Connecting Higher Education & Economic Success in New Jersey
Steve Adubato talks to Zakiya Smith Ellis, Secretary of Higher Education, about the importance of making college affordable and the connection between higher education and economic success in New Jersey.
"There she is. Zakiya Smith Ellis, Secretary of Higher Education in the state of New Jersey. Good to see you. Good to see you again. You've joined us many times. I want to jump right into a topic that's important. Yeah. Higher education and economic success. What's the correlation? And why does it matter? Well, we know that students who graduate from college are more likely to get jobs, keep jobs, and it's a key part of New Jersey's economic success. You know here, more than in other states, you have to have something beyond high school to really be able to be successful. A lot of employers are now asking for that? So we know that, by 2025, something like 65 percent of new jobs are going to require some kind of post-secondary credential. There's an initiative that we talked about a little bit last time. It is called Where Opportunity Meets Innovation. Is that the core of it? A student-centered vision for higher education? Because there are five components of it. Yeah. Break it down for us. Yeah. So there's... that's our state plan for higher education. We need to figure out how does higher education help students get into the real economy? How does it help prepare them for success? And how are our students contributing to the economic fabric of the state of New Jersey? The governor likes to call it "connecting higher ed to the real economy." But I just call it, you know, good work with students and making sure that students are successful. Five components to that plan. First is making sure that they have a strong transition from high school to college. Not always easy? Yeah. Not always easy. The next is affordability. Which even... if you're prepared, you gotta be able to pay for it. Which is not easy either. Without massive student debt on the back end? Without massive student debt. We don't want students to have that burden of as much debt as they'd had in the past. And then how do you make sure that they're successful? So you might take on the debt, but if you take on the debt, you want to know that you're gonna graduate. And you're gonna graduate with a credential that's gonna help you in your future. And sometimes you need support to do that. So safe and supportive learning environments. We want students to be safe when they're on campus. And the last piece is about research, innovation, and talent. Really making sure that it's not just about the students being successful and graduating. But what are they learning when they're there? Are they getting the kind of research opportunities that we know are really important in an area like New Jersey? You know, I don't know if I..."