The Northeast and Midwest: Advancing the Public College and University Mission Amid Regional Population Loss

Demographic changes in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest continue to capture national headlines, as colleges and universities compete for ever-shrinking numbers of in-state students. For public colleges and universities leaders, particularly in the rural Northeast and the Midwest, substantial population loss threatens the ability of these campuses to recruit enough students to advance their mission and drive regional development. Campus leaders need to be innovative and strategic as they seek to attract students and build a sustainable institution for the next generation.


The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) co-hosted a webinar exploring the changing demographics of the Northeast and Midwest from the perspective of higher education. WICHE’s Knocking at the College Door projections of high school graduates provide a view of the changing demographics in these two regions. The presidents of Northern Michigan University and the University of Southern Maine discuss their strategies for advancing the public college and university mission in regions marked by precipitous declines in the number of high school graduates.