April 08, 2011

Expert on higher education to speak at SIUC

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A higher education expert whose focus is on how public policy affects access to college is the keynote speaker during Inauguration Week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Thomas G. Mortenson, senior scholar at The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education in Washington, D.C., will speak at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12, in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium. Admission is free and the public is welcome.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to attend an availability with Mortenson at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 12, in the lobby of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

“Advancing a Culture of Excellence” is the theme of the University’s weeklong celebration of the achievements of students, faculty and staff. Events will take place April 11-17 on the campus, in Springfield and in Chicago. Many of the events take place annually during this week in April.

Members of the campus community and the general public are welcome to attend the April 15 formal installation of Rita Cheng as the University’s 22nd chancellor. The ceremony, which is free, is set for 2 p.m. in Shryock Auditorium. Inauguration Week details are available at http://www.chancellor.siuc.edu/installation/index.html.

“Tom Mortenson is a passionate advocate for access to higher education, which has been a focus at our University since the doors to the campus first opened,” Cheng said. “He conducts extensive research on how public policy affects students, families and universities, and therefore our society, and his appearance will be a great learning opportunity for the campus community and the community at large.”

Mortenson will discuss “A Dynamic World of Demographic, Economic and Global Change: Can Higher Education Keep Up?”

His policy research focuses on opportunity for postsecondary education and training and the ways public policy enhance or diminish access to that opportunity. He has special concern for populations that are under-represented in higher education. Mortenson’s studies have addressed academic and financial preparation for college, access, choice, persistence, attainment, and labor force entry of college graduates.

Mortenson, who lives in Oskaloosa, Iowa, has a special interest in public and private financing of higher education opportunity and the enrollment consequences of the shifting of costs from taxpayers to students that has been under way since 1980.

He is editor and publisher of “Postsecondary Education OPPORTUNITY,” a monthly research letter that includes analysis and reporting on the demographics, sociology, history, politics and economics of educational opportunity after high school. His previous experience includes policy research and budget analysis positions for the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois State Scholarship Commission, the American College Testing Program and the University of Minnesota.