Welcome to The Higher Edge Podcast!
Feb. 28, 2023

Leading Collaborative Change Across Indiana’s Higher Ed Landscape (featuring Chris Lowery)

State commissioners have the exceptional duty of coordinating with public and independent institutions to define public college operations and initiatives that will shape their higher education infrastructure.

In this episode, Chris Lowery (https://w...

State commissioners have the exceptional duty of coordinating with public and independent institutions to define public college and university initiatives that will shape the higher education infrastructure across their state.

In this episode, Chris Lowery, a recently appointed commissioner with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, gives his unique perspective on the inner workings of his state’s governing body.

Chris brings a wealth of experience from the public, private, and academic sectors as he tells us about collaborative partnerships that will help give Indiana students the higher edge.

Join us as we discuss:


  • The importance of academic and workforce partnerships (8:28)
  • Collaborative partnerships with a Pentagon of People (17:38)
  • Strategic initiatives to improve the college-going rate (25:10)


Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:


Email: clowery@che.in.gov

Linkedin: Chris Lowery

Website: Indiana Commission for Higher Education

Website: Independent Colleges of Indiana

Website: Frank O’Bannon Grant

Website: 21st Century Scholars Program


 To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website or search for The Higher Edge in your favorite podcast player.


[00:00:00] Announcer: Welcome to The Higher Edge, a podcast for the brightest minds in higher education. Hear from the change makers and rule breaks that are driving meaningful, impactful change for colleges and universities across the country. From improving operations to supporting student success. These are the stories that give you The Higher Edge.

[00:00:29] And now your host, Brendan Aldrich. 

[00:00:33] Brendan Aldrich: Hey everybody, and welcome to The Higher Edge. I'm Brendan Aldrich and I'm here today with Chris Lowery, Commissioner for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, and I'm so looking forward to having Chris on today's episode. As many people are not aware of the role these commissions play within the state, higher education infrastructure across this country.

[00:00:54] In Indiana, this is a 14 member public body that coordinates closely with Indiana's public and [00:01:00] independent colleges to define the educational missions of Indiana's public colleges. Taking into account the plans and interests as well of the independent colleges and universities. Uh, they review operating and capital budget appropriation requests from those institutions.

[00:01:15] They evaluate the establishment of new branches, new campuses, extension centers, colleges, or schools and programs that are offered by those institutions. And while, uh, this is sometimes a separate agency in some states, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education also distributes financial aid from state aid programs.

[00:01:33] So I'm so thrilled to welcome him to the show and to introduce you. Chris. Welcome and thanks for joining us here on the Higher Edge. 

[00:01:40] Chris Lowery: Hey Brendan, thank you so much for asking me. It's so fun to hang out with a former colleague and, and of course friend who I don't get to see often enough. 

[00:01:48] Brendan Aldrich: And I was just going to say before your role as commissioner, you and I had the pleasure of working together at Ivy Tech Indiana's statewide community college.

[00:01:57] I wonder if you might kick us off by telling us a little bit [00:02:00] about your background, how you, you know, grew into this role as commissioner for the Indiana Commission for Higher. 

[00:02:06] Chris Lowery: Some would probably claim it's a, you know, rather circuitous route. Getting to this spot in my life. . But I think as I step back, there's, there's logic to it.

[00:02:15] Uh, you know, I've been in the professional world for about 40 years now, having graduated Indiana University of Bloomington, which by the way, is where I met my wife 40 years ago. This is corny, Brendan, but we were both interns at the State House and literally on the last night of legislative session, I asked her out on a date and well, there you go.

[00:02:33] The rest is history. And she's, she's put up with me now for four decades. But, uh, that's right. Yeah. You know, I think of my life really in sort of sets or chunks of 10 years. Uh, immediately after undergraduate, uh, school. I was in public policy for 10 years, spent about a year in Washington, dc. Um, frankly, I was attracted to doing that work, uh, and specifically the person for whom I worked, which was Dan Quail.

[00:02:58] Because he and [00:03:00] someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum had authored a, a really significant bill in an area that I had interest and that was in workforce. And I found that really interesting. It was the job training partnership Act. They were the co-authors and you know, in today's political terms, they were very different.

