State CEOs of Higher Education Need Support to Succeed

Publish Date
March 16, 2018

Imagine you’re being recruited for a new role. The job description says you’ll be expected to dramatically improve outcomes, find consensus in a hyper-partisan policy environment, and succeed even as critical funding is cut year after year. Do you take the job?

Given that daunting scenario, many of us would politely decline. But at a time when state policy success is increasingly linked to student success, economic growth and social prosperity, America desperately needs top talent leading state efforts to achieve postsecondary attainment and equity goals.

The chief executives of statewide governing, policy and coordinating boards of postsecondary education operate under myriad demands, strained budgets and high expectations. And they face significant challenges in achieving aggressive, yet necessary, attainment and equity goals. They’re resolved to succeed, but we must do more to arm them with the tools necessary to move our states forward.

That’s where we — the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) — come in. As the nation’s premiere organization for the top higher education leaders in each state, we are uniquely positioned to provide the advocacy, professional development and research support our members need to develop a state workforce that’s ready to meet the needs of the 21st century economy.

Increasing public skepticism of higher education — at a time when a high-quality credential or degree has never been more important — requires SHEEO to deepen its support for state higher education executive officers and their staffs as they navigate challenges and communicate the significant value of education beyond high school.

Recognizing this watershed moment in state higher education policy, we at SHEEO are taking a step back to assess how well our organization is delivering on our mission — a process informed by invaluable feedback from leaders across the nation — and recalibrate our strategic vision so that we can continue to deliver the highest value to our members. This effort has been made possible by the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through a capacity grant to SHEEO.

As we continue this listening and engagement effort, we are excited to roll out new SHEEO content on the Medium platform to help us better connect and communicate with members across the country. This new platform will be a hub for thought leadership, analysis, research and updates on the good work happening in states across the country.

Fittingly, the announcement of our new presence on this platform comes at the same time that we want to share a follow-up with our members on our annual Executive Committee meeting. It was wonderful to bring the Executive Committee together in Boulder for two days in early March to discuss the future direction for the association. Conversations centered on our Gates capacity grant and early findings gathered this year through agency site visits and survey results. These insights will influence the development of a new SHEEO strategic plan, which will be announced in late 2018.

The second day of meetings focused on association business including the charge, scope and deliverables for each SHEEO committee, budgetary items, and planning for the annual meeting in July. I know we all enjoyed the feedback and candid conversations we had during those two days together, and we will have lots to discuss during our July convening.

Please continue checking this page for additional insights and analysis regarding key issues in higher education. Our State of Higher Education Finance (SHEF) report will be coming out this spring, and we are already looking forward to engaging with all of you on those results, and how we can use this new information as a tool to continue our work together.