Chronicle of Higher Education Virtual Forum: Why Regional Public Universities Matter and How to Tell That Story

February 29, 2024


“Figure out what your institution does well and lean into that story.” Effective ways to reinforce positive messages about how regional public universities create value for both students and the communities they serve was a focus of Leading a Public Regional University Today, a virtual forum conducted Jan. 30th by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The event, supported by ɫƬ (ɫƬ), featured a lively discussion among academic leaders around findings from the recent CHE/ɫƬ survey and research brief, Regional Public Colleges Face Turbulent Times.

Participants were Dr. Felecia Commodore, Visiting Associate Professor, Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Dr. Catherine Wehlburg, Interim President, Athens State University; and Dr. Charles L. Welch, President and CEO, American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

They reflected on why 55% of survey respondents feel positive about the future of regional universities despite challenges from budget shortfalls, decreasing enrollment and increased competition. They noted the impact of institutional leaders who are not only deeply committed to their institutions, but who are finding resources to foster student success, diversifying their faculty, and repositioning degrees not as a potential cost, but a personal investment.    

The forum also highlighted how Southeastern Oklahoma State University is successfully overcoming some of the many challenges facing regional publics. Southeastern President Dr. Thomas W. Newsom, who was interviewed by Susan Dukes, ɫƬ’s President, University Partnerships, spoke about the partnership with ɫƬ and how a robust online portfolio has expanded their geographic impact and reinforced their standing as a student-ready university.

To access these insights, view the recorded virtual forum (Leading a Public Regional University Today) and read the survey and research brief (Regional Public Colleges Face Turbulent Times), here.  

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