[00:03:16] But they bridged that divide and, you know, created really something significant. So the better part of the first 10 years was really spent in and around the State House. Uh, coming back from DC I went to work for the governor at the time, governor Bob War. And, you know, that was really formative for, for me, you know, as a professional.

[00:03:34] He is still somebody I look back to as really having set the standard. Gosh, he was a great writer. He was a thought leader. He was one of those folks that carried respect for everyone he met. And he also made bold moves. You know, he was one of the first governors in the United States to push for K-12 education reform.

[00:03:54] And that's really where my appetite in education was wedded. And, uh, you know, so. That [00:04:00] was, uh, really impactful to me. This was the mid to late 1980s. I was recruited in the mid 1990s to Hillenbrand in Batesville, Indiana, publicly traded company. And I have to admit, at the time I wasn't thinking at all about moving away from my little world at the State House working in public policy.

[00:04:19] Friends and family would claim I'm kind of a policy wonk. Uh, I was recruited to Hillenbrand having made some friends at that time with the. And was asked to come in and help with a startup within one of their operating companies, and admittedly, I kind of looked around and said, are you talking with me?

[00:04:39] And, uh, they claimed that they thought I could, uh, help figure out what this, you know, new division might look like. And it went on to grow to become a really sizable part of their enterprise. During that 20 years, I, I did what a lot of companies would do with other, you know, emerging leaders and that was to have experiences across the.

[00:04:58] So in human resources and sales [00:05:00] and marketing and strategy and business acquisition integration and, you know, new business development, all of those different things. And I really look back and feel, uh, you know, so grateful in that. Um, sometimes I joke with folks and tell them I have a PhD in Hillenbrand.

[00:05:14] And lo and behold, at the end of my time with Hillenbrand, uh, wasn't planning for it to be the end of my time at Hillenbrand, but I was approached by some folks at Ivy Tech community. They had a really, really small presence in Batesville, Indiana, 

[00:05:30] Brendan Aldrich: although I'll say a small presence in Batesville. But what a lot of people, especially outside of Indiana don't realize is at that time, uh, especially Ivy Tech was the fourth largest college in the 

[00:05:41] Chris Lowery: country.

[00:05:42] Yeah. You know, Brendan, thank you for saying that. It, in fact, that strength was something some of us in the community looked to. They literally had a couple little classrooms in an old IGA supermarket building in Bates. and, uh, a handful of us said we wanted to have a, a presence of [00:06:00] higher education, and Ivy Tech was such a great fit because, you know, they could prepare students to go to a four year institution or they could prepare students to go into the workforce, you know, ma a, an advanced manufacturing community.

[00:06:13] And so there were so many things that just seem, uh, you know, splendid for a partnership. Well, I, along with a couple others, started developing this partnership and then ended up leading the. The campaign to create and, um, you know, have an IvyTech campus in Batesville, which by the way is a beautiful place.

[00:06:31] It's been open, I think maybe 11 years now. And, uh, you know, it is just, is just flourishing. So during that time, I got to know a lot of those folks. Started getting to know a lot of other folks in higher education and was approached by some folks to be what was at the time a regional chancellor's role.

[00:06:49] Essentially all of Southeastern. and it was over lunch. I can remember it really vividly. And, and these folks were talking to me about, they were combining this area and one chancellor [00:07:00] was retiring and one was moving outta state. And, you know, the search was on and, and I, I wasn't even getting it. And I said, well, gosh, I'll, I'll be out, I'll, I'll be glad that, you know, help with the search or, you know, serve on a committee or something.

[00:07:12] And, and these two folks laughed and they said, we don't think you understand it. So, you know, on that the rest is history. I took that. . And then a couple of years later, the state legislature demanded and, you know, put into statute that IvyTech take a really serious focus toward workforce. And uh, I was asked to, you know, create that structure and then was asked to, you know, lead that for what ended up being six years.

