MHEC News January 2024

Happy New Year,

I look forward to this time of year (despite the frigid temperatures) when we visit all of the capitols in our 12 midwestern member states. We learn so much during these visits as we spend time with long-time and new state and higher education leaders. It is always interesting to hear about the accomplishments and pressing issues in each state. This month, we will visit Pierre, S.D., and Topeka, Kan. In February, we will visit St. Paul, Minn., Springfield, Ill., and Des Moines, Iowa.

We welcome three new individuals to the MHEC staff: Jonathan McNicholes joined us in mid-December and will be working on policy, research, and convenings; Breanne Hegg started last week as our vice president for programs and contracts; and Samra Asghedom will join us January 29, and will work on programs and convenings.

Here’s to longer days and warmer weather!

Susan Heegaard, MHEC President

See below for more of this month's newsletter highlights:

Policy and Research: College Enrollment Rates in Several Midwest States Remain Above the National Benchmark
Convenings: Licensure Compliance, Cybersecurity, and OER Course Marking
Contracts: HPE and Dell EMC Contract Renewals
Programs: NC-SARA Policy Manual, NC-SARA Policy Modification Process, Negotiated Rulemaking, and NC-SARA fee structure
Commissioner News: State Visits to South Dakota and Kansas

As always, the Compact welcomes your feedback and suggestions.

New Vice President Oversees MHEC Programs and Contracts

MHEC is pleased to announce the newest team member, Breanne Hegg, vice president of prograBreanne Heggms and contracts.

Breanne brings a wealth of strategic leadership, program development and management, and communications experience to MHEC. She served for 11 years in higher education, culminating as associate vice president of marketing for Hamline University, where she helped develop new programs and grow enrollment. She also provided strategic leadership on risk management, communications, and program development as chief experience officer of Girl Scouts River Valleys and as marketing and media director at Twin Cities In Motion.

In her new role, Breanne will play a pivotal part in driving the advancement of MHEC's student health and insurance initiatives and overseeing MHEC’s contracts. She will also be charged with developing new collaborative solutions to regional challenges while continuing to help drive cost savings and business solutions for higher education across the Midwest. "We are excited about Breanne's leadership experience and track record of driving strategic growth in organizations," said President Susan Heegaard. "Her background aligns well with MHEC’s goals and we are excited to have her join the team."


thumnail 2022-2023 Annual ReportMHEC Annual Report Highlights Progress on Strategic Priorities

MHEC is pleased to share its 2022-2023 Annual Report to the Member States, highlighting progress on strategic priorities. The report also includes a financial overview.

The Compact looks forward to working with its member states in the new year to improve career readiness and the Midwest's economic vitality by strengthening postsecondary education in the region.


Policy & Research

College Enrollment Rates in Several Midwest States Remain Above the National Benchmark

The latest update to MHEC's Interactive Dashboard shows that young adult college enrollment rates in the Midwest decreased by two to five percentage points between 2019 and 2022 in nine Midwest states, compared to a decrease of two percentage points nationally. Contrary to the national trend, college enrollment rates remained stable in Missouri and increased in Kansas and North Dakota. Moreover, college enrollment rates in seven Midwest states were above the national average in 2022, including Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

This indicator shows the percentage of all 18- to 24-year-old adults in the state who are currently enrolled in college or have completed some college coursework/credits or a credential.

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

Explore the Dashboard

Percentage of Persons Aged 18-24 Who are Currently Enrolled or Have Completed Any College Credit
Source: U.S. Census Bureau. (2022). American Community Survey one-year public use microdata sample. Top 5 States, 2022: RI, ND, MA, NY, CT.

MHEC to Host Open Education Summit

As part of MHEC's ongoing work in open education and specifically with the National Consortia of Open Educational Resources (NCOER), the Compact will host Open Educational Resources (OER) State Action Teams January 23-25. Action Teams will work together to assess their OER state capacity and set up short- and long-term goals for their states to maintain momentum for open education. Representatives from the other compacts will share strategies and successes for state capacity building. In preparation for this event, Action Teams documented how MHEC has been instrumental in their progress in video and poster boards. Check out these resources to learn what's next for MHEC member states.

Do We Need a National Open Education Strategy? An "Open" Conversation

Open education has made remarkable progress, yet the evolving landscape continues to present challenges. As open education work continues to grow at institutions, in states, and across regions, questions increasingly surface about how to coordinate and advocate more effectively as a field. This includes how to advance open education policies at the national and state level, how to reach institutional leaders, and how to expand sustainable funding. The National Consortia of Open Educational Resources (NCOER), a collaboration among the four regional education compacts, working together with DOERS3 and SPARC, invite members of the open education field to join in an open conversation about the potential need for a U.S. national open education strategy and discuss how to better collaborate to advance shared priorities. This will build on a discussion started at the 2023 Open Education Conference. To include as many voices as possible, there are three options to participate. All who are interested in open education are encouraged to participate.

