2020 April e-news

MHEC Celebrates 29 Years

April 2020

MHEC Tracks COVID-19 Resources

MHEC continues to monitor the evolution of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and the impact it is having on postsecondary institutions in the Midwest. In doing so, a number of resources have been documented on the MHEC website which is intended to be informative but not all inclusive. As institutions anxiously await federal emergency stimulus funding, the following article "How Much Stimulus Will Your College Receive" from Inside Higher Ed documents the amounts. Another immediate opportunity to gather data comes from The Hope Center. Institutional leaders can sign-up to administer a survey to their students about the impact the COVID-19 crisis is having upon them. In order to participate, institutions must sign-up by April 17. Suggested resources or ideas for potential guest presenters on the impact of COVID may be submitted to MHEC.

McGraw-Hill Provides Free Access to Digital Materials

While MHEC is not endorsing any particular vendor, McGraw Hill contacted MHEC in early April to inform that that they are providing free digital content and courseware, online course building services, and faculty training and support for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term (courses beginning on or before 3/9/2020). Additionally, they say their courseware includes tools such as remote proctoring, lecture capture software, auto-graded assessments across the curriculum, as well as virtual labs in bio, microbiology. and anatomy and physiology to better support faculty teaching remotely. Lastly, they say they can deliver these resources to students through Learning Management Systems without the hassle of access codes.


COVID-19 Leaves Institutions Vulnerable

As the higher education workforce pivots to working from home, institutions can be susceptible to increased cyber attacks. Cyber criminals are capitalizing on the pandemic and deploying COVID-19 related phishing attacks and exploiting home network vulnerabilities, according to a recent Business Insurance article "Surge in working from home raises cyber exposure issue." Institutions are encouraged to review their cyber liability insurance coverage. MHEC is ready to assist campuses with securing new or reviewing existing coverage. For more details, please visit MHEC's Cyber Insurance program or contact Carla Ahrens, property program manager, at (612) 677-2776.

NC-SARA Maintains Importance of Student Consumer Protections throughout COVID-19, with Letter to Stakeholders

The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) issued a letter to higher education stakeholder groups, including the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and American Council on Education (ACE), that have raised concerns to NC-SARA about the continued use of federal financial composite scores as part of NC-SARA’s evaluative process.

Dr. Lori Williams, NC-SARA president and CEO, is in the process of soliciting feedback from state portal entity staff through May 1, on the consideration of a potential, temporary emergency change to current policy regarding the Federal Financial Composite Score requirement.

MHEC Launches Interactive Dashboard, Providing Data and Key Indicators to Promote Student Success in the Midwest

The last few months the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) has been piloting an interactive dashboard that provides data and key performance indicators relevant to the goal of improving postsecondary educational attainment in the Midwest and across the nation. “I’m really proud of our team and their hard work to bring this important resource and tool to the Midwest and beyond. Dr. Shaun Williams-Wyche, MHEC's research manager, played a key role in developing this dashboard in-house," added Susan Heegaard, MHEC president. "Given the difficult time that we all currently face, data-based decision making is critical, now more than ever.”

Comments Requested for Federal Open Educational Resources Legislation MHEC continues to work in the area of Open Educational Resources (OER) and asks that its stakeholders please consider providing feedback on The Open Textbook Pilot. The Open Textbook Pilot is a federal grant program designed to support the creation and expanded use of open textbooks at postsecondary institutions of higher education in order to reduce costs for students. The public comment deadline is April 30, at 11:59 pm EDT/10:59 CDT. The U.S. Department of Education is seeking public comment  on the bill from individuals and organizations.


Wichita State University Shares Accessibility Story in MHEC Webinar

On March 17, MHEC hosted an accessibility webinar with guest presenter John Jones, director of the Media Resources Center of Wichita State University (WSU). The webinar From a Culture of Accommodation to a Culture of Accessibility: The Wichita State Story is [available for playback <https://youtu.be/Txaqa0r4rtQ>] . In 2016, WSU and the National Federation of the Blind announced an agreement to settle a federal civil rights complaint that had been filed against the school. This was the beginning of WSU's journey from accommodation to accessibility. No matter an institution's level of engagement with accessibility, this journey provides insights and resources to help make institutions more accessible.
MHEC Institutions Participate in NDUS Digital Accessibility Conference

On March 9, representatives from MHEC states were invited to participate in the North Dakota University System (NDUS) Digital Accessibility Conference. Subject-matter experts participated in a panel discussion on Digital Accessibility Issues Across the Upper Midwest . Participating in the panel were: Gregor Kalan, director of web marketing for Pittsburg State University in Kansas, Eric Mosterd, assistant director for the Center for Technology and Learning at the University of South Dakota and a regents fellow for e-Education Initiatives with the South Dakota Board of Regents, Shannon Aylesworth, adaptive technology specialist for the Accessibility Resource Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Deb Kidwell, representing MHEC. The conference addressed North Dakota's State Board of Higher Education's Digital Accessibility Policy through topics such as campus planning, faculty training, legal information, web design, and accessible procurement. Jerry Rostad, assistant chief information officer/academic services and communication for NDUS, helped facilitate MHEC's participation. Rostad and Mosterd both serve as member of MHEC's Accessibility Advisory Group.

Deadline Extended to May 12, Q & A posted for RFP for Virtualization & Data Center Modernization

A Request for Proposal (RFP) solicitation has been published for Virtualization & Data Center Modernization. Note that due to the impact of the Coronavirus, MHEC has extended the deadline to respond to the RFP. Recent vendor questions and answers have also been posted to the MHEC website.

Over the last four months, the technologies Infrastructure Advisory Group met to discuss the current trends of hyper converged infrastructure and the role of software virtualization in modernizing the data center. The advisory group prepared an overview and a draft scope of services for virtualization and data center modernization. Utilizing the work of the advisory group, a workgroup representing Eastern Michigan University, Illinois State University, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Nebraska, and the North Dakota University System, prepared an RFP defining the business drivers and the solution proposal. MHEC's current contract with Arrow Electronics (MHEC-021213) for VMWare's full line of virtualization software, services, and training runs through November 30, 2020. There is still an opportunity to provide feedback on this initiative by completing a short, five-minute survey regarding your institution's virtualization solution provider.

MHEC Staff

Erin Frahm, director of finance and administration, joined the Compact, this month. Welcome Erin!

Susan Heegaard, MHEC president, along with the MHEC officers have made the decision to hold the June Executive Committee meeting virtually. More details will be posted to the MHEC website as they become available.

MHEC celebrates 29 years as an organization! April 10, marks MHEC's anniversary date. While we are all working at home and look forward to celebrating together, we are grateful to the higher education leaders, legislators, and governors of our 12 member states and look forward to continuing our services to you. We welcome ideas and suggestions of how MHEC can improve and be a resource to you, especially during these uncertain times.

MHEC Commissioners
Missouri Speaker Elijah Haahr appointed Representative John Black, to serve on the MHEC Commission. His term began on March 18, 2019, and runs through July 1, 2021. View the Missouri commissioners.