[00:07:35] And, uh, yeah. And then, you know, sort of a similar twist, you know, from public policy to corporate America and then corporate to higher ed. Gosh, now about a year and a half ago I learned of. Pending retirement of then, uh, Indiana Commissioner for a higher education, Theresa Lovers, who had been in the role 13 years.

[00:07:52] Couple people said to me, you know, Chris, you really, you really should consider that role. And I was humbled and just [00:08:00] felt like this is what I was supposed to go do next. Um, yeah, I really feel fortunate that the end of these things that have occurred, I've, I've never been looking for a. But they've seemed right at that time in life, and this seems to be the right thing to bring together my public policy experiences, my corporate experiences, you know, thinking of the talent pool.

[00:08:19] The talent pipeline, the higher ed experience, even experiences with K-12 and, you know, hopefully try to offer a little bit of something here to, um, you know, our fellow Hoosiers. 

[00:08:29] Brendan Aldrich: Well, and I love how a lot of this came together because I've recently had, uh, Karen Monroe on the show who had been the provost at IB Tech and a good friend of both of ours, a great friend as you know.

[00:08:39] And it's such a unique situation because in so many, uh, institu. That workforce element can be considered part of the provost role, but as you mentioned legislatively, that was broken out to provide a bigger focus on it, which meant that you and Kara had to work extraordinarily closely together, and I'm sure that that.

[00:08:57] Required so much synergy between the [00:09:00] academic focus of the provost and your focus on the workforce. 

[00:09:03] Chris Lowery: It required a great amount of collaboration and partnership. You know, I, I used to tease when I worked with, with Kara, people would say, gosh, you know, it's like you're the workforce person. This is the provost, and we just worked together.

[00:09:16] You know, constantly, you know, side by side in this work. And the joke was always, you know, I, I don't think, uh, it has gone very badly because she has not pushed me out the third floor window of the, of the building. You know, , she, she was just an extraordinarily good partner in that work. And her predecessor with whom I worked, uh, just, you know, kind of briefly as Steve Tincher, it was the same kind of thing.

[00:09:38] We developed really a matrix. Of the academic side of the house and the workforce side of the house where they were integrated and, you know, literally office space that was right beside each other. And then at the campuses, you know, started doing that with folks who, you know, we engaged with. And, um, you know, ultimately to really drive this, we [00:10:00] together, Karen and I, uh, Steve and I, and then Kara and I, strength.

[00:10:03] Came to the decision that any, uh, curriculum programmatic decisions that would ultimately go for wouldn't be, you know, either instituted or something done away with and so forth would require our agreement. And, uh, that it, you know, if there was a tie, we would, you know, arm wrestle never really did that or send it to the president.

[00:10:24] And, you know, I think for me, one of the greatest sources, uh, of pride is to look. and realized that happened one time and, and frankly, we just agreed to disagree and it went to the university or the college president, but it, but it meant along the way, you know, working through those differences and saying, so, gosh, you know, what does this mean?

[00:10:45] What does that mean? Um, you know, what did the data say? And it was just a, gosh, you know, it was just a splendid, uh, partnership and. I'm no longer at the college. She's no longer at the college, has this wonderful business and we remain friends, go to [00:11:00] lunch, uh, and so forth. And, and I like to think that we also created a model that other states have looked at and said, wow, you know, how, how are you doing that?

[00:11:08] And I know Kara has spent time talking with folks in other states, and I certainly have too, to say, well, I don't know if there's a secret sauce to it, but this is at least the way we've been trying to do. Well, and 

[00:11:17] Brendan Aldrich: just as one example I, I remember when you first took on that role, and I'm just gonna use one example that most people have probably never heard of, but is the SIPP to SOC mapping.

[00:11:26] Oh, yeah. Now, what a lot of people may not know about when we talk about SIP codes, those are codes that are related to individual majors or programs that students can pursue. And the SOC codes relate to different jobs that people may work in. And that's just how government kind of classifies that.

[00:11:41] Exactly. But the challenges is that when you look at the federal's, CTU sock mapping, , it's a one-to-one match, so the assumption is only one major can go on to work in one job. and, and we know in reality that you could have a variety of majors and go on to work on a particular job or, or the reverse. You know, [00:12:00] you could have one major and go on to work in a variety of different jobs.

