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Framingham State president Timothy Flanagan visits White House, discusses college access, affordability

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  March 27, 2012 12:03 PM

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Policy advisors for President Barack Obama recently hosted Framingham State University President Timothy J. Flanagan and other public college presidents nationwide for a roundtable at the White House on college access, affordability and completion, according to university officials.

The presidents who participated are all members of the Council of State Representatives of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, a Washington-based association representing 420 public higher education institutions.

As Massachusetts’ representative on the council, Flanagan works directly with the organization to develop its national policy agenda and helps keep the group informed about higher education policy issues.

“This was a great opportunity for face-to-face dialogue between White House officials and leaders of America’s four-year public colleges and universities about critical issues of access, affordability and achievement,” Flanagan said in a prepared statement.

President Obama’s administration is currently exploring constructive solutions to holding down college costs and making higher education more affordable and attainable, while also increasing college completion rates for those who do attend, the university said.

But this effort comes at a time when 30 percent to 60 percent of college freshman require remediation, more college students need assistance with learning and psychological issues, and costs to upgrade technology and to hire quality faculty continue to increase.

Public colleges across the country are also facing declining state tax dollar support, putting pressure on student fees to make up the shortfall.

“We have an important challenge in front of us,” Flanagan said. “Producing more with less will require creativity and resourcefulness. And the consequences of our efforts, for students, communities and the nation, will define America’s position in the world for decades.”

The 90-minute discussion was led by a number of administration officials, including Obama’s senior education advisor Zakiya Smith; U.S. Department of Education's deputy secretary Tony Miller; director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Munoz; and Council of Economic Advisors member Katherine Abraham.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jreiss.globe@gmail.com

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