Higher Education: The Great Equalizer?

Monday, January 13, 2020 5:30-7:30 pm
Area 23, 254 North State Street, Concord


On Monday, January 13, we began a community conversation about the cost of higher education. With student debt, contingent faculty, rising tuition, admissions scandals, and low unemployment rates, is a college education still worth it? Let’s discuss the value of a degree in the humanities and explore alternatives to the classic liberal arts education. Does higher education still have the power to fix social and economic inequality? We will assess the current academic landscape in New Hampshire and the future of higher education.

Suggested reading:

Why Are So Many Students Leaving NH for College: Cost is a Big Reason, NHPR
Tuition or Dinner? Nearly Half of College Students Surveyed in a New Report Are Going Hungry, The New York Times
The Decline of the 'Great Equalizer', The Atlantic 



Dr. Larissa Baía brings over 18 years of higher education experience to her work as President of Lakes Region Community College. She began working at LRCC in July of 2012 as Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment Management. Prior to LRCC, she worked in higher education administration at both private and public institutions. Dr. Baía has also been an adjunct instructor in Comparative Politics and International Relations. Dr. Baía serves on variety of committees and boards, including the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Belknap Economic Development Council and the Granite United Way. Some of her professional interests are in the areas of student success, equity and inclusion, immigrant and refugee advocacy and internationalization of the curriculum. Dr. Baía received a B.A. in Economics with a minor in Latin American Studies from Brandeis University, an M.A. in Latin American Studies and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Florida.

Dr. Jasmeial “Jazz” Jackson has served as Associate Dean of First Year Experience, Retention, and Special Programs at Southern New Hampshire University since 2016. In this role, Dr. Jackson is a collaborative partner with every institutional division, ensuring a holistic, intentional student experience that equips learners with the knowledge and skills they need to successfully transition to college work and achieve their academic goals. He works on strategic teams across the university to coordinate college-wide retention initiatives. He lives by a quote by Mahatma Gandhi “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Dr. Marcia Schmidt Blaine is Executive Director of Government Relations and Special Projects at Plymouth State University and has been thinking deeply about the value of higher education in general and public higher education specifically for many years. As a historian, Blaine comes to this conversation from a humanist’s point of view. Blaine holds a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. in history from the University of New Hampshire. She was a Fellow with the American Council on Education for the 2015-2016 academic year. She also served as the Executive Director of the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State.

Rachel Avery is a history and English undergraduate in her final semester at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. She works on campus in the Office of Student Engagement as the Student Program Director and Peer Assistant Leader. Rachel also researches college food insecurity, and helped create a food pantry on campus. This past fall she interned at New Hampshire Humanities and traveled statewide to evaluate public history programming.


Dr. Tricia Peone, Public Programs Director, New Hampshire Humanities, runs the Humanities to Go, Humanities@Work, Ideas on Tap, and podcast programs. She holds a Ph.D. from UNH in early American history with a specialization in the history of science. She is a proud community college graduate, and earned a BS and MA in history from SUNY Brockport. Before joining New Hampshire Humanities in 2018, Tricia taught courses on New England history as an adjunct professor and worked as a historical consultant in the cultural resources industry. She is an expert on the history of magic and the occult from the Renaissance to today. She enjoys paying the minimum every month on her student loans, and remains cautiously optimistic about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

Some of the questions we posed:

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