Strategic agenda seeks to improve quality of life, workforce and economy

Staff Report

BARBOURVILLE — The Council on Postsecondary Education approved Stronger by Degrees, A Strategic Agenda for Postsecondary and Adult Education at its meeting Friday at Union College.

The six-year plan intensifies Kentucky’s strong focus on improving opportunity for citizens and building a stronger economy through increased educational attainment at all levels—certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees, and above.

Required by statute, the strategic agenda will guide postsecondary policy and practice through 2021.

At the heart of the strategic agenda is advancing the ambitious goal to raise the percentage of Kentuckians with a postsecondary degree or certificate from the current level of 45 percent to 58 percent by the year 2025.

“Increasing the education and skill levels of our citizens is the most effective way to grow individual prosperity and address many of Kentucky’s challenges—poverty, poor health and an undereducated, underemployed workforce. Stronger by Degrees will move us closer to our attainment goal while strengthening the employability and educational skills of our current and future workforce,” said Council President Bob King.

A 2015 study by the University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) found that if Kentucky reached the national average in educational attainment it would generate a net positive impact of roughly $900 million annually to the state’s economy.

Morehead State University President Wayne Andrews, the convener of the Conference of Presidents, said, “The campus presidents appreciate the thorough process that the Council used in the development of the strategic agenda. We know that higher education means a better quality of life for our citizens and economic growth for the Commonwealth. At its heart, this is what this agenda is about.”

The agenda is the result of more than a year of work involving hundreds of contributors, including representatives of education, business and numerous organizations. Through town hall meetings, committee meetings and forums, contributors identified major obstacles to overcome and the most promising strategies to move Kentucky forward.

The three “urgent” priorities outlined in the strategic agenda include:

– Opportunity—Ensuring accessibility, student support and resources, and that students enter postsecondary education prepared for credit-bearing work.

– Success—Increasing persistence and certificate and degree completions, and improving teaching and learning.

– Impact—Raising educational attainment levels, improving career readiness of graduates, increasing basic, applied and translational research to promote economic growth, and expanding partnerships and public service to improve the health and quality of life of Kentucky communities.

A final recommendation regarding strategic agenda metrics will be presented at the conclusion of the outcomes-based funding model discussions later this year.

In other action, the Council approved tuition and mandatory fee proposals for three universities. All rates complied with the resident, undergraduate ceilings set in April by the Council: 5 percent increase for the research universities; $432 annual increase for the comprehensive universities; and a $9 per-credit-hour increase for students attending college within the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

The approvals included Eastern Kentucky University – $418 annual increase; Northern Kentucky University – $264 annual increase; and Murray State University – weighted average increase equal to 5.2 percent, which is less than the $432 ceiling.

In other tuition action, the Council directed authority to the Council president to approve remaining tuition and fee proposals for all institutions not able to submit proposals for consideration at the June 3 meeting, provided the proposals comply with the tuition ceilings set by the Council.

In other business, the Council:

– Approved two academic programs—a Master of Public Financial Management at the University of Kentucky and a Master of Science in Child and Family Studies at Western Kentucky University.

– Heard the results of Council President Bob King’s annual evaluation, which was described by numerous Council members as extraordinary during a difficult budget year.

Chair Glenn Denton said, “We could not be more pleased, and we are very blessed to have his strong leadership. If rough seas make good sailors, he is a very fine captain.”

The Council also approved the Council President’s Plan of Work, which provides a clear set of policy priorities and tasks to guide the work of the Council staff through June 2017.

Resolutions were issued to outgoing Council student member Elizabeth Ruwe and staff member Mike Bailey, who retired with nearly 37 years of service.

The Council heard the following reports: CPE President, Kentucky Commissioner of Education and Committee on Equal Opportunities. Reports from the campuses were also available.

The next meeting of the Council will be Sept. 22-23 at Eastern Kentucky University.

Meeting materials, including the new strategic agenda and tuition proposals, are available at

Staff Report


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