Interstate Passport Briefing

Passport Review Board Annual Meeting Convened Virtually on February 11th!

The Interstate Passport Review Board (PRB) convened virtually for its Annual Meeting on Thursday, February 11, 2021. Co-chaired by Paul Disney of Western Oregon University and Kari Brown-Herbst of Laramie County Community College, the board membership includes 16 representatives from Interstate Passport member states, as well as three non-voting affiliate members and two at-large members. Attendance at the meeting was 35 people, which included committee chairs, consultants and staff.

The Board received reports from Interstate Passport staff on a number of items and activities:

  • Annual report and budget;
  • Significant increase in the number of members (28) during the last 12 months, which brings the membership total to 59 in 17 states;
  • Call to Action to improve transfer, issued last July, generated support from nearly 200 individuals, organizations and associations;
  • Award of the ECMC Foundation grant to support 20 new Network members, including 10 with Minority Student status;
  • Participation in National Student Transfer Week, sponsored by the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students;
  • Numerous presentations by Passport staff and representatives throughout the year.

The Board discussed several items including but not limited to the review of 2019-2020 academic data reported by member institutions; the review and approval of policy documents; proposed revisions to the Memorandum of Agreement and Bylaws; future funding and membership growth opportunities, and election of co-chairs. Paul Disney will continue as co-chair of the PRB, representing four-year institutions. Kari Brown-Herbst will continue as the two-year representative.

The Board had a successful virtual meeting and is looking forward to meeting in person in 2022!

Interstate Passport Briefing

Spotlight – Kathy Callies, Registrar, Dakota State University

Registrars have the unique opportunity to engage with students throughout the college student life cycle: Meet Kathy Callies, registrar at Dakota State University

Kathy Callies serves as the registrar at Dakota State University (DSU) in Madison, South Dakota. DSU is the state’s designated information technology institution with an enrollment of roughly 2,000 students. The university offers a number of program options through which students can earn undergraduate certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorates, either on campus or online. Kathy has been the registrar since 2014 and has held several positions at DSU since the late 1970s. She also has done considerable work in rural development and economic development.

South Dakota is one of seven states that was involved in developing the Interstate Passport starting in 2011. DSU has been a member of the Interstate Passport Network since 2016, and since then, Callies has been a member of Interstate Passport’s Registrar and Institutional Researcher Advisory Committee. In that capacity she works with her counterparts in other member states to develop the processes for data collection and reporting to the National Student Clearinghouse. The Advisory Committee continues to monitor and address issues and concerns for Network member registrars and institutional researchers.

In fall 2019 the SD Board of Regents migrated from Colleague to Ellucian’s Banner student information system. Migrations cause lots of detours and Passport was one of those for the DSU system. Kathy and her team have been working with National Student Clearinghouse to implement some of the advantages of academic progress reporting and are hoping to continue to move forward into the next levels next academic year.

Callies believes that Interstate Passport’s concept of learning outcomes rather than course-by-course articulation is profoundly powerful. The learning outcomes are developed and held by faculty to implement what has already been reviewed. Earning a Passport is one objective for students to accomplish and then build from. Callies urges registrars to not overlook incoming freshmen who come in with lots of credits from dual credit coursework, AP exams, etc. Earning a Passport is something very much within reach for these students and is a benefit for longer-term goals.

A final word from Kathy: “Registrars have the unique opportunity to engage with students even before they finalize their decision to enroll in our institutions – via shopper student evaluations, etc. – while we also have the privilege to continue to engage with students throughout their enrollment and hopefully to graduation from our institution and even beyond! I often share that I have an addiction to students. With today’s technology assets, those of us who love our rural settings find that we can reach far beyond what was possible just a few years ago. Students are not so confined by location as they may have once been and earning a Passport is another tool to help urge them forward to realize their potential.”