[00:12:03] And I loved the work that you had really led there, which was, Hey, let's redo this mapping. Let's turn this into a many, to many relationship that actually better reflects. What students are likely to do and how that's gonna ma match up with the workforce needs 

[00:12:16] Chris Lowery: in Indiana. Well, Brendan, I love that you mentioned that we made that declaration that it's not just a one-to-one, sometimes it's one to many and sometimes it's mini to one, and sometimes it's mini to many.

[00:12:25] Right? That this program area of study doesn't lead only to one type of job or career. Right. And you know, again, you know the the many to one sometimes, and I think that was really important in our work. We were one of the first. To really look at supply and demand in the marketplace and say, how should that drive?

[00:12:46] Our programmatic offerings as a college 

[00:12:49] Brendan Aldrich: partnering with the great team over at the Department for Workforce Development, uh, who had done their tenure year projections for job needs across the 

[00:12:55] Chris Lowery: state. Yes. Uh, it was incredible work. In fact, I, I, I pause a moment to [00:13:00] remember. Uh, a, a friend of ours who really initiated that work, Steve Braun, who was commissioner at the time and recently passed.

[00:13:07] He really launched us on that move to think about supply and demand in the marketplace. A business guy himself and, uh, you know, took on that role, you know, sort of late career. and, and we ran with it, looking at the demand for this, and then the supply related to the program areas of study. And, and that became a cornerstone for what the college continued to do for many years and still does today.

[00:13:28] And that's a supply and demand assessment of every program, every campus, every year to really understand what the marketplace needs and, and frankly then in turn, You know, the degree to which, uh, students can expect to be successful once they complete. 

[00:13:42] Brendan Aldrich: Hey, for everyone listening, hang tight. We're gonna take a quick break to hear from our sponsor and we'll be back in just one minute.

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[00:14:52] Brendan Aldrich: Thanks so much for listening to our sponsor. Let's get back to the show. So, Chris, I know I gave a very high level introduction to the role of the [00:15:00] Indiana Commission for Higher Education during the introduction to the.

[00:15:03] But I wondered if you could take a few minutes and as the commissioner talk about the role of the Indiana c h e from your perspective. 

[00:15:09] Chris Lowery: Ours is a 14 member board, uh, staggered terms appointed by, uh, the Governor, geographic representation and so forth. And it is a coordinating body, and I think that's really significant to note in, in some states.

[00:15:23] Uh, it is the governing body for each of the HigherEd education institutions. Where in Indiana. , which I think is the appropriate way to do it. It's, you know, it's sort of a federalist system. Uh, you know, our, uh, boards of trustees at those respective, uh, public institutions are the governing structure and we're charged with is coordinating, you know, with those institutions as part of an ecosystem and helping.

[00:15:51] Elevate the conversation sometimes to looking at Indiana as a whole. You know, we're, we are so fortunate, we have seven primary state [00:16:00] institutions. The two R one research institutions probably known to just about everybody. The flagships of Purdue University at West Lafayette and Indiana University at Bloomington.

[00:16:10] They also have regional campus s. We have three institutions that are just doing amazing work that I think many people think of as the comprehensive residents, institutions, ball State University, Indiana State University, and University of Southern Indiana. So there's some, some nice geographic dispersion.

[00:16:28] And then of course we have just incredible two-year institutions. Uh, Vince University and his, you know, I've already noted the largest singularly accredited community college in the nation. Also one of the just largest higher ed institutions in the. You know, so you have that full span, that full breadth.

[00:16:46] The other thing that our, uh, agency does is to work with, and we're required to statutorily again, the independent colleges of Indiana. So, you know, those private, uh, institutions, again spread throughout the state. They're 29. They have [00:17:00] an organization called the Independent Colleges of Indiana, and we work really closely with those folks on a variety of matters.

[00:17:07] And then something that's, uh, you know, pretty significant responsibility of our. Is to manage the financial aid for higher education. Here in Indiana, the, the state supported higher ed and that is, uh, among many one thing, uh, about which I'm really proud of our state, we are fifth in the nation and first in the Midwest in need-based student financial aid.

