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Today’s Students Summit

The Summit

Thank you to everyone who attended!

November 14, 2019

Across the state and country, student demographics, the knowledge and skills employers desire, and the infrastructure students need to complete a credential are rapidly changing. At the same time, postsecondary education and training programs are facing both economic pressure and questions of purpose while struggling to maintain enrollments.   

The Today’s Students Summit will convene stakeholders from across the state and sectors to support the transformation of postsecondary education and training in Vermont to better serve today’s students. Leaders from Pk-12 education, postsecondary education and training, business, government, nonprofits, and philanthropy are invited to attend.   


A collection of resources to gain a deeper understanding of today’s students, the challenges they face, and how institutions can adapt to better meet their needs.

Today's Students in Vermont

Advance Vermont’s profile of today’s students in Vermont with recommendations for how to better serve students.

Today's Students

Lumina Foundation’s latest report on today’s students, with comprehensive national data complemented by stories of student experiences.

The Learner Revolution

 Education Design Lab’s sweeping report exploring different models for postsecondary institutions to support today’s students.

Innovative Strategies to Close Postsecondary Attainment Gaps

A guidebook from the Institute of Higher Education Policy that details three innovative strategies to help bolster college-learning among rural communities.


Keynote Presentation

Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper’s exceptional presentation about institutional change, equity, and today’s students.

Innovating to Expand Access

The innovation session focused on expanding access to postsecondary education and training for those historically underserved by the system.

Cross-Sector Partnerships for Credential Delivery

 The innovation session focused on successful collaborative partnerships between postescondary education providers and other partners in delivery.

Pathways to Credential Completion

 The innovation session focused on accelerated and flexible postsecondary credential completion.

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper

Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper

President of Institute of Higher Education Policy

As President of the Institute of Higher Education Policy (IHEP), Dr. Cooper is responsible for stewardship of IHEP’s rich history of addressing the educational needs of today’s students, particularly underserved students, many of whom are low income, students of color, and adults.

Cooper has created partnerships with national and international leaders from the postsecondary, policy, philanthropic, business and civic communities, and under her leadership, IHEP has developed a policy agenda focused on access and success pathways, college affordability and institutional finance, meaningful data for accountability and transparency, and supporting critical communities and critical institutions serving 21st-century students.


8:30 AM

Registration, Breakfast & Networking

9:00 AM

Opening Remarks: Emily Bouck West, Deputy Executive Director, Higher Learning Advocates

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper, President, Institute for Higher Education Policy

Dr.  Cooper will address the changing national landscape of postsecondary education, including current affairs, demographic trends, federal policy implications for states and institutions, and shifts in institutional-level policy, programming, and practices across the country.

10:15 AM

Vermont Context Panel

Experts in postsecondary education and workforce development will share critical context for understanding Vermont’s postsecondary landscape, including newly released research from Advance Vermont on the state’s postsecondary population, shifting demographics, and the factors currently affecting Vermont’s students, communities, and economy.


Alex Yin, School Board Member, Winooski School District
Carolyn Weir, Executive Director, J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation
Mat Barewicz, Economic & Labor Market Information Chief, Vermont Department of Labor

Moderated by Richard Watts, Director, Center for Research on Vermont

11:15 AM

Facilitated Small Group Discussion

Through facilitated discussion, attendees will respond to the morning’s programming in small groups, and identify opportunities for change within their own organization, partnerships, and Vermont’s education and workforce development system.

12:00 PM

Networking Lunch

1:00 PM

Innovation Sessions

Subject matter experts will present innovative programs, initiatives, and policies that are being developed or implemented in Vermont to better meet the needs of today’s postsecondary students. Attendees will discuss in small groups how these models could be replicated or scaled up, and, inspired by these models, brainstorm other ideas for innovation – within their organizations, partnerships, or Vermont’s education and workforce development system.

  • Pathways to Completion: Proven methods for accelerated and flexible credential completion, such as accelerated degree programs, prior learning assessment, competency-based learning, flexible pathways, distance learning, and blended models.
  • Partnerships for Credential Delivery: Successful collaborative partnerships between postsecondary education providers and other partners in delivery, such as Pk-12 education, employers, and government through work-based learning, dual enrollment and early college, industry advisory for education and training programs, employee tuition assistance, and public funding sources
  • Innovation in Access Work: Harnessing creativity and innovation to expand and improve equitable access by addressing the barriers that students face, including working with students, families, and communities to address program affordability, incarceration, housing and food security, transportation, child care, and social injustice.

