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Episode 49

transformed: Institutional Change Strategies Intent on Reversing the Great Education Recession

In this episode, Dr. Lisa Avery – President of Linn Benton Community College – reviews critical strategies for reversing the Great Education Recession.


Linn Benton Community College Civil Discourse Program’s%20Civil,an%20open%20and%20respectful%20environment.

Red Mom + Blue Mom Presentation at Linn Benton Community College

Joe Gottlieb: (00:01)
Welcome to Transformed a Higher Digital podcast focused on the new why’s, the new what’s, and the new how’s in higher ed. In each episode, you will experience hosts and guests pulling for the resurgence of higher ed, while identifying and discussing the best practices needed to accomplish that resurgence. Culture, strategy and tactics, planning and execution, people, process, and technology. It’s all on the menu because that’s what’s required to truly transform. Hello, welcome and thanks for joining us for this special presidential series episode of Transformed. My name is Joe Gottlieb, President and CTO of Higher Digital, and today I am joined by Dr. Lisa Avery, president of Lynn Benton Community College. Lisa, welcome to Transformed.

Lisa Avery: (00:54)
Thank you, Joe. Happy to be here. So what do you wanna talk about today?

Joe Gottlieb: (00:58)
Well, I’m glad you asked Lisa. I wanna talk about how you are making changes at Lynn Veon Community College to reverse the great education recession. But first, before we get into that heavy topic, tell me a bit about your personal journey and how it has shaped for the work that, how it has shaped your perspective and passion for the work that you do.

Lisa Avery: (01:20)
Yeah, that’s a good place to start. I, uh, I’m a first gen college student in my family, and I was raised in a a with a really strong working class background. So I bring that with me to the community college sector where we, we accept the top 100% of students , and we take pride in that, that we are the place of access and opportunity for folks. So here in Lynn Benton and Albany, Oregon, uh, love in life and thinking that this is a, a great sector to work in a tough time, and I know we’re gonna get into that. It’s a tough time to work in community colleges, but I wouldn’t be anywhere else, Joe.

Joe Gottlieb: (01:55)
Awesome. Well then let’s dive into this topic of, of making changes really with intent to reverse this great education recession. And so we should start out by defining what we mean by the great education recession. I don’t know if that is a, uh, a household term, but I, I suspect it’s gaining more awareness in the space. So tell me what we mean by that.

Lisa Avery: (02:18)
Well, e especially in the community college sector, we saw the pandemic, you know, with Covid 19 really shifting our enrollment patterns. But even moving back beyond that, it’s been about a 10 year enrollment slide, but especially since pre pandemic, we’ve seen in Oregon, over 20% of our community college students not coming back to college, and they’re also not participating in the economy. So some, some double whammy and challenges there. But we, we’ve definitely seeing some enrollment wins, and particularly among those who most need to be in school, which is, uh, folks from our rural communities, folks from our diverse communities, low income first gen students who really need the benefit of education and being a part of our economy. So lots happening there, and I think some major impacts down the road in terms of the social costs. Does it help to explain a little bit about what the social costs are?

Joe Gottlieb: (03:13)
Absolutely. I think that’s why this is a thing at all. Right? Yeah.

Lisa Avery: (03:18)
Right. And I haven’t, you know, the, the term great education recession is one. I haven’t heard that, uh, too much bantered around, but it’s really, actually that’s a good way to, to refer to it because not only is it what’s happening today, but what’s the generational impact, right? And so that’s the concern for me and those among us in, in the higher ed space, especially in the community college world, as we try to figure out how do we bring people back to school and re-engage ’em in our economy? Because certainly we see a disproportionate impact on our diverse students, and in particular, student parents have not come back to college. We think that a lot of that, Joe, is about childcare and the whole childcare crisis for affordable, safe, good childcare is still a real challenge for a lot of families. Uh, and the cost, childcare, transportation, et cetera.

