Legislators and higher education leaders of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) met in Sioux Falls June 3-4 for their semi-annual executive committee meeting. Representatives from Missouri included the following MHEC Commissioners: Gerald Brouder, president of Columbia College; and Evelyn Jorgenson, president of Moberly Area Community College.
Dr. Bonny Specker, director and chair of the Ethel Austin Martin Program in Human Nutrition at South Dakota State University (SDSU), was one of the featured speakers at the meeting’s opening luncheon. She highlighted the South Dakota Center for the National Children’s Study—one of seven Vanguard Centers in the nation studying children’s health and development. Also at the opening luncheon, Mr. Ron Wheeler, executive director of the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority, presented the current and future work of the Sanford Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at Homestake.
MHEC commissioners received a guide prepared by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) for establishing goals and gauging the impact of improved performance on closing the education gap in their respective states. This study is funded by Lumina Foundation for Education.
An update on MHEC’s Midwest CREST initiative (Credential Repository for Education, Skills, and Training) was given by MHEC staff and initiative partners. MHEC received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to explore the creation of a multi-state repository to reduce student time to degree and promote the completion of degrees in progress or on hold. A feasibility study of CREST is underway to determine how and in what form the concept might be brought to fruition.
The Compact consists of twelve member states, serving Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Five commissioners are appointed from each member state to serve as MHEC commissioners and are leaders from higher education, the legislature, and the governor’s office. MHEC has designated two members from each state to serve on the Executive Committee. Commissioners meet twice a year and will come together again November 15-17 in Detroit, Michigan, for MHEC’s annual commission meeting and policy summit.
Dr. Evelyn Jorgenson, recently appointed to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact by Governor Nixon, stated that she believes that MHEC provides a valuable service by giving individual colleges in the Midwestern states the opportunity to buy computers, software and other necessary equipment from contracts based on the volume of several states working together. She also said that she is very interested in several new initiatives including CREST which would potentially create a repository for students to use an e-portfolio to report an assortment of college credit hours, military service, certifications or other credentials into the repository. Colleges would then make offers to students for the completion of a degree based on their portfolios. Dr. Jorgenson explained that this initiative has the potential of helping many students who are currently out of college to complete a degree based on their individual collections of education, training and experience.
Since its formation in 1991, MHEC has been committed to cost-savings programs, student access and policy research and analysis. MHEC is headquartered in Minneapolis, led by President Larry Isaak and currently chaired by the Hon. Pam Byrnes, speaker pro tempore for the Michigan House of Representatives. For more information about the Compact, please visit www.mhec.org or call 612-626-8288.