Chancellor addresses challenges facing higher education

Chancellor Richard Herman gave an address entitled “Higher Education and the Development of Human Capital” to an audience that included former Ill. Gov. Jim Edgar. The speech was part of the Cline Symposium, a semester-long public affairs seminar that culminates with a two-day symposium.

Chancellor Herman, the keynote speaker of the night, said higher education is essential for America to stay competitive in the global environment. He said human capital is the best technology and it is most effectively produced by higher education.

Harsha Eswarappa, freshman in Business, got to the iHotel an hour early and did not know the topic of the speech before it started.

“I get extra credit for my Governing and Globalization class,” Eswarappa said before the address. “I guess it will be cool to see what Chancellor Herman has to say.”

Olivia Cangellaris, sophomore in Engineering, said she was nominated by a teacher to participate in the symposium. She said she partook in a roundtable discussion before the speech.

Chancellor Herman used statistics to stress the importance of higher public education. He said the power of a college degree is reflected in America’s unemployment rate, which is over 8 percent nationwide, but only 4.1 percent for people with college degrees.

Herman said other nations, such as China, are catching up to America, especially in the math and science fields.

“Our occasion is piled high with difficulty, but it is also a world of opportunity,” Herman said.

He added that Gov. Pat Quinn understands the problems facing higher education and will help the University take advantage of opportunities.

“I believe we now have a friend in the State House. Someone who understands UIUC is the flagship university in the state,” Herman said.

He added that America is the only industrialized nation where children are less likely than their parents to earn a college degree, He also said he believes educational opportunity will determine whether America will be competitive in 2009.

“Expand access,” Herman said. “Expand access and give a kid a chance.”

Eswarappa said the speech confirmed his belief in the importance of public education.

“It was a lot more interesting than I thought,” he said. “I really liked the use of statistics. They were shocking.”