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What’s AHEAD Commentary [November 2016]

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November 2016 U.S. Election Results

This What’s AHEAD poll focuses on the results of the November 2016 U.S. elections. We invited two Penn GSE alumni, both leading scholar-practitioners, to comment: Dr. LeManuel Lee Bitsoi (Rush University Medical Center) and Dr. Stacia Edwards (Columbus State Community College).

Hope for the Seventh Generation

LeManuel Lee BitsoiLeManuel Lee Bitsoi
Director of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs
Rush University Medical Center


I have hope for I live on it. While many mourn the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of our already great country, I have hope that he will accomplish what others have not been able to. I may not agree with everything that he stands for or believes in, but the people have spoken and he will be our next president. Our political system needed a reality check, since career politicians had become complacent and took many votes for granted. As an independent Native American voter, I believe mine was taken for granted, just as many others were.

So, President-elect Trump, what will you do to address the many issues that minority communities and tribal nations face, such as the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy? Will you take a stand for indigenous rights? Will you continue to strengthen and enhance treaty obligations and funding for tribal schools, especially tribal colleges and universities (as well as other minority serving institutions)? I trust that you will, so please impress me President-elect Trump.

Certain About Uncertainty

Stacia EdwardsStacia Edwards
Dean of Delaware Campus and Regional Learning Centers
Columbus State Community College


What will the policy environment be for higher education under the Trump administration? Higher education leaders weighed in immediately after the election with expectations for change and reduced funding. The polling outcome is not a surprise, but there are few facts provided by the President-elect to help guide the poll response.

Candidate Trump rallied supporters with a pledge to bring companies and high wage jobs back to the U.S. Here’s the catch: those high wage jobs now require advanced education. In a November 15th op-ed piece in the Hechinger Report, Anthony Carnevale reminds us that high wage unskilled jobs are gone for good due to increases in productivity and a shift to a service economy. In order for citizens to connect with the promised jobs, postsecondary education will be required. Without postsecondary education, the current high unemployment trends will continue.

For businesses to be successful and grow in the U.S. economy, access, affordability, and support for completion of postsecondary credentials and degrees will continue to be challenges if we hope to have a prepared workforce for the jobs and careers President-elect Trump has promised.

Day to day interactions with students on a community college campus confirm for me that a reduction in funding will not deliver the desired outcomes. It will be up to us to convince the new administration of the policies and funding required to deliver the promised economic prosperity.

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