Higher Education Recovery Task Force Launches

News SREB News Release

A new Higher Education Recovery Task Force will convene higher education leaders from the 16 Southern Regional Education Board states to address the challenges facing colleges, universities and students during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.

The task force will be chaired by Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson and SREB President Stephen L. Pruitt. It will hold its first meeting by next week.

The higher education task force will coordinate with SREB’s new K-12 Education Recovery Task Force so that leaders from all levels of education will have opportunities to collaborate.

“Once again, states across our region are coming together to learn from each other, strengthening our expertise as we each face important decisions ahead,” Chancellor Johnson said.

“Our states’ future depends in part on colleges and universities’ ability to help more students into and through the degrees and credentials our workforce now demands,” said Pruitt of SREB.

State higher education chiefs will be invited to appoint up to three representatives each from the two- and four-year college sectors. Experts from the national State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) also are invited participate.

Some of the central issues the task force will consider:

  • Funding and costs: How states’ colleges and universities will find the resources to endure and provide quality teaching and support for each student.
  • Safety and health: How institutions will re-open and maintain safe campuses.
  • Distance learning, technology, innovation: How institutions can improve online teaching and make broadband and technology more available for staff and students.
  • Student support: How institutions will provide financial, academic and personal support for students dealing with the crisis.

Last year, SREB’s Unprepared and Unaware: Upscaling the Workforce for a Decade of Uncertainty report showed that by 2030, millions of working age adults in the 16-state SREB region may be unemployable because of changing technology, automation and demands for a better-educated workforce.

“While 2030 may seem a long way down the road, the current crisis could mean it’s the next exit,” Pruitt said.