NAICU Washington Update - July 9, 2021

July 09, 2021

I hope you enjoyed a safe Fourth of July holiday break. Like most of us, Congress also took time off this week. The resulting break meant there was little activity on the higher education policy front in Washington. However, I do have a several noteworthy updates to share with you.

First, Toby Merrill was named Deputy General Counsel in the Office of General Counsel at the Department of Education. The appointment is of note because he was founder of the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School, and had a major influence on Elizabeth Warren’s efforts on student debt forgiveness.

Next, NAICU joined the higher education community in calling on Congress to continue to invest in broadband to ensure that all students and institutions have access to reliable and robust internet services. In particular, the letter calls for a comprehensive expansion of and upgrade to our nation’s research and education networks as a particularly effective way to address the digital divide. 

The last update is the reintroduction of the Partnerships for Affordability and Student Success (PASS) Act. This bipartisan legislation was introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and would reestablish a federal-state partnership for increasing need-based aid for students in all sectors of higher education, provide grants to institutions to improve student outcomes and reduce college costs, and require states to maintain higher education funding, including for need-based student grants. NAICU has endorsed the bill during each of the past several Congresses when it was introduced.

In NAICU news, I am pleased to inform you that on July 1 Isiaah Crawford, president of the University of Puget Sound, assumed the position of Chair of the NAICU Board of Directors. Isiaah leads a list of four new board officers and 14 new board members who also took office on July 1. We have a terrific new class of Board leadership and look forward to working closely with Isiaah, who succeeds Roger Casey, former president at McDaniel College. As NAICU’s Board Chair, Roger, who just retired from McDaniel in June, led us through perhaps the most challenging time our association has ever faced – and he did so with grace, humor, and conviction. We could not have accomplished as much as we did prior to and during the pandemic without his leadership and stewardship. On behalf of the NAICU staff and membership, I’d like to thank Roger for his service to NAICU and wish him well in his retirement.

Double Pell 

As momentum builds, work continues on the launch activities of the coordinated national effort to double Pell, which takes place next Tuesday. As a reminder, next week’s activities include the introduction of a higher education community-wide website focused on students and families as well as dedicated pages on our website for NAICU members. Each site will contain tools and resources to engage with the #DoublePell campaign and with your congressional representatives to urge them to support this important initiative. This will be the kick-off to a summer’s worth of national and campus activities.

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