An Educated Guest

Ep.10 | Solving for the Top Challenges Facing Higher Ed


Guest: Ted Mitchell, President of the American Council on Education

 

Todd Zipper, President of Wiley Education Services, welcomes Ted Mitchell, President of the American Council on Education (ACE). Todd and Ted discuss what ACE is currently working on and how are they helping colleges and universities through innovation. Plus, Ted shares his thoughts on how higher education will evolve under the Biden administration. Listen to their conversation on your favorite podcast platform.

Topics Discussed:

  • What to expect from the Biden Administration regarding affordability and accountability
  • How the pandemic negatively impacted enrollment rates for adult learners
  • The current student loan debt crisis and potential solutions to solve it
  • The effect digital credentialing will have on higher ed
  • How institutions can leverage investments from the big MOOC and platform players to bring down costs and drive better outcomes for students

Guest Bio

Ted Mitchell is the President of ACE, the coordinating body for higher education institutions in the United States. ACE’s work encompasses policy advocacy, program development, and research focusing on equity, access, and student achievement.

Ted’s leadership of ACE, and of the nation’s higher education sector, is informed by a lifetime of work in higher education as a Professor, Dean, College President, Trustee, and most recently as U.S. Under Secretary of Education in the Obama administration. Previously, he served as the President of the California State Board of Education and CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture philanthropy investing in K–12 innovation to support low-income students, schools, and communities.

Ted received his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees from Stanford University. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Christine, and their two children.​​​​​​​​​​​​​



View Transcript

Speaker 1:
You’re listening to An Educated Guest, a podcast that brings together great minds in higher-ed, to delve deeper into the innovations and trends guiding the future of education and careers, hosted by the president of Wiley Education Services, Todd Zipper.

Todd Zipper:
Hello, this is Todd Zipper, the host of An Educated Guest. On today’s show, I speak with Ted Mitchell, president of American Council on Education, the coordinating body for higher education institutions in the United States. Ted has a lifetime of work in higher education, as a professor, Dean, college president, trustee, and U.S under secretary of education in the Obama administration. The key takeaways from our discussion. First, we can expect the Biden administration to focus on affordability, accountability, and opportunities for students that have been marginalized.

Todd Zipper:
Second. Typically when the economy gets worse, people go back to school, especially with community college and adult learners. It appears that the pandemic generally caused the opposite reaction negatively impacting enrollments. Third, the student debt crisis is largely at the undergraduate level. Potential solutions should address bringing student loan debt back into the bankruptcy equation, accountability by institutions, especially for profits, and improving completion rates.

Todd Zipper:
Fourth. Digital credentialing will change the grammar of higher-ed significantly. Traditional higher-ed will badge and certify learners in a way they haven’t in the past. Fifth. Within their mission, institutions need to look to the right, at employers, which allows students to take what they understand in the classroom, and directly apply in new ways. And lastly, most institutions are more local, and can leverage investments from the big, [inaudible 00:01:46] and platform players to bring down costs, and drive better outcomes.

Todd Zipper:
Welcome to the educated guest. So Ted, let’s just jump right into it. You’ve been in higher-ed, your entire adult life. Can you talk about what inspired you to pursue a career in this industry?

Ted Mitchell:
Yeah. From the very beginning, I’ve been really passionate about the way education can and should serve to equalize opportunity in America. And I think that’s key to the promise that we made in 1776 to create an equal democracy, and it’s a promise that we need to live up to with schools, whether they’re K-12 or higher education, they’re really the key, I think, to making that happen.

Todd Zipper:
That’s great. And talking about our democracy, let’s talk about the Biden administration, and how education could change in the coming years. Given your experience and what you know from being on the inside, what do you think are the administration’s major objectives specifically around higher-ed?

Ted Mitchell:
It’s a great question, and we’ve been working hard with them and they’ve been really open to a lot of comment and input from higher education institution and policymakers from inside and outside. So I think that there are three. Number one is to make sure that higher education as a whole is affordable. And so you see that in the increase that’s being proposed in the Pell Grant program, you see that in the free community college proposal, and you see that in some nuts and bolts work that the administration is doing, to encourage states to invest more in higher education. So I think… And we’ll come back to that. So I think that, that’s one, is affordability.

