MHEC News May 2024

We just completed our annual state visits this past week. While traveling to all of our Midwest states during the peak of winter can be an adventure, it is the part of my job that I enjoy the most. After completing these visits where we learn about the pressing issues in your states, provide an update on our activities, and most importantly, hear about how the Midwestern Higher Education Compact can continue to serve your states well, our staff has a chance to reflect and plan. This feedback, about your successes and challenges, is critical to our work.

Many of the themes during our visits included concerns about a skilled workforce and how workforce preparation can be better aligned with higher education. We heard about declining populations and the impact on enrollment and possible campus closures. Dual and concurrent enrollment was also top of mind for our states, in part, due to the changing of the Higher Learning Commission's policy language. We know that institutions are looking for help as they develop policies and guidelines to align with new HLC instructor qualification requirements. This is work that is underway, and I hope you'll join Dr. Beth Ellie, associate director of policy initiatives, on her next Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Committee Meeting.

In addition, we are aware that FAFSA completion has been at the forefront of conversations throughout the region and country. MHEC looks forward to hosting the Midwest FAFSA Summit along with the National College Access Network and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association next month in Chicago. Tuesday May 21 is our registration deadline. Our staff has done extensive outreach to ensure strong representation from each of our member states. If you would like us to include you in this conversation in promoting postsecondary and career success for all students, please reach out to Jonathan McNicholes, stakeholder engagement and convening assistant manager, and we will get you connected to this event.

Please be sure to check out the other updates and resources this month:

  • Policy and Research: High School Graduation Rates; Student Records Access
  • Convenings: Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Committee Meetings; Professional Licensure Programs; Certification from Creative Commons
  • Contracts: Next Generation Higher Education ERP Solutions RFP Deadline Adjusted; Security Services Contracts Extended
  • Programs: NC-SARA Board Spring 2024 Meeting Highlights; Specialized Training for M-SARA States
  • Commissioner News: Upcoming Executive Committee Meeting; New Appointments in Michigan, Missouri, and Nebraska

As always, our Compact welcomes your feedback and suggestions.

Susan G. Heegaard
MHEC President

Policy & Research

Most Midwest States Meet or Surpass the National Benchmark for High School Graduation

The latest update to MHEC's Interactive Dashboard shows that high school graduation rates in eight Midwest states met or surpassed the national average in 2022, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Moreover, despite the numerous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, high school graduation rates in six Midwest states—namely Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin—remained stable or increased by one to two percentage points between 2019 and 2022.

This indicator reflects the percentage of 9th-grade students who graduate within four years with a regular high school diploma from a public high school. The four-year adjusted high school cohort graduation rate is calculated by dividing the number of students who graduate within four years with a standard high school diploma by the total number of students in the adjusted cohort for the graduating class, excluding those who earn a General Educational Development (GED) credential. This adjusted cohort includes students who begin their high school education in 9th grade, as well as those who transfer in subsequently. Students with disabilities and those who transfer out, emigrate, or die are excluded from the cohort. Data were not reported from New Mexico and Oklahoma for 2022.

Selected preparation indicators are also available for MHEC states in the report Higher Education in Focus.  
Public HS Graduation Rates

Source. U.S. Department of Education. (2019,2022). ED data express: ACGR.


New White Paper: Student Records Access for Success

Student Records Access for Succeses thumbnailThis white paper Student Records Access for Success: Closed Schools, Transcript Holds, and the Future of Learner Records discusses the evolving landscape of student record access and its impact on educational success. Key points include recent changes in student record policies, the role of accreditors, and the solutions regional compacts are advocating. The report highlights the importance of student transcripts, not only for individual students but also for employers and other educational institutions. Contact Jenny Parks, MHEC vice president, with any questions.


Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Committee Meeting
June 6 | 1:00 p.m. CT
During the June meeting of the Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Committee there will be an exchange of sample policies from various levels—state, system, and institution—to enable the development of a comprehensive resource library. These monthly meetings are designed to facilitate collaboration among educators, administrators, and policymakers. Please plan to join, bring your examples, and contribute to MHEC's repository of policies, guidelines, and tools supporting faculty qualification efforts. Contact Dr. Beth Ellie, MHEC associate director of policy initiatives, with any questions.