Lisa Avery: (04:06)
Um, and the, the labor shortages with what you can make in fast food right now is probably also keeping some people outta school. And it, you know, no offense to our folks in those service industries, but it’s a much better job if you can get on a path to advancement and a path to full-time work and benefits. So I want to say to those folks who are working in the service industry, you know, take a class while you’re doing it because you need to make a longer term plan for the future. And I guess too, on a more broad, is, on a more broad topic, zooming it up just a little bit, cuz I like to think about these big topics, you know, uh, I’m very concerned about, about democracy and disengagement, disenfranchisement and anger, and that’s terrible. I just hit you with like four boom, boom, boom, boom, you know, loaded in negative words. But, but to me, if we can’t bring back folks to school and work on making sure that we all understand, um, the basics of civil society and civic engagement, then I’m quite concerned that our very democracy is at stake. So the stakes are high for higher ed right now.

Joe Gottlieb: (05:19)
Absolutely. And so, talking about that a little bit, you talk about disengagement, you talk about not only falling out of the educational path, but oftentimes even out of the workforce path. Yeah. And this, uh, at, at, at, it may be foreign to you and I, but it’s, it becomes very real in a hurry for anyone who’s dealing with that, right? And, and, and so that makes it that much harder to be in a healthy enough place just even physically to engage in civil discourse, let alone basic survival, right? Like, so if our democracy is dependent upon exchanges of views and communication and engagement and civil discourse and participation, um, being in a situation where you merely must survive certainly isn’t conducive to that. Is is that kind of what absolutely. You’re talking about?

Lisa Avery: (06:13)
Yeah, it’s totally what I’m talking about. And if you think about sort of the, you know, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, forgive me, my degrees are in mental health. Yeah. We won’t go too far into the weeds there, but just to say, I, I totally get it. That there’s a lot of families who are, who are fighting for, for survival economically and to just keep food on the table, or even to keep the table in a house. Like if, if we look here in, uh, on the west coast and, and certainly Oregon is a part of this trend, we see an increase in homelessness, an increase in addictions and mental health, those kinds of social costs and the cost of paying for folks, you know, downstream in corrections if we don’t make the investments early on and get people involved in being able to provide a real opportunity for themselves and their families.

Lisa Avery: (06:55)
That’s the kind of social cost that I’m talking about. And so, finding ways to engage people, um, and get them back to school or back to work, it doesn’t have to be a six year degree, right? It could be a 15 week phlebotomy certificate. Even that right now has like a thousand dollars signing bonuses. People are banging down our doors wanting more trained phlebotomists. So I want to make sure that when we talk about good jobs, because to me, the, the whole thing about just describing good jobs with solid wages, steers clear of partisan debate and just makes it about, that’s something we should all be able to agree on. It’s not a red issue, a blue issue. Everybody deserves a chance to, to have a good job and a high wage. So I want to make sure we pa pair those with people who are at risk of giving up. I don’t want ’em to give up yet.

Joe Gottlieb: (07:46)
Right. And regardless of red versus blue, regardless of your politics, it’s an, it’s, it’s clear that we have a growing population that needs help, uh, bootstrapping into society and, and this great education recession that you speak of, um, is a, is a headwind, uh, that affects, uh, those individuals ability to make it through the, there are circumstances. I wanna, I wanna highlight though something you just mentioned, and that is, you said it doesn’t have to be a six year degree, and that was even in, in its own sense, uh, an extreme, it doesn’t even have to be a two year degree to your, your point of example. Right? Right. And so the traditionalism of higher ed in the past has been one of the issues. I think, uh, I think community colleges are in the, you know, they’re, they’re in the, in the, in the part of the spectrum that are closest to being the most accessible path. But even looking at alternatives to a two year degree helps many to grab that first rung. You know, talk about the, you know, house law’s, ladder of needs. If I, if I, if I think about the hierarchy as a ladder.

Lisa Avery: (09:04)
Absolutely. Uh, and in fact this, this is true of my own family. My dad got his, uh, he earned his associate’s degree in his forties. And it was really, i, I cry at almost every commencement because I, I just am so touched by the, the hurdles that people are able to, to surpass and by the gains that they make when they walk across our stage. But I have to say, I’ve never cried as as hard as at his, because there he is, he’s, he’s older than many of the faculty, right. But it absolutely transform his economic situation from a much more, you know, a pretty hard working class job in the propane industry to being able to do something in an office and make a little bit more money and have a little bit more security. And so I see him at every graduation, and those are the kinds of students that we absolutely have to reach out and engage.

