Lubbers Presents State’s New Agenda For Higher Education At Annual Address

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 8:12 AM

By Indiana Commission for Higher Education, news release

Commission for Higher Education will use fourth strategic plan as a guide to 2025.

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is prioritizing college completion, equity and talent through its fourth strategic plan, Reaching Higher in a State of Change. Teresa Lubbers, Indiana’s Commissioner for Higher Education, introduced the new guiding document for the state of Indiana during the 2020 State of Higher Education Address.

Lubbers unveiled the details of the new plan today, during her eighth-annual address in the north atrium of the Indiana Statehouse in front of an audience of education, government, business and community leaders.

Reaching Higher in a State of Change is the Commission’s plan to get to 2025, which is the deadline for Indiana’s big goal of having at least 60 percent of Hoosiers with quality credentials beyond a high school diploma. Currently, 43.4 percent of Hoosiers have education and training past high school.

“Reaching Higher in a State of Change provides the vision to get us to our goal by 2025,” said Lubbers. “We have outlined key strategies and policies in what we are calling our ‘Blueprint for Change,’ which are aggressive and essential to our success. These strategies have been selected to support our priorities of completion, equity and talent.”

College completion has been a continual goal for the Commission. Approaching 2025, the changing landscape of higher education and the demands of a new and changing economy require an expanded definition of “completion” and “higher education.” This means postsecondary education includes all quality credentials from short-term certificates, apprenticeships and industry certifications to two- and four-year college degrees.

Completion impacts the state’s economy as well as individual prosperity. Indiana’s college graduates contribute at least $13 billion in additional spending and tax revenue compared to high school diploma holders. Since the Great Recession, 99 percent of jobs created require a credential beyond a high school diploma.

In defining equity, the Commission acknowledges that life’s circumstances or obstacles should not dictate a person’s opportunity to succeed. Since 2013, the Commission has been focused on reducing and eliminating the state’s achievement gaps, resolving to cut those gaps in half by 2018 and close educational gaps by 2025. While the gaps are now halfway closed, more work is needed to eliminate the gaps entirely.

The Commission produced its first College Equity Report in 2018 to show a statewide analysis of the gaps in higher education, disaggregating data based on race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender and geography. This is an annual focus that will continue for the Commission.

The Commission also highlights the priority of talent, in order to unlock the state’s talent needs and develop and unleash Indiana’s potential. By taking into account a full range of education and workforce credentials, Reaching Higher in a State of Change goes beyond the “either-or” depiction of higher education and workforce to a more productive and meaningful focus on developing talent. 

“Indiana’s willingness to embrace this new higher education compact with a collective sense of urgency and optimism will determine our state’s readiness and prosperity for decades to come. The Commission is focused on creating a talent system that affords all Hoosiers the benefits associated with higher learning – learning that can be attained in multiple ways to respond to a changing world of work,” said Lubbers.

Measuring change
A key component of Reaching Higher in a State of Change is measuring the state’s progress. The Commission will issue an annual report card leading up to 2025, highlighting these three metrics for change:

  • Educational attainment, through progress toward 60 percent of Hoosiers with education above a high school diploma; as well as progress on college-going and completion indicators that move the needle on educational attainment
  • Career relevance and preparation, through progress toward 100 percent of postsecondary programs requiring an internship, work-based learning, research project or other student engagement experience that has career relevance
  • Economic impact, by measuring progress toward Indiana becoming a leading Midwest state for median household income (adjusted for cost of living), including short-term and long-term goals:
    • By 2025, Indiana will be above the average of peer states for median household income
    • By 2030, Indiana will be in the top five of its peer states for median household income

“These are ambitious goals but they’re the right ones for Hoosiers and our state,” Lubbers said. “We know that the Commission cannot meet these ambitious goals alone. We need strong partners inside state government and our institutions, along with employers and the philanthropic community.”

Reaching Higher in a State of Change highlights several Hoosiers and stories about their individual journeys through education and training. During her address, Lubbers recognized those featured in the strategic plan and others who are making a difference in Indiana.

“The work we are doing across our state is impacting individuals’ quality of life. Real Hoosiers are making the decisions to pursue education and new skills to the betterment of their families, their communities and their futures,” said Lubbers.

Lubbers also highlighted the state’s early college promise scholarship, the 21st Century Scholars program. Earlier in the day during 21st Century Scholars Day, the Commission hosted current college Scholars, alumni of the program, key community partners, universities and colleges and others in celebration of the program’s 30th anniversary. Governor Eric Holcomb recognized the day with a proclamation and both chambers of the General Assembly approved resolutions to acknowledge that 40,000 Hoosiers have completed a degree with the Scholars program and over 100,000 students – from seventh graders to seniors in college – are enrolled today.

To read the full 2020 State of Higher Education Address, click here.

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