2:00 PM

Networking Break

2:15 PM

Funders Panel

Educational foundations and other funders that support postsecondary education often have their “finger on the pulse” when it comes to innovative solutions to today’s challenges. Representatives from Vermont funders will talk about what they are prioritizing when it comes to funding and why – what problems do they think we need to address, and what have they seen as promising solutions?


Barbara Benedict, President, J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation
Liz Schlegel, Executive Director, The Alchemist Foundation
Chad Rubalcaba, Senior Consultant, Education First

Moderated by Ellen McCulloch-Lovell

3:15 PM

Closing Remarks: Tim Donovan, Advance Vermont Council

3:30 PM

Networking Reception

4:00 PM


Participants will walk away informed by relevant data on Vermont’s students, communities, and economy, equipped with new strategies for enacting change, and connected with a network of subject matter experts, potential partners, and funders.


    Statewide leaders from business, education, government, nonprofits, and philanthropy will contribute to panels, presentations and group discussions about how to transform postsecondary education and training in Vermont. The list below will be updated as presenters are confirmed.

    Opening Remarks

    Emily Bouck West

    Deputy Executive Director, Higher Learning Advocates

    As the Deputy Executive Director, Emily (she/her) is responsible for overseeing the organization’s policy work and implementing strategy. Previously, Emily served as Deputy Legislative Director to U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, where she helped craft a domestic policy agenda focused on upward mobility that included several legislative proposals related to higher education. She also worked as Director of Policy and Advocacy at Service Year Alliance, where she continued to work to drive domestic policy ideas on Capitol Hill. Emily’s congressional and political experience bring a solid understanding of ways to build support for and advance Higher Learning Advocates’ policy agenda.

    Vermont Context Panel

    Richard Watts

    Director of Center for Research on Vermont

    Richard Watts (he/him) is the Director of the Center for Research on Vermont, which supports research in the Vermont “laboratory” through examining the state’s social, economic, cultural, and physical environment. He is also an interdisciplinary scholar at the University of Vermont whose research and teaching examines communications, planning and public policy: He is a professor of Geography, co-director of the Reporting & Documentary Program, coordinator of the internship program in the College of Arts & Sciences, and a co-founder of Sustainable Transportation Vermont.

    Alex Yin

    School Board Member, Winooski School District

    Dr. Alexander (Alex) Yin (he/him) is a member of the Winooski School Board. He has also been the Director of Institutional Research at The University of Vermont since 2016. Alex has expertise and experience in leading and supporting university-wide efforts regarding General Education assessment, improving retention and graduation rates, decreasing time to degree, and the collection and reporting of post-graduation outcomes. Alex received a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Master of Applied Statistics from The Pennsylvania State University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    Carolyn Weir

    Executive Director, J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation

    Carolyn Weir (she/her) is Executive Director of the J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation, a supporting organization of the Vermont Community Foundation. Since 2008, the McClure Foundation has been investing in equitable access to college and career training that leads to high-pay, high-demand jobs. Carolyn joined the Foundation in 2011. In addition to managing the Foundation’s grantmaking and programs, her favorite part of the job is talking with Vermonters about what they want to change or preserve in the world. She lives in Weybridge with her husband and their son.

    Mat Barewicz

    Economic and Labor Market Information Chief, Vermont Department of Labor

    Mathew Barewicz (he/him) is the Economic & Labor Market Information Chief for the Vermont Department of Labor. He has 14 years of professional experience as an economist across both the public and private sector. Additionally, he has provided economic instruction at the collegiate level. Prior to his work in economics, he was employed in the brokerage industry as an equity trader. Mathew graduated from the University of Vermont with a double major in economics and French. He earned his master’s degree in economics from San Diego State University. In his free time, Mathew supports music and the arts.

    Funders Panel

    Chad Rubalcaba

    Senior Consultant, Education First

    Chad (he/him) advises foundation clients on various aspects of grantmaking strategy, including research and analysis of potential investment areas, providing technical assistance to grantees, and managing grant portfolios and RFP processes. His clients include national funders and funders in the New England region. Chad began his career in education as a high school and middle school math teacher in Washington, D.C. He holds a B.A. in Economics and a J.D. from the University of Chicago.

    Barbara Benedict

    President, J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation

    Barbara McClure Benedict (she/her) has served as President of the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation since 2017 and has served on its board since 2001. Barbara holds postgraduate degrees in business administration and information resources/library studies from Boston University and the University of Arizona.  While rearing three children and working in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, Barbara and her husband lived in  many communities overseas and across the United States. In 2007/8 Barbara spearheaded initiatives to assess and address the barriers Vermonters face in obtaining postsecondary and career education. She continues to guide the Foundation’s strategies to research and support the continuously changing ecosystems that influence access to postsecondary education and workforce development in Vermont.