[00:17:33] So that's, that's about a 400 million portfolio that my team and I, uh, managed for the. You know, it's, 

[00:17:39] Brendan Aldrich: I'm so glad that you mentioned the differences between a governing board versus a coordinating board. I think about when I first started working in higher education, uh, 10 or 12 years ago, there was an article I came across as I was learning about higher education, and it was called The Hardest Job in the World, and it's not what you think it is, and the entire article was about the job of community college president.[00:18:00] 

[00:18:00] Because they were talking about how unlike A C E O, you can't just tell people what to do, that you've really got to build those bridges, those networks, those relationships convince people to go along in the direction that follows the vision that you're setting. And I really see that as a, as a really good analogy towards the work of a commission for higher education when you are a coordinating body as opposed to a 

[00:18:20] Chris Lowery: governing body.

[00:18:21] And, and Thank you. I agree completely. I, I think, uh, Sue Elsman, who we both know as president of Ivy Tech Community College, has one of the most challenging jobs in the state of Indiana. She does it ex extremely well by. But it is a bit like that. I like to think that this is, you know, part of the reason I was attracted to the role is that it does require, uh, you know, building collaborative partnerships.

[00:18:43] Um, you know, certainly that starts with our institutions, you know, the seven public institutions, the 29 private institutions. The, the presidents and you know, the teams of those organizations. But then it also is wider than that, you know, certainly it's with our 14 commission [00:19:00] members who I consider myself so fortunate because they represent such a broad swath of society, you know, from, from, you know, business leaders to.

[00:19:09] Educators to folks, you know, that are deeply involved in philanthropy, in the nonprofit sector and so forth. I think it's just a really rich group of folks who bring, uh, you know, just so many, you know, thoughtful considerations to what we do. But it does require that we're working closely, uh, with, with what I've been referring to as a Pentagon of people.

[00:19:30] This was an observation I made during the pandemic, uh, in looking at what was going on in Indiana. And also in other states across the nation, uh, it was more than just government. It was more than just business, or it was more than just education. So I've named three of them right now. Uh, but that if you think about this and when some of the really best work gets done, it, it, it not only includes government and education and business, but it's also Phil.

[00:19:58] and that it's also the [00:20:00] nonprofit sector. And, and I believe really strongly, uh, the work of community and faith-based organizations because they Right. They often reach people who maybe government can't reach or maybe don't trust government, right? There's, there's a low level of trust for government these days, and I think we have to work on that constantly, that if we have those entities working together we'll, we'll get something that's much better for society.

[00:20:25] And real quickly too, where I, where I. Had the, the benefit of witnessing this was during the pandemic. A a, a small group of us came together in mid-March of 2020. And, you know, we were from government education, business, philanthropy and, and the not-for-profit world. I see a lot of power in that, and it's part of what, you know, the complexity of it was part of what attracted me to this.

[00:20:49] And I love that idea 

[00:20:50] Brendan Aldrich: of the, the Pentagon bringing all those different points of people together in order to achieve great things. And speaking of that, Every commissioner I know has a [00:21:00] specific list of priorities or things that are going to be high on your radar that you want to go after. Uh, let's talk a little bit about some of the, the things that you're really looking to, to push forward in a more accelerated 

[00:21:10] Chris Lowery: fashion.

[00:21:11] When I entered the role, I tried to really assess, you know, talking with staff, talking with commission members, talking with a lot of the folks from those, those areas of the Pentagon, you know, to which I was referring to find out, uh, you know, what are the expect. , but then also doing a situation assessment essentially through our research That commission does.

[00:21:29] By the way, a lot of great research, I didn't mention that, amazing research and also overseeing programmatic areas of study. So all programs that are being created, uh, by the institutions, uh, have to be approved by the commission. But in that research, I found it really fascinating as we began a journey of a situation assessment, and there were, there were three critically important things we.

