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Governor Nixon Appoints Jorgenson as MHEC Commissioner

Dr Jorgenson1/15/2010
Governor Jay Nixon recently appointed Moberly Area Community College (MACC) President Dr. Evelyn E. Jorgenson as one of two Missouri higher education leaders to serve as a Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) Commissioner.

Dr. Jorgenson will represent Missouri with Columbia College President Dr. Gerald Brouder, Representative Gayle Kingery and Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields.

MHEC is a unique aid to higher education. It was created in 1991 with Missouri as a founding member state. It is one of four interstate compacts in the nation devoted to improving the quality of higher education in its region.

MHEC is led by legislators and higher education leaders and works to increase access and quality of higher education to all of its 12 member states, which include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. MHEC does this through the collaboration and resource sharing of the commissioners from various member states. They pool their expertise, connections and abilities to provide student access, cost savings and policy research that may otherwise by unattainable by a single state. More specifically, MHEC works to promote improved student access, affordability and completion; reduce operational costs; analyze public policy and promote information exchange; enhance regional academic cooperation; and encourage quality programs and services in higher education.

It operates off the simple concept used by Midwesterners since the times of barn raising, “working together is generally better than going at it alone”. Add in the simple economic principle that the more you purchase of almost anything, the lower the unit cost and you have a recipe for massive benefits. MHEC is combining the bidding process in areas such as property insurance and technology to drive down the cost for institutions of 500 students to 25,000 students. This grants institutions of all sizes access to cost savings and values not normally attainable. It also saves time on contract negotiations that can drag on for months. MHEC has saved states and citizens over $397 million since 1992.

Missouri actively participates in MHEC programs and has the third largest cumulative cost savings total among the 12 member states, which totals a savings of $37.8 million to higher education institutions, school districts, state and local governments and students since joining the compact in 1990.

Along with the bidding process, MHEC is committed to research useful to the common interests of institutions. For example, after the Virginia-Tech shootings, MHEC was able to compile data from over 330 colleges and universities across the nation detailing changes they had made in security policies and procedures after the Virginia-Tech tragedy. This information was compiled and made available to all MHEC states. A study like this wouldn’t have been possible for an institution “going at it alone”.

In the area of student access, MHEC is working to ease any barriers to students who want to succeed and create better lives for themselves, which translates into better workforces for MHEC states. Two ways the compact is opening access is through the lowering out-of-state tuition costs for students wanting to attend a member institution and the E-transcript program. E-transcript makes it less expensive for students and institutions to send academic records, a crucial part of the admissions process. With this program, transcripts are sent via the Internet saving time and money for students and institution and streamlining a confusing and lengthy process.

Dr. Jorgenson’s role as Commissioner is a two-fold responsibility to the compact as a whole as well as to the constituents served by the compact. She must stay current with public and private higher education trends in Missouri and in the Midwest. As a Commissioner, she will work to build regional partnerships for effective and efficient access to quality education in compact states as well as serve as an ambassador for MHEC.

“I look forward to the opportunity to open educational doors for the people of our region. Now more than ever, organizations like MHEC are essential in making higher education accessible and affordable, which is a foundational tenant of community colleges. This appointment is a perfect fit with the work I’ve been doing at the local and state level, and I know I’ll have some insight to offer the compact. Many Missourians are looking for options to retool and re-enter the workforce, and MHEC is creating opportunities for Missouri’s future economic success. I’m excited to be a small part of that success,” explained Dr. Jorgenson.


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