The Wright choice

The pressure is on for Dayton’s new director of higher education.

by Daily Editorial Board

The appointment of Sheila Wright as the director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education comes during a tempestuous time for higher education, but students should be at ease with her credentials, which make her a promising new leader for higher education.
The Office of Higher Education helps make financing a postsecondary education easier for students through financial aid programs and need-based grants. For example, $118 million in SELF Loans was given to 23,000 students in fiscal year 2010 and SELF is just one of the 529 college savings programs the office oversees. It also serves to guide where the state needs to go in terms of education: It collects data, researches and analyzes issues like college enrollment and finance.
As state Republicans eye closing MinnesotaâÄôs deficit by slashing the higher education budget, WrightâÄôs experience at a mix of public and private universities âÄî Carleton College, Minnesota State University-Mankato and Hamline University âÄî qualifies her to make effective decisions in the hostile political environment.
Gov. Mark Dayton touted WrightâÄôs âÄúnationally recognized leadership in education,âÄù and Wright said âÄúgiving [Minnesota] residents the best and most affordable higher education is the best way to ensure future prosperity and economic success for our entire state.âÄù
This is promising, and we hope her actions in office live up to those comments. Higher education is in crisis at the moment: Students are deeply in debt, and the institutions themselves are being forced to make large cuts. We think Wright has the skill set and experience to make higher education in Minnesota both better and more affordable.