[00:21:51] That were coming, you know, forward. One is that the going rate, uh, of young people leaving high school, graduating from high [00:22:00] school and then going into some training or, or education after that? Generally college and university had been declining pretty precipitously. Uh, it had gone in Indiana from 65% to 53% just in five years, but it was a trend that was ongoing for the last decade.

[00:22:17] So that was something really alarming. Um, I, I think it was Thursday, June 8th when, uh, we issued this really robust study. It hit the newspapers and I think it was someone in the media who said, Lowry is sounding the alarm. And they were right. This was something, you know, of real concern to our team. In addition to that, and in parallel, We found it interesting that the percentage or number of adults who were going for post-secondary training and education had also been on the decline with late one evening digging into some, some of the data and I, I started plugging it in and sent it off to one of our research team members and said, am [00:23:00] I seeing the correlation of this the way I should and.

[00:23:03] Sent me back a note the next morning and he said, well, Chris, the correlation between what's happening with youth and happening with adults is, I think it was 0.9846, right? . So for anybody who's a, you know, a nerd to the R squared, uh, what we saw was the exact same thing was happening with adults. As with youth people, uh, you know, were just not going for training and education like they had been.

[00:23:25] That's a concern, especially as we think about the needs for our. Completions in Indiana have been improving. So the rate at which a student goes and, you know, sticks with it and then ultimately completes, however, uh, the numbers, uh, aren't yet what we would like them to be, right. Even an extended time completion rate in Indiana is still only about two thirds of students who start.

[00:23:50] So about 66%. And then the other thing that we found really fascinating and we're pushing on. Graduate retention. When we started digging [00:24:00] around to the numbers, I was fascinated to learn that Indiana is 14th in the nation. Uh, I'd rather be top 10, but I'll take this 14th in the nation in attracting students to come to our private and public institutions.

[00:24:13] I think that's amazing. You know, as others have, uh, have observed, we don't have an ocean, we don't have mountains. It's a place I've called home 60 of my 61 years, and I, I love it dear. But one of the great strengths we have is the ability to bring folks here because of higher education, and I think we ought to celebrate that.

[00:24:30] Now, on the other side of that coin is the reality that we're 40th four oh best at retaining that talent and. You know, when a lot of folks have been saying, you know, business folks, government leaders and others have been coming alongside and saying, yes, let's do a better job of keeping folks once they come here, let's, let's make sure they know we have great job opportunities because by the way we do, and we have a state with a low cost of living and it's a, you know, high quality of life and [00:25:00] so forth.

[00:25:00] So those are areas we're focusing on in the, uh, college going rate. I'm glad to talk about a couple of initiatives there that we're strategic initiatives we're pursuing. If you'd. Absolutely. 

[00:25:10] Brendan Aldrich: Yeah. I suspect you might be talking about the Franco Bannon 

[00:25:12] Chris Lowery: scholarship. Yes. So the Franco Bannon scholarship was really, gosh, one of the first victories we had.

[00:25:19] The Franco Bannon scholarship was developed many years ago, uh, named after former Governor Franco Bannon, who, uh, I also happened to know. He was such a wonderful guy. And, uh, it is specifically targeted to help low income students go to college. There are grants, uh, directed toward private and public institu.

[00:25:38] And a challenge with that grant is that the level of the funding per student had not been increased for a number of years. In fact, it had been cut in the great recession of 2009 and never adjusted. You know, the economy had long since recovered and, you know, gone through a pandemic and everything else, uh, but had [00:26:00] never been adjusted to account.

[00:26:02] You know, the possibility of more funding for students and as our team and I started talking about it, you know, I was, I was just asking those, those new person questions, right? And found that it had not been adjusted for, you know, something like 13 years for those cuts. Well, we put together the case for, went to the governor, went to our state budget director, went to key members of legislature, and to cut to the chase.

[00:26:24] The state budget committee approved a 35% increase, which restored those cuts all the way back to 2000. and increases for inflation. So, well, you know, we, we were so pleased in that this will give more Hoosier students the opportunity and more funding to, to go right. They, they won't run out of money midway or something like that.

