Under Secretary of Education to Visit Ashland University

2/16/12 ASHLAND, OH -- A College Affordability Town Hall meeting that will feature a visit and keynote address by U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter will be held on the Ashland University campus Feb. 29 at 2 p.m. in the Jack and Deb Miller Chapel.


Kanter, who was nominated to this position by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in June of 2009, reports to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. She oversees policies, programs, and activities related to postsecondary education, adult and career-technical education, and federal student aid. 


Kanter has been charged with planning and policy responsibilities to implement President Obama’s goal for the U.S. to have "the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world by 2020" as measured by the proportion of college graduates over the next decade. Kanter and her team are keenly focused on improving college access, affordability, quality and completion to implement President Obama's American Graduation Initiative. 


The Town Hall meeting, which is open to the public, will feature Kanter’s keynote address titled “The Nation’s Treasury: College Affordability, Quality and Completion.” 


In announcing the Town Hall meeting, the U.S. Department of Education office noted that Ashland University was selected as the location of the Under Secretary’s Town Hall meeting because of the University’s recent development of programs in response to student and family financial concerns.


In just the past several months, Ashland University has:

• reduced the minimal number of credit hours needed to complete an undergraduate bachelor’s degree from 128 to 120. 

• instituted a three-year degree program that will allow students to earn a quality private education in less time and for less money.

• established a four-year graduation guarantee program that will help keep college costs predictable for families.

• approved a more than 17 percent increase in merit-based scholarship awards for incoming freshmen in 2012-2013.

• launched an accelerated accounting degree program that allows students to complete bachelor’s and master’s programs in less time than it would for separate degrees.

• approved a total of 1.1 percent increase in tuition, room and board fees for the coming academic year, the lowest increase on record in school history.


The state department also released this statement regarding an objective for the event: 


“This event is focused on the fundamental role of college in advancing our nation’s economic and social prosperity. Those attending this event should gain a greater understanding of the significant role of college in our society; the return on investing in a postsecondary education; and the shared responsibility of students, postsecondary institutions, the states and the federal government in expanding college opportunity, realizing that opportunity is a hollow promise if students cannot afford to go to college, receive a quality education and earn their degrees and certificates in a reasonable timeframe,” the statement noted.


Kanter also oversees five White House Initiatives on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Educational Excellence for Hispanics, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. 


In her first three years as Under Secretary, Kanter oversaw a successful scaling up of the Direct Student Loan program saving taxpayers tens of billions of dollars in the process and financing a 50-percent increase in the number of Pell Grant recipients nationwide. She and her team are spearheading the Obama administration’s effort to cap federal student loan payments at less than 10 percent of income beginning this year and ensure full loan forgiveness for those engaged in public service work.


From 2003 to 2009, Kanter served as chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation, serving more than 45,000 students with a total budget of approximately $400 million. She is the first community college leader to serve in the Under Secretary position. 


Under Secretary Kanter holds a doctorate in organization and leadership from the University of San Francisco. Her dissertation addressed demographic, institutional, and assessment factors affecting access to higher education for underrepresented students in California's community colleges. 


Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.


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