Inflection point for higher education
I’ve always wanted to give a TEDx talk, but until the last few years, I wasn’t sure what “big idea” I would tackle. That idea came into focus when I became president of Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2017. In my role, I couldn’t help but witness the barrage of misinformation generated and spread about higher education. I vowed that if I got the chance, I would develop a talk breaking down the persistent myths that plague universities. I would demonstrate how the national narrative about higher education doesn’t match the daily reality on campuses and in classrooms.

That’s why I am so excited to have the opportunity to present at TEDx MSU Denver. My hope is to start an informed dialogue about what is really happening at higher education institutions.

As a person connected to higher education for 20 years, as a student, professor and now president, I feel that I have a strong understanding of all sides of the university experience. I’ve also reached the point in my life where my friends and I are putting our own children through college, so the shifting reality that students and parents face today are very real to me. I also understand the perception that universities have become too expensive and out of touch.

But there is more to the picture than just that. The narrative propagated about higher education is connected to many other big issues of our time, such as income inequality, privatization, the globalizing of our economy and the changing nature of our country’s workforce.

In my view, we’ve reached an inflection point. Now is the time to have a serious conversation about the role that universities and colleges play in society, and how to support them. The future of our country may depend on it.

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