This week I had the opportunity to testify at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The hearing was titled “Making College Affordability a Priority: Promising Practices and Strategies.” This committee of the Senate, long chaired by Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts until his death a few years ago, has held a number of hearings on the topic of college affordability in recent years in response to concerns raised in the media, by students and parents, and by policymakers at the state and federal level. The committee is now chaired by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, with Mike Enzi of Wyoming the ranking minority member. The hearing came in the middle of a vacation I had planned in New York City, where I was attending a number of Broadway shows. This was certainly a very different type of theater experience.
This was my first time testifying to a Senate Committee; my three previous trips to Capitol Hill as a witness were on the House side of the Capitol. I was joined on the panel by three college presidents: Steven Leath of Iowa State University, Jim Murdaugh of Tallahassee Community College, and Thomas Snyder of Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana. Also on the panel was Carol Twigg, president of the National Center for Academic Transformation.