October 2021 Statewide Trustees Conference

On October 27, local board members, presidents, and institutional staff gathered for a virtual Trustee Convening held via Zoom. 

During the three hour event, DHE Commissioner Carlos Santiago and BHE Chair Chris Gabrieli addressed the attendees about the continued commitment to the Equity Agenda as well as the strategic priorities for the Massachusetts public higher education system. Trustees then moved to small-group breakout sessions where they heard from experts and discussed enrollment trends, federal higher education policy, student basic needs, and enterprise risk management. The agenda concluded with the announcement of the FY 2022 presidential evaluation criteria and timeline.

Conference Materials:

Emerging Federal Higher Education Policy

Over the past year, Congress and the Biden Administration have brought higher education to the forefront of political and policy discourse. From student loan forgiveness and free community college to Title IX enforcement changes, actions in Washington DC will have profound impacts on Massachusetts public higher education. During this breakout session, higher education policy experts discussed what is on the immediate policy horizon. Additionally, staffers for Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley provided insight into what is happening on Capitol Hill.

Student Basic Needs

Economic insecurity is one of the biggest boulders blocking the road to degree completion. While campus staff are increasingly aware of the impact on student success, basic needs security remains an emergent research field. As many public higher education institutions have offered anecdotal reports of increasing instances of student housing and food insecurity, the Department of Higher Education has been working to develop a strategic plan to respond to these needs. This breakout session explored the system-wide work that has been done as well as the role of trustees in ensuring that their institutions are part of the solution to addressing student basic needs.

Enterprise Risk Management and Higher Education

From mitigating and preventing active threats, being prepared for, and responding to, a variety of emergency scenarios, protecting against threats to and recovering from the loss of assets such reputation and financial goals, this workshop explored elements of institutional risk management and the responsibility of boards of trustees in oversight and implementation.

Enrollment Trends and Institutional Responses

Undergraduate enrollment in Massachusetts public higher education has been enduring a decline for several years. While driven in large part by expected demographic shifts in the Commonwealth, this decline has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic since March 2020, as well as a significant trend of declining persistence of enrolled students at many institutions. During this breakout session, DHE staff presented a preliminary snapshot of Fall 2021 enrollment numbers at the system, segment and institution levels, as well as a deeper dive into data from last fall and earlier academic years, exploring these enrollment and retention trends and their differential impact on racially minoritized students, who are the focus of DHE’s Equity Agenda. Additionally, the session explored ways that some institutions are supporting the data-driven decision making of campus stakeholders who have roles in enrollment strategy.

Conference Videos:

Meetings & Events

Oct 22

Board of Higher Education Meeting

Dec 3

Board of Higher Education Meeting

Jan 14

Board of Higher Education Meeting

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