6.2%), University of Massachusetts Lowell (5%), Fitchburg State University (4.3%), Bunker Hill Community College (4%) and Northern Essex Community College (3.9%).

“The data tell an important story, namely that many of our campuses continue to see remarkable growth while also serving as critical gateways for under-served populations,” said Commissioner Richard M. Freeland. “We think these statistics likely reflect the conditions of a tight labor market and the increasing economic pressure to obtain college credentials in order to better compete for jobs.”

>> Download PPT

Latino students, adults 25+ driving enrollment trends

The Massachusetts public higher education system continues to see substantial growth in student enrollment within two specific population groups: Latino students and adult students aged 25 and over. Between 2008 and 2011:

  • New enrollment by students 25 years old or older increased by 21%, compared to 6% for students below the age of 25. One in four students in the public higher education system is now at or above the age of 25.
  • New Latino student enrollment at Massachusetts public colleges and universities increased 50%. The enrollment of non-Latino students increased 7% during the same period.

At the same time, the overall slowing of enrollment growth implies that Massachusetts will have to work much harder to reach its goal of producing more college graduates who are needed to fill jobs in the state’s knowledge-based employment sectors. Improving college graduation rates is a key element in the Vision Project, the Commonwealth’s strategic plan for academic excellence in higher education.

Please Complete Our Survey on College and Career Readiness

Update: This survey has closed. We will publish results soon.

Go Public: Discover your community colleges, state universities and UMassThe Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are seeking feedback from educators, parents, students, communities, employers, workers, the general public and all related stakeholders on a DRAFT definition for Massachusetts on what it means to be "College and Career Ready." Our goal is to capture the broadest possible feedback across Massachusetts’ P-16 environment while arriving at a definition that is clear, reflects our educational goals and values, and is workable for stakeholders. The deadline for responses is 5:00 pm ET on November 2, 2012.

>> Proceed to the survey

Fall "Go Public!" Events Encourage High School Students to Consider Massachusetts' Public Colleges and Universities

Go Public: Discover your community colleges, state universities and UMassGo Public! is a new campaign organized by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education in partnership with Massachusetts' 29 public colleges and universities. The fall 2012 series features events at local high schools as well as a special Boston-area event for prospective students who are military veterans.

Each event will be hosted by a leading member of the Legislature and will feature student speakers who tell of their experience attending a community college, state university or UMass campus. Governor Patrick has videotaped a special message to high school students which will also be shared at the events. Campuses will run financial aid and career planning seminars for students and their families. Admissions officers from many of the state’s public colleges and universities will be on site at each event to answer questions.

>> View the schedule

Department of Higher Education Issues "Time to Lead," the First Annual Vision Project Report

Time to Lead: The Need for Excellence in Public Higher Education

September 20—The Department of Higher Education (DHE), joined by state education, legislative and business leaders, released today a new report on the changing role of public higher education in Massachusetts. The first annual Vision Project report, entitled Time to Lead: The Need for Excellence in Public Higher Education, offers the first comprehensive view of where the Commonwealth’s public higher education system stands, in comparison to other states, on a number of key indicators including graduation rates, student learning and workforce development. At a time when more students than ever are enrolling in public higher education in Massachusetts, the Patrick-Murray Administration is committed to ensuring that all students in the Commonwealth have access to a world-class public higher education system.

Why is it "Time to Lead"? Watch the official video:

>> More about Time to Lead
>> Commissioner Freeland's remarks from the launch event
>> More Vision Project News

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