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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.   

Illustration by Michelle Sayles


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.


Statewide leaders from business, education, government, nonprofits, and philanthropy contributed to panels, presentations and group discussions about how to transform postsecondary education and training in Vermont.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper

Keynote Speaker: 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.

Emily Bouck West, Deputy Director of Today’s Students Coalition

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.

Alex Yin, School Board Member of Winooski School District

Carolyn Weir, Executive Director of J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation

Mat Barewicz, Economic and Labor Market Chief of Vermont Department of Labor

Chad Rubalcaba, Senior Consultant at Education First

Barbara Benedict, President of J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation

Liz Schlegel, Executive Director of Alchemist Foundation

Melissa DeBlois, Director of Prior Learning Assessment at Vermont State Colleges System

Kathi Terami, Executive Director of Careers CLiC

Tom Mauhs-Pugh, Provost at Castleton University

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

Gwen Bailey-Rowe, Assistant Director for Adult Education at North Country Career Center

Jodi Doyle, Safety Manager at SunCommon

Jessica Smith, GUIDE Program Coordinator at Vermont Student Assistance Corporation

Ryan Hargraves, Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions at University of Vermont

Missy Mackin, Trailblazers Program Manager at Vermont Works for Women

David Rubin, Associate Dean of Administration at Vermont Technical College

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.

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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