CIC Presidents and New York Times Journalists Discuss Immigration, Politics Related to Higher Ed

Front view of New York Times building
Photograph by Ajay Suresh, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

As part of the CIC/New York Times Partnership in Education, the Presidents Council meets annually for a frank exchange about issues related to the media and higher education. On October 15, 20 presidents of CIC member institutions engaged in thoughtful discussion with reporters from the New York Times. Presidents and reporters both value this opportunity. As Anemona Hartocollis, national education reporter for the Times, noted, she could never afford the time to travel around the country to have one-on-one conversations with so many leading college presidents.

This year’s higher education news stimulated a discussion on many topics, moderated by John Knapp, president of Washington and Jefferson College (PA) and chair of the 2019 Presidents Council.

Caitlin Dickerson, national immigration reporter at the Times, sparked extensive discussion of the impact of recent administrative actions on international students, international faculty, and enrolled students with undocumented status. Several presidents emphasized the essential importance of international exchange and the movement of scholars and students across borders for American leadership in knowledge creation. They encouraged the journalists to examine intellectual leadership as a national strategic priority.

Knapp asked the reporters what issues related to higher education they expect will gain prominence in the upcoming presidential campaigns. Unsurprisingly, “free college” proposals, student debt, and the cost of higher education were all mentioned as likely to receive increased coverage.

Responding to questions from the journalists, presidents emphasized the relationship between rising costs and the increased needs for programming and services to support student success, especially as students with more diverse needs are entering college. Reporters noted that these same pressures on student services were affecting K–12 education as well. Finally, discussion turned to the implications of U.S. Department of Justice “Overlap Group” action more than 25 years ago, which led to today’s reliance on merit aid as a recruiting tool.

During the meeting, Danny Anderson, president of Trinity University (TX), was elected chair of the 2020 CIC/New York Times Partnership Presidents Council.

For more information about the CIC/New York Times Partnership, email Jo Ellen Parker, CIC vice president for communications (, or Kandace Rusnak, Times national education director (