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U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross

Zakiya Smith Ellis
N.J. Secretary of Higher Education

Phoebe Haddon
Chancellor, Rutgers University-Camden

Barbara Gaba
President, Atlantic Cape Community College

Ali Houshmand
President, Rowan University

Harvey Kesselman
President, Stockton University

Merodie Hancock
President, Thomas Edison State University

Donald Borden
President, Camden County CollegE

Michael Cioce
President, Rowan College at Burlington County

Continuing our popular roundtable series, we invited college presidents and government officials to talk about what lies ahead for the future of higher education. At a time when costs are causing many to question what is really needed after high school, these experts shared their on-point wisdom about what parents of high school students should be thinking about, and what students should try to discover for themselves.

On if everyone should go to college…

The reality is having only a high school education statistically means you’re going to be poverty stricken for the rest of your life. People need something beyond that – an industry-recognized certification, an Associate’s degree, a Baccalaureate, something.

Donald Borden

We need to redefine what college is. When you make it seem like some people get college, and other people get something else, it creates a divide. But the level of skill you get from high school needs to be expanded. If you could have a dual enrollment in high school – maybe you learn a trade also – we could call that college.

Zakiya Smith Ellis

I have three children. When they were born, I didn’t know if they wanted to go to college, build the college or defend the college – going into the military, going into a trade, going to college. It’s critically important to understand that there’s dignity no matter what you choose.

Donald Norcross

Try to find a plumber, try to find an electrician. These are needed professions where individuals who pursue it, if they’re good at it, can make a very good living and be a productive member of society. The real issue is everyone should be afforded the opportunity to pursue whatever he or she wishes to pursue.

Harvey Kesselman

The role of the citizen has changed. If you want to move into the future as a functioning citizen, you need access to that level of education. It’s not a matter of getting a credential, it’s a matter of growing up in a civilized society and being able to function in a global economy.

Ali Houshmand

What needs to change in higher education…

It isn’t one size fits all. The way higher ed was designed is: fall, spring, summer off, fall, spring, summer off, regardless of your major. That is no longer going to be what works moving forward.

Michael Cioce

In the past, the professor was the only person who had the knowledge. They wrote it on the board, people took notes and memorized it. Those days are gone. Some kids who come to class today are far more advanced than the professors. So the question is, what does learning mean?  What does teaching mean? Some day, lectures are going to be given in segments of five minutes or two minutes, a YouTube video, a TED talk. The definition of education is going to be vastly different from what it is today.

Ali Houshmand

On student loans…

I had a mom tell me about her son who is going to a private school and it’s costing them $31,000 a year. She said they gave him $6,000, so he’s going to borrow $100,000. I wanted to scream, “What are you doing to your kid?” Part of our responsibility is to find a way to educate parents, not students, to the reality of that.

Donald Borden

When I was in school, there was an idea if it costs more, it was better. But now, as costs escalate, people are asking what the value is and are there other ways I can get the same thing.

Zakiya Smith Ellis

Parents need to say no. They are going to co-sign these loans, and many of them are in debt themselves. They don’t think about how this is going to impact their child. I know two young people who graduated from college, and they want to get married. Both of them have tremendous student loans. How are they ever going to launch their lives?

Barbara Gaba  

The message is: Look at the job you want and the income potential. Then determine what cost is worth getting to that point.

Donald Borden

On their role in the community…

Look at Rowan University. Rowan Boulevard alone – that whole land mass used to generate $110,000 ratables for the borough of Glassboro. That area right now is providing in excess of $4 million, and it’s growing. The impact that money has had in the town is unbelievable in terms of education, public safety, roads and services. The impact of what you can do for your community can be monumental.   

Ali Houshmand 

If we are asked to hold an event on campus, we believe we have an obligation to our constituents. We recently hosted a Pride Day ceremony. It had nothing to do with the college proper, but we hosted it on campus. We have an obligation to our residents, whether they’re enrolled in classes or not. I think we do a good job of honoring that commitment.

