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Cardona’s Vision for Higher Ed

Cardona’s Vision for Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed

Meghan Brink
August 12, 2022
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has a demand: “We need a culture change in higher education now.”
In a speech made at a conference attended by university and college presidents and other leaders in higher education on Thursday, Cardona said that elite rankings are a “joke” and that more attention needs to be focused on the institutions that serve the nation’s less-affluent students.
“It’s a cruel irony that institutions that serve the most students with the most to gain from a college degree have the fewest resources to invest in student success,” he said. Of elite universities, Cardona said, “You compete for the most affluent students by luring them in with generous aid because the most well-prepared students have the best SAT scores and graduate on time. You seek favor from your peers from other elite schools with expensive dinners and lavish events because their opinions carry clout in surveys. And you invest in the best campus experiences that money can buy because the more graduates that become donors, the more points you score.”
In order to change this, he said that leaders in higher education need to “embrace a new vision of college excellence,” which involves creating spaces and resources that are inclusive and meet the needs of underrepresented students.
Cardona announced new initiatives from the Education Department to boast completion rates at historically Black colleges and other minority-serving institutions, including a $5 million competitive grant program and the expansion of the Project Success initiative.
The grant program, called the College Completion Fund, will award a maximum of $1 million to fund programs at HBCUs, MSIs, tribal colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions for projects aimed at improving retention, transfers and completion. The Education Department said that grant money should be used to help students who are close to graduation or to reengage students who withdrew from college during the pandemic.
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