Interim Joint Committee on Education

 

Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 4th Meeting

of the 2009 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> October 12, 2009

 

The<MeetNo2> fourth meeting of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on<Day> Monday,<MeetMDY2> October 12, 2009, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Leslie Combs, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Representative Leslie Combs, Co-Chair; Senators R.J. Palmer II, Elizabeth Tori, Johnny Ray Turner, and Ken Winters; Representatives Jim DeCesare,

C. B. Embry Jr., Bill Farmer, Tim Firkins, Kelly Flood, Reginald Meeks, Jody Richards, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, and Charles Siler.

 

Guests:  Ms. Deborah Anderson, Kentucky Department of Education; Ms. Kathleen Mandlehr, University of Louisville; Ms. Jill McBride, Mr. Dan Connell, and Ms. Beth Patrick, Morehead State University; Dr. Jay Box, Kentucky Community and Technical College System; Mr. Richard Greissman, University of Kentucky; Ms. Labrisha Williams, Western Kentucky University; and Mr. Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators.

 

LRC Staff:  Ken Warlick, Audrey Carr, and Lisa Moore.

 

Chair Combs asked for a motion to approve the minutes from the August 10 and September 14, 2009, meetings. Representative Richards made the motion to approve the minutes and Representative Meeks seconded the motion. The motion was approved by voice vote.

 

Chair Combs introduced Dr. Robert King, President, Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE); Mr. Richard Greissman, Assistant Provost for Program Support, University of Kentucky (UK); and Dr. Jay Box, Chancellor, Kentucky Community and Technical College (KCTCS), to give the committee an update on student transfer issues in Kentucky. Dr. King said his presentation would focus on barriers to successful transfers, national best practices, current national initiatives, definitions and data, and policy priorities.

 

Dr. King said 4,985 KCTCS students were surveyed in 2004 to identify potential barriers to a successful transfer. He said 56 percent of all students cited financial difficulties; 38 percent of all students indicated conflicts with times courses were scheduled; 67 percent of students planning to transfer had not received transfer information from a college advisor; 32 percent of undecided students planned to complete a baccalaureate but did not understand the transfer process; and 31 percent of all students did not plan to transfer.

 

Dr. King discussed some national best practices. Some examples include: increasing financial aid for full and part-time transfer students; expanding flexible academic programs; increasing opportunities to obtain credit for relevant experiential learning; expanding statewide technology to provide transparent information to students; developing joint admission/enrollment programs; expanding statewide outreach campaigns; and focusing on common learning outcomes across institutions.

 

Dr. King said current initiatives in Kentucky include restructuring institutional financial aid. He said 520 transfer scholarships were made available in the fall of 2008, including 32 minority transfer scholarships. In addition, four-year campus faculty are increasingly taking advantage of distance learning instruments to enhance opportunities for students to complete degrees. The growth of completer degrees is facilitating transfer, and the availability of satellite campuses. He noted that the expansion of statewide technology is also helping students determine if courses they are taking in the community colleges are aligned effectively with majors at the four-year campuses. There have also been transfer centers established at all 16 KCTCS campuses, and university advisors on all KCTCS campuses. A complete listing and information on the statewide outreach campaign and advising programs is located in the meeting folder in the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) library.

 

Dr. King discussed statewide policy development that involves the alignment of the general education curriculum, criteria, and outcomes at all the four-year universities, along with the academic resources at KCTCS. He said there is a statewide transfer committee that includes representation from all universities and KCTCS to help guide this policy development. He said there is also a Kentucky Adult Learner Advisory Committee which is developing the criteria that will be used to provide credit to students for prior learning; help with financial aid issues; and guide more flexible program delivery to students.

 

Dr. King said the CPE had published data describing the number of students who had transferred and transfer rates, and the numbers were disputed by KCTCS. It was determined that KCTCS and CPE were using different criteria to measure the transfers. The CPE and KCTCS have come to a common agreement and one set of data will be distributed in the future that is accurate and uses common criteria to measure the various elements around transfer.

 

Dr. King said the definition of a student transfer has been clarified to: paint a more complete picture of student mobility to better inform transfer policies; develop common language and a unified voice around transfer; understand the application of KCTCS credit toward four-year degrees; and compare Kentucky’s institutions to each other and other states with transfer rates. Preliminary data will be available in November 2009.

 

Dr. King said there were approximately 9,276 transfer students from KCTCS to four-year institutions in 2008-2009 based upon the new definition. He said 2,700 of those students transferred out-of-state, 2,300 transferred credits into a four-year university, and 4,200 physically transferred into a traditional in-state university.

