The morning’s introductions began with Bill Shepard of W.J. Shepard Consulting, LLC, who is also Chair of the Chamber’s ‘Business Leaders for Responsible Government’ group. Michele McKinney of University of Colorado introduced Garcia, and Garcia’s first remarks were about the wide variety of colleges that are in Colorado. He spoke about how community colleges, trade schools, and even “mom-and-pop barber schools” are losing funds. Big universities like CU and CSU will likely continue to thrive because of large attendance, but what’s the future for smaller-scale post-education institutions?
Decreased funding isn’t the only trend Garcia addressed. He brought up the increase in tuition, the growing importance of post-secondary schools for the workforce to make a “living wage,” and the gap between seniors in high school to college freshman – many college freshman have to take remedial courses in their first semesters because they’re not prepared for full-credit work.
How can we strengthen our communities? Garcia spoke of the staggering numbers of people that have enrolled in college and completed courses, but never earned a degree. There is an opportunity here. A bigger push for non-traditional campuses and online and evening courses could mean re-enrollment for those previous attendees to finish their degree.
In alignment with staggering numbers, Andy Carlson, Sr. Policy Analyst for the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), delivered an informative presentation on trends in state higher education funding for Colorado and the Nation.
Final comments for the meeting were from Jeff Wasden, President of Colorado Business Roundtable/ Chair, Public Policy, for the Chamber. The Chamber’s Business Leaders for Responsible Government (BLRG) group meets monthly, and is in alignment with the South Metro Denver Chamber’s key strategic priority for public policy.