MHEC News February 2024

Dear Colleagues,

Legislative sessions have begun throughout the Midwest and state visits are underway! Our staff have connected with key higher education, legislative, and executive branch leaders, while recently visiting state capitols in South Dakota, Kansas, and Minnesota, with more meetings on the horizon. This is part of our work I look forward to every year, giving us an opportunity to spend time with and learn from leaders across the Midwest. This past month, MHEC brought together champions for open educational resources from all 12 member states and we welcomed Samra Asghedom to the MHEC team! See below for more of this month's newsletter highlights:

  • Policy and Research: State Funding for Higher Education; Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Committee; and Open Education Summit Recap and Next Steps
  • Convenings: Midwest FAFSA Summit; Licensure Compliance, Cybersecurity, and OER Course Marking
  • Contracts: New Contract Award to Resultant
  • Programs: SARA Policy Modification Underway; MSEP 2.0 Advisory Committee Commences
  • Commissioner News: Appointment in Michigan; State Visits to Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin; and Commissioner Committee Opportunities

As always, our Compact welcomes your feedback and suggestions.

Susan Heegaard, MHEC President

Policy & Research

Several Midwest States Rank Above the National Benchmark in Public Effort to Fund Higher Education

The latest update to MHEC's Interactive Dashboard shows that funding per $1,000 of personal income in the Midwest approximated the national level in 2021. For every $1,000 of personal income in Midwestern states, $5.29 was allocated to higher education, compared to $5.30 nationally. However, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin ranked above both the national and Midwest benchmarks in state funding effort. Furthermore, Nebraska ranked among the top five states in the nation in state funding effort.

For this specific metric, a state’s overall effort to fund higher education includes state and local fiscal support for higher education per $1,000 of personal income. This is one measure for assessing the level of funding for higher education relative to available resources. State and local fiscal support consists of state tax appropriations, local tax support, additional non-tax funds such as lottery revenue that support higher education, and funds appropriated to other state entities for specific higher education expenditures or benefits.

State and local appropriations in this indicator are used for general operations, agriculture-related programs, public student aid, medical education, and support for independent institutions or students attending them. Personal income includes income received by all people from participation in production, government and business transfer payments, and government interest. For more information, see MHEC’s research brief, Evaluating State Funding Effort for Higher Education.

MHEC's Interactive Dashboard provides additional ways to visualize this data using bar charts, line graphs, maps, and tables. Selected finance indicators are also available for MHEC states in the report Higher Education in Focus.

Explore the Dashboard
State Funding Effort 2024 
Source. SHEEO. (2023). State higher education finance: State effort and capacity to fund higher education: FY 2020 and 2021. Top 5 States, 2021: WY, NM, HI, NE, NC

Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Committee on Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Faculty Qualifications Commences February 15

The Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Committee on Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Faculty Qualifications kicks off February 15 at 1:00 p.m. CT. The committee will delve into the HLC's new expectations for instructor qualifications. The goal of this committee is to foster a collaborative discussion and share valuable insights with regional stakeholders. Furthermore, the group will actively contribute to the development of recommended practices for monitoring instructor qualifications in line with HLC's expectations. At the time of publication, over 50 individuals were registered for this advisory committee. Anyone interested in this topic is welcome to attend this meeting.

MHEC Holds 2024 Midwestern Open Education Summit, Sets Stage for Next Phase of OER Work

MHEC hosted the 2024 Midwestern Open Education Summit on January 24-25, an in-person convening that brought together OER champions from across MHEC's 12 member states. MHEC has convened open educational resources (OER) state action teams on an ongoing basis since this work was initiated in 2018. State representatives worked together to assess progress in their respective states and planned how to keep the momentum going upon returning home. State progress is showcased in state videos, posters, and other resources that have been posted on the MHEC website. Representatives will be completing OER state plans that will be instrumental in the next phase of the collective work in the Midwest and in the work being done in the other compact regions as part of the National Consortium of Open Educational Resources (NCOER). Staff from each region will come together for an NCOER retreat on February 26-29, to map out this national work.

Open Educational Research State Action Teams from all MHEC member states, over 50 women and men standing on a stairwell.
Representatives from MHEC's 12-member state OER Action Teams attended the 2024 Midwestern Open Education Summit. See our Facebook page for more OE Summit Photos.


2024 Midwest FAFSA Summit: Building State-Driven Solutions for College Access

Save the dates for June 11-13; more information and registration coming soon!

