Partners4EDU Fact Sheet

Partners 4 Affordable Excellence @EDU will foster affordable excellence at America’s public universities by teaming with parents, students, employers, and policy leaders to drive critical structural reforms.


Between 1982 and 2012, postsecondary-education costs rose twice as fast as health care. Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt on its way to its current economy-busting $1.3 trillion.

Many question the return on the educational investment. The average wage of bachelor’s degree holders fell 10.3% between 2001 and 2013. Almost one in ten college graduates younger than 25 is unemployed. (New York Federal Reserve Bank) Most employers find college graduates inadequately prepared, especially in critical thinking, problem-solving and communications skills. (Survey conducted by Association of American Colleges and Universities 2015).

And while university administrators agree a crisis exists, more than half of them think higher education is moving in the right direction. The general public disagrees. (Time/ Carnegie Survey 2012).

Many public universities appear stuck in an expensive arms race focused on public rankings and expensive “bricks and mortar” delivery systems. These misplaced priorities too often result in unsustainable cost increases rather than demonstrated educational quality and greater productivity. (Hazelkorn and others).

We cannot continue on this trajectory. High quality, public postsecondary education is integral to our democracy, prosperity, global competitiveness, and economic security. The American Dream of self-improvement regardless of history, income or status depends upon great educational opportunities that everyone can afford.


Partners, founded by a group of innovators and change agents with decades of experience as educators, administrators, university board members and edupreneurs, believes a collaborative advocate can work with other elected officials, like-minded governing boards and organizations, students, parents and employers to make a difference.

We insist that America’s public universities remain critical public assets responsible first and foremost to state taxpayers and students. Their priorities outweigh all others.

We intend to complement other important efforts and their objectives, such increasing the number of Americans who have obtained high-quality degrees or postsecondary credentials. And, we are committed to finding constructive solutions reached by bipartisan consensus.

Addressing the significant challenges in public higher education immediately must be a major national priority. We intend to pursue innovative strategies that:

  • Promote accountable governance dedicated to affordable excellence
  • Achieve demonstrable educational quality and value
  • Insist on more thoughtful spending and cost-efficiencies, and
  • Operationalize systems that generate greater productivity

Partners will launch its work with a unique focus on governance. Boards of trustees should be publicly accountable for delivering affordable excellence that best serves state taxpayers and students. We will work with Governors and state elected leaders to create model accountability legislation that clarifies these responsibilities. Further we will help create and disseminate a multi-faceted board governance training tool that taps an array of respected voices to offer guidance on how to lead and achieve high quality at a reasonable cost.

In sum, Partners will advocate for reforms that help renew the vital social contract between students, universities, employers and our democratic institutions. If we succeed, the result will be a re-energized postsecondary-education sector that, once again, leads the world in affordability and excellence.

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