Terry Leas reflects on higher education career

Picture of Terry Leas

By Cheryl Schweizer, Columbia Basin Herald

MOSES LAKE — Terry Leas said a lot has changed during his 39-year career in higher education, and many of those changes have been for the better.

Leas, 70, retired as BBCC president in early August. His successor, Sara Thompson Tweedy, took over the job Aug. 17.

His first job in higher education was in 1981, and at that time colleges measured themselves by what was available to students, such as the amount of money the college spent per student, and how that translated into equipment and resources. “How many books do you have in the library? Things like that,” he said.

Those can be important indicators, he said, but now colleges are also evaluating themselves by looking at what students are doing. “What is the success of the students?” he said.

Now colleges are looking at whether students stick with college or drop out, whether they graduate, whether they get a job. “So it’s no longer how many books do you have in the library, it is, for the books you have in the library, how are students being successful? That’s been the shift over the decades I’ve been in education.

“And I think that is much more healthy,” he said. “Why do we have these colleges and universities? Well, it’s to help people achieve their educational goals, their career goals, and that’s where we should be measuring success, is by how well students do,” he said.

To read the full story, visit the Columbia Basin Herald website.

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