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ODU Provost Participates In Panel With U.S. Education Secretary

Old Dominion University Provost Carol Simpson participated in a roundtable discussion Friday, July 13, with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter, on affordability and accountability in higher education.

The event, titled, "College, Cost and the Commonwealth: A Presidential Roundtable," was hosted by the College of William & Mary and moderated by W&M President Taylor Reveley.

In addition to Simpson, other local education leaders who participated included Regent University President Carlos Campo, Thomas Nelson Community College President John Dever, Virginia Community College System Chancellor Glenn DuBois, and Virginia State University President Keith Miller.

Simpson talked about how Old Dominion has forged strong relationships with Tidewater Community College and Thomas Nelson Community College, accepting many of their graduates into four-year programs.

Simpson said it's important to provide the tools students need to succeed. "We need to make sure that when students transfer in they're on a good track." That includes, financial support, Simpson said.

"We need to invest in internships. Not just unpaid internships, those are always there, (but also) internships that can help students achieve their goals, financially as well as professionally."

In his address to the overflow crowd, Duncan acknowledged the changes and challenges that higher education is facing. "One generation ago, we led the world in college graduation rates. Now we're 16th. Fifteen countries have passed us," he said.

Articulating the stakes that society faces, Duncan spoke of how the academic success helps people succeed in many ways, financially, socially and emotionally. The challenges faced by higher education are everyone's, Duncan said. "We're not just fighting for education here, we're fighting for our country."

Kicking off the roundtable, Reveley said it really is a "no brainer" that effective higher education benefits society. "But effective education is also great for the person who experiences it. … It is both a public good and a private good."

Reveley said the challenge for all institutions of higher education is to embrace the financial challenges (which aren't likely to abate), the need for partnerships with community and industry, and the call for colleges and universities to retain and graduate students affordably, all while maintaining the tradition of academic excellence that has been the hallmark of American education for centuries.

The roundtable was part of an ongoing series of conversations that senior Obama Administration officials are having with the higher education community across the country, focused on college access and affordability.

This article was posted on: July 16, 2012

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