POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis has been shaping the culture and safeguarding the mission of College of the Ozarks for 31 years, and his insights into innovative higher education qualify him to speak into the national landscape. He was invited by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to speak at the U.S. Department of Education “Rethinking Higher Education Summit” last Thursday, Dec. 14, about the innovative programs for which the College is known.
“There is exciting work being done across the country by those who are willing to rethink the traditional ways in which we have educated students,” said DeVos in a Department of Education press release. “They are unafraid to embrace new technology and utilize data to customize education in a way that is focused on unlocking the unlimited potential of every student. It’s thrilling to have so many brilliant minds join us for this summit to have an open dialogue on how best to highlight new innovations, remove structural barriers and expand opportunities for our nation’s students throughout their education journey.”
Davis focused on graduating students who are debt free and the importance of teaching patriotic education.
“Employers have concerns that we are trying to address head on,” Davis said in his presentation. “One is what most people perceive to be a decrease in the work ethic of young people in the United States. Another one is concern about the citizenship or civic engagement behavior of college students, and the third one is the horrific loans that the parents envision themselves having to take out in order to get an education for their son or daughter.
“College of the Ozarks is one of a handful of work colleges in the United States in which all students are required to work. It’s also one of two colleges where students pay no tuition — zero, not $6,000, not $10,000, not $50,000. They don’t have to pay tuition: They have to work. We are in business to serve the least among us, lower income students.
“We deal with a lot of kids with family need. It takes a very personal environment to help kids like that. Having come from a dysfunctional type home myself and having run work colleges for 40 years, I can tell you that everything cannot be solved with the computer.”
This was the first national education summit of its kind.
College of the Ozarks administrators hope the unique and highly successful no-loan, no-debt approach to higher education at C of O can be used as an example and inspiration to others.
“In order to help students graduate without debt, higher education must make the no-debt and no-loan approach a priority instead of increasing the tuition and fees every year and expecting students to shoulder more debt,” said Dr. Sue Head, vice president for cultural affairs and dean of character education. “Higher education is moving quickly to technology for delivery, and Dr. Davis cautioned that hard work, honesty, timeliness, and cooperation cannot be taught online.”
“In the real world, you get fired for absence of those traits,” Davis said.
Other organizations and institutions that presented included Coursera, EdX, Minerva Project, Valencia College, The Jack Welch Management Institute, University of Maryland University College, Southern New Hampshire University, and Arizona State University.
To view the link to Davis’ presentation on C-SPAN, visit the following: https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4699561/president-davis-education-reform-summit