Interstate Passport Briefing

The State of Higher Education for Black Californians: Report Just Released

The Campaign for College Opportunity recently released a new research report on the social and economic reality faced by Black Californians.  As noted by in the forward by Dr. J. Luke Wood,

“[Postsecondary] Institutions must foster concrete change that better enable our colleges and universities to provide a dignified experience to our Black students. While this has always been important, its criticality has been exposed by today’s dual pandemics—the pandemic of COVID-19 that has disproportionately impacted Black communities and the pandemic of anti-Blackness that has a unique strain of undervaluing and criminalizing Black lives and minds.”

This report examines measures related to college access for California’s Black high school students and the rates at which Black students, once enrolled in college, are supported in meeting their educational goals. Included are recommendations for California’s policymakers and education leaders to ensure that equity is at the heart of their work and to create a system of higher education in which Black students matter.

Report highlights*:

By the time California’s students arrive at the threshold of college, their inequitable experiences translate into significant disparities in the rates of college readiness and attendance by race/ethnicity.

  • As the largest higher education system in the state, the California Community Colleges serve the majority of undergraduate students across all racial and ethnic groups. In the 2018–2019 academic year, of the Black students enrolling in postsecondary education, 64 percent of Black undergraduates attended a community college; 6% enrolled in a University of California institution; 14% enrolled at a California State University institution.
  • In 2017, California legislators replaced no-credit remedial classes with college-level instruction at community colleges. This report suggests that that policy change has increased the number of Black community college students taking classes eligible for transfer to the University of California: “specifically, 48% of Black community college students “in 2019 completed transfer-level English, compared with 15% four years earlier.” At the same time, 27% of Black students “completed transfer-level math, up from 7% in 2015.”
  • Graduation rates for Black transfer students at California State University and University of California institutions have increased, but they are still lower than that of their white peers.
    • 36 percent of Black transfer students graduate from CSUs in two years and 71 percent in four years
    • 50 percent of Black transfer students graduate from the UCs in two years and over 80 percent in four years.

Select Report Recommendations for the state of California:

  • Commit to the state’s goal of ensuring that 60 percent of Black Californians in the workforce hold a degree or high-value credential by 2030;
  • Strengthen transfer and ensure equitable access to the Associate Degree for Transfer for Black community college students;
  • Develop a state-wide longitudinal data system so that policymakers and institution leaders and staff and ensure Black students are succeeding.

*Source: Reddy, Vikash and Michele Siqueiros. The State of Higher Education for Black Californians. Los Angeles, CA: The Campaign for College Opportunity, February 2021.

Click here to read the full article.

Interstate Passport Briefing

Recent Projections Suggest the Number of High School Graduates Will Soon Decline. What Does This Mean for Enrollment Management and Transfer Students?

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education has recently released the 10th edition of Knocking at the College Door: Projections of U.S. High School Graduate Numbers Through 2037. Interstate Passport’s Sarah Leibrandt, program manager, interviewed two of the report’s authors, Colleen Falkenstern and Peace Bransberger, to learn more about the findings in the recent publication of Knocking at the College Door and what the implications of the projections mean for college enrollment and the importance of recruiting and supporting transfer students.

Sarah Leibrandt: Thank you very much for joining me today. I’d like to start by asking you, what is ‘Knocking at the College Door’?

Colleen Falkenstern: Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates has been published every four years for nearly 40 years by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).This report provides detailed projections on high school graduate populations for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and selected U.S. territories and outlying areas, and includes details about the race/ethnicity of public-school graduates, and the number of private school graduates. Data was collected and analyzed from each individual state. The most recent edition includes actual high school graduate counts through the class of 2019 and then projections through the class of 2037.

These projections are used widely across a wide range of education stakeholders from policymakers to enrollment managers at the institutional level for short- and long-term planning in terms of capacity building and understanding who their future high school graduates are on college campuses.

Sarah Leibrandt: What trends can be found in the December 2020 edition of ‘Knocking at the College Door’?