Resources Available from Past MHEC Events

Continuing Enrollments in Professional Licensure Programs after July 1 -  In this two-part webinar MHEC hosts the Higher Education Licensure Pros (HELP) who share what college and university leaders need to know given the many changes coming from the U.S. Department of Education. These new regulations significantly expand responsibilities for institutions around professional and occupational licensure programs. As a result, programs will need to limit enrollment in certain states, or revise curricula to meet specific licensure requirements, creating impacts across all institutions. In the second part of the webinar, HELP addresses implementation challenges and considerations specifically geared for college and university staff responsible for implementation. These significantly expanded responsibilities for institutions around professional and occupational licensure programs create many new compliance challenges, such as updating a student location policy, creating a written attestation process, and developing a research and curriculum comparison structure for determining if programs meet educational requirements. Contact Jenny Parks, MHEC vice president, with any questions.

Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Committee Meeting Welcomes HLC Staff - In this meeting of the MHEC Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Committee, MHEC welcomes representatives of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) who present HLC’s Credentialing Requirements: An Overview of a Recent Policy Change and Implications for Practice. These monthly collaborative meetings facilitate the sharing of state, system, and institutional responses, along with best practices, to address teacher supply concerns and ensure credit transfer for concurrent enrollment students, thereby assisting states, systems, and institutions in aligning with the HLC's new instructor qualifications policy for concurrent enrollment. Contact Dr. Beth Ellie, MHEC associate director of policy initiatives, with any questions.

Get Certified by Creative Commons - In the webinar, Get Certified by Creative Commons (CC), MHEC welcomes CC, an American non-profit organization and international network devoted to educational access and expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. Representatives from Washtenaw Community College and the University of Nebraska Omaha Libraries describe their experiences with taking the CC Certificate course. Learn more about MHEC's collaboration with CC which offers a 15% off the cost of CC Certificate online courses. Contact Jenny Parks, MHEC vice president, with any questions.



Next Generation Higher Education ERP Solutions RFP Deadline Adjusted

MHEC has extended the proposal deadline for its Next Generation Higher Education ERP System of Systems request for proposals (MHEC-RFP-04182024) to June 28, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. CT. Due to the volume and nature of the questions received, this extension will provide ample time for bidders to prepare comprehensive responses. An addendum has been issued to notify the public of the extended deadline and the revised timeline for activities related to the RFP. The responses to all pre-proposal questions have been made available on the MHEC website to ensure clarity regarding the RFP requirements and to aid bidders in refining their proposals. For further information or to request the RFP documents, contact Nathan Sorensen, MHEC director of government contracts.

Security Services Contracts Extended

MHEC's portfolio of contracts for security services (Security Threat Intelligence Products and Services, Security Information and Event Management, Managed Security Services, Security Consulting Services, and Security Awareness Training) has had three contracts extended through June 30, 2028.

Contact Deb Kidwell, MHEC director or technology initiatives, with any questions.



NC-SARA Board Spring 2024 Meeting Highlights

Following the NC-SARA Board Meeting on May 1-3, there are three important updates:
Reduction in SARA-Participating Institution Late and Extension Fees

  • Effective July 1, 2024, the board approved a reduction in the late and extension fees charged to institutions from 25% to 5%. This decision underscores the commitment to supporting educational institutions in maintaining compliance with less financial burden.
  • 2025 SARA Member State and Territory Grants
  • The board has approved funding for the second cycle of SARA Member State and Territory Grants as part of the NC-SARA FY25 budget. Applications for these grants will be accepted starting June 1. More details and the application link will be provided shortly, offering further opportunities for development and collaboration among member states and territories.
  • Call for Nominations for New NC-SARA Board Members

To continue enhancing leadership and governance, the board is seeking nominations for three new members this year. Details on the nomination process will be communicated next month, inviting members of the SARA community to contribute to its mission.

MHEC/M-SARA eagerly anticipate the continued engagement and active participation in these initiatives. Additional details will be shared as soon as they are available. Contact Sara Appel, MHEC director of M-SARA, with questions.


MHEC Hosts Specialized Training for M-SARA Member States and Institutions on New Federal Regulations

In April, MHEC collaborated with the Higher Education Licensure Pros (HELP) to provide specialized learning opportunities focused on the new federal regulations regarding professional licensure, effective on July 1. These sessions were designed for M-SARA states and member institutions, drawing attendance of over 900 participants. Contact Sara Appel, MHEC director of M-SARA, with questions.


Commissioner News    

MHEC to Host Executive Committee Meeting in St. Louis

Members of MHEC's Executive Committee will meet in St. Louis on June 3-4. The Compact looks forward to Dr. Ben Boggs, commissioner of higher education for the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, presenting on the merging of these two departments into one. Commissioners will also get the opportunity to visit the campus of Washington University in St. Louis.