  • February 7 at 2:00 p.m. CT
  • February 13 at 1:00 p.m. CT
  • February 15 at 3:00 p.m. CT

Results from the Community “Open” Conversations will be on March 7 at 1:00 p.m. CT.


Winter is Here but Summer is Coming: Preparing for July 1, 2024, Licensure Compliance
Wednesday, January 31 | 11:00 a.m. CT

Following up on MHEC's webinar from December 2023, Are You Ready? New Licensure Regulations Significantly Impact Student Enrollment, Curriculum Development, and Staff/Faculty Workloads, MHEC will host Higher Education Licensure Pros (HELP) for a webinar providing 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 will provide practical examples and address questions.

Moving Cybersecurity from ‘Unfunded Mandate’ to Strategic Advantage
Thursday, February 1 | 11:00 a.m. CT

Join MHEC for a fireside chat about 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 will be discussed, in addition to emerging trends that help leaders improve their cybersecurity capabilities.

Findings of the OER Course Marking Landscape Analysis Survey
Thursday, February 8 | 11:00 a.m. CT

This webinar will highlight 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.

Resources Available from Past Events

Stronger State Community College Finance In this webinar, MHEC hosted HCM Strategists and the Community College Research Center (CCRC) who discussed community college finance systems and the impact of the incentives they drive. They also shared findings from a recently released report that maps the community college finance systems in California, Ohio, and Texas.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Dell EMC Contracts Extended through January 2028

Two contracts Hewlett Packard Enterprise (Contract ##MHEC-12152020) and Dell EMC (Contract #MHEC01312021) have been extended until January 31, 2028. These contracts were competitively bid and are available to higher education institutions (public and private not-for-profit) in the MHEC region and its sister compacts.


Updates from NC-SARA

The latest SARA Policy Manual (Version 23.1) has been made available by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). The SARA policy modification process is also underway. The deadline for submitting proposals is February 2, and can be done through the NC-SARA portal. Please be sure to review the calendar of key dates for the policy modification process. Follow negotiated rulemaking and the impacts to the SARA community on the NC-SARA Call-to-Action page. The NC-SARA Board will also be voting on a proposal to change the institution fee structure during its meeting on February 8. Review the rationale and specific fees on the NC-SARA website.

Commissioner News - State Visits

South Dakota's Joint Committee Hearing Will Begin MHEC's 2024 State Visits MHEC state visits with state higher education, legislative, and executive branch leadership will begin with South Dakota on January 22-23. Susan Heegaard, MHEC president, and Rob Trembath, chief operating officer and general counsel, will testify before the state's Joint Committee on Appropriations. Additional visits are scheduled for Kansas on January 30-31, Minnesota on February 13, Illinois on February 20-21, and Iowa on February 27-28. Additional visits are tentatively scheduled and MHEC leadership will be joined by other MHEC staff at these meetings.

Team Updates

Jonathan McNicholes Joins MHEC Team

Jonathan McNicholesJonathan McNicholes, stakeholder engagement and convening assistant manager. joined MHEC in mid-December. He is working closely with MHEC's policy and research team on various projects including support for concurrent enrollment initiatives as well as ad hoc research projects.

New Year, New Advisory Groups Convene

Beth Ellie, associate director of policy initiatives, will convene new advisory groups. The first is focused on the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP) and the next phase of this program. A concurrent enrollment advisory group will kick off February 15 and will focus on developing recommended practices to address the Higher Learning Commission's expectations for instructor qualifications. Future groups to convene include optimizing the utility of MHEC's Graduate Credit Quest website and determining areas of research and data critical to improving dual and concurrent enrollment work in the Midwest.

Articles and Resources of Interest

Here are states’ top 10 priorities for higher education in 2024
University Business | January 11, 2024

FAFSA Now Open Full-Time After Rocky Launch
Inside Higher Ed | January 10, 2024

How States and Systems Can Support Practitioner Efforts to Strengthen Dual Enrollment
Community College Research Center (CCRC) and College in High School Alliance (CHSA) | January 2024

New FAFSA form may decrease aid to farm-family collegians
Youth Today | January 9, 2024

Wisconsin’s Warning for Higher Ed
The Chronicle of Higher Education | January 8, 2024

Community college enrollment is down. Here’s what will happen to workers and the US economy if it doesn’t come back
CNN | January 6, 2024

The next 'evolution' in schools' state funding model has arrived
University Business | January 4, 2024

New Report Shows Millions of Rural Students Facing Multiple Crises after COVID
The 74 ( | January 2, 2024

Central State University and other area colleges secure thousands as Ohio invests in advancing higher ed tech programs
WYSO | January 2, 2024

Colleges want to move away from expensive textbooks. Can it be done?
Higher Ed Dive | December 18, 2023  (Jenny Parks, MHEC vice president, is quoted.)