Higher ed presidents form council to improve go-on rate

Idaho’s community college and university presidents have formed a council to advance the state’s goal to get more teens to continue their education after high school.

The Presidents’ Leadership Council began meeting in August to consider ways to improve Idaho’s low and stagnate college go-on rate and other career-readiness initiatives. The effort stems from the State Board of Education’s call for higher education institutions to work together on the issue.

“This is a big deal,” said State Board President Debbie Critchfield.

Idaho’s go-on rate has remained flat at 45 percent over the last three years, despite an ongoing, multimillion-dollar state investment to get more kids to continue their education.

Debbie Critchfield

The presidents have heard the State Board’s call and will meet monthly as a council to find “the most impactful ways” coordination might benefit Idaho students, said Idaho State University President Kevin Satterlee, who chairs the 10-member council.

The monthly meetings aren’t new. State Board bylaws require top officials at Idaho’s higher education institutions to meet regularly. Yet the collective call to improve the go-on rate, and recent presidential hires at Idaho’s universities, led the council to reformulate its purpose, Satterlee told EdNews.

“The presidents thought it was time to revisit how this group operates to enhance Idaho’s education system,” Satterlee said.

The focus is now on finding ways institutions can coordinate and leverage each others’ strengths. The council’s new draft mission statement emphasizes a systemwide approach to building a more educated and skilled workforce in Idaho.

Goals include:

  • Ensuring that dual enrollment benefits students by enhancing the go-on rate.
  • Providing support for high schools to help reinforce the college pipeline.
  • Promoting the value of higher education for individuals, communities and the economy.
  • Improving collaboration and programming between state institutions.
  • Ensuring smooth transferability of credits between state institutions.

Idaho has addressed streamlining credit transfers, Satterlee acknowledged. One way is through “gem stamped” college credits guaranteed to transfer between state colleges and universities.

But “seamless collaboration on joint programming (among institutions) is the logical next step,” Satterlee said.

Kevin Satterlee

Critchfield acknowledged challenges facing both the council and the go-on rate, including job demands in a strengthened economy.

“That impacts the number of kids going on,” Critchfield said.

College tuition in Idaho is also on the rise, driven in large part by a continuing shift away from state funding and toward tuition — a trend that’s played out for decades.

Still, Critchfield expressed confidence in the council’s ability to help move the needle. “They’ve so far gone above and beyond our expectations,” she said.

Critchfield expressed need for the group to council with a certain measure of autonomy, but she’ll look for periodic opportunities to attend the monthly meetings, “mostly to listen.” 

The council is still reviewing initiatives with the State Board, Satterlee said. As a result, “outcomes and deliverables have not yet been identified.”

Satterlee didn’t say when future meetings will take place, but said they’ll generally happen in the Treasure Valley.

State Board Executive Director Matt Freeman and Idaho Career and Technical Education Administrator Dwight Johnson are also on the council. 

Members of the Presidents’ Leadership Council include:

  • Kevin Satterlee, council chair, Idaho State University
  • Jeff Fox, College of Southern Idaho
  • Cynthia Pemberton, Lewis Clark State College
  • Rick Aman, College of Eastern Idaho
  • Marlene Tromp, Boise State University
  • Bert Glandon, College of Western Idaho
  • Scott Green, University of Idaho
  • Rick MacLennan, North Idaho College 
  • Matt Freeman, State Board of Education
  • Dwight Johnson, Idaho Career and Technical Education Administrator
Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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