NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara Mistick

February 11, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

Today marks the culmination of an extraordinary week for NAICU. On Monday, we convened our 2022 Annual Meeting & Advocacy Day, our first in-person meeting in two years. What a remarkable meeting we had, with over 400 registrants, speakers and panelists from the Biden Administration and several Members of Congress and their staff who shared their insights about the future of higher education and the impact of private, nonprofit higher education nationally.

We were fortunate to hear from key staff members for the Congressional leadership from both parties and both chambers of Congress as they previewed their party’s key goals for the coming year.

I was honored to award our Henry Paley Memorial Award to Sen. Roy Blount (R-MO), who has been a champion for increased access to higher education through the Pell Grant program. We also posthumously honored Lois Rice with NAICU’s 2022 Advocacy Award. Dubbed the “mother of the Pell Grant,” Rice was recognized for her tireless commitment to the students of our nation, for her long career in American higher education, and for serving as an example to those of us still advocating for student success to be inspired to continue her work for the next 50 years.

In accepting the Advocacy Award on behalf of her mother, Ambassador Susan Rice, who has served in many prominent roles throughout her distinguished career, said “there is no title I’m more proud of than being the daughter of the ‘mother of the Pell Grant.’”

Of course, the Pell Grant was a common theme throughout the meeting. Lois Rice was recognized during a celebration marking 50 years of the Pell program. That event included inspiring speeches from Suzanne M. Rivera, president of Macalester College (MN), and Michelle Vasquez, a senior and Honors Student at Trinity Washington University (DC), both of whom are Pell Grant recipients. We also had several sessions devoted to the impact and future of the Pell Grant program, all of which were in the context of our #DoublePell national campaign.

As always, Advocacy Day was a crucial part of our gathering and our efforts to advance independent higher education and support our students. Attendees had between 200-300 meetings with Members of Congress, with more reports coming in each day. I’m told of the nearly 200 meetings scheduled through our Soapbox partner, 59% were with the Member of Congress and 65% were with senior-level staff. These numbers reinforce the importance of your voices and your role as important constituents in your states and congressional districts. As it does each year, Advocacy Day ended with our Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus (CICC) reception on Capitol Hill. CICC co-chair Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) addressed attendees as did several other representatives.

The theme of our meeting this year was Coming Together With Purpose. Wow, did we ever achieve that goal this week. It was such an inspirational, educational, and enlightening few days that has energized all of us to continue our work to advocate on behalf of our students and institutions.

This week’s Washington Update includes stories about the recent updates to the College Scorecard and Congressional efforts to avoid a government shutdown.


  • The Senate this week introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Although the legislation’s primary focus is improving legal enforcement and services for victims of violence, the bill includes provisions requiring institutions of higher education to administer a federally developed campus climate survey at least once every two years. The requirements regarding campus climate surveys are drawn from the HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act of 2021, a bill that has routinely been introduced in recent congressional sessions.
  • Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University of Louisiana, participated in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee hearing titled, “Recruiting, Revitalizing, and Diversifying: Examining the Health Care Workforce Shortage.” He represented the private, nonprofit sector extremely well and also stressed to the committee the importance of doubling the Pell Grant. It was a busy week in Washington for Dr. Verret, who also introduced Undersecretary of Education James Kvaal during NAICU’s Annual Meeting.

Double Pell

“This is very important legislation, for it's through this Act that the dream of access, and opportunity for college education becomes a reality. It's in this Act that we say a lack of financial wealth should not, and will not, stand in the way of a person who has the talent, the desire and the drive to reach out for a college education.”

Senator Claiborne Pell, (D-RI)

We must all heed the words of Sen. Pell and continue our campaign to double the Pell Grant and expand the number of students who would benefit from this program. I hope you will continue to lend your voices to our national #DoublePell campaign.

Barbara K. Mistick, D.M.
President, NAICU

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