Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos held the Education Innovation Summit on Higher Education recently. 

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos hosted more than 20 leaders in education from across the country at the Education Innovation Summit on Higher Education. The four-hour summit was held in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters. It included some feature presentations as well as a time for discussion about the future of higher education in America.

Secretary DeVos spoke about the need for leaders to embrace new ways of thinking in education and to continually look for ways to improve. DeVos added that for colleges, the measurement for success “…should be determined by how you’re educating and preparing students for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

Anant Agarwal is the CEO of edX, an online learning provider that offers courses from some of the country’s best universities. He said that learning shouldn’t end after graduation but the country needs a format where education can continue throughout an individual’s career.

Ben Nelson is the founder of the Minerva Project, a for-profit educational organization. Nelson first posed the question of what the true objective of higher education is. He added that most companies are looking for employees that have a primary skill set but also have the flexibility to expand that skill set into other areas.

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University educators and staff members spoke up about what they believed was important for higher education as well. Kathleen Plinske, campus president at Valencia College, suggested simplifying the FAFSA, particularly for low-income students.

Jerry Davis is president at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri, a school that requires every student to hold down a job through college. He said that colleges must take the initiative to give their students the chance to succeed.

Davis then shared a story about a student whose mother died midway through the school year. The school’s Helping Hand Fund took care of the funeral expenses for that student’s mother. That student was able to graduate from college and go on to become a teacher.

Michael Zeliff, the dean at the Jack Welch Management Institute said that his school looks at student recommendations “…as a key performance measure.” Zeliff added that his school’s curriculum was designed to be learned and then applied. Once students have applied the information, they can discuss their observations with their classmates.

Toward the end of the summit, DeVos thanked everyone for the various ways that they were able to serve students. “And tell us the ways we can support meaningfully the things you are doing to serve students.”

Image Copyright © Gage Skidmore