Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Information and Resources

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Information and Resources

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Performance Measurement Reporting System

Performance Measurement Reporting System

A new data tool to prompt constructive conversations about performance and accountability between and among DHE, our public colleges and universities, legislators and others, and to contribute to the discovery of insights that point to actions that lead to results.

our policy work

Strategic Initiatives and Programs

Strategic Initiatives and Programs

Our portfolio of projects and programs designed to transform Massachusetts’ higher education landscape and deliver benefits for our stakeholders.

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A New Vision: Equity

A New Vision: Equity

Collaboration and research is underway to produce a new systemwide strategic plan, launching in 2020, that places equity for underrepresented populations as the top performance and policy priority for Massachusetts public higher education.

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Meetings & Events

Jun 7

Academic Affairs & Student Success Advisory Council Meeting

Jun 7

Strategic Planning Advisory Council Meeting

Jun 7

Finance and Administrative Policy Advisory Council Meeting

What’s New

  • CommissionerSearch
  • Equity-Lumina Announcement
  • PublicCommentPeriod

    DHE/DPH Joint Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Surveys’ Draft Report Published for Public Comment

    The Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Surveys established by M.G.L. c. 6 § 168D and co-chaired by DHE and DPH has published a draft report for public comment prior to finalization by the Commissioner of Higher Education. The public comment period will begin on Friday, February 11, 2022, and written comments will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 4, 2022.

    In January 2021, Governor Baker signed An Act Relative to Sexual Violence on Higher Education Campuses, (Chapter 337 of the Acts of 2020). The “2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law” established the DHE/DPH Joint Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Surveys to, “develop model questions for use by institutions in sexual misconduct climate surveys … [and to] provide the model questions to the commissioner of higher education with related recommendations respecting the content, timing and application of the surveys … [which] shall include, but not be limited to, recommendations on achieving statistically valid response rates and on addressing non-response bias.” M.G.L. c. 6 § 168D (d)(1).

    Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 6 § 168 (d)(3)(iii) and (v), the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Surveys shall “provide opportunities for written comment from organizations that work directly with survivors of sexual misconduct to align questions with a trauma-informed approach and to ensure the adequacy and appropriateness of the proposed content [and] provide opportunities for written comment from advocates to ensure that the survey impartially addresses campus sexual misconduct.”

    Therefore, as part of the public comment process contemplated by the 2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law and to ensure the report, model questions and recommendations are trauma-informed and equitable, the DHE has opened a 21-day public comment period to collect public comments on the draft report for review and consideration by the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Surveys to inform the Commissioner of Higher Education’s review, prior to the Commissioner finalizing the model questions and related recommendations.

    Written comments must be provided in electronic format via email to with the subject line “TF-SMS Draft Report” and in the form of tracked changes where applicable, by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 4, 2022.

  • Commissioner Viewpoint

    Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago to step down at close of the 2021-22 academic year

    BOSTON – Wednesday, January 12, 2022 – The Department of Higher Education announced today that Higher Education Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago has informed the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) that he will step down from his current position at the end of the 2021-22 academic year in June.

    He will assist the transition to new leadership of the Department, as well as the completion of the Strategic Plan for Racial Equity that was launched in 2021. The search committee process for his successor is expected to begin in February.

    “After forty years of engagement as a faculty member, researcher, and academic administrator, it is an opportune time for me to assist the BHE in identifying new leadership and ensuring the completion of the Commonwealth’s first 10-year strategic plan to achieve racial equity in higher education,”said Commissioner Dr. Carlos E. Santiago. “It has been an honor to work with the dedicated staff of the DHE and the exceptional colleagues, faculty, staff, and students of our higher education institutions in Massachusetts.”

    “Commissioner Santiago has been a visionary leader who has sharpened our strategic focus on closing gaps of access and success in higher education, especially for first-generation college goers and students of color. Under his leadership the Department and Board has received well-deserved national recognition for its work developing and launching the Equity Agenda,” said Education Secretary James Peyser.

    "For almost seven years, the Commonwealth has been most fortunate to have Dr. Santiago as our Commissioner of Higher Education,”said Chris Gabrieli, chair of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. “Leveraging his deep academic and leadership experience and credibility, he has addressed two huge agendas at the same time. He has steadfastly helped our institutions weather the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic while also laying the foundation for a nation-leading agenda focused on racial justice, fairness, and opportunity through educational equity. The widespread recognition of this work positions our system for sustained progress in the years ahead.”

    Dr. Santiago was appointed Commissioner of Higher Education on July 1, 2015 by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. In this capacity, he has worked closely with the Board and with the leadership of the three segments of the public higher education system in the Commonwealth, including the community colleges, state universities, and the University of Massachusetts.

