Task Force within Oregon Legislature Aims to Improve Higher Education Experience and Outcomes for Underrepresented Students, Focusing on College Affordability, Campus Wraparound Services, and Institutional Accountability The group of legislators has been discussing possible changes to higher education across the state last year, ahead of the reporting deadline for the next legislative session.
The Joint Task Force on Student Success for Minority Students in Higher Education met Thursday morning to discuss next steps.
“It will take a great deal of effort for the 2023 session, which means that all of us who respect, support and believe in the higher education system must come together. Chair of the Task Force Oregon State Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon said:
Created from last year’s Oregon House Bill 2590, the task force directed groups to develop congressional ideas to address student success in terms of access, retention, graduation, and subsequent entry into the workforce. This group broadly defined “minority” students to include more than race. For example, the task force considered students from rural areas of the state, low-income individuals, or those who identified as LGBTQ+.
Ben Cannon, executive director of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission, emphasized the importance of the task force’s work at Thursday’s meeting.
“There has been a proliferation of programs and activities designed to better support underrepresented students. We weren’t able to do it, and we’ve made very little progress in Oregon,” Cannon said.
Cannon said a large gap still exists in underrepresented students.
“Black, Native American, and Latinx students are 10-20% less likely to attend college and 25-35% less likely to complete a four-year degree than other Oregon students.” said Cannon.
“Rural and low-income students experience similar gaps, and similar barriers are faced by students with disabilities, parents, LGBTQ students, and other underrepresented students. It suggests that
The task force toured the state to learn more about student needs. They held both face-to-face and virtual meetings at 13 college and university campuses, as well as his two correctional facilities that offer educational opportunities.
The task force put forward dozens of proposals across three separate working groups. This includes increasing funding for financial assistance programs such as the Oregon Opportunity Grant and the Oregon Tribal Student Grant, expanding child care services on campus, and implementing cultural competence training for academic advisors and on-campus mental health professionals. It is included.
At its final official meeting next month, the task force will approve Congress’ final report and introduce the legislative concepts that will eventually turn into Congress’ bills in 2023.
“We need to think about what goes into these bills,” said Oregon Senator Michael Denbrough, a member of the task force. “We have a lot of proposals in front of us, and we need to think about how they fit together, shape them, etc., in order to decide how to proceed with them.”
Along with HECC, Cannon feels optimistic about the task force’s work and its potential impact on the future of Oregon’s higher education.
“This is the first time, at least in my experience over the last ten years, that a series of legislators have rolled up their sleeves to address these topics, listen to students, and be ambitious and methodical. , is to develop a set of recommendations that can be achieved by considering and discussing these recommendations,” Cannon said.
The task force has set a December 15 deadline to submit its report to Congress.