Ted Mitchell:
Number two is accountability. They have been working for a long time, when president Biden was vice president Biden, he worked very closely with the department of education to create new standards for accreditation, to give accreditors more authority over who has access… or which institutions have access to federal financial aid money.

Ted Mitchell:
So things like completion, persistence, the debt to earnings ratios, to make sure that students are getting a degree that will help them pay off their student debts. I think that, that accountability is going to be the second pathway for the administration. And then third has to do with this issue that I started with, which is equity and equality. The administration is very clear that it wants to create opportunities for students who have been marginalized, whether those are African-American black students, Hispanic students, LGBTQ students, tribal colleges, and native students. And so whether it’s through direct assistance to institutions that educate a disproportionate number of those students, or civil rights legislation that will help those students get the education they deserve.

Todd Zipper:
Can we talk about accountability for a second? Because I really liked you highlighting that. When I think about accountability, I’m thinking about the retention, the graduation rates, but also these employability outcomes, right? You mentioned debt to earnings ratio. How hard is that or how easy is that to track? Because it seems kind of hard to now a student leaves that school, and now you have to find out what they’re doing, what’s their job title? What’s their earnings? Can you talk a little about that?

Ted Mitchell:
Sure, Todd. One of the peculiarities of our system is that we do not have a database that allows you, me or the federal government, to track a student from say, high school through college, into employment. That continuous [inaudible 00:05:21] is a student unit record doesn’t exist, and it doesn’t exist because Congress says it can’t. So we really are left to cobbling things together piecemeal. When I was in the department, we developed a memorandum of understanding with the treasury department that allowed us, for the first time, to look at earnings rates of graduates, of different colleges and universities.

Ted Mitchell:
And that became the basis of the college scorecard, which does allow you to do that. But as you know well, and we’ve talked about before, getting a degree in religious studies from UCLA is not the same thing as getting a degree in electrical engineering from UCLA. And so the next frontier is to actually be able to get to that program level of granularity, but bottom line is, it’s piecework.

Todd Zipper:
Yes. And the cost of that degree is most likely the same, which is possibly part of the problem here.

Ted Mitchell:
Right, and so then you have interesting conversations about return on investment, and what that looks like, but we’re getting much better at being able to look at, first of all, graduation rates, and then employment rates and salaries at the three-year mark out of college, and the 10 year mark out of college. And what’s one of the things that’s interesting is that the biggest discrepancies occur at the three-year mark, where the label on the degree really matters, but by 10 years, those start to smooth out, and liberal arts graduates, for example, catch up with their peers in engineering and the sciences.

Todd Zipper:
Well, I think you definitely set us on the right course here around the accountability metrics. So hopefully we’ll make progress, because I think that will help to course correct a lot of the programs and institutions that maybe aren’t steering students in the right direction. Let’s shift gears for a second and talk about enrollments. I just read the other day that Purdue University had its largest enrollment ever in the fall, over 10,000 freshmen, 50,000 overall, so things are going good for them. Hearing similar trends with other top tier schools. We also know that from last year. Community colleges were probably the hardest hit in the fall of last year, and it looks like probably the fall again. What are you guys seeing at ACE, American Council on Education, and how do you think that trend is playing out?

Ted Mitchell:
Yeah, and just to remind everybody, the American Council on Education is the umbrella organization for higher-ed, so we represent two year, four year public, private. From the smallest college to the largest. So we have this wonderful vantage point where we can look at those trends over the hills and mountains of higher-ed. I think that we were surprised at the growth in applications and enrollments in the… As you said, the upper tier of higher education, and people are still trying to figure out what that is all about. I think that a lot of it has to do with the growth of the test-optional movement, where I think some people who… Lots of individuals who felt that they didn’t have a shot at the Purdue, for example, said “Well, with it being test optional, I still have a good case to make, and I’m going to make it.” So I think that, that’s been going on.