 

Dr. King said there will be follow up to the 2004 student study to continue to assess barriers to successful transfer. He also said a transcript study will assess how much credit is accepted toward major requirements, and why it may not be accepted (changing majors, failing grades, academic policy differences, etc).

 

Dr. King summarized the CPE’s larger policy priorities. They are: 1) create a more seamless and rigorous system that facilitates transfer and the alignment of general education learning outcomes and increase students in associate degree programs; 2) expand financial aid opportunities for transfer and part-time students; 3) continue improvements in advising, and programs to meet the needs of adults and part-time learners; 4) improve transparency of information through the technology system and better advising in high school about transfer opportunities; and 5) create a clear transfer dispute resolution process.

 

Mr. Greissman said UK’s retention and graduation rates needed to be improved. He also said UK would not meet its 2020 goal of increasing the number of students graduating with baccalaureate degrees if it did not increase the transfer rate. He said transfer students help to meet the goal of proper amounts of baccalaureate degrees awarded.

 

Mr. Greissman said data shows the most successful transfer students from KCTCS to UK are the ones who first earn their associate degree. He said there must be multiple pathways for students to transfer to UK. However, the message needs to be sent to students that the most successful UK graduates are the ones that first obtain an associate degree. He said they created the Bluegrass Community Technical College (BCTC) Blue Plus program to try to identify and speak to the concerns that community college students had about transferring to UK.

 

Mr. Greissman said BCTC Blue Plus would not have worked without extraordinary cooperation within UK and across universities, along with Dr. Box from KCTCS. He said students can see transparently on the Web what courses they will need to take at BCTC that will transfer for the major they are interested in at UK.

 

Mr. Greissman said a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) was created between UK and KCTCS that said any BCTC student who enrolls at BCTC and UK jointly, will have to pay no more than the flat full-time rate as long as they are taking at least 12 credit hours. They will be considered a full-time student, which is critical for financial aid. After 30 credit hours, students can take two UK courses at the BCTC rate. A student, in the course of his or her four semesters at BCTC, can do 12 hours of UK coursework at the community college rate. He said a student can graduate from a community college with an associate degree, transfer to UK, and have already completed some upper division courses that will apply to a four-year degree.

 

Mr. Greissman said transfer scholarships, known as trustee scholarships, should be made available to students who complete the BCTC Blue Plus program. In the best of all worlds, a BCTC student finishes his or her degree in two years and finishes a UK degree in no more than two to three more years. During this whole time, the student is paying the BCTC rate and not UK tuition.

 

Mr. Greissman said the BCTC Blue Plus program can be replicated throughout the Commonwealth. He said distance learning will have to be implemented so all community college students can take the courses at UK and have the same opportunities as BCTC students.

 

Dr. Box acknowledged the work that Mr. Greissman and UK have put into the program. He said their forward thinking and collaborative efforts with KCTCS has made the program successful. He noted the issues facing KCTCS are much greater than just aligning with UK. He said KCTCS must find a way to align with all eight public universities as well as private campuses. He noted Dr. McCall met individually with the eight university presidents earlier this year to discuss issues and challenges in increasing transfer rates. University presidents communicated that KCTCS needed to do a better job of communicating to students the transfer practices and policies to get them enrolled into a university with the least amount of conflict. He noted transfer centers were implemented in all 16 community colleges last year in order to assist students with the transfer process.

 

Dr. Box said CPE and KCTCS resolved their differences and agreed upon a new transfer definition. He explained that KCTCS had no way of collecting data that would actually identify where the problem was in transfer. The new definition gives KCTCS the opportunity to look at specialized problems with transfer and identifies areas of focus. He said the new definition includes the measurement of nine metrics. He said the main change in the definition that was beneficial to KCTCS was the efficiency of the transfer of credits.  He said this identifies the overall number of credits accepted by the four-year university and the number of credits accepted and applied toward the program requirements for graduation.

 

Dr. Box said the last area of the transfer definition that was revised was the transfer rate. He said KCTCS is now measuring how well it is doing to encourage students to transfer. This revision allows KCTCS to be able to compare how it is doing nationally and how its students are doing compared to the native students at the universities.

 

Dr. Box said KCTCS is supportive of a statewide approach to automate, store, and display institutional course equivalencies so that students have the opportunity to know what courses are there and how they align. He said KCTCS has begun targeted statewide approaches to the development of baccalaureate frameworks, or career pathways, in areas of high student demand, as well as high need field areas for Kentucky.

