Marylhurst President Melody Rose was one of three thought leaders featured in the Portland Business Journal discussing challenges facing higher education in 2017.
Dr. Melody Rose was joined by Thomas Hellie, president of Linfield College, and P.K. Runkles-Pearson, partner at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP, to discuss how private colleges are tackling the challenges of meeting employers’ needs and the changing demographic in Oregon’s student population.
Dr. Rose made the case for the value of private colleges, saying:
Less than 1 percent of [Oregon’s] higher education budget is dedicated to the private universities, including allotments to our students through the Oregon Opportunity Grant, but the independent colleges and universities produce 23 percent of the undergraduate degrees and 43 percent of the graduate degrees in the state. I’d say that’s a pretty high ROI.
On the issue of serving a diverse student population, she observed:
We need to overcome the perception of inaccessibility because it’s simply not true. The students of color at the private school alliance institutions within Oregon are represented in virtually the same percentages as the publics. So clearly we’re overcoming the perception hurdle, and we are graduating these students at better rates.
On the topic of student debt, Dr. Rose noted:
The Oregonian printed a story about the 550,000 Oregonians who have college credits but no degree. Having credits but no degree does not enhance your earning capacity. It likely makes you a debt-holder, so these are extraordinarily vulnerable individuals. Many of these folks are holding a handful of credits from a basket of colleges. They often bring life, military and work experience. One of the ways we’ve chosen to address their need at Marylhurst is aligning our curriculum with local community colleges so that we can lower the time and cost to degree for 550,000 people who are struggling to get there and for whom we know a degree can be life-changing.
Dr. Rose also noted the private colleges’ nimbleness in serving the community:
One is the ability to take education offsite. If you have 20 employees who need an MBA, we’re going to bring the education to you. Also, there’s insufficient curriculum in the Willamette Valley around hospitality. Early in my tenure, we formed a task force with industry leaders to have a conversation around their future employment needs and how to co-design a curriculum to serve those needs. If approved by our accreditor, we’ll have a new hospitality bachelor’s degree this fall. Higher ed is notorious for admiring a problem. One of my passions is getting ourselves as an industry from admiring the problem to solving the problem using the insight from our industry partners.
Marylhurst University, a private, nonprofit applied liberal arts and business university 10 miles south of Portland, Oregon on Highway 43, is regionally accredited and nationally recognized for innovation and academic excellence in serving students who want to complete their bachelor’s degree or earn an advanced degree. Empowering students to impact the world since 1893, Marylhurst offers degree completion programs at the bachelor’s level, master’s degrees and professional certificate programs both on campus and online. We are the premier university that weaves together the liberal arts with professional studies and prepares graduates to be ethical leaders who think critically and creatively.