UL System Presidents Commit to Addressing Workforce Needs with 2,400 Additional Graduates per Year in High Demand Areas – Mar 27, 2008
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System Also First in Nation to Launch Online College Tool
BATON ROUGE, La. – All eight presidents in the University of Louisiana System today committed to addressing Louisiana’s workforce needs by targeting 2,400 new graduates each year in some of the state’s critical shortage areas by 2012.
University presidents signed a sweeping agreement that the UL System will:
Generate 2,400 additional new graduates annually, including 375 in education, 330 in health care, 115 in engineering, and 440 in business,
Reduce the average number of years it takes for students to graduate from 6 to 5 years, and
Track graduate performance in Louisiana’s workforce.
The commitment was part of a second-annual day-long forum in which national and state education leaders, college presidents, legislators and others discussed the issues surrounding students’ access to college and their success at achieving a degree.
Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin affirmed the aggressive goals.
“We’ve talked about accountability for a long time. We have it in K-12, but this ratchets it up further. It’s about the workforce, but also about how we are trying to transform our state to focus on knowledge-based jobs and a knowledge-based economy.”
The most recent Louisiana Department of Labor statistics show 981 vacancies in education, 3,140 in engineering, 2,379 in business, and 9,484 in health care.
“This is so timely,” said Representative Freddie Mills of Parks, a pharmacy graduate from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
“I just came from a meeting at the Department of Health and Hospitals where we discussed the state’s health care worker shortage. We need to continue growing and keep our professionals here in Louisiana, and I want to support your initiative anyway I can,” said Mills.
Ruston businessman and UL System Access to Success Committee Chair Wayne Parker said Board Members were impressed with the presidents’ commitment to accountability.
UL System President Sally Clausen also commended the presidents for their commitment to accountability and affirmed that their performance toward meeting the 2012 goals would be tied to resources.
“The public will be able to track our progress using the new online tool launched today. The College Portraits are an important step in the UL System’s commitment to transparency,” Clausen said.
Today the UL System officially launched an online resource for students and parents that includes detailed data on costs and student progress. The consumer-oriented “College Portraits” contain information about such things as cost of attendance, degree offerings, and campus safety.
The UL System is the first in the country to launch its College Portraits, which is a product of a joint initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) called the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA).
“The University of Louisiana System has been a key supporter during the launch of the VSA this spring. We’re pleased and excited to see the first College Portraits available to prospective students and their families and believe this is an important step forward in providing understandable and consistent information on the college experience,” said VSA Executive Director Christine Keller.
After a detailed demonstration of the College Portraits, education leaders commented on the value of the tool to students, parents, and others.
“You can print each university’s profile and compare them side-by-side. This is a way for students to look into the college experience sooner than they would otherwise,” said UL System Student Board Member and Nicholls Student Government President Olinda Ricard.
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Linda Johnson lauded the close working relationship between K-12 and higher education and was excited to explore the College Portraits online herself.
“It’s extremely user friendly and well designed. You don’t have to be a college graduate to understand it and use it with your children,” said Johnson. “Isn’t it great to be first in the nation, especially with something as important as this?”
Chair of the national VSA oversight committee and Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, William Kirwan, discussed the economic value of making college accessible to underserved populations.
“High schools students from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds that do not attend college have an 80 percent chance of staying in the lowest economic level. If those same students attend college, they have an 80 percent chance of entering the middle class or higher.”
“If we don’t address this, we’re in danger of creating a permanent underclass in this nation for the first time in our history,” said Kirwan.
The College Portraits are part of the UL System’s larger accountability effort to ensure all students have access to a college education, graduate on time, and meet Louisiana’s workforce needs.
The largest university system in Louisiana, the UL System enrolls approximately 80,000 students at the following eight universities: Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and University of Louisiana at Monroe.