Higher education expert Bakhtiyor Isoev released two new episodes of the Education & Empowerment Podcast. The episodes feature interviews with Dr. Tom Harnisch, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO)'s Vice President for Government Relations, and Michael Akin, the President of LINK Strategic Partners, a "strategic communications, stakeholder engagement, and social impact consulting firm" based in Washington, DC.
In the just-released episodes, Harnisch and Akin emphasize the importance of collaboration and strategic partnership when it comes to the post-pandemic future of higher education policy.
"Game-Changing" Higher Education Reform on the Horizon
"It's an incredibly exciting time to be working in Higher Education policy," says Dr. Tom Harnisch, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO)'s Vice President for Government Relations. Though the pandemic continues to challenge colleges and universities in unprecedented ways, Harnisch believes that opportunities abound.
The most significant obstacle facing the higher education sector right now is a lack of resources for public colleges and universities, which, Harnisch points out, serve 75% of college students. State budget cuts have hurt many of states' most vulnerable students--or those who have the fewest resources and the highest needs. This is where SHEEO comes in.
As the Vice President for Government Relations, Harnisch's job is to "build a cohesive policy architecture" between state and federal government in order to amplify the voices of state leaders and address these funding and accessibility gaps. Harnisch is optimistic about the Biden administration's approach to higher education policy reform. "If realized", he says, "[several proposed pieces of legislation] would be the most sweeping reform of higher education since the Higher Education Act."
Listen to the full interview of Dr. Tom Harnisch with Bakhtiyor Isoev on 4stay.
How to leverage "Town and Gown" Partnerships
"Innovation is about learning the moment you're in", says Michael Akin, a self-described "community builder and changemaker" and the President and CEO of LINK Strategic Partner. Akin's interest in higher education comes from early hands-on experience developing the "community" arm of George Washington University's Office of Government and Community Affairs.
According to Akin, the pandemic has given us the "opportunity to build back not just to normal, but to something that is a better, more equitable version of normal." He believes the key to this new normal is strategic partnership, particularly between colleges and universities and the cities and communities they're a part of. "We need to physically and literally take down the walls", Akin says. His firm helps higher education institutions and their partners cultivate and sustain these partnerships. "What is the most authentic and effective way to engage stakeholders...in decision-making?" he asks.
Ultimately, Akin says, it's important to first "embrace uncertainty" when it comes to forging new partnerships. But it's equally important to take steps towards formalizing that partnership in due time.
Listen to the full interview of Michael Akin with Bakhtiyor Isoev on 4stay.
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Release ID: 51397