College Presidents Examine Government’s Impact on Higher Education

Pepperdine University president Andrew K. Benton convened a group of higher education leaders in Los Angeles on March 30 to discuss the potential challenges from the Obama administration’s proposals to increase access to higher education.

Obama’s goal is to have the highest college graduation rate in the world by 2020, and he is calling for as much as $50 billion in funding to help make it happen. Benton, the former chairman of the board of the American Council on Education (ACE), underscored that the changes will have significant impact on higher education providers and that it was important for the institutions to remain abreast of major developments.

The meeting was attended by more than a 36 college and university presidents and administrative leaders from public and private colleges and universities across the state. Terry Hartle, ACE senior vice president for government and public affairs, was also present. He gave a candid, up-to-the-minute briefing on topics including Obama’s fiscal year 2009 and 2010 budgets, the recent reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus bill), the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, and the president’s proposals to reduce the deductibility of charitable contributions, create a Pell Grant entitlement, and mandate direct loans.

Hartle, who is based in Washington, D.C., has directed ACE’s comprehensive efforts to engage federal policy makers on a broad range of issues including student aid, scientific research, government regulation, and tax policy for more than a decade. Hartle earned a doctorate in public policy from The George Washington University.

While there is a “wait-and-see” period as the President’s higher education plans move through Congress, Hartle said that forecasting the outcome of an Obama-backed proposal to reduce the value of charitable deductions is fairly straight-forward saying, “It’s not going to happen.”

To learn more about the future of Pepperdine University, visit the Annual Report Web site.