the weekly digest from NEJHE and other news from the New England Board of Higher Education
Feb. 17, 2021

It may be tempting to think that a COVID-19 vaccine will reverse the fortunes of higher education institutions bogged down by sharp enrollment declines and unexpected cost increases during the coronavirus pandemic. But not so fast, warns Todd J. Leach, chancellor emeritus of the University System of New Hampshire and former chair of NEBHE. Institutions that solely focused on the short-term challenge of COVID may have weakened their ability to respond to the long-term threats, he argues. "The loss (or disenfranchising) of key talent, the spending of strategic reserves and the increased backlog of deferred maintenance will all make it much more challenging to make the bold strategic changes and investments it will take to compete in a post-COVID environment," he writes. "Simply renegotiating a few vendor contracts or migrating an additional program or two to online will not be enough to compete in a post-COVID era for most institutions," concludes Leach.
More from The New England Journal of Higher Education

To fight climate change, all sectors of energy use—agriculture, transportation, industrial, residential, business—must transition to electricity. To achieve such an all-electric economy, environmental expert Thomas Jorling calls for a “smart grid” to facilitate the nationwide delivery of alternatively generated electricity. A former New York state conservation commissioner and Williams College environmental scholar, Jorling suggests the grid follow the pattern of the interstate highway system, whose main costs have already been incurred securing rights-of-way and which would not require defiling the countryside or disrupting ecosystems. "These rights-of-way represent a valuable federal and state asset that shouldn’t be limited to concrete and asphalt," writes Jorling, who is now an advisor to the law firm Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehan. "This network, already invested in by the public, can accommodate not only an electric grid, but also pipelines and even elevated high-speed rail." And perhaps the expansion of broadband and related innovations in higher ed delivery?

Persistent racism, nationalism, deindustrialization, economic inequality, and the inability of governing elites to adequately address these forces are among the causes of anti-democratic tensions under the Trump administration, according to Franklin Pierce University sociology professor Douglas F. Challenger. But the main cause, Challenger argues, is a lack of good civic education in schools and universities. "A robust, new version of civic education would go a long way to help reverse the civic recession we’ve been in, serve as an antidote to creeping authoritarianism and inspire democratic engagement now and in the future," he writes.
Newslink
NEBHE offers a regional analysis of the national Counting Credentials report ...

As Americans grapple with one of the most severe recessions in history, there's new appreciation of the many different pathways to gainful employment. This month, Credential Engine released its third Counting Credentials report, which curated a list of 967,734 unique credentials available through U.S. secondary and postsecondary education institutions—an increase of 31% from the 738,428 credentials published in its 2019 report.

The College of the Holy Cross chose Boston College Law School Dean Vincent Rougeau to be the first-ever Black and first-ever layperson to serve as president of the 178-year-old Jesuit college in Worcester, Mass.

Pictured: Rougeau

Congress voted in December to lift the 26-year-old ban on federal Pell Grants for incarcerated students. Their bipartisan effort, in a time when such consensus is rare, reflects growing acknowledgement of the need for increased education in prisons and jails across the U.S. NEBHE's Policy and Research team this week released a brief on the subject called Higher Education Behind Bars: Expanding Postsecondary Educational Programs in New England Prisons and Jails.
News Around NEBHE

We seek a Director of Finance and Administration to lead NEBHE’s finance, business management and
budgeting, human resources, administration and IT.
The director will play a critical role in partnering with the senior leadership
team in strategic decision-making and operations as NEBHE continues to enhance its quality programming and build capacity. Qualified candidates may submit a cover letter and resume to gdavis@nebhe.org.
We seek an Assistant Director, Regional Student Program, to support the ongoing success and operation of the New England Board of Higher Education’s Regional Student Program, Tuition Break, and other student enrollment-focused initiatives and projects. Qualified candidates may submit a cover letter and resume to careers@nebhe.org.
Our Webinars

The number of new high school graduates in New England is expected to shrink by nearly 13% by 2037, according to the 10th edition of Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates, released by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).

How will this decline affect New England’s higher education and regional economy?

Last week, more than 200 high school counselors, college enrollment managers, deans, principals, superintendents and higher ed administrators joined NEBHE via Zoom to discuss the WICHE report. Panelists included: report co-author Patrick Lane, vice president of WICHE's Policy & Research Division; Paul Reville, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and former secretary of education in Massachusetts; G. Duncan Harris, CEO of Capital Community College in Hartford; Edinaldo Tebaldi, professor of economics at Bryant University; Kerri Johnston, dean of enrollment management at UMass Lowell; and Lisa Ellrich, director of admissions at the University of Maine Farmington.

Check out the recorded webinar here or navigate here to review our speaker presentations.
Tracking Coronavirus
NEBHE's Tracking Coronavirus web resource features an easy-to-use display showing institutions' plans for the fall in light of COVID-19. It also details institutions' healthcare capacities and their proximity to external healthcare resources. Also find links to: COVID-19 News; Governmental Responses, Guidance & Advocacy; Distance Education Resources & Compliance; Institutional Finance Information; and Admissions and Enrollment Information. Please share updates from your institution at: cpeyser@nebhe.org.
NEJHE NewsBlast is a summary of NEJHE content and other news around NEBHE prepared weekly by NEJHE Executive Editor John O. Harney and emailed every Wednesday to opinion leaders and practitioners. When responding to NEJHE content, please make sure that your remarks are relevant, courteous and engaging. Individuals are responsible for their comments, which do not represent the opinions of the New England Board of Higher Education. We urge commenters to briefly note their occupational or other interest in the topic at hand. Please refrain from offensive language, personal attacks and distasteful comments or they may be deleted. Comments may not appear immediately. Thank you for staying engaged.
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