Ted Mitchell:
I think at the other end, I think it’s exactly the mirror image of that. I think that the pandemic has screwed up what is a normal economic trend. Normally when the economy goes south, community college enrollments go up, because it’s a way for people to skill up and get ready for a job while they’re unemployed. I think that the pandemic took the air out of that, and gave people a sense that this was an economy that was just not going to come back, and there was nothing on offer that would enable them to really emerge as employable in the job market. One of the reasons why I think community colleges are doubling down on the work they’re doing with employers to make very strong connections between the work that happens in the community industry, and the education that is produced by a community college.

Todd Zipper:
Talking about the pandemic, college and universities received billions of dollars from what I understand, like many other industries, to get through this dark period. Now that we’re kind of coming out of it, how are these institutions… How have they spent the money? Is it leading to some longer-term positive change? And is there any understanding… Accounting of it right now? What are you seeing from your end?

Ted Mitchell:
Yeah, it’s the right question, and it’ll take a while to untangle this not only in higher-ed, but in K-12 as well. We were the beneficiaries, we in higher education have a little bit over $70,000,000,000 of relief money from the federal government, and every dollar of that has been important. Half of it… By law, half of it was spent immediately on the financial needs of students. And so institutions use the FAFSA form, Pell eligibility, it was the financial aid office on steroids as they worked to provide checks to students so that they could pay their bills and make ends meet. Another part of it… And so then we’re talking about the half that was devoted to institutional recovery. A lot of it went to pay for institutional infrastructure. So think about a Southern Illinois university whose dormitories were suddenly empty.

Ted Mitchell:
They weren’t charging students for their dorm rooms, but they had to pay the interest on the loans that built the buildings. They still needed to keep them upright. The electricity bill needed to be paid. So a ton of the money went into paying for expenses that are incurred regardless of student participation, to fill in that income gap. And then the third place where… And this answers your question, I hope. The third place is looking at, primarily, student needs, and what could institutions do to make it possible not only for students to survive, but to continue their education.

Ted Mitchell:
Cal State University, for example, the largest four year university in the country, spent millions of dollars providing laptops to students, creating hotspots throughout the communities of California, for students to be able to participate, purchased headphones like the ones that we’re wearing. And I think that, that really did two things. First of all, it demonstrated that the digital divide is real. And two, that if universities and colleges are going to move to a more distributed learning environment, they needed to provide equipment for that, and they did. So that gives the Cal state campuses, for example, the opportunity to that, and to have a robust hybrid learning experience where some courses are online, some courses are in person and everybody can do both.

Todd Zipper:
Yeah, that spurs a lot for me. And I want to jump to student debt, just because I’m thinking also about, what happened during the pandemic was a moratorium on payments of student debt. So we already had a huge issue going on in society where we had $1,700,000,000,000 of debt, kept going up, tuition kept going up. You also have this, whether it’s right or wrong, this sort of growing sentiment around the value of an education, which every other day, it seems like a report comes out saying it’s valuable, it’s not valuable. I’m trying to wrap my hands around this, but help us understand this debt crisis that we’re in.

Todd Zipper:
First off, there’s a growing feeling that we’re going to write this debt off or at least parts of this debt off. It’s hard to take an entitlement away from people, like right now, people aren’t paying back their loans or paying their interests. These are just real issues in the economy that have to be worked through. So we’re in sort of a tricky situation right now, short-term, around this debt not getting paid back, but that’s okay because the government’s allowing it. We also have this vicious cycle of tuition just going up every year, people taking on more debt than maybe the value of that degree leads to. So help us make sense of this if it’s possible at all.

Ted Mitchell:
Yeah, it’s complicated, but I’ll give it a shot. So when we look at the $1,700,000,000,000, first thing to do is to separate it, undergraduate debt and graduate debt. And I think that’s important because in a way, an undergraduate degree, whether that’s an associate’s degree or A four-year degree, has become table stakes for the new economy. And so it’s important really for everybody to be involved in that marketplace. We can talk about the differential value in a moment, but undergraduate debt accounts for not even half oF the $1,700,000,000,000. The bulk of the $1,700,000,000,000, 53, 54% I’m not… It’s not 75%, but a little over half is graduate student debt. Those are doctors, those are lawyers, those are MBAs, those are people who are getting master’s degrees in their disciplines, and they’re making a choice to invest there. They want to say that it’s irrelevant or that they are not living without paying, because I’m sure that many of them are, but I think it’s a different social problem than the problem of undergraduate debt.

