From Jean Johnson, Senior Fellow and Special Advisor for Public Agenda: College presidents, deans, and administrators from throughout Mississippi participated in NIF Shaping Our Future forums as part of the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities’ annual meeting, held at Hinds Community College near Jackson this October. There have been well over 100 Shaping Our Future forums throughout the country so far, attracting students, parents, seniors, faculty, administrators, employers, and community residents to discuss the mission of higher education. Mississippi’s Shaping Our Future is the first statewide effort, attracting college leaders from public and private institutions and two-year and four-year programs across Mississippi.
Hinds Community College president, Dr. Clyde Muse, welcomed the group to the college’s stunning lake-side Eagle Ridge Conference Center. Current Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant gave the keynote address, and former Mississippi Governor William Winter, who is also NIF’s Chairman Emeritus, called the group to action. NIF President Dr. Bill Muse spoke at the opening session and led a moderator training program prior to the forums themselves. NIFI Director Jean Johnson assisted with the moderator training and observed the forums.
Joining forum participants across the country, Mississippi’s college leaders exchanged insights and raised thoughtful questions about the mission of higher education in our economy and our democracy and the special role it plays in advancing equal opportunity. Shaping Our Future forums will continue through 2013 with a national report on the forums planned for early 2014. An interim report, Divided We Fail: Are Leaders and Citizens Talking Past Each Other on Higher Education? is also available.