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From First-Generation Student to College President

Episode 27

September 22, 2020 38 minutes


Broward College President Gregory Haile joins EAB’s Sally Amoruso to discuss his unlikely path to higher education leadership.

Despite growing up in New York City at the height of the crack epidemic, Mr. Haile persevered, went to college and law school before being named Broward College president in 2018. Gregory and Sally also discuss “Broward Up,” an innovative effort that breaks from the “campus-bound” college model by bringing free classes and credentialing programs directly to students living in some of the poorest communities in Florida.

Finally, Gregory and Sally acknowledge the importance of building relationships with community organizations that can help build a bridge between campus and students who want to learn but need help overcoming technology, time, and transportation challenges.

Education leaders everywhere are making fast, difficult, and bold decisions. This podcast episode is part of our Leadership Voices series, where we spotlight leaders who are meeting extraordinary challenges with vision and courage.


00:13 Matt Pellish: From EAB, this is Matt Pellish, and this is Office Hours. In many of our past episodes, we’ve talked about the many transactional questions for higher ed. How do we bring students back to campus? How do we test? How do we contact trace? What’s the reach, the impact of CARES funding? This week, we’re gonna run at the heart of a larger question about the value of higher education and its role in communities and society. On today’s episode, Sally Amoruso talks with Broward College President Gregory Haile about his unlikely path to a college presidency. His experience growing up in a rough neighborhood in Queens right at the height of the crack epidemic gave him a different vision for higher education that transcends the campus-bound model, plays more of an impactful role in communities. They’ll talk more about Mr. Haile’s experience since taking up the role of president in 2018, along with Broward UP, a program for bringing classes, credentialing programs, directly to students in the poorest communities in Florida for free. Thanks for listening, and welcome to Office Hours with EAB.


01:17 Sally Amoruso: Hello, everyone. I’m Sally Amoruso, Chief Partner Officer at EAB, and I am joined today by the president of Broward College, Gregory Haile. President Haile, welcome to EAB Leadership Voices.

01:29 Gregory Haile: Sally, thank you so much for having me. It is an absolute privilege to be here.

01:32 SA: Oh, we are thrilled to have you. And I wanted to start our conversation today going back a little bit because I think your path to higher ed was, let’s say somewhat unlikely given your childhood circumstances, so I was hoping you could tell us all a little bit about your own background, your early education, and how and where you decided to go to undergrad.

01:55 GH: Sure, yeah, thank you for asking. So I think it’s fair to call it somewhat unlikely. I call it somewhat fortuitous quite often. I live in beautiful South Florida now, but I actually grew up in South Jamaica, Queens in New York in the mid-80s through the early 90s, and unfortunately, the neighborhood that I grew up in was not a very stellar neighborhood. It’s not one that, frankly, I’d wish my children to grow up in. It was during the height of the crack epidemic, and just to paint a little bit of a picture for you on my home, I had bars on every single window. Growing up, I had a bullet come through my living room window. If you looked directly across the street from my home, you would readily see drugs being sold and other kinds of crimes occurring, and unfortunately I lost friends both to the left and right of my home.

02:49 GH: So it was a very challenging environment to grow up in, and one of the things that I think was most pivotal for me, although unbeknownst to my mother and certainly not me at the time, is that when I was in third grade, my mother lied about my address so I could go to school in a better neighborhood. And so what I would do is I would go every day and get on a bus for about 45 minutes, get off the bus, and walk for another 15 minutes before I would arrive at my elementary school. And my mother was able to do that because she essentially lied about my address.

03:25 GH: And… But I continued to go to that school through elementary school and through middle school, and when I speak of fortuitous moments, probably the most fortuitous among them is when I was in the sixth grade in 1989. And I was preparing to graduate from elementary school and I talked to a friend who lived in the neighborhood where I was going to school, and I said to that friend, “Isn’t this amazing? We’re going to be the last class of the decade.” And he immediately without hesitation says to me, “No, we’re going to be the last class of the millennium because we’re going to graduate college in 1999.” And that, unwittingly to him, happened to be the first time that I ever learned the word “college.”

