Last month, President Thomas Hellie was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
NAICU is a national organization that represents private colleges and universities on policy issues with the federal government, such as those affecting student aid, taxation and government regulation.
Hellie was nominated by other liberal arts college presidents, and he said he feels privileged to be in this position.
“I was surprised because I am new as a college president,” he said. “It is a prestigious thing to be elected to this board, insofar that Linfield is going to be noticed nationally as a result.”
Dan Preston, dean of enrollment services, said NAICU is a recognized and respected organization colleges and universities. Because of this, he said he thinks Hellie’s position will prove beneficial for the college.
“Linfield’s name will be associated with his work on the board, and that will reflect favorably on how other (colleges and universities) view Linfield,” Preston said.
Since his election, Hellie said the board has discussed two important issues. The first was the increase in the amount of money given in a Pell Grant, a federal grant given to students with high financial need. Hellie said the amount awarded to students who qualify has not increased significantly in years, making the recent change a victory.
The second was the issue of federal regulation. Hellie said the federal government wants to enforce standardized tests and accreditation at the college level, essentially forming a program similar to President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. He said this would be an enormous mistake for colleges across the country, so it is the board’s responsibility to fight back.
“The NAICU is very concerned with new regulations that the federal government creates,” he said. “As members of the board, it is our responsibility to make sure the organization lives up to its reputation (as advocates for higher education).”
As a board member, Hellie said he will travel to meetings two or three times a year, and his time away will not have a significant effect on the way the college operates when he is gone. If anything, it will help, he said.
“I will learn more about what is going on at other colleges and universities, and I think I have some professional obligation to serve higher education nationally.”