Commission prepares for switch to new website

The Coordinating Commission will soon switch to a new website with a new URL:

The switch from the current site to the new site will occur later this month. Visitors to the Commission website are advised to update any bookmarked pages before the switch occurs. Visitors to the current homepage and other frequently visited pages will be temporarily redirected to the new site once the switch occurs.

In the meantime, visitors are encouraged to explore the new site. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Jason Keese at

Baumgartner testifies on college affordability

The Coordinating Commission’s executive director, Dr. Mike Baumgartner, testified before the Legislature’s Education Committee on Sept. 10 at a hearing about college affordability.

The committee’s chair, Sen. Kate Sullivan, asked Dr. Baumgartner to testify first and offer an overview of the issue in Nebraska, as well as make recommendations for ways to make college more affordable for Nebraska students. In addition to his spoken testimony, Baumgartner provided a packet of supporting information to the senators and committee staff.

Representatives from three of the state’s community colleges, the State College System, the University of Nebraska, and the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Nebraska also testified.

The hearing was a result of LB 519, part of which requires the Education Committee to study the issue of college affordability and issue a report on its findings no later than Dec. 31, 2015.

Dashboard provides college-going rates for Nebraska public high schools

DashboardThe Coordinating Commission has created an interactive dashboard that provides estimates of college-going rates for each of Nebraska’s public high schools from 2007 through 2014.

In this case, “college-continuation rate” is defined as the percentage of on-time public high school graduates who continued on to college by the following April, according to enrollment records obtained from the National Student Clearinghouse.

The Commission also recently published the “Degrees and Other Awards” portion of its Factual Look at Higher Education in Nebraska. This annual report, required by statute, also includes two additional sections: “Enrollment” and “Faculty and Salaries,” both of which will be published at a later date.

The Coordinating Commission maintains extensive databases and regularly produces comprehensive reports on higher education issues in Nebraska. The Commission is the only entity in the state that conducts such research.

For more information on the Commission’s data and research work, contact Jill Heese, Research Coordinator, at or 402-471-0031.

Zink brings wealth of experience to new role as Commission chair

The Coordinating Commission has elected Carol Zink of Lincoln as its new chair, while W. Scott Wilson of Papillion was named vice chair. Both will serve a one-year term that began July 1. The Commission voted unanimously on both appointments during its June 25 meeting.

Zink has served on the Commission since 2007.  Before retiring recently, she worked for the Lincoln Public School District for more than 35 years, most recently as a facilitator for gifted programs at Merle Beattie and Ruth Hill Elementary Schools in Lincoln.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and early childhood education from Youngstown State University in Ohio, and a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Youngstown State’s Beeghly College of Education recently honored Zink at its annual alumni awards dinner. She has held numerous leadership positions with the Coordinating Commission, including vice chair of the Commission and chair of the Academic Programs Committee.

Wilson has been with the Commission since 2009. A graduate of Wayne State College, Wilson has worked for CenturyLink – formerly Qwest Communications – for more than 25 years. He served on the Commission’s Executive Committee in 2014-15.

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.