The summit will bring together postsecondary state higher education administrators, policymakers, and professionals with a passion for higher education access. Attendees will represent a broad range of organizational entities that can influence FAFSA policy and practice, including colleges and universities; state legislatures; state departments of PK-12 and postsecondary education; nonprofit organizations focusing on college and career readiness and success; professional associations for principals, superintendents, and guidance counselors; and education-oriented foundations. The central goals of the summit are to:

  • Equip state-level stakeholders with a comprehensive understanding of the FAFSA support landscape within their respective states, including available activities, policies, and processes, and the evidence base behind them;
  • Facilitate networking and collaboration by identifying other stakeholders within their states working on FAFSA support, including fellow attendees and invitees; and
  • Promote regional and national collaboration by highlighting organizations and initiatives across the nation dedicated to FAFSA support and sharing of best practices.

For more information contact Jonathan McNicholes, stakeholder engagement and convening assistant.

To discuss partnerships and sponsorships, please contact Jenny Parks, vice president for policy and research.

Resources Available from Past MHEC Events

Findings of the OER Course Marking Landscape Analysis Survey. This webinar highlights the findings of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Course
Marking Landscape Analysis Survey, administered in May 2023. Course marking is when
institutions create indicators in course catalogs that let students know the cost of their
textbooks and learning materials at the time of registration so they can anticipate the
full cost of postsecondary attendance for a semester. The survey was designed to
explore course marking related to OER and no-/low-cost course materials. Learn about
efforts to explore further the collection and use of course marking data.

Moving Cybersecurity from ‘Unfunded Mandate’ to Strategic Advantage. This webinar looks at how higher education institutions can turn cybersecurity from a burden to a strategic advantage. Escalating risks, proactive mitigation strategies, attacker methods, risk minimization techniques, and compliance strategies were discussed, in addition to emerging trends that help leaders improve their cybersecurity capabilities.

Winter is Here but Summer is Coming: Preparing for July 1, 2024, Licensure Compliance. This webinar hosts the Higher Education Licensure Pros (HELP) who provide the latest available information on the new U.S. Department of Education regulations related to licensure, the potential impacts, and how institutions can comply by July 1, 2024. HELP provides practical examples and answers to common questions.


MHEC Awards Resultant Master Agreement to Provide for Data Analytics for Student Success, Institutional Efficiencies and Integration

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) has awarded Resultant a master agreement to provide data analytics solutions and services to colleges and universities across 12 member states to support student success, institutional efficiencies, and integration. MHEC’s agreements with the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) means colleges and universities in 47 states can now use this contract vehicle to purchase data analytics solutions from Resultant.


SARA Policy Modification Process is Underway for 2024

Stakeholders of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) submitted 49 proposed policy modifications for the 2024 policy modification cycle. SARA Regional Steering Committees (RSC) submitted 12; two of them came from MHEC’s M-SARA RSC who collaborated with the others to avoid duplicate proposals.

The first amendment period runs March 7–April 5, and allows submitters to revise or withdraw proposed policies. NC-SARA’s Board of Directors approves SARA policy during their fall board meeting in October. Follow the process on the NC-SARA website.

MSEP 2.0 Advisory Committee Commences

MHEC is in the process of evaluating the Midwestern Student Exchange Program (MSEP), a multi-state tuition reciprocity program. The MSEP 2.0 Advisory Committee kicked off at the end of January to reimagine MSEP and position it to better serve the needs of students, parents, and institutions across the Midwest. The 18-person committee spans 11 MHEC states. The committee will provide recommendations for future implementation to ensure the program continues to fulfill its mission of access, cost-savings, and affordability for future generations of students in the Midwest. To learn more, contact Dr. Beth Ellie, MHEC associate director of policy initiatives.

