(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees voted unanimously today to pass a resolution to support and participate in a project with college and university trustees nationwide to revive the public’s trust in higher education.
The Guardians Initiative – developed by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) – is intended to increase support for higher education. It aims to strengthen financial backing from state legislatures across the country, prompt a rebound in college and university attendance and improve the public perception of higher education.
The SOU board is among the first in the country to endorse the Guardians Initiative.
“The enduring personal and societal value of higher education is well-supported,” said Bill Thorndike, chairman of the SOU Board of Trustees. “The lifetime earnings gap between those with college educations and those without has never been greater. Moreover, the economic and cultural benefits that colleges and universities bring to their communities are invaluable.
“We need to restore the luster to higher education. As public perception improves, we want higher education to become a greater legislative priority and for universities such as SOU to be recognized as keys to the growth and sustainability for individuals and communities.”
The traditional role of trustees might focus narrowly on the issues of the colleges and universities they serve. The Guardians Initiative encourages trustees to also advocate for higher education in general, to lobby at the state and federal levels for improved support, and to help improve the public’s perception of the value of higher education.
The initiative is meant to galvanize the support of about 50,000 college and university trustees nationwide.
“SOU’s trustees are recognized leaders and creative thinkers from the public and private sectors,” SOU President Linda Schott said. “I am tremendously excited to see how they will influence our national conversation about higher education.”