April 09, 2010

Making college more affordable is focus of event

by Pete Rosenbery


CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An upcoming conference at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will explore ways of making college more affordable.

Robert M. Shireman, deputy undersecretary in the U.S. Department of Education, will deliver a keynote speech during the symposium, “Going Broke on Education: How Can We Make College More Affordable?” The conference begins at 8:45 a.m., Thursday, April 22, in the Student Center ballrooms. The event, sponsored by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, is free and open to the public.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the conference. To arrange for interviews, contact Matt Baughman, associate director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, at 618/453-4009.

The conference will cover a wide array of material. A morning presentation will look at current trends and the future of higher education funding in Illinois with state Rep. Mike Boland, D-Moline, chair of the Illinois House Higher Education Committee; Don Sevener, the deputy director of external relations with the Illinois Board of Higher Education; and Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

At noon, Sandy Baum, a professor emerita of economics at Skidmore College and a senior policy analyst with The College Board, will present a keynote address. A panel discussion later in the afternoon will focus on college affordability in Illinois and at SIUC.

“Our goal is to come up with some specific, do-able recommendations for university administrators and governing officials as well as state lawmakers and members of Congress for making changes,” said David Yepsen, institute director. “At a minimum, we will have a good discussion about these plans and what the options are.”

The symposium includes a complimentary lunch. The luncheon is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required for meal considerations. To register, contact institute project coordinator Christina Rich at 618/453-4078 or by email at clrich@siu.eduby Monday, April 19. Open seating will be available for those who wish to only attend part of the events that day and not be included in the meal.

Yepsen hopes the speakers and panelists will offer an overview on the current state of higher education, what federal and state officials are doing to improve the situation, and any new “out-of-the-box” ideas under discussion.

“Higher education is the ultimate stimulus package for America,” he said. “It adds value to people, increases productivity for corporations and improves creativity and the overall quality of life for everyone. Yet the financial shortages are pinching higher education at the very time when Americans need better educations in order to compete with workers in other countries.”

Money shortages on college campuses “aren’t going away anytime soon,” Yepsen said.

“As a result, we need to look at ways to restructure the way higher education services are delivered. There are lots of ideas for doing this -- three years instead of four to get a bachelor’s degree or the greater use of online technologies are examples,” he said.

Other examples include lowering tuition for Americans while raising admission standards, and eliminating duplications in higher education, Yepsen said.

John S. Jackson, a visiting professor with the institute, will offer a brief history of higher education funding in Illinois, and present data on the rising costs and declining appropriations, Yepsen said.

Shireman joined the Department of Education in February 2009. His office oversees the agency’s efforts to “help Americans pay for college, promote innovation and improvement in adult career-technical and higher education, and to support student preparation and planning for education and training beyond high school,” according to his biography.

Shireman’s prior federal service includes working for President Bill Clinton for two years at the White House National Economic Council. His work there included leading the effort to create the GEAR UP college preparation program, and coordinating the “America Reads” program. His work also included coordinating interagency efforts to implement the HOPE scholarship and Lifetime Learning tax credits.

Prior to working in the Clinton Administration, Shireman served as an aide for seven years for institute founder and former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon.

Before joining the U.S. Department of Education, Shireman was founder and president of the non-profit, California-based, Institute for College Access and Success. His background also includes serving as senior fellow at the Aspen Institute, and as program director for higher education at the James Irvine Foundation.

Shireman earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California Berkeley, and master’s degrees in public administration from the University of San Francisco, and in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Baum is an independent higher education policy analyst. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Bryn Mawr College and a doctorate in economics at Columbia University. She has “written extensively on issues relating to college access, college pricing student aid policy, student debt, affordability, and other aspects of higher education finance,” according to her biography.

The schedule is:

  • 8:45 a.m. -- Welcome remarks, David Yepsen, director, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
  • 9 a.m. -- Keynote speech, Robert M. Shireman, deputy undersecretary, U.S. Department of Education.
  • 10 a.m. -- Brief history on Illinois higher education funding, John S. Jackson, visiting professor, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
  • 10:15 a.m. -- Current trends and future potential for higher education funding in Illinois. Panelists include state Rep. Mike Boland, D-Moline; Don Sevener, Illinois Board of Higher Education; and Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.
  • 11 a.m. -- Question and answer period with morning presenters.
  • 11:30 a.m. -- Lunch, registration required.
  • Noon -- Keynote speech, Sandy Baum, professor emerita of economics, Skidmore College, and senior policy analyst, The College Board.
  • 12:45 p.m. -- Carol Bedar, graduate student in higher education administration, and intern, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
  • 1 p.m. -- Panel discussion on college affordability in Illinois and at SIUC.
  • 2:15 p.m. -- Concluding remarks.

Making college more affordable is focus of eventMaking college more affordable is focus of event