04:13 SA: The first time you learned the word “college,” you were in sixth grade.

04:15 GH: The first time, the first time. And so when I think about that, I think not just about the fact that I was learning about it in sixth grade by chance, but I was learning the word and hearing it for the first time from someone who was my age in the sixth grade and knew exactly what year he was going to graduate. And that chasm of understanding the opportunities that lie before us has been something that I think about every day in terms of the students that we serve at Broward College and the work that we do.

04:53 GH: Now, my mother was able to perpetuate this false address narrative through middle school, and so I continued to go to middle school in that neighborhood, and then eventually, when I was looking to go to high school, she could no longer perpetuate that narrative. And she tried incredibly hard. I’ll tell you, she would go to her boss, she worked at the post office for 30-plus years, she sorted mail, and one of the things that she would do is go to her employer and say, “Do you know anyone who lives in this neighborhood, because I’d love to be able to use that address instead of my own.” Unfortunately, I ended up going to the school that was in my neighborhood. The school that I ended up going to in my neighborhood that I was zoned for at the time had the highest HIV rate in the community. It had the highest teen pregnancy rate and was among 40 schools that were chosen to be the first cohort of schools in New York City that would require metal detectors. And so that’s where I was going to go to school, and it was one of those things where once we realized that there was no escaping this reality, my mother made it crystal clear to me, she said, “You’re going to go there, and you are going to survive there, and if you survive there, you’ll be able to survive anywhere.” And she said it without any hesitation, and I appreciate her to this day for doing that.

06:19 GH: Now, I went there, obviously ended up graduating, and I graduated with a 2.7 GPA and in the top 15% of my class. And at that time, I had no idea of the incongruity of those numbers. Very few of us went to some form of post-secondary education, we didn’t talk about post-secondary education, and I continue to reflect on the reality that my first engagement with the word college was a matter of luck. And so that was an experience, frankly, that, again, was very important to the experience that I have today in terms of helping me think about why I do this work on a day-to-day basis, the importance of this work, and again, that chasm that exists between opportunity and talent, and even expectation and talent, continues to be pretty significant. So you asked where I went to school, I ended up going to Arizona State University. And I actually go to Arizona State University, 3000 miles from my home, site unseen.

07:28 SA: You hadn’t visited?

07:29 GH: I had never visited the institution. I didn’t know you were supposed to do that. I didn’t know… So as I mentioned, my mother hadn’t graduated from college, I was actually going to be the first person in my family to go to and graduate from college. I have a very large family of about 130 cousins, if you can believe that.

07:47 SA: Wow.

07:48 GH: But I didn’t have anyone in my family to call and say, “I’m applying to school. What am I supposed to do?”

07:54 SA: Right.

07:54 GH: I didn’t have a counselor tell me that you should probably visit first before you traverse the other side of the country. So I show up to ASU, site unseen, and one of the greatest surprises that I have is that there are no metal detectors at Arizona State University. And you’d be surprised to know how uncomfortable that actually made me feel. I was used to going to my high school where I had to go through metal detectors every single day, these things were so common place to me in terms of how we created safety, and then I show up at a place where there are no metal detectors, and I’m not quite sure how to feel comfortable in that environment. I go to Arizona State University, I start there, and I’m trying to figure out what courses to take, and I learn for the first time that I’m going to need remedial education, which I didn’t know what that was. Obviously, we know what that is, but I didn’t know what it was at the time, and so I said, “Okay, I need remedial education, I’ll do that.” And I didn’t conceptualize the idea that I wasn’t college ready for certain courses. But I had graduated from high school, I’d applied to college and got in, yet there were certain elements of my preparation that were lacking.

09:13 SA: Can we pause on that for a moment?

09:14 GH: Sure.