 

Dr. Box said KCTCS is awaiting the new transfer definition baseline data that will be released soon. He said this data will give KCTCS the opportunity to correct issues internally and to work collaboratively with the universities in establishing a common vision for enhancing transfer in the Commonwealth.

 

Dr. Box summarized by discussing the challenges still facing KCTCS. He said KCTCS is in the process of eliminating duplicative courses. KCTCS is cognizant of the fact that many universities are revising their general education core and understands this is a tremendous task. KCTCS will work with the universities during this process to ensure no new barriers come up to hinder transfer. He said it would be nearly impossible for KCTCS to do a complete overhaul of its general education core to match up to a specific university.

 

Representative Siler asked if CPE is approaching the business community about offering and paying for scholarships for future prospective employees. Dr. King said he expects this recommendation to come out of the Governor’s Higher Education workgroup. He said this workgroup was appointed by executive order and is studying transfer and financial aid issues. One recommendation was discussed that encourages employers to create programs that would stimulate their workforces to continue their education as well as to encourage their employees to encourage their own children to consider higher education. Dr. King is hopeful that the recommendation makes it to the final report from the workgroup.

 

Representative Farmer said over 50 percent of students are concerned about the cost of transfer. He asked the average number of credit hours it takes for out-of-state transfers to obtain a baccalaureate degree in Kentucky. He said his son transferred to UK from West Point as a junior and it took him 152 credits to graduate. He said this is a huge cost factor and a deterrent to students transferring because parents cannot afford it. Representative Farmer said he feels that a baccalaureate degree is a four-year degree and students should obtain their degrees in four years, and not six.

 

Dr. King said he would have to defer to his staff at CPE as to whether they track students who have started at an institution out-of-state and transfer to a Kentucky four-year institution. Lee Nimmocks, CPE staff, responded that the CPE does not normally track this data, but will analyze and get the information to the committee.

 

Dr. King said some Kentucky campuses have started requiring over 120 hours for certain specialized degrees. CPE is asking universities to take a look at the number of credit hours they are requiring for degrees and try to scale it back to 120 when applicable. He noted that typical four-year college students who attend college immediately out of high school are diminishing. The average age of students on campus is increasing and many students attend school part-time, or come back to college after working, or starting a family. He feels students should be able to complete a four-year degree in four years and wants schools to try to scale back degree requirements from 128-135 hours back to 120 credit hours.

 

Representative Farmer said private schools do a good job of graduating students in four years. He is not sure that public universities have the incentive to graduate students in four years. Public universities can get state revenue the longer the student is in school and lose money by graduating students. Dr. King does not agree with that idea and said state support for universities is no longer connected to enrollment.

 

Representative Rollins asked Dr. Box what other universities besides UK are doing to work with KCTCS. Dr. Box said his staff is working with all universities to identify next action steps in regard to transfer issues. Dr. Box said the University of  Louisville (UofL) held a workshop during the past summer and KCTCS was heavily involved. Dr. King introduced Mr. Erin Thompson, Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) staff and CPE Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, to describe EKU’s transfer student program. Mr. Thompson said EKU reallocated money to establish a transfer scholarship. The transfer scholarship is available to students who have at least 24 credit hours when they transfer and maintain a certain grade point average.

 

Representative Rollins wants faculties at the universities to work together on determining the core of general education and prerequisite courses that students need. He said the articulation agreements are not being updated appropriately.

 

Chair Combs said the general education core curriculum for the first two years of college needs to be consistent among universities. The upper two year levels are not as crucial because those are specific to individual majors and degrees.

 

Representative Richards said recent data shows that lottery and cigarette taxes are up. He said it is disturbing that 67 percent of students did not receive transfer information form a college advisor and 32 percent did not understand the transfer process. He said these issues can be fixed and should be. He also commented that he is concerned about the greater number of females attending college than males. He wants the CPE to come up with ideas on how to attract more males into college. He would also like for KCTCS to work with the eight universities and for faculty to meet and align content and general education course numbers.

 

Dr. King said the survey results were from 2004 and he believes they would be much improved today. KCTCS and the universities have worked in the past five years to resolve transfer issues. He noted every KCTCS campus has a transfer center to facilitate the process.

 

Dr. King said he is distressed that male enrollments are substantially lower than female enrollments on college campuses. He is particularly concerned with the number of young African American men enrolling in college. The CPE is committed to working on the issue and increasing these statistics for men.

 

Chair Combs said the private colleges need to be included in the working relationships between KCTCS and the universities. She said the private colleges serve many rural areas and students coming from community colleges. Dr. King commented that Dr. Gary Cox, President, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, is an active participant at all the university presidents’ meetings.