Peace Bransberger: From the national perspective, the class of 2019 includes 3.8 million high school graduates. If recent patterns persist, the number of high school graduates could peak at 4 million by 2025. After 2025, the predictions suggest a decrease in the number of high school graduates (because of the decrease of one percent of babies born every year since the great recession). So, by the class of 2037, there could be 3.5 million high school graduates (or 11 percent fewer).

Colleen Falkenstern: There are variations across and within the regions in the U.S. For example, the Midwest and Northeast will both see declines in high school graduates. These regions are less diverse as it is; while they will see increases in high school graduates from nonwhite backgrounds, that will not be enough to offset the decline in white high school graduates. The trends look strikingly different here than in the south or west.

Peace Bransberger: The South is a growth region, and with several large states, is driving the national trend. The trend in the West, which contributes 24 percent of nation’s high school graduates, roughly mirrors the national trend but it varies by state. For example, two-thirds of the western states are expected to have 5-12 percent more graduates by peak and then rapidly lose graduates by as much as 22 percent fewer in New Mexico and 3 percent fewer in Colorado. Yet, other states in the West are on a trend to have more high school graduates than the national peak in 2025.

Knocking at the College Door allows us to look at the changing demographics in high school graduates through 2037. For example, there is a significant, new pattern emerging in the West in terms of demographics: there is an increasing number of Black public high school graduates (Washington, Arizona, and Nevada will see an increase of 42 percent or more). The Western states could also see a 24 percent increase in the number of Hispanic high school graduates in the next five years than they do now.

Sarah Leibrandt: What implications might these projections and changing demographics have for college enrollment?

Colleen Falkenstern: All colleges should consider the changing demographics of high school graduates. There are differences in the overall number of projected high school graduates across the country and there will be some institutions that will see significant drops in the number of students they have historically recruited for enrollment.

Peace Bransberger: Right, it is important for institutions to rethink where their “traditional” high school students are going to be available. While some states will not experience a decline in high school graduates, there will be a decreasing number of traditional-aged college students after 2025. But this does not mean students won’t be available. It is just that they might not be the ones your institution looked at before or served before, but there are large pockets of growth in each high school graduating class.  

Sarah: Given this information, how might institutions (re)consider a focus on recruiting transfer students to increase enrollment?

Colleen Falkenstern: There is a lot of data in Knocking at the College Door. And it is easy to talk about the changing numbers and trendlines in the report from a clinical perspective. One of the values of Knocking is that it can help institutions think about what student services are needed now and in five years and in ten years, to ensure that the changing demographic of college students are well served. Behind all of these projections and trend lines are students with educational goals, and if transfer is part of their pathway to their career, it is important that institutions’ services are equipped to serve this changing population of high school graduates. It’s important that institutions are meeting the needs of their students.

Peace Bransberger: As regards to transfer, some populations of students, particularly students of color, are more likely to enroll in a two-year institution first. As I mentioned earlier, some regions will see an increase among high school graduates of color and a decrease among white students. Based on historic patterns of where students have enrolled, it is likely community colleges will see an increase in enrollment, particularly among students of color.

Transfer shouldn’t be seen as a way to increase enrollment numbers but rather as way to serve students. It’s important for institutions to make sure they are serving students who might arrive on campus via transfer. Interstate Passport is a great pathway for students looking to transfer between institutions because it makes it easy for students to transfer with their general education requirements out of the way.

Sarah Leibrandt: Thank both so much for your time! For those interested in learning more, the website for Knocking at the College Door includes data dashboards, state and region profiles, and reports.

Interstate Passport Briefing Press Release Transfer News

Interstate Passport Awarded New Grant!

ECMC Foundation Logo

Interstate Passport is pleased to announce that ECMC Foundation has awarded the program a grant of $500,000 to support efforts to scale participation in the Interstate Passport Network. Over the two-year course of this project, staff will recruit and enroll 20 new member institutions, including at least 10 Minority-Serving Institutions, so that more students, particularly students of color and low-income students, will benefit as we continue to build the interstate transfer highway across the nation.