Ted Mitchell:
So let’s focus on undergraduate debt. The average debt that a an undergraduate leaves with is about $34,000, which is different from the $200,000 debts that we read about in the headlines. Those are largely graduate students, those are largely professional degrees, and those will largely be paid off, and the numbers demonstrate that. So let’s look at the next thing, which is who defaults on their student loans, which I would use as a proxy for the people who are really in dire straits, who are being punished by their debt. They aren’t the people on the graduate side of the equation. Graduate default rates are remarkably low. Default rates are highest among two populations of undergraduates. One, those who don’t finish, so they’ve gotten debt, but they don’t have the bump in employment that the degree will give them, so they’re stuck halfway across this debt river.

Ted Mitchell:
The second are individuals whose degrees are from a for-profit institution. And so last time I looked, for-profit enrollments accounted for 11% of the enrollment in higher education, and 40% of the defaults. So if you want to solve the problem going forward, you solve a couple of problems. One is, how can you make it easier for students who are in trouble, the defaulters, to get rid of their debt. And I think that this is where social policy lags reality. You can’t discharge your debt in bankruptcy. You can a car loan, you can a business loan, you can a mortgage. We need to bring the student loan back into that equation so that all those people who’ve defaulted, the majority of them can use bankruptcy in the same way that they would use bankruptcy to get back on their feet, with any other borrowing instrument.

Ted Mitchell:
We talked accountability earlier. We need to encourage those for-profit institutions to deliver what they promise, and to create degree programs that give people earnings that will allow them to pay off their debt. That’s this debt to earnings ratio that I mentioned earlier, that will be a part of the Biden regulatory package. And then finally, and I guess most importantly, we have a completion problem in higher education, 100% of people who sign up to go to college, expect to complete it, 50% do. That doesn’t work. And so we really need to focus as a field, as an industry, on completion.

Todd Zipper:
Let’s jump into accountability, because that really resonates with me. So punishing, let’s say, the bad institutions after the fact feels like it misses the point, right? How do we get it upfront? Where they get their real time feedback that “Hey, This isn’t working, your product.”

Ted Mitchell:
Right. So I think that there are a couple of ways… Let me go back a half a step. I think that one of the things that is possible and will become more possible with the Biden administration is that, when institutions are shown to the defrauding their student, making promises that they can’t keep, then not only is the institution punished going forward by not being able to offer federal financial aid, but there’s redress for students. So even in that case, the government can reach back and forgive the loans of students who have been in those situations, so that’s one.

Ted Mitchell:
Two is, and I mentioned accreditors earlier. Accreditation is the major gatekeeper for higher education institutions. If they are accredited, if they are in good standing, then they can be eligible to distribute federal financial aid to students, which then pays their tuition. So that’s really high stakes. If you’re not accredited, you don’t have access to that pool of money. And so we represent, as I mentioned, just about everybody in American higher education, and we strongly believe that accreditors need to get tougher on accrediting institutions, essentially disallowing them from access to the to the public trough.

Ted Mitchell:
And then finally, and I think that in some ways this may be as important as accreditation, is that public accountability is something we need to put more emphasis on. So this was the idea in the Obama administration behind the college scorecard, provide parents and prospective students with information about the relative value of institutions, and let them make their choices, and let them punish institutions that aren’t doing the right thing.

Ted Mitchell:
So there’s a marker in the college scorecard that I like, it’s terrifying, but I like it. It measures the earnings of a graduate of an institution against the earnings of a high school graduate in the same geography. So there are institutions in this country whose graduates don’t earn as much as a high school graduate, and helping people understand that and make choices around that, in the longterm, I think, is going to have a corrective effect.