 

Representative Riner said something is wrong with Kentucky’s transfer system when Ivy League schools accept Jefferson Community College courses and the public state universities will not. He does not believe that Kentucky’s standards are that much higher, but that the system is flawed.

 

            Senator Shaughnessy said every student in the Commonwealth should have the same opportunity as BCTC students. He said top 20 research schools should be focused on finding ways to cure cancer instead of arguing about what English 101 should look like. He also said that universities need to work together to fix the transfer issue as quickly as possible. If not, the legislature will take action to correct the issues.

 

            Dr. King said he appreciates and understands Senator Shaughnessy’s frustration. He said he is new to the job but has communicated to his staff that either CPE can fix the transfer issues or the legislature will fix the problem. He has complete confidence in the campus university presidents and chief academic officers and all are committed to working with the General Assembly to increase transfer rates.

 

            Representative Meeks said students need to know what is expected from them and what the core curriculum is well before enrolling in college. He wants students to have access to information and understand the transfer process. He is disappointed in the best practices list that the CPE identified it is working on. He said many of those ideas have been around for years and are very common. He would like to see innovative programs that have proven successful in other places implemented here in Kentucky. He would like to see CPE to be forward thinking with its ideas. He also asked for more detail about best practices around the country and Kentucky’s plans to emulate those ideas.

 

            Dr. King said the BCTC Blue Plus program is an innovative idea that allows community college students to earn credits toward their major at UK and still pay community college tuition rates. He said there are a variety of programs around the country similar to this that can be emulated here. Representative Meeks said Kentucky has been talking about increasing financial aid for full and part-time students for years. He is ready for some new ideas and innovative national best practices to be implemented in Kentucky.

 

            Senator Winters said four years should be the target graduation goal for students. He said many Kentucky universities are looking to cut graduation credit requirements from 128 to 120. However, some accreditation programs prohibit students from graduating with 120 credits. He also noted that some students change majors multiple times which can contribute to taking more courses and prolong graduation.                                       

            Dr. King said it is a federal requirement that a student must take at least 12 credit hours to be a full-time student. He said this is creating a different view of how many credit hours a student is taking each semester. He also noted the importance of having a public system of higher education that is as diverse as possible. He would resist and discourage having a system in place where all eight of Kentucky’s baccalaureate campuses offer the same curriculum, courses, degrees, etc. This is not the K-12 system and that would not be good for the state. He said diversification is important in postsecondary education and for students to have a broad array of choices.  Chair Combs said she agrees with diversity in the last two years of degree obtainment, but believes the first two years of general education courses should be consistent across all the schools and KCTCS.

 

            Dr. King asked that Ms. Kathleen Mandlehr, Director of the UofL Transfer Program (ULTRA), be recognized to give the committee an update on what UofL is doing to address the transfer issue. Chair Combs asked Ms. Mandlehr for a brief update. Ms. Mandlehr said her job is to encourage KCTCS students to transfer to UofL. She said UofL has instituted transfer scholarships so that any student who earns more than 40 college credit hours at a KCTCS institution, and has a 3.25 grade point average or better, gets an automatic scholarship when they transfer to UofL. She said there are over 100 academic program plans, much like UK, that guarantee their credit courses will count towards the UofL degree while paying the community college rate tuition. She said UofL takes the charge of transfer students very seriously and is on-going in recruiting these students to get a four-year degree.

 

            Chair Combs invited the adult education staff to come back and give the committee an update on adult education at the November 9, 2009, meeting. Mr. Reecie Stagnolia, Vice President, Kentucky Adult Education, agreed that they would return and do their presentation at the next meeting. 

 

            Representative Siler said classroom space is essential to universities reaching their education goals by 2020. He asked if there were any solutions to the classroom space issue. Dr. King said he did not have a concise solution to the problems with classroom sizes and space. It is clear that a number of Kentucky campuses are reaching the physical limits of the number of students that they can accommodate reasonably without placing academic quality in jeopardy. He said more adjunct faculty can be hired as classroom size increases. These staff members can teach, but are not typically contractually required to stay on campus to do advising and other things expected of full-time faculty. He noted that Northern Kentucky University did actually turn away students this past year due to space limitations. He said as Kentucky attracts more students into higher education, it is essential to have the faculty and facilities to accommodate these new students. It is going to take new resources to increase enrollments and meet state goals. He hopes that the General Assembly realizes this when investing state dollars and realizing the economic impact of educating more people to a higher level. Representative Siler agreed and said the issue needs to be addressed quickly so the schools can meet their 2020 educational goals.

 

            With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 11:55 a.m.