Lisa Avery: (09:51)
But right now there are some who just are, um, are feeling like maybe it’s too, too much to risk. And I, I just wanna continue to try to make sure that we, we make not just education success accessible, but also meaningful mm-hmm. and relevant. And that we, and, and I don’t think we should be scared to talk about money. You need to make more money. Housing costs are spiraling inflation. Like we know that’s a whole nother podcast, Joe, but there’s a lot going on in terms of, of those costs. So let’s talk to people about what’s the quickest way you could get a good education and become a well-rounded citizen, but also make a good living to support your family and stay in our communities. I think that we need to, we need to pitch that better to the public, because I do think you’re right. I think there are some who have given up or, or they don’t have faith in higher ed anymore, and I’d say higher ed looks different. Give us a chance.

Joe Gottlieb: (10:47)
Haha. Well, higher ed is evolving, um, necessarily, and I think you’re right there, there are opportunities, um, and there’s a lot of energy trying, looking to address this. And it’s already in motion, which is exciting. But then coming back full circle to democracy, right? This country, uh, one of its principles is free enterprise. Um, and we are not, we are not a socialist society. We are not a communist society. Um, but to participate in the society, unless you have, um, severe disability, you need to be able to work and earn a living. And, and as you point out the baseline and society has gotten very divergent with, you know, levels and, and what, what it takes to afford a certain acceptable level of participation in our society. And so you’re quite right. Um, working harder to make more people employable with things that they can grab for a meaningful outcome, uh, is critical.

Lisa Avery: (11:49)
Yes, absolutely.

Joe Gottlieb: (11:51)
So, so this great education recession feels real. It feels like it has a great impact in terms of the cost of society and our present condition. Uh, h how, describe for me what it means for Lynn Benton Community College and, and what you’re up to over there.

Lisa Avery: (12:10)
Yeah, let me situate just a little bit more about the context. We’re in, uh, western Oregon, about an hour south of Portland, about 45 miles north of Eugene, uh, along the I five corridor for, for those who have spent some time in our traffic, they’ll understand that that’s, that’s where we’re at. We have the unique position, uh, to serve two quite different counties, A deep red and a deep blue county one, uh, uh, Lin County is the one that’s deep red. It’s got pretty severe unemployment, even though there’s been a lot of manufacturing in Lin County population of about 130,000. Um, and fewer than 10% I think of folks have a bachelor’s are better in the households in Lin County. The deep blue is Benton County, where Oregon State Gopis, uh, is located. They have about a hundred thousand folks, give or take. Um, but one of Oregon’s highest rates of educational attainment, something north of 80% of folks in Benton County have a degree, and they’re unemployment rate is pretty low.

Lisa Avery: (13:13)
Wow. So then that puts the, that puts L B C C some in some ways smack in the middle of two systems that don’t always agree on much. Mm-hmm. , uh, we certainly found that out during Covid. Uh, and so it puts us in the place where we need to make sure that we speak to different congressional delegations, different chambers of commerce and different businesses. And so we try and, and I think it’s been a hallmark of the college that I’m happy to continue. We straddle that line really well because we don’t talk about partisan politics. We just talk about good jobs, . And, and so to me, again, coming back to wages and the dignity of work and good jobs, because we all love our communities and our families, that’s, I think what, what I have found in these deep red and deep blue spaces, that’s what’s in common. And so when I’m out in the community, that’s what I try to talk to, because then that helps people understand that the college, even though we are a government entity, right? We’re, we’re a publicly funded entity. We, we really supersede that because we’re helping people, you know, keep food on the table. Hmm. And I think that that’s a tremendously important role right now in this divided society for an institution to play

Joe Gottlieb: (14:29)
Well, knowing that you, you work hard to keep your campus, um, insulated from those differences as, as well as possible and or, uh, focus on a, a a a higher objective, which is education, employability, et cetera. Let’s talk for just a moment though, about how those differences manifest and complicate your role as, as president

Lisa Avery: (14:58)
Say a little bit. Well, let me, let me pop in on that first bit to talk about. I think that the differences manifest when it, when it’s to the belief, um, in the importance of education. We have to a little bit remind folks that there’s both, and, and that’s a whole spectrum. There’s education and training, and we’re really all here to serve the needs of a workforce. Yeah. I have a doctorate, right? But that doctorate still, we all have to work . And so it’s not so much are you here for workforce or for transfer education? And, and community colleges do both quite well, especially here at Lid Benton, where we work with Oregon State nicely. But I like to trans like really transcend that because I think it’s an artificial bifurcation. We need to make sure that we’re helping all families put, put food on the table, whether it’s a student who’s gonna transfer and finish their associates, go on and even get a doctorate, whe or whether it’s somebody who’s gonna do like welding and non-destructive testing, they’re all workforce. So I like to also kind of shatter some of those silos cuz higher ed has got way too many silos and we just need to make ourselves more open and accessible to, to real people and their families.