09:14 SA: Because you mentioned that you were in the top 15% of your class…

09:18 GH: Yeah.

09:19 SA: And so this concept that something was lacking academically probably hadn’t occurred to you in a big way, and yet you arrive at college, and this concept of remedial education is presented to you. How did you receive that as a student, particularly as a first-generation student?

09:39 GH: So when I think about high school, one of the things is, I didn’t really think much about the class ranking that I had, frankly, I didn’t even think much about my GPA. Unfortunately, much of what I thought about was getting home safely. So when I went to Arizona State University, part of the reality of learning that I needed remedial education was, I wasn’t offended by it because I wasn’t very surprised by it. I remember being told by a teacher in high school that if I ever made it to college, I would never survive. Now, that may sound like a harsh story, but that story is being told all over this country…

10:18 SA: Yes.

10:18 GH: Particularly from individuals who are coming from low income neighborhoods, often individuals of color where the expectation isn’t nearly as great as it should be. So when I was told that I was behind, again, I wasn’t offended by it. It was, to some extent, in line with what others have said and others have not said. I was not told that you’re going to be a star in college, that you’re gonna have a great career, that you’re going to be a great success. Those weren’t things that permeated the conversations that I had. And those are, as we know in higher education, those are difference-making conversations, but I didn’t have them. So Sally, unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you that it really struck me as odd or any particular challenge, but somewhat in line with my previous experiences.

11:05 SA: And yet you do become a superior student, you go on to one of the most rigorous and elite law schools in the country. How does that transformation happen?

11:18 GH: Well, it was challenging because I did not understand the fundamentals of being a very good student. It wasn’t something, again, that I had prioritized. And so I remember my first year as an undergrad, my first semester in particular, I did not perform well. I did call my parents and tell them that I thought this wasn’t the right place for me, but I did stick it out. And one of the things… I’ll tell you two stories. Because I did not know the fundamentals of being a quality student, but I had the will and the desire to be a quality student. I was willing to try anything.

12:00 SA: Yes.

12:01 GH: And so one of the things that I tried is I remember reading an article, and unfortunately, I’ll never be able to cite the source, ’cause I don’t recall it, but the article suggested that if you… Whatever you take in one hour before you go to sleep at night, you’re very likely to remember. Now, no one taught me how to study. So I heard that and that translated into an action that involved me reading for an hour before I went to bed, and I would set my alarm so I would wake up an hour later, and then I’d read for an hour, and then I’d sleep for an hour, and then I’d read for an hour, and I’d sleep for an hour. And I did that for a semester, because that’s what I thought would be the most effective way to actually learn and retain that one piece of information. This is what it means, where you don’t really have a lot of folks that you feel like you can call on.

13:00 GH: Now, I will tell you, my grades did improve, but for any students in particular who are listening, I do not recommend the behavior in any way whatsoever. But it was, I think, indicative of just an interest in trying to accomplish something that I’d never accomplished before. Trying to learn just something as simple… It wasn’t about trying to get straight As at the time, it was just as simple as, how do I do this as a student? Now, eventually I did learn to have those conversations. I had conversations with friends, I had conversations with faculty members and advisors, and they were incredible to me.

13:35 GH: And the second story I’ll tell you is that I had a professor at Arizona State University who made a tremendous impact on me, and it didn’t take much for him to do it. We were… I was taking this course, and my major was Justice Studies, it was a Justice Studies course, and he pulled me aside one day, and he was known to be kind of a very gruff, challenging, demanding professor. And he actually pulled me aside one day after class and he said, “I just wanna tell you that I think that you’re the best student that I’ve ever had.”

14:12 SA: Wow.

14:14 GH: And…

14:15 SA: He saw something in you, and he shared that with you and that was meaningful.