Commissioner Appointments    

Daniel J. Hurley
Chief Executive Officer
Michigan Association of State Universities
Term: 5/9/2024 to 3/18/2025

Brandy M. Johnson
Michigan Community College Association
Term: 5/9/2024 to 3/18/2027

Emma Young
Policy Analyst to the Governor
State of Michigan
Term: 5/9/2024; Serves at the Pleasure of the Governor

Paul Turman
Nebraska State College System
Term: 4/23/2024 to 7/1/2028
Commissioner Alternate

State Visits     

Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin Close Out 2024 State Visits

MHEC held its final state visits in Ohio on April 24, Michigan on May 8-9, and Wisconsin on May 14-15. Commissioners and leaders in member states met with Susan Heegaard, president. Additional staff were able to join including Rob Trembath, chief operating officer and general counsel; Breanne Hegg, vice president; Jenny Parks, vice president; Dr. Beth Ellie, associate director of policy initiatives; Samra Asghedom, strategic and executive initiatives manager; and Jonathan McNicholes, stakeholder engagement and convening assistant manager.

2024 MI and WI state visits 
MICHIGAN Top Photo (L to R): Dr. David Eisler, Professor of Music and Community College Leadership Studies, Ferris State University); Patsy Eisler; Breanne Hegg, Vice President, MHEC; Senator Sean McCann, Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Universities and Community Colleges and MHEC Commissioner; Ryan Fewins-Bliss, Executive Director, Michigan Colleges Access Network; Sarah Szurpicki, Director, Sixty by 30; Robert LeFevre, President, Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities (MICU), Colby Spencer Cesaro, Vice President, MICU; Dan Hurley, CEO, Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU), and MHEC Commissioner; Brandy Johnson President, Michigan Community College Association, and MHEC Commissioner; Rebecca McDonald, Budget and Policy Analyst, State Budget Office of Michigan; Susan Heegaard, President, MHEC; Samra Asghedom, Strategic and Executive Initiatives Manager; MHEC; Rob Maas, Legislative Director, Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential (MiLEAP); Katie Witkowski, Director of Government and External Affairs, Michigan Community College Association; Mia Murphy, Chief Policy Officer, MASU; Emma Young, Policy Analyst, Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and MHEC commissioner.

WISCONSIN Bottom Photo (L to R): Rebecca Larson, Executive Vice President for External Relations, Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU); Jonathan McNicholes, Stakeholder Engagement and Convening Assistant Manager, MHEC; Jenny Parks, Vice President, MHEC; Sen. Joan Ballweg, Majority Caucus Vice-Chair, Wisconsin State Senate, and MHEC Commissioner;  Susan Heegaard, President, MHEC; Dr. Morna Foy, President, Wisconsin Technical College System, and Commissioner Alternate; Dr. Beth Ellie, Associate Director of Policy Initiatives, MHEC; Jeff Buhrandt, Vice President University Relations, University of Wisconsin System; Dr. Julie Underwood, Dean Emerita, University of Wisconsin - Madison and MHEC commissioner; Paige Smith, Chief Compliance and Risk Officer, Universities of Wisconsin; Deej Lundgren, Associate Vice President for Government Relations, Universities of Wisconsin; Rep. David Murphy Chair, Committee on Colleges and Universities, Wisconsin Assembly, and MHEC Commissioner; and Dr. Eric Fulcomer, President, WAICU, and MHEC Commissioner.


Team Updates

AI the Emphasis of Dell Technologies World

Nathan Sorensen, director of government contracts, will attend the Dell Technologies World Conference on May 20-23. The conference Accelerate AI Adoption to Unlock Innovation will showcase artificial intelligence. Learn more about MHEC's contract with Dell.  

Connect on Healthcare at ACHA

Breanne Hegg, vice president, and Dr. Aaron Horn, associate vice president of research, will attend the 2024 annual meeting of the American College Health Association on May 28-June 1. The theme of this year's conference is Building Momentum for a Healthy Community. Be sure to connect with them and learn about MHEC's student health solutions and ongoing research and regional collaboration around mental health.

Leadership Conference

Sara Appel, MHEC's director of M-SARA, attended the National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) 2024 Annual Leadership Conference from May 14-17. This year’s conference emphasizes developing practical solutions and fostering connections among statewide leaders through a series of facilitated and interactive activities. The agenda includes sessions on a range of critical industry topics, including artificial intelligence, workforce development, and strategies for talent recruitment and retention.


Articles and Resources of Interest

A Last-Minute Sprint to the FAFSA Finish Line
Inside Higher Ed | May 16, 2024

State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) Report FY 2023
SHEEO | May 2024

US Department of Education announces grant program to boost FAFSA completion
University Business | May 8, 2024

Navigating Higher Ed’s Rising Costs: Strategies for Affordability (MHEC research referenced)
American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) VOLT Magazine | May 1, 2024