Joe Gottlieb: (16:09)
Do you, do you find that there are ripples even between those two different types of programs, uh, on campus, that you work hard to, um, either embrace for their, their useful differences, but also, um, mitigate to the extent that they’re contentious or divisive?

Lisa Avery: (16:28)
You know, here, I think in general, in the community college sector, we don’t see those as being necessarily too divisive. There’s always a question though about when you’re, you know, doling out resources and, and which budgets get money and which don’t. So in some ways it’s a, it’s a very competitive time. We’ve had significant budget reductions and our enrollments are down. So there is a scarcity approach, but I try again to transcend that by talking about, this isn’t so much about department A versus department B, but RA or Lin County versus Benton County, but more, how can we call something to make sure that, that our, that we’re helping people in our community become taxpayers, become homeowners, and advance themselves and, and help their kids. And I think we have so many student parents that we’re all able to pretty well coalesce around that message. Absolutely.

Joe Gottlieb: (17:19)
Amazing. So in a, in a sense, you’re a bit of a Petri dish for the, the whole nation

Lisa Avery: (17:24)
. Yeah. That’s a good way to put it.

Joe Gottlieb: (17:26)
, since, since you are, uh, boldly moving forward and solving, uh, this incredible, uh, set of problems, um, let’s talk about these top strategies that you’re applying to counter the recession.

Lisa Avery: (17:39)
Okay. You know, we’re doing some stuff where we try to prepare, you know, technology is here, right? The, the pandemic showed us, it’s, it’s here, but yet there are some, um, inequalities or inequities in terms of what folks are prepared to do or what they’ve been, um, doing with technology. But we have decided to work with, uh, a a number of different agencies to try to help prepare some residents of our counties to do remote work. And that’s, that’s not one that has happened so much in the community college landscape before because we’ve been really much more of a bricks and mortar business and, and preparing people to work in offices, right. But we have, in our rural areas, especially in our most remote parts of our counties, we have a lot of people with barriers around transportation, around childcare. And so we’re, we’ll be coming out with some new initiatives to try to help people in the allied health fields do some remote or hybrid education to do cool high wage remote jobs from home. Which I think is awesome because it’s like trying, it really fits with the context that we’re working in, and it helps to get those employees back to school and as a part of our economy, but without them having to sacrifice some of the family commitments that they realized during the pandemic were so, so important. So that’s one big one. Uh, want me to hit another one? Or you wanna pause on,

Joe Gottlieb: (19:01)
On that one? I, I, I, I think there’s something in there I would love to get your perspective on, which is, so the, so this, these are folks that do have some of these, um, sort of workforce accessibility challenges, i e they may have, uh, kids that they’re raising and, or they may have transportation challenges that might be economically based or what have you. Um, but they’re, they are online, so they’re reachable. Yeah. Even though they may be somewhat, uh, removed in some ways where remote work can help them, they are online so you can reach ’em. Is that something you’ve been able to leverage?

Lisa Avery: (19:39)
We’re working on that. You know, I was just a hospital c e o this morning who said, you know what, if you could train a, we’re gonna hire them. We ab we are so desperate for a trained healthcare, you know, allied health workforce, we will meet you where you’re at and if you can help us to bring employees. And, and, and many times too, our adult students, our returning students have, they have some life experience. They have, you know, some good, um, work ethic. Like they have, they have barriers, right? Like childcare, transportation, but they also have a lot that they can bring to the classroom and to the workplace. So I, I think we will get there, um, in terms of bringing those opportunities and leveraging partnerships.

Joe Gottlieb: (20:18)
Great. Makes sense. All right. Uh, so go ahead. Fire through some of the other strategies.