Todd Zipper:
Yeah, it seems like the college scorecard is just a great step in the right direction, around a consumer reports type of model that exposes actually what’s happening on the ground. Let me ask a question around this new emerging model in the private sector around funding, income share agreements. And a lot of it’s been around bootcamp models, alternative credential models, but also Purdue University to go back to that name, they create a program, Back a Boiler, it’s been slow to get adoption from universities, and it seems to be more supplemental around the degree, but is there something there around aligning incentives? Could the government come in and structure the loans more like ISAs? What are your thoughts on this?

Ted Mitchell:
Yeah. I have friends who are deeply involved in the ISA movement, and I think there is something there. Whether it’s an ISA industry or whether it points the way for new kinds of government programs, I think remains to be seen. I think that one of the reasons that ISAs have not carried a whole lot of favor in the higher-ed community is because of the… One of the basic propositions is that, if I’m an investor in an ISA funding Ted Mitchell’s education, I want some kind of return from it, and my return prospects are greater if Ted Mitchell majors in electrical engineering than in sociology.

Ted Mitchell:
And so there’s a worry of academic red lining, where these funding opportunities would be available to some but not all, and that’s hard for institutions of higher education to manage. And it’s kind of the same query that would be asked if we said we were going to charge a ton more for those engineering degrees, than for a sociology degree within a single institution. That probably wouldn’t work real well over time.

Todd Zipper:
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. So sticking with the theme of… I call it education beyond the degree or micro-credentials, alternatives type of models, we’re seeing the emergence of these mega platforms or even marketplaces. You’ve got the Coursera’s, EdX, FutureLearn, Udemy, even Chegg you can argue as in this camp. What do you think this means for higher education? These platforms or whether they’re using universities in a lot of cases, great brands, great instructors to build these platforms that are direct to consumer. How are you thinking about this as representing this larger… The higher education community in terms of, are they good? I think about… And you’ve been talking all about what I call the iron triangle of higher education outcomes, accessibility and affordability. Are they driving these three things?

Ted Mitchell:
It’s interesting. So I’m, I’m bullish, largely bullish about these opportunities. I think that we have yet to achieve the economies that are to be had in these kinds of third-party external providers, where a little bit like pharmaceuticals, the upfront costs of putting together a really first class learning opportunity for students is significant. And that amortized over a significant period of time, the marginal cost drops pretty easily. I think that benefit to higher education is both access and affordability. And it has to do with, again, being able to do higher education, not within the institutional logic of a brick and mortar campus, but within the logic of a learner’s daily life. I think we’re learning… And again, Todd, you and I talked about this, the new average student is 26 years old, and 60% of them work full-time, and a lot of them have kids or they take care of adult parents.

Ted Mitchell:
So you’re really looking at a student population that can’t go to class between 10 and two, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They really need to have their instruction available to them in different modalities, and that’s where I think that this is going to be particularly helpful. It’s actually going to broaden the market of accessible students for institutions. It’s going to broaden the curriculum that they’re able to offer as they establish partnerships with some of these producing entities, and it’s going to eventually lower the cost of a total degree by combining the low marginal cost online instruction, with some of the regularly priced in person instruction.

Todd Zipper:
Yeah, I’m with you. I’m largely bullish, but I think getting to the last mile of that career outcome or the life outcome that, that learner is looking for, I think is largely unknown at this point, especially when they… When a lot of these platforms talk about millions and millions of learners, it’s hard to imagine it’s had that impact on those iron triangle of outcomes. Let’s stick on innovation for a second. I recently interviewed Manoj Kutty of Greenlight, and we had a very interesting conversation about digital credentials. I know Greenlight received a grant from ACE, so I’d love to hear your thoughts, A, on digital credential movement, and how that might evolve in the higher education community.

Ted Mitchell:
It’s very exciting. It’s a little bit scar, it’s a little wild westy out there in terms of credentials and badges, but I do think that it is going to change the grammar of higher education significantly, so that instead of talking about degrees or at least only degrees, we’re going to be talking about skills and competencies that are badged or credentialed in addition. So I think that the Greenlight project was, and is, a really remarkable example of the way in which student learning can be captured in a badge or a certificate. It can be stored in a central location and then distributed as the student sees fit, as they seek employment, as they seek to transfer credit to another institution. It becomes a part of their lifelong learning record. It produces tons of inefficiencies where people have to call their college and get a transcript, and verify that and so on.

