#NACAC20: A Students-First Approach to Higher Ed

If US higher education is to survive, it must refocus its efforts and prioritize students, NACAC CEO Angel B. Pérez said Tuesday in remarks at the 2020 NACAC Virtual Conference.

Like many sectors of the US economy, the admission profession has felt the effects of the coronavirus crisis on its institutional budgets, Pérez noted. But those concerns are secondary when compared to the larger crisis looming for higher ed, he said.

“While we all understandably worry about our schools and our institutions, we have to remember that without students, nothing else in the educational endeavor matters,” Pérez said in his first keynote address as the association’s chief executive officer. “…As we move away from enforcing a code of ethics, NACAC will act publicly and with determination when policy or practice threatens to cause harm to or perpetuate inequities among students.”

Pérez’s address to conference attendees comes at a time of transition for the association. In December, following a two-year long “restraint of trade” inquiry by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), NACAC announced its was deleting three provisions from its code of ethics that the DOJ believed could inhibit, to some extent, competition among colleges for students. Prior to the conference, NACAC’s Assembly voted to change its code of ethics to a “best practices” guide.

The new document will not be enforced, but Pérez said today he is confident the association will use its national profile to advocate for students and change the conversation about the role of higher education.

Citing findings from NACAC’s Ad Hoc Committee on Leadership in College Admission: Process, Findings, and Recommendations, Pérez outlined the critical challenges facing higher education overall as well as crucial next steps.

“So many of the challenges we face as a profession stem from the distorted view of higher education as a commodity to be purchased,” said Pérez. “This orientation is the deliberate result of policies in the US that have marginalized the value of higher education to both the individual and to society. This orientation has to change. Higher education is a public good, and NACAC will be work tirelessly to restore this notion in America.”

Read more about Pérez’s message to conference attendees.

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