University System, Community College System Boards Plan Joint Initiatives
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Contact: Tiffany Eddy
Collaboration the Theme as Trustees From Both Systems Meet Together
Manchester – The boards of trustees from the University System of New Hampshire and the Community College System of New Hampshire met together on March 24 at a public higher education summit to discuss collaboration and common goals as the systems engage in planning efforts to meet the educational and economic needs of the state. The boards discussed their shared goal of increasing the number of graduates in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), as well as a number of other collaborative efforts including dual admission, co-location and seamless transfer between associate degree and baccalaureate degree programs.
This is the first such meeting of both systems’ boards, and system leaders plan to continue their joint efforts to leverage the strengths of the public institutions, which include seven community colleges and the four institutions of the university system.
Gov. Hassan attended the meeting and underscored the benefit to NH from both systems working together to maximize opportunities. “In order to ensure a bright economic future for our state, we must work together to help our students develop the skills and innovative thinking necessary for success in the 21st century economy,” Governor Hassan said. “The New Hampshire Public Higher Education Summit helped enhance those efforts, building on New Hampshire’s tradition of collective problem-solving by bringing together current and former trustees of the University and Community College systems for their inaugural joint meeting. I applaud the ongoing efforts at both systems to modernize and innovate in education, and I thank the leadership at the University and Community College systems for their commitment to working together to build a stronger workforce.”
“This kind of collaboration is critical for New Hampshire,” said USNH board chair Pamela Diamantis. “It’s important, because while we do serve different missions and constituencies, we both recognize the importance of flexibility and nimbleness to be able to respond to state workforce needs.”
“Since 2007, the number of students transferring from community colleges into the state’s university system increased by 57 percent,” said USNH chancellor Dr. Todd Leach. “However, we are going to do more in order to jointly address emerging state workforce needs, such as guaranteed admission and purpose-built programs where students won’t lose credits.”
Ross Gittell, chancellor of the community college system, highlighted some of the ways the two systems are working together to strengthen the state's skilled workforce in technical fields by increasing the number of STEM graduates in New Hampshire. Efforts include developing new industry-driven programs, bolstering transfer pathways between the colleges, increasing access through online courses, and collaborating with K-12 schools and industry to promote STEM fields and careers.
“Together, the two public systems of higher education provide access in all regions of the state, including our rural communities; offer a broad range of high-quality and economically relevant programs that support job creation; provide opportunities from certificates and associate degrees through transfer to four-year and advanced degrees; and create connections to skilled jobs in industries that are critical to New Hampshire's economy and quality of life,” Gittell said. "We can most effectively achieve the goals that are important to the state of New Hampshire by understanding how we can best work together to meet the needs of state residents and the economy.”
The summit was moderated by Paul Holloway, who presently chairs the community college system board of trustees and is a past chairman of the university system board. “The boards of trustees have an important role to play in ensuring that New Hampshire's two public systems of higher education are meeting the educational and economic needs of the state in ways that maximize resources and serves students, communities, industry and taxpayers," said Holloway.
Trustees also emphasized the importance of affordability. Both USNH and the community college system froze tuition last year, and CCSNH has frozen its tuition four of the past eight years. But members of both boards noted that cost and student debt is still an obstacle for too many NH families.
At the meeting system leaders also spoke about increasing connections with both middle and high schools, enhancing service to Veterans, and meeting workforce needs in fields including health care and information technology.
The 27-member board is responsible for the oversight of the University System, which includes the University of New Hampshire, Plymouth State University, Keene State College, and GraniteState College.
The Community College System of NH consists of seven colleges, offering associate degree and certificate programs, professional training, transfer pathways to four-year degrees, and dual-credit partnerships with NH high schools. The System’s colleges are Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth and Rochester; Lakes Region Community College in Laconia; Manchester Community College; Nashua Community College; NHTI – Concord’s Community College; River Valley Community College in Claremont and Keene; and White Mountains Community College in Berlin and Littleton.