Contact: Don Sevener, 217.557.7334
Kelley Talbot, 217.557.7354
October 22, 2007
IBHE CHAIR URGES NEW DIRECTION
IN EDUCATION PRIORITIES
College is key to meeting workforce, state economic needs, Hightman says
CHICAGO – The state needs to change its thinking, broaden its vision, and act more strategically if it is to meet the education and workforce needs of its citizens in a rapidly changing global economy, Carrie Hightman, Chairwoman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, said today.
Hightman, addressing a statewide conference of the Illinois Association of Graduate Schools at Loyola University Chicago, told the audience that higher education must have a more prominent role in state education and economic priorities for Illinois to sustain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace.
Noting that Illinois higher education is “at a critical crossroads,” Hightman said policymakers must leave the “path of complaisance” for a new direction “of opportunity, economic growth, social progress, and prosperity for the state and its citizens.”
Hightman, the former president of AT&T Illinois, was appointed Chairwoman of the Board of Higher Education by Governor Blagojevich in February 2007.
In her Loyola address, she noted that there is broad agreement that higher education has personal value to those who earn a degree – a person with a bachelor’s degree will earn 73 percent more – or about $700,000 – over a lifetime of work than someone with just a high school diploma. Graduate degrees magnify that earnings differential.
But she also noted that there is growing skepticism that higher education is regarded as a “public good” with a measurable value to society and the state, even though statistics show that the state’s higher education system contributes $33 billion a year to the Illinois economy,
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