WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 18—Tracy Fitzsimmons, president of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., will testify on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sept. 20, during a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on the role of data in higher education.
The hearing, titled “Assessing College Data: Helping to Provide Valuable Information to Students, Institutions and Taxpayers,” will be held by the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, at 10 a.m. Thursday, in Room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building, in Washington, D.C. A live webcast of the hearing will be available through the subcommittee’s website (edworkforce.house.gov).
Fitzsimmons will represent not only Shenandoah University, but also the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Washington-based NAICU represents more than 1,000 private, nonprofit colleges, universities, and specialized independent college organizations, on federal public-policy matters.
“The question of data – what we should collect, how we should use it, and the role of the federal government in that collection process – is central to an array of education policy questions,” Fitzsimmons said. “I think everyone would agree that good data helps inform good decisions—whether that be in the classroom or in Congress. There is less agreement, however, in defining ‘good’ data, and in determining how much is enough.”
Fitzsimmons said she will ask Congress to be wary of implementing data requirements that inadvertently:
- make it more difficult for colleges to give at-risk students a chance;
- alter the very nature of higher education— away from emphasizing independent thought and creative problem-solving, and toward equating value with financial return;
- shift the historical focus of need-based federal student aid away from the student toward the institution; and
- alter the fundamental role of the federal government in higher education – essentially federalizing what has been a pluralistic, local, and entrepreneurial network.
Fitzsimmons has served as Shenandoah’s president since 2008, and is a member of the NAICU board of directors.
“We are pleased that members of Congress will have an opportunity to hear from President Fitzsimmons on this important issue,” said NAICU President David L. Warren. “Her grasp of public policy nuance, and ability to explain the real-world consequences of federal data collection on students and institutions nationwide, make her voice critical to this national conversation.”
Shenandoah University is a private, nationally recognized applied liberal arts institution, located in Winchester, Va., with an enrollment of more than 4,000 students. Shenandoah’s close-knit community is rich in creative energy and intellectual challenge. Shenandoah empowers its students to help the human condition and to be principled professionals and leaders wherever they go.
NAICU serves as the unified national voice of independent higher education. With more than 1,000 member institutions and associations nationwide, NAICU reflects the diversity of private, nonprofit higher education in the United States. NAICU members enroll 85 percent of all students attending private institutions. They include traditional liberal arts colleges, major research universities, church- and faith-related institutions, historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, single-sex colleges, art institutions, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, and other professions.