    Under his leadership, the Department of Higher Education has:

    • Launched a statewide effort to address racial inequities in public higher education, winning both national recognition as a TIE (Talent, Innovation, Equity) state and $1.2 million in Lumina Foundation funding to dismantle systemic barriers to student success;
    • Greatly expanded early college opportunities to enable thousands of Massachusetts high school students to enroll in college courses and accumulate college credit for free;
    • Worked to increase financial aid through the new MassGrant Plus program, which expanded assistance to thousands of public college and university students;
    • Developed a statewide, seamless system of transfer from community colleges to four-year universities, in part by creating over 13,000 course equivalencies;
    • Worked with public campuses to eliminate costly and ineffective developmental education programs that were barriers to students’ academic progression toward degree attainment;
    • Promoted a multi-agency approach to address college student homelessness, food insecurity, and other basic needs;
    • Created a new system of financial assessment of independent colleges and universities to identify and monitor institutions at risk of imminent closure.

    In recognition of these achievements and its commitment to racial equity, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education was named the 2021 Exceptional Agency of the Year by the State Higher Education Officers Association (SHEEO) in November.

    "Commissioner Santiago has been an advocate for students throughout his career,"said Robert Anderson, Ph.D., President of the State Higher Education Offices Association (SHEEO). "His current focus on state policy levers as a means of improving student access, success and the closure of equity gaps has benefited all of Massachusetts and those it serves. Personally, I have turned to Commissioner Santiago numerous times for counsel during his tenure as Chairman of the SHEEO executive committee and will miss his service in this capacity. He has left an indelible impact through his service to students, state and nation which will benefit us all for years to come."

    Dr. Santiago previously served as the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), becoming the first leader of Puerto Rican descent to lead a major U.S. research institution. During his tenure he was tasked with leading UWM into the ranks of Tier I research universities, which the university attained in 2015. Dr. Santiago also served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY) and functioned as the chief operating officer of the campus. He was named a Collins Fellow for distinguished service to SUNY-Albany in 1996.

    Dr. Santiago was professor of economics at UWM and SUNY-Albany and holds a Ph.D. in economics from Cornell University. A labor economist, he is the author or co-author of six books and has published dozens of articles and book reviews, of which many focus on economic development and the changing socioeconomic status of Latinos in the United States. His most recent book, published in 2018, is entitled Puerto Ricans in the United States: A Contemporary Portrait (with E. Acosta-Belen).

    Dr. Santiago was recently selected to serve as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) and was named to the Board of the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Dr. Santiago also serves on the Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian Museum of African American Culture and History. On two separate occasions, in 1996 and 2011, Santiago was named one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the United Stated by Hispanic Business.

  • Commissioner Viewpoint
  • SHEEOAgencyAward

    DHE Named 2021 Exceptional Agency of the Year by National Peers

    At the kickoff of the SHEEO Higher Education Policy Conference in November 2021, DHE was delighted to receive the recognition of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association as the Exceptional Agency of the Year for our leadership in establishing and advancing the Equity Agenda

    The Exceptional Agency Award is presented to a member agency whose innovative actions, policies, or practices advanced student success in their state; which displayed exceptional governance practices; overcame exceptional challenges; or displayed other meritorious attributes within the last year. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (MDHE) has demonstrated a consistent commitment to advancing postsecondary education and student success within Massachusetts.

    One notable accomplishment by the MDHE was adopting the vision for the Equity Agenda in December 2018. After an intensive professional development series in partnership with the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center, the Department of Higher Education launched its action plan. With the support from Lumina Foundation and after being designated a Talent, Innovation, and Equity (TIE) state, the action plan included reimagining the student experience, conducting a policy audit, and developing a 10-year strategic plan for racial equity.

    A number of key initiatives have been at the forefront of the Equity Agenda, such as creating a seamless system of transfer, expanding early college, increasing access to open education resources, transforming developmental education, and addressing basic needs security. Using data and evidence to measure progress towards the goal of racial equity, the board and department will work towards redesigning the policy scheme to build a culturally sustainable public postsecondary system where students can thrive.

    Carlos E. Santiago, the commissioner of MDHE, said: “We are fortunate to have a staff dedicated to the educational success of all of our students, particularly historically excluded students, a system of public educational institutions that share our values, mission, and strategic initiatives, and a board and leadership that is committed to the highest ideals of higher education. This is a collective effort that seeks to make students’ highest aspirations a reality

    Chris Gabrieli, chairperson for the Board of Higher Education, shared: “We are delighted and honored that SHEEO has chosen the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education for recognition. As arguably the birthplace of public education in the country, and one of the epicenters of higher education in the world, Massachusetts takes great pride and interest in fostering opportunity through our public higher education system. This department, led by our outstanding commissioner, Carlos Santiago, and fueled by a team with diverse experience and backgrounds, has worked hard to advance the interests of students and schools. We are especially proud to have made our Equity Agenda a top priority—this department puts student opportunity and overcoming historical barriers at the top of what we do and who we are, in both priority setting and actions accomplished. On behalf of our board and Commonwealth—thanks to Carlos and the team!”

    James Peyser, Massachusetts secretary of education, said: “The work done by Department of Higher Education and Commissioner Santiago, and his team, over the past year has been outstanding. On behalf of Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito, I want to thank SHEEO and congratulate the commissioner and the DHE staff. This award is an important recognition of the innovative work in equity that the department has undertaken over the past couple of years. There remains much to do in the years to come, and I believe the commissioner and the department will be effective leaders of our state universities and community colleges in that work.”