Tag Archive for: HECC

New grant for prior learning credits

SOU receives state grant to provide “prior learning” credits

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has received a one-time, $338,000 grant from the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission to expand opportunities for students to receive academic credit for knowledge and skills gained through life experiences such as work or military service.

SOU’s current Credit for Prior Learning program was initiated in 2015 as an option in the university’s bachelor’s degree program in Innovation and Leadership, which has been popular among mid-career adult students. The HECC grant, which was awarded this fall, has expanded the prior learning program campus-wide, and it already has been adopted in other academic areas, including Business, Communication, Media & Cinema.

“Offering students the option of Credit for Prior Learning is a way to honor the skills and knowledge our students bring to the school even before they have started taking classes on our campus,” said Moneeka Settles, coordinator for the Innovation and Leadership program. “It benefits students, no matter their major, because it recognizes the wisdom they have gained on their own life path.”

Students’ proposals for Prior Learning credits must meet several criteria under SOU’s policy for the program. Students must produce a portfolio that supports evidence they have learned the course outcomes, then faculty members assess the portfolio on a pass, no-pass basis. Students can also earn Credit for Prior Learning through challenge exams and military credit. Credits for prior learning can make up no more than 25 percent of the credits required for graduation.

SOU is among five Oregon universities and 14 community colleges that received this year’s HECC grants for Credit for Prior Learning programs. The HECC awarded a total of $10 million for the programs, under the state’s Future Ready Oregon investment package to support education and training that may lead to employment and family-wage careers. The grants are for one year, but institutions can apply to renew them annually.

Future Ready Oregon, funded by the 2022 Legislature, prioritizes historically underserved and vulnerable communities by offering opportunities to receive college credit “for prior experience or skills gained outside of traditional higher education institutions.”

The HECC requires standards for prior learning programs, monitors their implementation and provides periodic reports on them to the legislature. The HECC, which adopted its own prior learning standards in 2014, tracks the types and number of Credits for Prior Learning that are awarded throughout the state each year.


SOU community asked to help higher education survey

SOU community members encouraged to help in state higher education planning

All members of the SOU community have been asked to help set the stage for a statewide strategic plan on postsecondary education by completing an online survey from Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

Respondents from throughout the state will be asked for their views on the future of postsecondary education in Oregon; the state’s educational goals, public investment and accountability; and priorities such as student success, equity, affordability and impacts on both communities and the economy. The survey – which takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete – is hosted by the HECC and Portland’s Coraggio Group strategic consulting firm.

The online study, which must be completed in one session, will remain open only through Dec. 24.

Results will provide a baseline as the HECC begins development of a new strategic plan to improve educational outcomes and guide the future of higher education and training programs in Oregon. Focus groups, interviews and other online tools will also be used to gauge public attitudes, perceptions and preferences.

The HECC is actively seeking input from existing and prospective students, parents, faculty, staff, administrators, community leaders and policymakers. Participation by SOU employees and students will ensure that the university’s perspectives are well-represented.

The HECC – a board of volunteer commissioners – advises the governor and legislature on Oregon’s postsecondary education policies and funding. It makes budget recommendations and sets funding allocations for the state’s 17 community colleges and seven public universities.


Help change students’ lives; become an ASPIRE mentor

(Salem, Ore.) – The Office of Student Access and Completion at Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating commission is encouraging community members statewide to sign up as ASPIRE volunteer mentors at OregonStudentAid.gov/ASPIRE to help students find pathways to success.

ASPIRE is the state’s mentoring program to help students access education and training beyond high school. The program matches trained and supportive adult volunteer mentors with middle and high school students, to  help plan for their future career and education goals. ASPIRE volunteering opportunities are available at 157 schools or sites throughout the state, and no prior experience is needed. Training, tools and resources are provided.

“This is probably the most direct way to make a difference in a young person’s life,” said Adrienne Simmons, ASPIRE mentor at Ashland High School.

Students who participate in ASPIRE gain support in planning for their lives after high school, receive help in applying for training and college programs, and get assistance in applying for scholarships and financial aid. Students at ASPIRE sites are more likely to graduate on time, and enroll in colleges at higher rates. ASPIRE students are also more likely to receive financial aid through scholarships and grants.