Lisa Avery: (20:22)
Yeah, I mean, we’re trying to figure out how to do I, in addition to these, what you could call, not new, uh, not blue collar, but really new collar, right? That’s our, that’s our, or our new tech workers. We will have to find some way to get those remote folks to work. We’re also trying to make sure that we are really still strong in liberal arts and well-rounded citizens. And we’ve got here at lb, like you wouldn’t believe that an, an amazing music program. We’ve got an art, you know, we’ve got a lot happening in arts and, and, um, and visual learning, graphic design, et cetera. So we’re trying to make sure that we do that and do it well so that students are set up for whatever’s next for them. You know, working in teams, critical thinking. I’ve heard so many different things about soft skills, essential skills.

Lisa Avery: (21:07)
And I, I think some of that is just, we’ve got to make sure that people are able to communicate and collaborate together and, and use the classroom for critical thinking to make that happen. I think that, um, young people some ways get a bad rap on that. I think they can work together, but during the pandemic maybe they didn’t have to as much. So we’re bringing them back to school. And I think succeeding in the classroom and some small group stuff, you know, we’ve also tried to figure out how to leverage our financial resources, um, so that we, and this is the painful part, because colleges are being forced to essentially do less. And, and we’re trying to figure out then how do you prioritize and rank and make the tough choices that, so that you’re set up for the future with, with fewer resources than you had in the past.

Lisa Avery: (21:56)
And that, that makes it tough at the, at the leadership helm, but it’s important for other college to open for generations from now, right? So we are having to make some of those difficult decisions about what to prioritize going forward. That’s never easy. Um, and I also think that in the community college sector and some of these trends are really nationwide. I’ve heard a lot of my colleagues going through the same challenges as we, we’ve tried to be all things to all people in the community college sector for many years. And now the challenge I think is how could we do less better?

Joe Gottlieb: (22:31)
Yeah. I think that’s an important theme. It’s certainly an important theme when you are trying to prioritize in the face of finite resources, or in particular in this case, decreasing resources. If you’ve got the enrollment challenges that are driving budgets down. And, and I know that the community college system is one because it is in the community, right? It is the everywhere else you choose to go to. And community college is all about being able to go to the local one, right? And therefore, there’s a very, there’s a, there’s a deeply embedded instinct to help anyone who’s in the community. And so that’s what leads a little bit to this, this sensibility around being pleasing everyone or being all things to all people. As you’ve had to face some of these hard choices with budget pressure, have you looked to, uh, any sort of cross enrollment with, uh, like neighboring community schools or even other, you know, four years to figure out how to use a little bit of the import export flow so that you don’t have to serve all the courses that you want to for all of your programs? Um, because you could imagine if you’ve, if it would, it’s wise to choose your specialized programs, the things you’re gonna be fulsome about, holistic about delivering, but maybe there’s some, there’s some secondary courses that are part of a well-rounded even two year degree that maybe they’ll, they’ll, they won’t have all the choices for schedule. Maybe they would go off campus. Is that something in play here?

Lisa Avery: (24:07)
Yeah, it is. And I think that you’ll see more of that in years to come. If we were sitting down at this conversation five years from now, I think we would be talking about, not necessarily a massive consolidation of colleges, but ways that we are, we’ve figured out how to survive, survive or communities through like shared services. A a a good example is we have, uh, a pretty amazing diagnostic imaging program, X-ray tech, right? And you can make oh, 65, $70,000 with a signing bonus. And some of them, the employers will also, uh, pay student loans back for somebody and our students too many student loans. But like, that makes a lot of, uh, when people hear those numbers, they wanna like go back and change their major . Cause that’s a pretty solid way to start out your career. But it’s phenomenally expensive to run Joe.

Lisa Avery: (24:53)
Like if you, your eyes would cross if you were to see the sticker prices on some of the equipment. Yeah. So we’re able to enroll from three or four other colleges in the state, and they travel here for some classes. They use distance ed for other classes, and they do their clinical at home, at their home institution in Eastern Oregon or rural central Oregon. To me, that’s a win-win, right? Because those colleges can’t afford the equipment and the faculty, but their communities really need x-ray techs. Maybe they don’t need 20, they need two or three , right? Right. And so we’re able to make sure that they get their, you know, their two year education with us. I mean, the students have to do some travel and they have to be flexible about how the program looks for them. But to me it’s a win for Oregon because we’re not having to buy all of that equipment at 17 different colleges, right? We probably have it consolidated around four or five really, you know, programs that are more scalable and affordable. So I think you’ll see more of that. Uh, that’s certainly what higher ed futurists, and I’m not pretending to be one. That’s what higher ed futurists talk about right now, is more of these creative ways to leverage partnership.

