Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

President’s Message: Celebrating our successes, looking to the future

December 07, 2021

Aaron Thompson

For me, the end of the year is a time of both reflection on all we’ve accomplished together and preparation for the exciting work we have planned for the year ahead. In 2021 we found innovative ways to demonstrate that higher education matters—that it has a positive return on investment and that it is key to the health of Kentucky’s economy—and the message is resonating.  

A CPE brief released in November showed we are on track to reach our target for 60% of Kentuckians to have a postsecondary credential by the year 2030, the North Star guiding much of our work. Our data analysis supports what I’ve believed all along: our ambitious vision for our higher education system is within reach.

The brief showed the number of degrees and credentials awarded in the state remained steady during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the tremendous challenges faced by our colleges and universities. The total number of degrees and credentials decreased by just 0.2% in the 2020-21 academic year and have increased by 23.5% since 2015-16.  

There were many indications that the future of the Kentucky workforce is bright, including an increase in the number of undergraduate degrees among underrepresented minority students as well as the number of students earning undergraduate degrees in STEM+H fields.

This progress is a tribute to the resiliency of our students and the dedication of our campuses to providing a high-quality education under any circumstances. It is also thanks to our state leaders, whose commitment to higher education did not falter in the face of an extraordinary strain on their time and resources.

I am grateful to be a part of such a strong and devoted higher education community. Your work is changing the lives of Kentuckians and the future of our economy. CPE is always here to support you.  

I hope you take some time this holiday season to enjoy your friends and family and get some well-deserved rest. I look forward to going into 2022 re-energized and ready to carry on this important work with you.  

Thompson signature
Aaron Thompson, Ph.D.
President

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Last Updated: 12/7/2021