Michael Cioce

It was a risk for us to go into Atlantic City. We had to be the stimulus to a major economic revival. We were the kick start. Then came Hard Rock, the Ocean, so a $200 million investment became a billion-dollar investment into the city, and now you’re seeing the crowds come back.

Harvey Kesselman 

On free college…

I’m a big proponent of free college. There is something wrong if we say, “You need this additional level to make it in today’s society, but it’s going to cost you.” If we believe people need something beyond high school, why do we think they should be the ones to pay for it?

Zakiya Smith Ellis

I’m a huge believer in need-based aid. I don’t think it should be free if you can afford it. You ought to have skin in the game. And we can call it free, but it’s not free. K through 12 is not free. You can look at my property tax bill, and I can assure you it’s not free.

Harvey Kesselman

On preparing students for a changing workforce…

We need to develop some sort of platform where colleges and universities, as well as CEOs and other participants in the labor market, get a chance to talk about what the future is going to look like. Because I think businesses already know a lot about the future job market.

Phoebe Haddon

Our country lags behind other industrial countries significantly when it comes to apprenticeships. In Switzerland, there is an apprenticeship for the banking industry, the insurance industry – across the board. That puts business right in the middle of the course design. So you might start at 11th grade, go through an apprenticeship, go to college, go to work. It’s many on ramps and off ramps. But we have to get industry involved.

Donald Norcross

We have a partnership with Cooper University Hospital, where we educate high school students, particularly Camden City kids, who have an interest and an aptitude for jobs in healthcare. They receive practical job skills training. When they come out, they’re employed.  The more we do that, the more responsive we are to the community. It’s our public responsibility. 

Phoebe Haddon

On advice to parents of high school students…

Know your kid. Make it about them, not about you. College gives you a leg up in this world, but it doesn’t have to happen at 18.

Merodie Hancock

You are not living vicariously through your child. Make sure this is your child’s decision, and support them.

Harvey Kesselman

Avoid crushing debt at all costs.

Donald Borden

Give your children opportunities to imagine themselves in different places. Very often, just walking around a campus – it will speak to them. Start early. Create an environment for financial independence and security, and let them dream.

Phoebe Haddon

On first-generation students

We found out there were lots of students who were dropping out in their third year, because they didn’t have the funds to finish. Now we have a scholarship program for students who need a few credits to finish their education. It’s made a wonderful difference to people who decided to drop out because they had to help their families, or because they were hungry, or for whatever reason. Having that extra money to close that gap is important.

Phoebe Haddon

Many of these first-generation students don’t have role models at home because their parents never went to college. It’s very important they have support, and we provide that.

Barbara Gaba  

Higher ed has created a bunch of acronyms and a bunch of weird, different definitions for things. It’s one thing if a parent says, “Go see an advisor.” But first gens don’t have someone at home saying that. They’re on their own, and they’re navigating this really different set of rules and definitions.

Michael Cioce 

When my kids went to college, I told them, “You are getting out of there in four years.” But that’s something first gens don’t always hear. Somebody has to be saying to them, “No, no, no.  Go back and get the classes you need. Don’t take the electives now.” If they don’t, they get to their third year and realize they’re not going to graduate in four years. They already have debt, so they drop out.

Merodie Hancock   

I worry about the students who incur debt and don’t finish, because now they’re not going to have the employment opportunity to pay that debt down. It’s a double hit for them.

Donald Borden


MENU:

The Capital Grille

Starter Choice
White Cheddar Potato Soup
Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Toasted Walnut Vinaigrette

Entrée Choice
Filet Mignon 8oz with Cipollini Onions
Pan Seared Sea Bass with Baby Carrots and Miso Butter
Veal Tomahawk Chop with Gorgonzola Butter and Cherry Mostarda

Accommodations for the Table
Grilled Asparagus
Sam’s Mashed Potatoes

Dessert Choice
Homemade Cheesecake with Berries

July 2019
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