[00:26:45] The, you know, one of the other key things on which we've been pushing is for, uh, automatic enrollment in our 21st Century Scholars program program That's been. 32 years now, uh, over 50,000 Hoosiers have successfully [00:27:00] utilized the 21st Century Scholars Program. Again, it's aimed at low income students.

[00:27:05] Students have to sign up while they're in middle school. and then they participate in a student success program or a scholar success program while in high school. And I always refer to that, that program as being the good student and good citizen program. Right. You know, minimum GPA of 2.5 and you gotta put together a career plan and you, you know, you gotta file the FAFSA and things like that.

[00:27:26] You gotta stay outta trouble. The challenge though, has been, While the program is very successful, 83% of those kids go to college. Wow. You know, compared to a statewide average of 53%. These are low income kids who, you know, kind of start out with various disadvantages, often going at a much higher rate to college.

[00:27:49] The challenge though, has been getting students signed up, um, the most recent year, only about half, actually 48%. We were able to reach and get them signed. [00:28:00] So again, I started just asking those kind of questions like, well, why wouldn't we just automatically sign them up if they're eligible? And apparently others had had that idea over time and.

[00:28:11] I said, well, let's, let's push it. So those are some of the things, a pre-admissions idea that we are, we're trying to steal from another state. We think it's just a super idea that kids in Indiana when they, you know, are between junior and senior year, I think they oughta know each one of the institutions in Indiana.

[00:28:26] You know, they would be, you know, likely accepted into almost always upon GPA and S A T. So we're pushing that program 

[00:28:34] Brendan Aldrich: forward. I can't tell you how much I love that program. Just the idea of, of knowing, no matter where you are as a student, what are your options? Which, which schools could you go to? Which ones are likely to accept you if you're ready to move 

[00:28:46] Chris Lowery: forward?

[00:28:47] Right. Well, and, and we know, uh, gosh, I saw this in our own house, you know, I think, you know, our children are 28 and 32. I am that old now. I have to remind myself. Um, but, you know, oftentimes a student, you know, applies to three [00:29:00] or four or five, maybe a half a dozen or so. and may never even think about or know about another institution that's, you know, right here in their backyard, you know, on the other side of the state or something.

[00:29:11] You mentioned seven public institutions, 29 privates, the regionals, right? There are a lot of different, uh, opportunities here in Indiana, but to let a student know that. You know, it's likely you would be accepted to these institutions. Here's a link to that institution. Here's a link to their financial aid.

[00:29:27] Right? I don't want students to leave once they've graduated from college. I don't want 'em to leave to have to go to college either, right? That they'd go, oh gosh, I, I didn't get into school X, so I guess I'll go to the University of Illinois, or I'll go to this private school in Ohio, or I'll go to University of Kentucky or something.

[00:29:42] I want 'em to stay here if they want to, but also make sure they know all of the opportunities that are available to. 

[00:29:49] Brendan Aldrich: And it's a plan that not only helps students but institutions as well. It's, it's not uncommon, and many people may not know this, that you may be a, a smaller institution who accepts [00:30:00] 10,000 students for your incoming fall term with the hope that 12 to 1500 of them will actually show up and 

[00:30:07] Chris Lowery: enroll.

[00:30:07] That's exactly right. Bottom line is we, we just need more students, you know, pursuing training and education beyond high school. We wanna reach them and let them know that we wanna make sure there aren't financial barriers in their way. Uh, you know, other barriers that we can help them, you know, help them with things like the Scholar Success Program just.

[00:30:26] It'll be virtuous outcome I think for, uh, multiple parties, including our communities. 

[00:30:30] Brendan Aldrich: What I always refer to myself as a, who's your in training, having, having grown up in, in California, and we're 

[00:30:35] Chris Lowery: glad 

[00:30:35] Brendan Aldrich: you are by the way. Thank you to a more native who's your and, and having worked with you and know the kind of guy you are and love the priorities that you're working on.

[00:30:42] Can't wait to see what you and the commission are gonna be doing over the next years. So we call the show the higher edge because we do have amazing people who are working in and supporting higher education across the. Who have incredible experience and perspective that they've gained. I wonder if you might have a [00:31:00] story from your own experience, either work or personal, that you might share with our listeners, something that might help give them the higher edge.

