BOG talks trend setters for higher education

Christine T. Nguyen—North State Journal
The South Building at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Christine T. Nguyen/North State Journal)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Ahead of the UNC Board of Governors session, members, legislators and education researchers discussed paths of improvement for higher education on Sept. 8 at the Friday Center.Attendees listened to presentations by Andrew Kelly, the senior vice president for strategy and policy, and Matthew Pellish, senior director of strategic research and education for the Education Advisory Board.Kelly began with Trends in Access and Student Success, which addressed the trends in North Carolina surrounding which students are choosing to and are able to go to college and what makes a college or student successful.BOG member Pearl Burris-Floyd raised the concern that students who are poor with high test scores have the same chance of receiving a degree than people who are affluent with not-so-great test scores, but are less likely to go after funding to afford the cost of higher education. The discussion also highlighted qualified students from rural counties who were significantly less likely to apply to college.Kelly explained there are many variables to addressing these systemic strategic goals in higher education, but the UNC System should not get the blame.”The UNC System did not cause this puzzle,” Kelly said. “We have a massive opportunity to solve them.”Pellish said he agreed and the solution will not be overnight, saying it generally takes many years.”It’s not a quick fix,” Pellish said. “The major results that we see show that there is a long amount of time it takes for there to be success in terms of degree competition or outcomes for the cause. If the goal is to change something for next year, it is likely not the right move.”President of the UNC System Margaret Spellings emphasized to the group before the presentation, saying she wants the plan to be satisfactory.”The last thing that we want to do is put through a plan that misses the mark — clear measurable goals and a timeline will hold us all accountable going forward,” Spellings said.Chairman Lou Bissette said although the Board of Governors has a lot to do going forward, the groundwork is there.”No doubt the timeline is aggressive and this is not an easy task, however, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Bissette said. “The Board has and will continue to receive a lot of valuable information. Let’s use it. Let’s leave no stone unturned.”