The unique roles ASPIRE mentors play in the lives of students were reflected in exit surveys of recently mentored students.

“My mentor guided me through every step to college,” one student said. “Without her help, I would not be attending college.”

Another student said his mentor guided him “through the ins and outs of how to approach a new job.”

The ASPIRE program’s call for volunteers is part of National Mentoring Month, a campaign held each January that focuses attention on the need for mentors and how partners can work together to increase youth mentoring.

Oregonians with the time and willingness to become ASPIRE volunteer mentors in their communities can learn more, find an ASPIRE site in their area, or sign up at OregonStudentAid.gov/ASPIRE.

SOU-HECC-adult educational attainment

Oregon approves new adult educational attainment goal

(Salem, Ore.) – A new educational attainment goal for adult, working-age Oregonians has been announced by Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

The goal – specifically targeted to meet current and projected job opportunities – was developed by the HECC in partnership with the state’s Workforce and Talent Development Board. It aims to expand the number of degrees, certificates or credentials earned by adult Oregon residents by 2030 to 300,000 – a 50 percent increase over the 200,000 that are already projected.

“This goal will galvanize our statewide efforts to prepare Oregon working-age adults to take advantage of projected growth in family-wage jobs, to be resilient when the economy changes, and to ensure that our work is laser-focused on reducing attainment gaps for those who do not have equal opportunity today,” said Ben Cannon, the HECC’s executive director.

The adult educational goal is intended to foster economic mobility, supporting Oregonians in preparing for family-wage jobs of the future. The goal also recognizes a need to reduce attainment gaps for underserved populations through broad, inclusive approaches to skills and talent development.

The goal culminates a work group process that began nearly a year ago, following the passage of House Bill 2311 – which directed the HECC and WTDB to establish a statewide educational attainment goal for adult Oregonians. The workgroup was chaired by Neil Bryant, chair of the HECC, and by Ken Madden, chair of the WTDB. It also included representatives from Oregon’s public and private institutions, along with workforce and business partners.

“This is not just a postsecondary education system goal―this is a goal that will touch every community and every family in this state,” Bryant said. “Thanks to the Oregon Legislature, and the rigorous work of the workgroup and statewide experts, Oregon now has a meaningful, applicable goal for the postsecondary success of working adults.

“We thank all who contributed, and we look forward to moving forward to make this goal a reality.”

The new goal, approved at the HECC’s Nov. 8 public meeting, states:

“Oregon anticipates more than 120,000 additional jobs requiring post-secondary training or education between now and 2030. In order to meet this need, 300,000 additional adult Oregonians should earn a new degree, certificate or credential valued in the workforce during that time. Because Oregon has substantial attainment gaps among minority, low income and rural Oregonians, the state will also commit to reducing those attainment gaps by half during the decade.”

The most recent projections from the Oregon Employment Department show that over the next decade (2017-2027), more than 90 percent of job openings that pay more than $40,000 per year will require postsecondary education. The new adult attainment goal, in conjunction with Oregon’s 40-40-20 educational attainment goal for Oregon youth in the educational pipeline, is intended to guide progress in Oregon’s educational and workforce systems.


SOU HECC Strategic Plan Mission

Oregon’s HECC praises SOU strategic planning work

(Ashland, Ore.) — Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission unanimously approved Southern Oregon University’s new mission statement on Thursday, and its members described the university’s strategic planning work as “exemplary” and “energizing.”

A delegation from SOU including President Linda Schott was in Salem to present the university’s new vision, mission, values and strategic directions at the HECC meeting. SOU’s entire strategic planning effort won support, but commission members were required by state law only to evaluate and approve the mission statement (included below in its entirety).

“Our strategic plan is the roadmap that will guide SOU into a future filled with equal portions of uncertainty and opportunity,” President Schott said. “It defines not only who we are as members of a dynamic academic community, but who we strive to be and how we intend to achieve our goals.”

HECC member Sandy Rowe, who was editor of The Oregonian from 1993 to 2010, described SOU’s work as “outward facing – that is rare.”

“SOU has broken out of the pack,” she said.

