McDaniel College President Roger Casey was recently appointed to two national higher education boards, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the American Council on Education.
The Times recently caught up with Casey to learn more about what those appointments mean for him, for McDaniel, and for the larger higher education community.
Q: In more practical terms, what does it mean to serve as the vice chair of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the board of directors for the American Council on Education? What do those jobs look like? What impact do these organizations have on higher education?
A: The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, or NAICU, is the nation’s largest organization representing independent higher education on federal issues, while the American Council on Education, or ACE, represents all colleges and universities, both public and private. I will be working with the presidents of both organizations to help to set their strategic plans and agendas. I will also get to meet with elected officials and other policymakers in Washington, D.C., to advocate on higher education issues.
Q: These new roles seem like a big deal. Can you help people understand the context here and what it means to have an opportunity to serve in these roles?
A:Both of these roles provide me with the opportunity to help shape the future of higher education and I am truly honored to have been elected. As a child growing up in rural South Carolina and the first member of my family to attend college, it is because of the education that I received from an institution like McDaniel that I am where I am today.
Q: You’re no stranger to serving in higher education organizations at the regional and national level. Can you talk a bit about the ways you have served in the past?
A: I have worked with the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) on the Student Financial Aid Committee and served a three-year term on the association’s board of directors representing the region, including colleges and universities in Maryland, as well as Delaware, District of Columbia, New Jersey and New York. I was also on the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) steering committee to assess the future of independent colleges and served on the New Presidents’ Institute.
For nine years, I have played an active role with the Maryland Independent College and University Association (MICUA), the voice of independent higher education in Maryland, and have served as chair of that organization since 2015.
I am also currently the vice-chair for the Centennial Conference, one of the nation’s elite small college athletic conferences, in which McDaniel competes.
Q: In what ways can your participation in these organizations benefit McDaniel, and vice versa?
A: It’s about students. I help legislators understand the importance of higher education and encourage them to make the best choices to help students achieve a college degree. Most importantly, I work to maintain and try to increase federal student aid funding to ensure that students have the chance to attend the college that best fits their needs. I also get to represent colleges like McDaniel, particularly with ACE, where I get to be the voice for colleges with similar enrollments in front of large state institutions.
Q: Are there any projects you’d like to undertake in these new roles?
A: With the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), we have a Pell Plus proposal that helps promote college completion by giving juniors and seniors who are on track to graduate in four years access to the same total Pell Grant amounts that are currently made available only to those who take six years to complete their college degrees. The bonus amounts would also be matched dollar-for-dollar by higher education institutions to essentially triple the amount of Pell Grant assistance during the final two years of study for students on track to complete their degrees in four years.
I would also like to see the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
Q: Since we’re discussing higher ed both locally and nationally, what are some of the bigger challenges and opportunities before higher education generally, and local colleges like McDaniel College specifically?
A:Affordability and access are the biggest challenges. It’s about making sure that a college education stays affordable while focusing on the sustainability of the business model for higher education. McDaniel is an institution that is committed to affordability and access with over $40 million provided by the college in grants and scholarships to our students last year.