Boosting college completion will be the top priority in higher education for the decade to come, Oklahoma's top higher education official told lawmakers Tuesday.
Glen Johnson, chancellor of the Oklahoma State System for Higher Education, spoke at a meeting of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education on Tuesday afternoon.
During the meeting, Johnson briefed lawmakers on Oklahoma's participation in Complete College America, a nationwide initiative that seeks to boost the number of college degrees and certifications awarded annually.
Oklahoma higher education officials hope to see an additional 20,400 degrees and certificates awarded in Oklahoma over the next 12 years. To do that, Johnson said, the state will have to focus on recruitment, retention and graduation rates.
For the past few years, he said, Oklahoma has had little trouble recruiting new college students. Last year, the public university system saw its largest enrollment increase in history. But simply recruiting students won't solve the problem if too many of them drop out before graduation, he said.
“That's one leg of the three-legged stool,” he said. “We have to keep them in college, and we have to have them get their degree.”
Johnson said it's also important the system focus on adults who may have a large number of college credit hours but no degree.