University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy was joined by Greenfield Community College President Yves Salomon-Fernandez and Southern New Hampshire University President Paul J. LeBlanc for a panel discussion titled “Higher Education in a Time of Social Change” in the Carney Family Auditorium in Furcolo Hall on Monday, March 2.
The event, hosted by UMass Amherst’s College of Education and moderated by Educational Policy, Research and Administration Chair Kathryn A. McDermott, brought together higher education leaders from across New England to discuss the challenges and opportunities their institutions face today. The three panelists also answered questions submitted by current graduate students in the higher education program.
In front of a packed auditorium, the panelists explored a number of issues they said currently or will soon greatly affect higher education, including affordability, globalization of education and the expanded use of technology for direct communication with their students.
All panelists agreed that the notion of free education at the college and university level would be a considerably risky move that would present a number of challenges to overcome, but suggested that debt-free or low-debt solutions would be much more attainable.
Looking at the future of higher education accessibility, the panelists praised the efforts of programs such as University Without Walls at UMass and SNHU’s online education track that offer nontraditional paths toward a degree, citing that a typical student has evolved into someone who needs a more à la carte approach to college that accommodates their busy schedules.
The event concluded with McDermott asking each panelist to describe their thoughts on the role of technology when keeping connected to students. They all agreed that being easily available, whether through direct messaging or by embracing the requests for selfies, helps to foster and strengthen their relationships with their students.