Ted Mitchell:
So I think both in terms of what it measures, and how it’s stored and transmitted, there’s a lot on offer in digital credentials. That said, I think too often people dismiss traditional higher education in the world of digital credentials. “Well, okay that’s going to do it. That’ll be done. We’ll not do that in traditional higher education.” There’s an important movement to look at traditional coursework, and ask the question about that coursework, say “All right, what are the skills people are learning in that class? How do they demonstrate that?” So the course becomes not just a record of what you learned in ECON 151, but your analytic skills, your ability to master a certain amount of economic literature, and those then become badges that exist simultaneous with a course. So I think that traditional higher education is going to be able to badge and certify a lot of learning that takes place, that they haven’t had to in the past, but now will.

Todd Zipper:
I want to tie together a few concepts that we talked about today. One is the unacceptable completion rates like you talked about earlier, 50 plus percent, the type of students, the more adult learner working, the notion that, that individual most likely has a lot of transfer credits. We talked about this the other day that. What we see is bringing in 37 credit hours before they’re moving from one institution to the next, and then these digital credentials. So we know that we have a major problem today in higher-ed around transfer credits. We know these students are moving from one institution for a whole bunch of reasons. Their life changes, they’re moving, they drop out for a while. Talk to me about the transfer system, and how we could potentially solve some of those issues that just keep popping up.

Ted Mitchell:
At ACE, we a year ago mounted a national task force on transfer of credit. And we brought people together from every kind of institution, and it was remarkable because lots of higher education discussions, people can’t agree on the time of day or the weather outside. This was one of those where everybody, within five minutes, their head, just as yours and mine do, were nodding up and down saying “This is a problem and it has to be fixed.” And so we then spent a year trying to figure out how to do it. It’s simple and it’s impossible at the same time. The simple is, the state of Florida has created a system where, whether you’re in a community college or the university, the courses are all numbered the same, the catalog descriptions are the same, and by and large, the syllabi are the same, because faculty from the different systems have gotten together and they’ve said, this is what introductory psychology is going to look like for the next few years.

Ted Mitchell:
So think about the problems that they’ve solved. They’ve gotten faculty from different institutions to agree on a common syllabus, and a common set of outcome objectives. That really can happen only locally, and what the Greenlight project showed us is that you can have that locally, but then you can transmit… Kind of like the transitive property of mathematics. If you and I agree, and you and somebody else agree, then maybe I can agree with that other person.

Ted Mitchell:
I think that, that’s where you get the simple, which is get everybody to agree through the impossible, which is to create a clearing house of credit transferability, then allows there to be this massive network of institutions that share information about who transfers what, that will make transferability better. Won’t solve the problem, and I frankly think we’re never going to solve the problem for everybody, and we shouldn’t focus on it. We should focus on solving the problem in the institutions where people great numbers, where most of the students go. I’m not going to worry myself if Yale doesn’t take a chemistry course from the community college in New Haven, right?

Todd Zipper:
Pick the low hanging fruit there. So switching gears to talk about more of the employer perspective, which is such an important perspective in higher-ed. I recently interviewed Ryan Craig who introduced this concept of higher education needing to become more employer down versus education up or said differently, right to left versus left to right. What do you think about this potential evolution of employers and universities locking arms in ways that feels a lot more like the apprenticeship model, honestly, the way I think about it, what are your thoughts here?

Ted Mitchell:
I agree with Ryan that within their missions, institutions need to look to the right. And I think that here’s where I find community colleges to lead the pack. Community colleges are closely tied to their local economies, they’re closely tied to employers. For a long time they have been looking to employers to help provide resources, whether those are intellectual resources or physical resources to help create bespoke programs for the growing industries in their neighborhoods.

