Lawmakers tap Foster for fresh ideas

Regulations, enrollment and budget cuts were the focus of an hourlong congressional hearing Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster attended Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C.

Foster and three other higher education leaders were invited to testify at a congressional subcommittee on higher education and workforce training hearing on making postsecondary education affordable. Foster said all 21 members of the subcommittee attended the hearing, and every representative asked questions.

Foster said he answered questions about concurrent enrollment of high school students at the university, which he said subcommittee members were pleased to hear is common, and he assured a subcommittee member who lamented Colorado’s shrinking commitment to higher education funding that the state was not cutting higher education funding by choice.

He also told the subcommittee he would prefer legislators go easy on some regulations, including a recent one that makes colleges and universities place certain information on their websites no more than two clicks away from the home page. Foster said Colorado Mesa had to create several new Web pages to comply with the rule.

“I said, ‘You’re trying to make us do things students are already demanding of us anyway. They’re demanding consumers.’ They got that,” Foster said.

Foster said the university’s recently proposed idea of a “charter” university model for CMU was discussed only briefly at the meeting. The idea would mean the school would ask the state for a one-time lump sum the university would invest and live off interest.

“I don’t think they got it. It went right over their heads,” Foster said.

Following the hearing, Foster said he will look into one idea shared by Jamie P. Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation of Education. Merisotis, who also testified before the subcommittee, said the foundation worked with an online university to award college credit based on competency instead of seat time.

“It would be interesting for us to take a look at that,” Foster said.


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