President Lynn Pasquerella has been selected for two separate commissions, each with its own agenda to help shape and improve higher education in New England.
• She will represent independent colleges on Massachusetts’ new Special Commission on Higher Education Quality, Efficiencies, and Finance. This body will examine, report on, and make recommendations on a wide variety of issues affecting public higher education institutions in the Commonwealth. In particular, the commission was asked to recommend operational changes that could save institutions money while maintaining quality.
Holyoke Community College President William F. Messner will join Pasquerella on the commission, which also includes Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland, and University of Massachusetts president Robert Caret, among others.
The group met for the first time in early December, and is expected to make its final report in June 2014.
• Pasquerella was also elected to serve a three-year term on the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). NEASC establishes standards for all levels of education in New England, and this commission is the regional accreditation agency for 240 colleges and universities.
As a policy-making and oversight group, the commission assures the quality of accredited institutions to the public, using a peer review process that also promotes institutional improvement. NEASC’s work includes ongoing education, outreach, and peer assessment efforts, along with advocacy for higher education as a means of promoting civic engagement.
“It is more important than ever before to address issues of access, affordability, and accountability,” says Pasquerella. “The value of higher education has been called into question as tuition prices increase, loan burdens for students are burgeoning, and job prospects for college graduates are uncertain. The work of both commissions safeguards academic excellence while promoting transparency around continual efforts for assessment at the state and regional levels.”