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What's New at the DHE

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

LAWRENCE – April 17, 2014 – 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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