    Liz Schlegel

    Executive Director, Alchemist Foundation

    Liz Schlegel (she/her) is Executive Director of the Alchemist Foundation, a place-based nonprofit focused on expanding educational and economic opportunity for young Vermonters from Warren to Eden. She works closely with local schools and employers, manages the Foundation’s grantmaking portfolio, and administers the Alchemist Opportunity Fund scholarship, a multi-year renewable scholarship which has been awarded to more than 50 students. Liz has served on the communications working group for Advance Vermont and is active in the Vermont 9to26 Coalition.

    Innovation Sessions

    Melissa Deblois

    Director of Prior Learning Assessment, Vermont State Colleges System

    Melissa Deblois (she/her) is Director of Prior Learning Assessment at the Vermont State Colleges System. Housed at Community College of Vermont, she oversees the portfolio development classes, Course Challenges, and Education & Training Evaluation Services. Before moving into this role, she was a Coordinator of Academic Services at CCV for 14 years. Melissa holds a B.A. in English Literature and French from St. Lawrence University and a Master’s in Education from St. Michael’s College.

    Kathi Terami

    Executive Director, Careers CLiC

    Kathi Terami (she/her) is the founding director of the Upper Valley Business and Education Partnership (UVBEP), which recently rebranded as Careers CLiC. The organization has connected resources from over 1,300 employers to 20,000 students and 700 teachers in 190 schools in New Hampshire and Vermont during the past 20 years. Kathi has worked in both the business and nonprofit sectors and understands the unique needs of each, ensuring that Careers CLiC delivers programs to prepare the next generation for life after high school.

    Tom Mauhs-Pugh

    Provost, Castleton University

    Dr. Mauhs-Pugh (he/him) has spent the past 35 years as an educator and higher education leader.  He’s taught grades six through graduate school, helped create two middle school programs, directed three different teacher education programs, and created numerous residential and online programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level.  Currently Provost at Castleton University, he spent the past five years as Provost at Green Mountain College increasing student retention and graduation rates and decreasing time to degree completion.  Unfortunately, those successes did not change the structural financial problems that led to Green Mountain’s closure.  He is now leading a $2.2 million grant to improve student success at Castleton while also working to provide flexible educational delivery models for Vermont residents who do not have easy access to traditional educational models.

    Frank Pauze

    Coordinator, School of Resort & Hospitality Management at Killington, Castleton University

    Frank Pauzé (he/him) holds a B.S. in Hotel Administration from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA in Finance from Boston College. Over his career, Frank has continued to serve in both academia and the service industries. He has held positions as the founding Chair and Director of The Hospitality Management Programs at Mercyhurst College, The Ohio State University and Franklin University. He moved to Vermont to help start a resort management program at Green Mountain College in 2001. In 2019, Castleton University opened a very similar program at Killington where Frank is now the coordinator and Associate Professor. In his current role, he has close working ties with the Killington/Pico Ski Resort Partners LLC, where the School of Resort & Hospitality Management is based.

    Gwen Bailey-Rowe

    Assistant Director for Adult Education, North Country Career Center

    Gwen Bailey (she/her) is the Assistant Director for Adult Education at the North Country Career Center and the Treasurer of the Vermont Adult Career and Technical Education Association. Since 2013, she has been collaborating with local partners to design adult education programs that upgrade employment skills and offer industry recognized credentials. Gwen would like to support other regions in Vermont, as they work with employers and training partners to develop curriculum that creates career pathways for adults.

    Jodi Doyle

    Safety Manager, SunCommon

    Jodi Doyle (he/him) is the Safety Manager at SunCommon. He is a lifelong resident of Northern Vermont who holds a Master Electrician License with 25 years in Commercial and Industrial wiring. Industrial Manufacturing is where the majority of the 25 years have been spent with a focus on Industrial Health and Safety Compliance. Jodi has 20 years of Electrical safety Compliance, program development, training and is fluent in the NFPA 70E standard. When Jodi is not working, he maintains a busy teaching schedule for the VT State Apprenticeship Program as a year 1 Electrical instructor and The Center for Technology in Essex, where he is an Instructor for Electrical-related classes.  When Jodi has free time, he enjoys tinkering on anything that has an engine, playing music, taking in a good concert and traveling with his Special Lady. Jodi can be reached on Linked In if there are any inquiries for more information.

