Academic programs dominate agenda at Chadron

1108250066-70The Coordinating Commission will meet this Thursday, June 25, at Chadron State College. The Commission typically meets seven or eight times a year and, because of its statewide role in higher education, attempts to meet on college campuses throughout Nebraska.

Proposals for new academic programs and organizational units dominate the agenda at Chadron State. The CCPE Commissioners will consider five proposals for new instructional programs, one proposal for a new degree offering, and three proposals for new organizational units.

The Commission also will meet for a work session the evening of June 24. The work session, also at Chadron State, will focus on potential revisions to the Comprehensive Statewide Plan for Postsecondary Education. The Commission is required by state constitution to develop and update as necessary the Comprehensive Plan.

CCPE leads Nebraska effort as part of military education initiative

The Coordinating Commission is leading Nebraska’s efforts in a 13-state initiative to help military service members, veterans, and their families overcome barriers to earning postsecondary credentials and entering the workforce.

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) was recently awarded a $900,000 grant from Lumina Foundation for the Multi-State Collaborative on Military Credit (MCMC), which aims to, among other things, identify effective policies and best practices that can be shared among participating states.

Volunteers from state agencies, university systems, college campuses, and other organizations have been working together as part of the initiative. The Coordinating Commission has served as the MCMC facilitator in Nebraska. Kathleen Fimple, the Commission’s Academic Programs Officer, is Nebraska’s representative on the MCMC steering committee.

The Coordinating Commission recently  consulted with interested parties from across the state in the drafting of a project plan for Nebraska. Those who have been involved in the initial conversations about MCMC include the directors of military and veterans services offices on one or more campuses of the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska community colleges, and Nebraska private institutions; a representative of the Nebraska State College System; a representative of the Nebraska Department of Education; and Nebraska State Sen. Sue Crawford.

Particularly helpful were the veterans offices on the campuses of Central Community College, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Bellevue University.

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact is a nonprofit regional organization assisting Midwestern states in advancing higher education through interstate cooperation and resource sharing.

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

CCPE Commissioner named to leadership post at Nebraska Department of Education

CCPE Commissioner Dr. Deborah Frison of Omaha has been selected to fill a newly created leadership position at the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE). Frison will begin her duties as Deputy Commissioner of School Improvement this fall. She will continue her work with the Coordinating Commission, as well.

Frison currently is principal at Omaha Burke High School, a position she has held since 2008. Prior to Burke, Frison was principal at Morton Middle School and King Science and Technology Magnet School, both in Omaha. She began her career in education as a music teacher.

As one of 11 commissioners, Frison works with CCPE staff to fulfill the Commission’s many duties, which are spelled out in both the state’s constitution and in statute. She represents District 2, which covers north Omaha. Frison has served as a commissioner since 2012.

Commissioners are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature. They are not paid for their services.

In her new position, Frison will provide leadership and oversight of NDE’s programs and services to Nebraska’s schools and educational service units.  There will be a strong focus on school improvement, boosting student achievement, and the development and integration of “next generation” systems that support school districts.

CCPE produces series of info sheets on financial aid, attainment and its role in NE higher ed

The Coordinating Commission recently produced a series of fliers that offer an overview of the need-based financial aid programs the Commission administers; the state’s current postsecondary attainment levels and where it needs to be by 2020; and the Commission’s duties and responsibilities.

CCPE overview

Nebraska’s College Attainment

Nebraska Opportunity Grant

Access College Early (ACE) grant program

ACE Plus grant program

CCPE awards grants to assist K-12 teachers

The Coordinating Commission recently voted to fund five projects through a U.S. Department of Education grant program designed to improve K-12 teachers’ content knowledge and professional skills.

The Commission administers the Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grants for Nebraska. These grants are intended to help increase student achievement by providing educators with professional development activities to improve their knowledge and teaching skills.

The grants provide funds to partnerships established between Nebraska postsecondary institutions and high-need, low-income local education agencies (LEAs), most often school districts. The partners use the funds for specific projects pertaining to core academic subjects.

A full list and descriptions of the selected programs, as well as the funding they’ll receive, can be found on the Commission website. Programs will benefit teachers from school districts across the state.

An evaluation panel with members from Nebraska high schools and the State Department of Education met in December at the Commission office in Lincoln. Eight proposals were submitted by partnerships that involved four different institutions (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Doane College and Wayne State College), the Nebraska Educational Technology Association, and a variety of school districts and educational service units (ESUs). The Commission at its Jan. 22 meeting voted to approve the panel’s recommended projects to fund.

At this time, the total amount of funds available for awards in 2014-2015 is $275,855.

Commission sets 2015 meeting calendar

The Coordinating Commission recently approved its 2015 meeting calendar, which includes visits to Chadron State College, Central Community College and Nebraska Wesleyan University.

The Nebraska Constitution and statute require the Commission to coordinate higher education from a statewide perspective. Because of that, the Commission attempts to schedule meetings at various campuses across the state. In recent years the Commission held meetings at Western Nebraska Community College, Northeast Community College, Peru State College, Wayne State College and Metropolitan Community College.

Note: Dates and locations listed below are subject to change. Always check the Commission website to confirm.

January 22 – Videoconference, originating from NET in Lincoln

March 12 – Central Community College, Columbus

April 30 – University of Nebraska-Lincoln

June 25 – Chadron State College

Aug. 20 – Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln

Oct. 15 – State Capitol, Lincoln

Dec. 3 – Apothecary Building, Lincoln

CCPE testifies for need-based financial aid funding

Baumgartner

Baumgartner

At a Legislative hearing Nov. 19 the Coordinating Commission made the case for continuing to use a share of State lottery revenue to help fund a need-based financial aid program for Nebraska college students.

The Legislature’s Education Committee heard more than three hours of testimony on how to distribute about $17 million in State lottery funds earmarked for education. Coordinating Commission Executive Director Mike Baumgartner offered testimony, which included a handout that clearly illustrates how vital lottery funding is to the Nebraska Opportunity (NOG).

Under the current lottery distribution formula – set to expire in 2016 – about $10 million of those funds go to NOG, which is administered by the Coordinating Commission. The remaining $7 million goes toward various pre-K and K-12 initiatives.

In 2013-14, more than $16 million in NOG funds went to needy students, many of whom would not be able to afford college without such financial aid. NOG is funded through a combination of State General fund appropriations and State lottery funds. If lottery funding were removed – which is what would happen under current legislation – nearly 10,000 fewer NOG scholarships would have been awarded in 2013-14.

The Education Committee is expected to consider legislation this session that would decide how the education portion of lottery funding is distributed after July 1, 2016.