Joe Gottlieb: (26:04)
Um, maybe I’m guilty as charge there by poking in that direction, but No, it’s good. Take it personally. Um, so,

Joe Gottlieb: (26:12)
So, okay. So now you’ve got me going a little bit, right? So there’s a few in those last two topics, right? Budget pressure, specialization on the things that you can lean in and afford and make the investment in to get a return. And specially as aided by, by perhaps serving other markets, uh, that can’t make that investment in the, and this is a great example of x-ray tax and the equipment behind that program. Um, but then also in terms of the, the new liberal arts that you mentioned, right? That’s another dimension of a potential expansion of what it takes to be successful in society today, right? Critical thinking, working in teams increasingly central to a lot of what we expect of employees, um, but then retaining some of the traditional, the old liberal arts, right? And so that, that sets up, um, uh, a little, little bit broader of a spectrum to accomplish that goal. How is Oregon doing on some, you know, some of the standardization of transferrable sort of two year baseline programs and some of that support at the system level for articulation, cross enrollment, et cetera? Or are you finding it’s still a little bit of a necessary pioneering that has to happen for you there?

Lisa Avery: (27:29)
Well, you could talk about pioneering in Oregon, the state of Lewis and Clark, right? That’s not, that’s not such a bad thing. Students though, shouldn’t have to, they shouldn’t have to feel like they’re crossing the Oregon Trail, Joe, to get their credits to transfer. So well done. I’d I’d say it’s a, yeah, I’d say it’s a mixed bag. We, we have L B C C and Oregon State have had really a flagship transfer partnership. So the students we serve, I think are really in pretty solid shape related to that. But statewide, you know, Oregon is, um, it’s organized differently than other states in that it isn’t . So it’s, uh, and I, I say that with fondness toward my colleagues in the four year and in our state offices, it’s just a little bit more, um, stubbornly independent. And so to me, we’ve had to work harder and we’re making some progress.

Lisa Avery: (28:17)
There’s, uh, common course numbering now to help with transfer. There are some, um, other legislative legislative pieces that are being put in place to help make sure that students and their families are well served in the transfer process. And I mean, to me, it’s an issue of, of efficiency, right? Like, I’m a taxpayer, I’m a parent, I have a kid in middle school and a kid in college, and our taxpayers who are in similar situations don’t want to pay for a course in high school to pay for it again at community college and to pay for it a third time in the university. They understand that that’s an unnecessary burden on students and on families and on taxpayers. So we’re getting there, but we’re behind some of the other states. It’s still a little bit of the wild west here, um, in terms of transfer. So we’ve got a little bit of room to grow.

Joe Gottlieb: (29:03)
Well, the complexity and the cost that’s, you know, the cost of those same taxpayers to fix it, uh, um, it’s not lost on me that it is. Yeah. It’s tricky. It is complicated. Um, yeah. But nice to see that you’ve got, um, you’re able to lead by example with your relationship with Oregon State and, um, I’m sure that they’re, you know, folks around the state that are, that are leveraging that progress, uh, to be able to move, move the hole. So, um, I wanna now raise a, a slightly, you know, it’s related but different topic on, you know, you’ve, you’ve been involved with the Heterodox Academy and, and you’ve been leaning on this academy to do a little bit of, of re nurturing, uh, a culture of discourse across what could be a very polarized student body. So we talked about how Lin Benton is, you know, set up serving these two counties. One red, one blue. Um, we talked about efforts to make campus life, uh, all about this universality of employability and, and, and education. And that’s great. Um, but how has the Heterodox Academy helped you to allow discourse to flow in places where it might not otherwise be flowing? And you might need to, you might need to introduce heterodox a little bit for our listeners.