    Jessica Smith

    GUIDE Program Coordinator, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation

    Jessica Smith (she/her) is the GUIDE Program Coordinator for Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC). Previously in clinical social work, in her nearly two years with the GEAR UP GUIDE program she has prioritized bringing more student voice into programming through creating robust opportunities within VSAC Outreach for student interns. Jessica has also worked in partnership with colleagues at VSAC and postsecondary partners at Vermont State Colleges and The University of Vermont to support GEAR UP students in their first year of postsecondary education. These initiatives have included: The Passport to Success, Virtual Peer Mentor Network, and the three-year McClure funded project in Franklin County to increase Dual Enrollment and Early College access for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

    Ryan Hargraves

    Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Vermont

    Ryan Hargraves (he/him) is the Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions at The University of Vermont (UVM). Ryan joined UVM after more than 15 years at the University of Virginia, where he held a number of posts. Most recently, he served as senior associate dean of admissions for Virginia. In this role, he directed planning of student visit programs for more than 60,000 visits annually, served as the chief strategist for diversity recruitment, coordinated recruitment and selection for honors programs, and oversaw constituent relations with stakeholders at all levels. Ryan received his Bachelor of Science in chemistry and Master of Education in the social foundations of education from the University of Virginia. He is currently pursuing a data science specialization certificate from Johns Hopkins.

    Missy Mackin

    Trailblazers Program Manager, Vermont Works for Women

    Missy Mackin (she/her) is the Trailblazers Program Manager for Vermont Works for Women (VWW), where she has worked since 2017. She loves collaborating with local partners and her awesome colleagues to develop programs which expand opportunities for women and help them achieve financial independence. She can also be found gardening, hooking rugs, volunteering for Let’s Grow Kids, and playing in and around Lake Champlain with her family, including Chopper the rescue dog.

    David Rubin

    Associate Dean of Administration, Vermont Technical College

    David Rubin (he/him) is Associate Dean of Administration at Vermont Technical College. Prior to joining the team at Vermont Tech, he served as Grants Coordinator in the Chancellor’s Office for the Vermont State Colleges System. With over 22 years of experience in community-based non-profit and higher education management, David possesses a lengthy track record of success in workforce/economic development, grants administration, organizational management, and strategic partnerships. He currently serves on the Boards of three Vermont organizations, has held leadership positions on state and national boards, and is one of the founding members of a statewide workforce coalition. Two teenage sons keep him busy at home in Montpelier, where he competes in baseball as both a player and a coach.

    Closing Remarks

    Tim Donovan

    Advance Vermont Council

    Before retiring in 2014, Tim (he/him) served as the Chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges. During his time as Chancellor, he expanded college access for high school students and provided leadership in the passage of the Flexible Pathways bill (Act 77) in 2013. Tim’s rich experience in higher education also includes 24 years at the Community College of Vermont (CCV), where he served as president from 2001 to 2009. During his tenure as president, enrollment expanded significantly and CCV became Vermont’s second-largest college.

    Event Details


    Sugarbush Resort, Gate House Lodge
    102 Forest Dr, Warren, VT 05674


    To ensure that post-traditional students are able to access this event, Advance Vermont will provide travel reimbursement and child care stipends upon request. If you are a post-traditional student whose registration is dependent on transportation or child care support, please contact Alana Redden.

    Additional accommodations are available for those living with disabilities, needing space to pump or breastfeed, or requiring other support to participate. Please include a detailed description of your needs in the space provided on the registration form and contact Alana Redden with any questions.

    Today’s Students Initiative

    The Today’s Students Summit is one piece of a much larger initiative.

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics (The Condition of Education 2018), traditional students now make up only 15 percent of the United States undergraduate population. The remaining 85 percent of students are considered “post-traditional” and are a diverse group of adult learners, full-time employees, low-income students, first-generation students, students of color, New Americans, students who commute to school, veterans, those who are incarcerated or recently incarcerated, and working parents. Typically, they are juggling multiple responsibilities, such as working, parenting and school, and paying their own bills.

    In addition to demographic shifts, the skills and educational experiences that students need in order to succeed after high school continue to evolve. Economic, technical, and sociocultural changes create a demand for responsive curriculum and delivery models that adapt to a changing world. While some degree and credential programs are innovating, others have not been able to keep pace, and opportunities exist to further transform Vermont’s postsecondary system for 21st Century post-traditional learners.

    If today’s students fail to complete their higher education, we miss out on an opportunity to improve equity and opportunity for individual Vermonters, address urgent workforce and economic development needs, and secure the public benefits of an educated citizenry for Vermont’s future. By working together, Advance Vermont believes we can encourage and support more Vermonters to further their education beyond high school, with benefits for our citizens, communities, and economy.


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    We’re always looking to help make connections and support innovative projects.