A Few Clouds
Pressure : 29.99 in
Dewpoint : 57.9 °
Wind : East
Hastings College president discusses effects of tough economy
A recent survey by Moody's Investors Service found that nearly half of college and universities who responded expect an enrollment decline.
Private colleges could be hit the hardest.
I sat down to talk with Hastings College President Dennis Trotter on how Hastings is handling this and other issues moving forward.
"When you come to Nebraska, big red casts a really long shadow and they get a lot of media play a lot of media attention."
That is just one challenge for private college presidents like Dennis Trotter of Hastings College.
"Name recognition does mean something and you can't ignore that, you get too much out of this area not a lot of people have heard of Hastings College."
That shadow isn't getting any smaller.
Recently the Governor announced a freeze on higher education in the state for two years.
Aggressive moves like that by the University of Nebraska has Hastings College changing their approach.
"What we've been talking about internally is not so much the cost issue but the value equation I think if they see they're getting a return on their investment then they're willing to make the investment."
But as big as the University of Nebraska may be in Nebraska President Trotter says there is still value in a private education.
"When you start comparing graduation rates, the number of teachers we put out as privates, the number of first generation students, students coming from multi-culture families the data supports that the private as a whole do a better job at accomplishing those tasks that the publics."
In 2012, student enrollment at Hastings College was down 6.7 percent.
The struggling economy could be one factor.
"We're going to have to find ways to hold tuition in check and become more innovative and creative in how we provide the education."
One creative idea would be to team up with other private colleges in Nebraska.
"How do we begin to collaborate so you have a language program that is shared among 4 or 5 institutions."
The 15th president of Hastings College admits a bachelor degree doesn't carry as much weight as it did 20 years ago.
Experience is the key these days.
"We need to be working much more collaborative with the city, local organizations and non-profits to provide those internships and off campus experiences that students really need to be competitive in the marketplace now."
But, what students is Hastings trying to attract?
"Hard work probably not the 1600 hundred the top performer in the high school maybe someone who is first generation, maybe someone who isn't as confident about yourself as you'd like to be and you come and find yourself here."
The President knows staying close to their roots has carried Hastings for centuries. And, they can't be forgotten.
"Someone looking through a resume can see not only is the academic acumen there but this person also has internship or study abroad or has a letter of recommendation from a faculty member that they wouldn't be able to get at a bigger university because they don't know them as well."
KHASTV on Facebook