On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Sununu signed Executive Order 2023-06, an order establishing the public higher education task force to study the strategic alignment of public higher education in New Hampshire.
Higher education in the United States saw enrollments decline 8% between 2019 and 2022. Due to declining birth rates, further enrollment declines are expected in 2025 and beyond. The skyrocketing costs of college education, coupled with increased competition from private online universities, have compounded the problem.
“New Hampshire’s public institutions of higher education are not immune from the challenges that colleges and universities across the country are facing,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “The Executive Order I signed today ensures we’re taking a proactive approach in the Granite State to ensure our community college and university systems remain robust drivers for the state’s workforce and culture.”
In recent public meetings of both the University System and Community College System, both boards voted unanimously in favor of the Task Force’s creation.
“The University System of NH (USNH) Board of Trustees, to include the presidents of the University of NH, Keene State College, and Plymouth State University, unanimously supports the Governor’s formation of the Public Higher Education Task Force,” said Alex Walker Jr., Chair of the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees. “USNH agrees it is important to conduct this due diligence given the demographic and economic pressures and the changing landscape of higher education. USNH looks forward to participating in and reviewing the committee’s report.”
“With a mission to provide residents with affordable, accessible, high-quality education and training that aligns with the needs of New Hampshire’s businesses and communities, the CCSNH Board of Trustees embraces the opportunity created by the Governor’s Public Higher Education Task Force to sustain our focus on the educational, professional and personal success of students, a skilled 21st century workforce for our state’s businesses, and a strong New Hampshire economy for the future,” said Kathy Bogle Shields, Board Chair of the Community College System of New Hampshire.
Per the Governor’s Executive Order, the Task Force shall provide a report of its findings no later than March 31, 2024.
A copy of the Governor’s Executive Order can be found here.