Commission member Terry Cross, former executive director and current senior advisor to the National Indian Child Welfare Association, called the university’s mission statement “exemplary work.”

“I like the alignment with HECC,” he said. “You are helping us lead, helping us to be a better commission.”
HECC Chairman Neil Bryant, a Bend lawyer, acknowledged that he has been critical of SOU in the past but said the university “achieved focus” with its new mission statement.

President Schott, in a message to SOU students and employees on Thursday afternoon, thanked each person who has weighed in with feedback during the year-long strategic planning process, and especially those who have done the heavy lifting on the project.

“I am immensely grateful to all of you who have worked so many hours over the past year to visualize the future of our institution and craft the strategic plan that will help us realize our potential,” she said.

SOU’s new mission statement:
Southern Oregon University is a regionally-engaged learning community committed to being the educational provider of choice for learners throughout their lives.
We inspire curiosity and creativity, compel critical thinking, foster discovery, and cultivate bold ideas and actions.
We achieve student success, professional preparation, and civic engagement through service excellence, evolving technologies, and innovative curriculum.
We foster access, equity, inclusion and diversity in thought and practice.
We prepare our learners to be responsible, engaged citizens in our democracy.
We promote economic vitality, sustainability, cultural enrichment, and social well-being in our region, the state, the nation, and the world.”


State commission approves SOU tuition rate

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/1mMLmn)
(Ashland, Ore.) — Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission acknowledged Southern Oregon University’s collaboration, momentum and attention to the overall best interests of students by voting today to accept 2017-18 tuition rates adopted last month by the SOU Board of Trustees.
“I truly appreciate the ability of HECC members to grasp the nuances of our recent budget- and tuition-setting process, and to understand the swell of energy and passion on our campus,” said SOU President Linda Schott, who was in Salem to present the university’s tuition plan to commissioners.
HECC members approved the 12 percent tuition increase that SOU’s Board of Trustees unanimously adopted on April 21. The HECC vote finalizes a months-long process by students, staff, faculty members and others to work collaboratively through a budget cycle that was deeply affected by the state’s $1.4 to $1.6 billion funding shortfall.
The HECC must approve tuition increases above 5 percent for any of the state’s seven public universities. Gov. Kate Brown laid out strict criteria that the universities had to meet this year as justification for increases over 5 percent, and the commission approved rates today for SOU, OIT and WOU. Tuition rates for PSU and UO did not receive sufficient votes for approval, and OSU and EOU did not require HECC approval for tuition increases below 5 percent.
SOU’s tuition has risen by an average of 2.5 percent annually over the past four years, and the university currently operates on less revenue than any other public university in Oregon, on a per-student basis. SOU’s tuition increase will result in an additional $18.17 per credit hour for SOU students who are Oregon residents, and similar increases for non-residents.
Students from various universities dominated the public comment session at Thursday’s HECC meeting. Some opposed their universities’ tuition increases and others spoke in favor of the rates, recognizing that deep cuts in programs would cause more damage than higher tuition.
President Schott acknowledged that SOU’s increase will cause difficulties for some students, and said the university has tried to address some of those concerns by offsetting the tuition increase with $500,000 in additional institutional aid for students least able to afford the increased cost. The university will also expand efforts to steer eligible students toward cost-saving options such as programs that allow students to graduate in three years instead of four.
“There is little to celebrate in today’s vote,” Schott said. “We have heard our students – those who have spoken against the tuition increase and those who have reluctantly acknowledged that it is the lesser of two evils. This tuition rate enables us to continue planning an efficient, innovative and successful future for SOU, its students and our community.”
SOU has made $14 million in cuts over the past three years as part of its retrenchment process. Any additional cuts would significantly erode the university’s academic and student support programs.
Tuition at SOU will remain among the lowest of Oregon’s seven public universities. The overall cost of attendance – a combination of tuition, student fees and housing – will go up by about 5.8 percent.
About Southern Oregon University
As a public liberal arts university, SOU focuses on student learning, accessibility and civic engagement that enriches both the community and bioregion. The university is recognized for fostering intellectual creativity, for quality and innovation in its connected learning programs, and for the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power, and it is the first university in the nation to balance 100% of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.