[00:31:06] Chris Lowery: I don't know that I shared this with you, but I, I was asked during an event, late summer about my own view of impact of education. And so Chris, what has it meant to you? What's it meant to your. And I really began to think about it. And so I'll tell you an impact that I see on a very personal level for the Lowry family.

[00:31:30] Uh, so here you and I sit in 2023. I'm 61, and I will share with you, you know, my father passed away four years ago. This is something I, I wish I could have shared with him. It, and here's part of the reason why two generations before me, three of the four did not go past seventh. Everybody came from essentially Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia, and they, they came into Indiana, right?

[00:31:55] For, for work and job opportunities and so forth. They came from [00:32:00] Stark poverty. My grandmother Lowry started working in a factory in Anderson, Indiana at the age of 14. So little context there. One of those four though. Graduated from high school in 1921. That was my grandfather. Then out of the next generations, one of those individuals went beyond high school.

[00:32:24] That would be my father who did an apprenticeship with General Motors. My mother, by the way, was valedictorian in 1952 of a small rule, poor high school. It was 1952. If you were a young woman from a small town and you were poor, it was likely you weren't gonna go to college. And she did. But I would tell you this, she's still smarter at math than anybody I know.

[00:32:49] And why I share that with you was, she was my dad's tutor literally during his time seeking his apprenticeship over four or five years with General Motors. [00:33:00] So that generation, two generations ago, one graduated of high school, the next generation one went beyond high school. That was my dad. It opened up middle class life for our.

[00:33:12] and then it begins to look different too. I have my undergraduate and graduate degree. You know, Lyn, my wife has completed graduate work. Her brother has his law degree. Our, our sister-in-law, you know, has her master's degree. And then our own children. Our daughter, uh, is a teacher, has her master's degree.

[00:33:29] Our son-in-law has now finished law school and our son is currently an MBA candidate at what is arguably the, one of the hardest b a programs in the nation, the Booth school to University of Chicago. So then in a matter of two or three generations, education has, has been the opportunity. It's been the ladder up.

[00:33:49] It's been the ladder out. It's vast opportunities. Likely, I'm sure my grandparents would just absolutely never have imagined. Really, really 

[00:33:59] Brendan Aldrich: impactful. [00:34:00] For our listeners, we've been talking to the incredibly talented Chris Lowry, commissioner for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Chris, if listeners would like to reach out to you with questions about today's episode or continue the conversation, or even to learn more about the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, what's the best way for them to 

[00:34:15] Chris Lowery: to reach you?

[00:34:16] Hey, they can reach me any way they'd like. I'm on LinkedIn. I'm, you know, Fairly active on there. Message me, link with me. I love that. My email address, it's public, but I'll give it to you also. I'll go slowly. It is c l o w e r y at c h e dot i n dot g o v. 

[00:34:39] Brendan Aldrich: Which also means that if people would like to learn more about the commission, they can also go to www dot inn dot gob.

[00:34:46] Perfect. Well, Chris, real pleasure to have you on the show. Thanks for coming on and being a guest with us here on the Higher Edge. 

[00:34:51] Chris Lowery: Brendan, thanks for asking me on, and thanks for what you're doing. I, I just, I'd love the work that you're doing and it's, it's always nice to hang out with you for a while. I 

[00:34:59] Brendan Aldrich: appreciate it.

[00:34:59] Hey, [00:35:00] and for everybody listening, I'm Brendan Aldrich and we'll talk soon.

[00:35:04] Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Higher Edge. For more, subscribe to us on your favorite podcast platform. Leave us a review if you loved the show, and be sure to connect with Brendan on LinkedIn. Know someone who's making big changes at their higher ed institution that belongs on this podcast?

[00:35:20] Drop us a line at podcasts@thehigheredge.com. The Higher Edge is sponsored by Invoke Learning in partnership with Westport Studios. Views and opinions expressed by individuals during the podcast are their own. See how Invoke Learning is empowering higher education  at invokelearning.com.