When stakeholders from Indiana come together during this month’s annual conference at the School of Global and International Studies to discuss the way global trends and forces interact with the state, talk will certainly turn to education. The panel that closes the third annual conference on America’s Role in the World will offer perspectives from Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie and Indiana University Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel, along with another name familiar to those in higher education circles: Jamie Merisotis.
President and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, Merisotis has long been engaged in the work of making post-secondary education more accessible in order to equip a global, 21st-century workforce. Although it has the largest economy in the world, the U.S. is not one of the world’s top ten countries in terms of higher education attainment. Lumina, founded in Indianapolis in 2000, seeks to increase the proportion of Americans with education beyond high school to sixty percent by 2025. Although the importance of college has become a familiar refrain, Merisotis recognizes the obstacles not only to going to college but to completing a degree: “It depends on where you live, your income, where you go to college, what you major in. That makes for more complex outcomes.”
Merisotis’ 2015 book, America Needs Talent: Attracting, Educating and Deploying the 21st-Century Workforce, was published in the midst of heated rhetoric generated in the Republican presidential primary debates about the disposability of the Department of Education. In his book, Merisotis proposed that the federal agency instead be integrated with certain functions of the Labor Department and the Department of Homeland Security to be rebranded as a Department of Talent. Merisotis also advocates for the use of online learning and other technological tools to facilitate access to education and connect trained workers with employers. Credential Engine, an initiative funded in part by the Lumina Foundation, has for example recently launched the Credential Registry, a data platform collecting and evaluating credentials of all sorts – from bachelor’s degrees to digital badges – as a way of providing a comprehensive and transparent resource for students and employers.
Prior to joining Lumina in 2008, Merisotis co-founded and led the Institute for Higher Education Policy and was executive director of the National Commission on Responsibilities for Financing Postsecondary Education, a bipartisan national commission on college affordability. Previously, he was involved in creating the Corporation for National and Community Service, known as AmeriCorps. Merisotis frequently contributes to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Washington Monthly, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, and other publications. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a trustee of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Anatolia College in Greece, the UK-based European Access Network, and his alma mater Bates College, where he represented the first generation of his family to attend college.
Along with Merisotis, McRobbie, and Robel, the session on “Indiana in the World” will include Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson; Blair Milo, Indiana Secretary of Career Connections and Talent; and James T. Morris, vice chairman of Pacers Sports and Entertainment and Indiana University trustee. The panel will be held Thursday, March 29 from 2:30 to 3:45 pm in the auditorium of the School of Global and International Studies. For a complete schedule, biographies of the speakers, and free registration for America’s Role in the World, follow this link.