The grant will provide two-year membership subsidies for the 20 new member institutions and allow staff to expand capacity to support new member institutions through the implementation process and ongoing administration. Planning and recruitment activities for this grant began in November 2020. As of January 1, 2021, four institutions have signed letters of intent to join the Interstate Passport Network with support from this grant: Greenville Technical College in Greenville, South Carolina; Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida; Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and Texas A & M University-Central Texas in Killeen, Texas.

If you are interested in joining us or would like to see particular MSIs or other institutions join the Network to support student transfer in and out of your institution, please contact Interstate Passport program manager, Sarah Leibrandt.

Based in Los Angeles, ECMC Foundation seeks to inspire and facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes – especially among underserved populations – through evidence-based innovation.

Video Series Webinars

Part 1 of 4 – Becoming a Member of Interstate Passport: An Introduction

This is the first of a four part video series that provides an overview on becoming a member of the Interstate Passport Network.  We welcome you to view a brief introduction to Interstate Passport provided by Anna Galas, director of Academic Leadership Initiatives at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Video Series Webinars

Part 2 of 4 – The Faculty Role: Mapping Outcomes and Building a Block

This is the second of a four part video series that provides an overview on the very important role of faculty.  We welcome you to view this instructional video to learn more about how Network member institutions map the Passport Learning Outcomes and build a Passport Block.

Interstate Passport Briefing Transfer News

Call to Action: Transfer and Applicability of Credit

The Scaling Partners Network, a diverse group of 25 policy, advocacy, research and institutional membership organizations throughout the country, has issued a call to action regarding transfer in higher education. In response to the increasing number of students transferring across higher education institutions and the economic recession due to the pandemic, the Network calls on educators and policymakers to seriously examine and rethink articulation policies and practices. “The time has come for institutions to design systems to apply maximum credit in transfer and to lower artificial barriers to the creation of seamless pathways.” In addition to the well-known data points on the low number of credits that transfer and the dismal rates of degree completion among low-income and minority students, the current climate is exacerbating the existing barriers and inequities transfer students face. Collaboration among institutions is essential to make meaningful progress on students’ ability to transfer credits and to continue and their pathways to degree completion.

The Scaling Partners Network members have identified essential transfer actions for institutions to consider, including publicly championing transfer as a priority; examining policies related to transfer with a racial equity lens; thoroughly analyzing data to understand current outcomes of students who transfer; and Incentivizing institutions to develop, scale and sustain programs that promote collaboration between institutions.

Network members include, among others, the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Complete College America, American Association of Colleges and Universities, Association of Public Land-Grant Universities, and the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies. See the WCET Blog post on the Call to Action.

Read the Call to Action and see all members of the Scaling Partner Network here.

Interstate Passport Briefing

Interstate Passport and Network Members Participate in National Transfer Student Week

Interstate Passport and five of its Network member institutions participated in this year’s National Student Transfer Week (NTSW) October 19-23. Organized by the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS), NTSW takes place annually the third week of October and celebrates transfer students and the professionals who support them on their journeys. This year’s theme was “Thriving Through Transfer.” The participating IP Network institutions – Chicago School of Professional Psychology, University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, University of Hawaiʻi West Oahu, Washington State University [], and Western Oregon University – hosted events through social media, webinars, workshops, and panels to connect former and current transfer students with one another and provide information about transfer to prospective students.

The University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville participated in National Student Transfer Week and offered these testimonials: 

Collin Hoffman and John Severs, UACCB transfer students

Collin Hoffman and John Severs are both transfer students who transferred in to UACCB from other institutions. John was a student at the University of Arkansas at Morrilton. He said the more the two-hour commute to UA-Morrilton was too much of a strain. He transferred to UACCB because of its close proximity to his home. Collin was previously attending Arkansas State University-Newport. He completed one semester at ASU-Newport before transferring to UACCB. He said his transfer experience has been great and that he appreciates that the instructors at UACCB challenge their students. “The teachers care about the students and are willing to help in any way. My GPA went from a 2.75 to a 3.6 after I transferred to UACCB. I know that I will be better prepared for my bachelor’s degree having gotten my associates at UACCB,” he said.