Lisa Avery: (30:19)
Yeah, I was just gonna do that and say that it’s an artisan group, uh, a nonprofit trying to help, uh, really set the table for difficult conversations. And L B C C has been one of the first, and I think now the only community college involved in its, uh, they did a, a competition this year. We were selected to be the, I think the only community college at the table for these, uh, difficult dialogues. And we’re a header heterodox campus community, meaning that we get some support from the, the central office and they help us with some events. And so to try to, to, uh, to take this and put it into play, what does it look like on ground? They had during one of the last elections, and they’re all running a bit together to me now. So I can’t remember which hotly contested election it was, but there was this really cool on-campus debate, red mom, blue mom, and it was, uh, uh, folks who had, obviously, as it sounds pretty different political perspectives, but our Civil Discourse club, uh, which is really why we’re a heterodox Academy college.

Lisa Avery: (31:20)
Um, our Civil Discourse Club sponsored this debate. The attendance was phenomenal. The dialogue was, was real. And it was, I think, you know, constructive disagreement is what they like to foster mm-hmm. . And I think that’s important for students to be able to learn about and engage in. How can we, how can we disagree on policy? Um, but not let those, those partisan approaches let us forget our humanity. And so again, constructive disagreement I think is something we should have in every class if we can. And, and make the space for those conversations so that students can learn what it’s supposed to be like and we can get back to being able to disagree humanely. So it’s been really cool for us at lb.

Joe Gottlieb: (32:08)
Oh, that’s just a great example. And, um, uh, would love to make a link available to our listeners to any material on that, cuz it sounds like a wonderful, a wonderful, uh, event and, and just, uh, like I said, an example of how you could put in a little extra energy, a little extra work to set up a rich dialogue. And, and we know dialogue is only as rich as its diversity, right? So that’s, uh,

Lisa Avery: (32:32)
Right. And I mean, I just remember learning so much from books that I read from authors who I totally disagreed with. Yeah. But yet they had had put out some amazing texts and it, it was important for me as a, as an undergraduate first gen student to, to really get into that content. Right. And I wanna make sure that we’re pushing that forward for other students, uh, now as well.

Joe Gottlieb: (32:54)
All right. Well that’s probably a good, uh, time for us to bring this to a summary. So what three summary points would you give our listeners that are thinking about how to join the, join the phrase, so to speak, in reversing this, this education recession?

Lisa Avery: (33:12)
Starting off with, uh, the first takeaway for me is that the societal impacts of this enrollment crisis are going to be massive if we can’t turn it around. We’ve got to reengage people into education and the economy, especially those who feel the most disenfranchised. We’ve got to find a way to bring them back into the fold because the costs, if we don’t are, are too staggering to even be able to contemplate. Uh, so that’s one, um, you know, what, we’re using some good strategies I think in the community college sector in general and here at L B C C to try to increase enrollment. I think the whole concept of, you know, of kind of a new tech worker and remote work, uh, and is something that we will hopefully see take off with good wages and being able to upscale folks, but really in short term ways so that they don’t feel like they have to invest in long, long, long term, um, opportunity costs or tuition costs.

Lisa Avery: (34:07)
But they realize that, yeah, wow, in just a few months you could really be on a better economic path. Cuz I want people to have both the dignity of work, but also the high wages that they deserve to command with it. And those things have to go together. And then I guess lastly, in terms of takeaways, wow, only three. Okay. Uh, lastly I would say that, you know, higher ed, again, in general and community colleges especially, are needing to figure out how do we kind of course correct and change, um, as we get new information, uh, streamlining our transfer process. We talked about common course numbering. I think too, we, we all need to be more nimble and figure out ways that we can remove barriers for students, something like transportation and daycare and get them back to school and get them back to work. Because if we don’t, going back to take away one, the costs are gonna be staggering. So it’s time for us to all sort of roll parts and figure out how to make that happen for folks.

Joe Gottlieb: (35:04)
Great. Great points. Lisa, thank you so much for joining me today.

Lisa Avery: (35:09)
My pleasure. Thanks for having me. Take care

Joe Gottlieb: (35:11)
And thanks to our guests for joining us as well. I hope you all have a great day and we’ll look forward to hosting you again on the next episode of Transformed.

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As president of Higher Digital, Joe supports customers with strategy development, change management, and strategic operations. He is energized by the complex challenges and profound opportunities facing higher education and is motivated to have and share discussions around these topics.

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