Commissioner Appointments     

David Eisler
Former President; Professor, Community College Leadership Studies
Ferris State University
Term: 1/24/2024 to 11/20/2024

Commissioner News    

Call for Commissioner Volunteers to Serve on MHEC Committees

We invite MHEC Commissioners to volunteer for several open spots on MHEC’s standing committees and a new ad hoc committee. This is a great way for commissioners to get to know one another and understand MHEC’s work. Pursuant to MHEC’s bylaws, MHEC strives to have one commissioner represented from each member state on each committee. Please contact Rob Trembath with interest in any of the following opportunities:

  • Governance Committee, Dr. Julie Underwood (WI), Chair
    The Governance Committee acts as an advisory committee to the commission, including the MHEC chair and president. It is charged with reviewing and providing guidance on MHEC governance, including governing documents, nominations, and other matters as appropriate.
  • Finance and Audit Committee, Larry Tidemann (SD), Chair
    The Finance and Audit Committee acts as an advisory committee to the commission, including the MHEC treasurer, finance director, and president. It is charged with reviewing the organization's finances, investments, and ensuring the preparation of annual audit and tax forms, and approval of an annual budget for submission to the full commission, and other matters as appropriate.
  • Ad Hoc Committee – MHEC Initiatives
    The Ad Hoc Committee will generate ideas for potential new initiatives for MHEC. Due to an increase in technology contract revenue, MHEC has an opportunity to consider new initiatives for investment, to be considered by the commission. A committee charge and more details are forthcoming.

State Visits     

State Visits to Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin Confirmed

MHEC state visits with state higher education, legislative, and executive branch leadership continue this month with Illinois on February 20-21; Indiana on February 26, Iowa on February 27-28, and Missouri on March 4-6, Wisconsin April 16-17. Commissioners in member states will host Susan Heegaard, MHEC president, and Rob Trembath, chief operating officer and general counsel. Additional MHEC staff will attend these meetings. South Dakota's visit was on January 22-23, Kansas on January 30-31, and Minnesota on February 13.

South Dakota higher education and legislative leaders sitting around a table.  
South Dakota Visit (Clockwise): Sheila Gestring, President, University of South Dakota; José-Marie Griffiths, President, Dakota State University; Mike Cartney, President Emeritus, Lake Area Tech and MHEC Commissioner; SD Rep. Hugh Bartels; Nathan Lukkes, Executive Director and CEO, South Dakota Board of Regents; Heather Forney, System VP of Finance and Administration, SDBOR; and SD Rep. Fred Deutsch. See our Facebook page for more South Dakota photos.

 MHEC commissioners and legislators from Kansas at the MHEC state visit.
Kansas Visit (L to R): Dr. Randy Watson, Commissioner, Kansas State Department of Education; Kansas Sen. Molly Baumgardner and MHEC Commissioner; Blake Flanders, President and CEO, Kansas Board of Regents and MHEC Commissioner; KS Rep. Kyle Hoffman. See our Facebook page for more Kansas photos.

MHEC staff with Minnesota higher education leaders.  
Minnesota Visit (L to R): Rob Trembath, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel; Susan Heegaard, President; Dennis Olson Jr., Commissioner, Minnesota Office of Higher Education and MHEC Commissioner; Paul Cerkvenik, President, Minnesota Private Colleges; and Robert McMaster, Vice Provost and Dean; University of Minnesota Twin Cities. See our Facebook page for more Minnesota photos.


Team Updates

Welcome New Staff

Samra AsghedomSamra Asghedom, strategic and executive initiatives manager, joined the MHEC staff at the end of January. Ms. Asghedom previously worked for the United States Senate. She is currently supporting the planning and scheduling during MHEC state visits.

Alliance (HEUG) Annual Conference 2024

Nathan Sorensen, director of government contracts, will attend the Alliance (HEUG) Annual Conference on March 3-6.

Iowa - Highlighting State Participation with MHEC

Jenny Parks, vice president of policy and research, presented to chief academic officers of Iowa's community colleges and provosts from Iowa's regent institutions on February 9. She shared state savings through Iowa's current contract and program participation and policy work, and highlighted opportunities for the state's participation in additional MHEC work. Please contact MHEC for additional opportunities for the MHEC team to present at your meetings.

Articles and Resources of Interest

Details Trickle Out About $50 Million FAFSA Support Fund
Inside Higher Ed | February 15, 2024

Report: Navigating Learning Loss and Changing Demographics in Education
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education | February 12, 2024

Department of Education Lends Colleges a Hand After FAFSA Backlash
Inside Higher Ed | February 6, 2024  
Education Department Announces ‘FAFSA College Support Strategy.’ Here’s What It Involves
The Chronicle of Higher Education | February 5, 2024  

Critics say public universities are spending too much outside the classroom
Stateline | January 22, 2024

The New Academic Arms Race
The Chronicle of Higher Education | January 19, 2024

7 higher education trends to watch in 2024
Higher Ed Dive | January 8, 2024