 See the NISTS website [] for highlights of all institutions that participated in National Transfer Student Week.

Interstate Passport Briefing

Oral Communication: A Foundation of General Education

Kim Weismann Headshot
Kim Weismann, Williston State College

Dr. Kim Weismann is a Professor of Communication and the Arts and Human Sciences Department Chair at Williston State College in Williston, North Dakota. She earned her Associate of Arts and Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Dickinson State University, her Master of Arts in Speech Communication from North Dakota State University, and her Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Dakota. Dr. Weismann is also a member of the Interstate Passport Oral Communication Faculty Committee, which is responsible for developing the learning outcomes and proficiency criteria for this foundation skill area.

This is her 15th year of teaching in higher education. Weismann has taught a variety of courses during that time including, but not limited to, Fundamentals of Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Intercultural Communication, Oral Interpretation, Organizational Communication, Persuasion, Argumentation, Cultural Diversity, Social Problems, College Strategies and College Transition. Her doctoral dissertation, “Evaluating the perceived challenges in offering public speaking courses online” was published this year (Publication No. 27667256, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing).  Dr. Weismann currently resides in Williston with her husband, Tony Freed, and their rescue animals.

Oral Communication: A Foundation of General Education

I am a full-time professor of Communication at a small community college in northwestern North Dakota. In my 15 years of teaching in higher education I have taught a variety of courses as well as at different types of institutions, including a research university, a four-year regional teaching university, and currently a community college. During this time, unsurprisingly, I have seen a number of changes. Some practices, however, have remained consistent, one in particular: communication courses count as general education courses within the institutions where I have taught. More importantly, communication course outcomes connect to the workforce and employment. They help students learn ethics, critical thinking, listening, and critical evaluation – skills that employers want.

In a traditional public speaking class, students learn lifelong skills:

  • Writing and organizational skills when writing speeches
  • Analytical skills when researching assignments and assessing peers’ presentations
  • Collaborative skills when working with their peers – considered vital in today’s workplace
  • Listening skills when listening to their peers’ presentations.

Many institutions offer a course in interpersonal communication in which students typically work on communicating with other people in various settings including, but not limited to, the workplace, romantic relationships, friendships, and families. Students also learn about perception and intrapersonal communication. The focus is on collaboration, conflict management and listening skills.

At some institutions, interpersonal communication is the sole class students take for the communication competency. Thus, it is essential that students have a clear understanding of the concepts and skills necessary for effective communication – preparation, delivery, critical listening, and the ability to make adjustments. Students learn about these concepts and skills through a variety of ways such as role-playing and in-class discussions. Students also find examples of situations in popular culture and explain how the concepts apply to each scenario. Students may also share their personal experiences in small group discussions in class as well.

The Interstate Passport oral communication outcomes focus on ethics, critical thinking, organization, delivery skills, monitoring and adjusting with an audience, as well as listening and critically evaluating messages. All of the skills taught in a communication course are transferable to other areas of students’ lives, especially their careers.

Indeed, nearly every job has human interaction of some kind, so the ability to communicate effectively is critical. Employers are looking for candidates who have strong written and oral communication skills, very often labeled as “soft skills.” A 2019 article from the Forbes Coaches Council presents 15 such skills needed to succeed in the workforce, including communication: “speaking thoughtfully and intelligently, listening intently, and being a team player with leadership potential.”

The website, which provides services to job seekers as well as employers, cites communication skills as one of the top five attributes that employers are looking for in potential employees.

Communication studies is a discipline that imparts to students not only new concepts but also skills that will be valuable throughout their lives. The learning outcomes for these courses have remained consistent over time and likely will continue to do so because of the importance of good communication skills in all facets of life.