Ted Mitchell:
And I think that what we have learned from that experience is that that doesn’t lead to a perversion of the academic enterprise, it doesn’t lead to a vocationalization of higher education. It actually leads to an opportunity for students to take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it in a real world sense. I’m going to get really abstract for a moment, but this is what John Dewey told us was good education back at the turn of the 20th century, that you learned better when you were learning through experience. And so that’s really what we’re asking employers to do, is to generate for us, and identify for us, experiences that are relevant to their economic wellbeing, but can help the students understand what they’re learning, in new ways.

Todd Zipper:
Yeah. You said something that rung for me around their communities, and I increasingly find that the higher-ed institutions, the community colleges, the regional schools, that really know their communities, the employers, the citizens, they seem to have such a great symbiosis there. And so going back to the question above about these huge platforms that by nature probably can’t be local, it’ll be interesting to see how that ultimately plays out, that dynamic.

Ted Mitchell:
To comment on that, I think that this is where what you just said is so important, because I think that it suggests a competitive advantage, and a differentiator for local institutions, that the big platforms can’t aspire to. So what if they did that and focused on that, and then augmented heavy investment on that local work with intellectual assets that are more national, international, global, however you want to put it. I know when I was the president of a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles, I could do LA all day, but I was never going to be able to offer a course in advanced Mandarin. But if I could do both, how cool would that be?

Todd Zipper:
Exactly. And we might be getting there, so we’re going to close with two more questions. I think it’s important we talk a little bit about COVID, you mentioned when we were talking the other day, how consistently the mental health of students and faculty had been on the mind and the focus of presidents and their teams, even rather than the financials. Tell me more about this and what you’re seeing.

Ted Mitchell:
I think that… And it’s interesting, we’re talking a lot about mega platforms and delivery online. I think that we are learning that colleges are important places. They’re important places in their communities, they’re important places for students to learn and grow, they’re important places for staff to express their aspirations for who they want to be in the world, and all of that has come together in COVID, in a kind of arm in arm sense, that nobody is going to do well if everybody doesn’t do well.

Ted Mitchell:
So I was just talking to a group of HR directors who said really directly “Look, if the staff of an institution isn’t healthy, the students aren’t going to be healthy.” And that is really true, and I think we’re learning that. I also think that we are learning the importance of human interaction, and whether that is face-to-face or zoom face, I think that the work that’s being done in telemedicine, in Tele Student health, I think we’re learning in gobs that you can reach out to students in ways that matter.

Todd Zipper:
Any thoughts on what we’re going to keep or might jettison as a result of COVID?

Ted Mitchell:
That’s the trick question of the day, and I think that we’re going to keep a mix of in-person and online instruction. I think we’re going to keep things like Tele Student health and telemedicine. I think we’re going to keep student data systems that allow institutions to track what assignments students are doing, how well they’re doing in those assignments, and to be able to reach out to them in a more textured way, and I think we’re going to keep our eyes on safety in ways that we haven’t before.

Todd Zipper:
Well, Ted, thank you so much. I ask this last question of all my guests, part of what we love about education is that we all have learning champions. Who has been a learning champion for you, and how has that person helped you in your life?

Ted Mitchell:
This was the question that I worried the most about, Todd, because I knew you’re going to ask it. There are so many, and you can’t be in education without having a sense of all of the people who pass through your life. The most significant educator in my life who was a champion just passed away just this last year, is a professor of mine. And to give you a sense, he was my freshman advisor, he was the chairman of my dissertation committee, and he was the best man in my wedding.

Todd Zipper:
It says it all right there.

Ted Mitchell:
Yeah, and for me, that really is what being a great educator is about. It’s about taking somebody from where they start through their journey, and having that be personal as well as professional.

Todd Zipper:
Well, Ted, thank you so much for being here on An Educated Guest.

Ted Mitchell:
Thank you, Todd.

Speaker 1:
Thanks for joining us on today’s episode. If you like what you’re hearing, be sure to subscribe to An Educated Guest on your listening platform, so you don’t miss the latest episodes. For more information on Wiley Education Services, please visit edservices.wiley.com.

  • Let's Talk

    Complete the form below and we will be in contact soon to discuss your needs. If you have a question about textbooks, please email sscteam@wiley.com

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

By submitting your information, you agree to the processing of your personal data as per Wiley's privacy policy and consent to be contacted by email.