14:19 GH: It was. It was incredibly powerful for me, because he gave me a perspective that I had yet to attain of myself, and when he did that, he validated my existence. And I think about that routinely because, again, when you have a high level of discomfort in an environment because it is new to you, and maybe it’s not new to you and it even maybe feels unnatural to you, and a professor says something like that to you, and says something like that to me, it changed everything. So there were a lot of pillars that were built upon those engagements, but fundamentally, once they helped change my mindset about what was possible, then I became far more self-determinate on what my future could hold, and that made a tremendous difference in my life.

15:18 SA: I hope any professors out there listening take this to heart, that that comment to a student, or a coach making a comment to a player, it is so much more meaningful than it might seem in the moment. I think we all carry those comments around, those meaningful interactions with adults who believed in us at a time when perhaps we didn’t believe in ourselves. You mentioned that your family was of modest means. How did they fund your education?

15:49 GH: Yeah, that’s a great question, actually. So when I went to school, I didn’t know about, frankly, pursuing scholarships or financial aid, and so what my parents first did was they took out a private student loan for me. That was the first thing that happened. And I did not, unfortunately, get grants my first year or anything along those lines, and my mother, who made about $30,000 a year, took out… I remember, I think the max then was maybe an $18,000 a year loan out of the private sector. Now, interestingly enough, I actually, as I was looking for a job… I worked throughout undergrad, and I was looking for a job, and I actually got a job in financial aid. So my first job in higher education was actually working in financial aid at Arizona State University. And so one of the… I owe that group so much gratitude, not only did they hire me, but they looked at my finances and they said, “You should be getting grants.”

16:55 SA: How fortuitous, oh my goodness.

16:58 GH: Yeah, and so I… From then on, I became a Pell Grant recipient and they found grants for me to support. Now, I still ended up taking out my own private sector loans, student loans, but that was just another example of how people were looking out for me and finding ways to help facilitate my trajectory. But yeah, it was… I did end up, frankly, between undergrad and law school, taking out a good amount of loans. I did get a scholarship to go to law school. But yes, I decided that I would take on the debt that came with what I believed to be the success that would follow just by virtue of having a post-secondary education. Again, I can’t tell you that I ran all the traps, but I did recognize that this would be a way out of my previous existence.

17:46 SA: Sure. And so, you go from being a first-generation student with a 2.7 GPA arriving on campus to then progressing through Arizona State to corporate litigator. Tell us a little bit about that path and then how you moved from corporate litigation to higher ed.

18:09 GH: I spent about eight years as a corporate litigator, and I spent a lot of time serving the community in a number of different ways. Serving on corporate boards, volunteering, etcetera. And the life of a corporate litigator is not a lenient life, for those who know. So I spent many hours doing what I call my traditional work as a litigator, but also engage in the community. And I remember pulling a colleague aside, probably in about my seventh year, and surely, I had been supported by so many folks with the things that I was doing in the community. And I… We had lunch together and I said… He was someone I trusted dearly, and I started to talk to him about my interest in focusing on one thing. If there was one thing that I would focus my energies on, what would it be? And without question, and perhaps this will be obvious to you now, but it was engaging in the work that has made the greatest possible difference in my life. It was working in education, and in particular higher education.

19:16 GH: Now, I’ll be honest, I had no necessarily thought about Broward College at the time or what role or how it would translate, but I knew that the experiences that I had meant enough to me to share my interest with others and look towards how would I engage in the opportunity, should it come to make the greatest difference in the lives of others, and I knew that this would be the space for that.

19:45 SA: And you say that you didn’t know of Broward College at the time, but the mission of Broward College is so aligned to your aspiration to focus on the things that have made a difference in your life. Can you you talk a little bit about the mission, the demographic profile of the student body?

20:01 GH: Sure. Yeah, I knew of the college at the time, I just hadn’t perceived that it would be the entry way to engaging in the work of my dreams, to be frank. But the college is extraordinary. We have about 63,000 students. It’s been routinely recognized by the Aspen Institute for its excellence, and many others. But probably most saliently, we have just such an incredible student body. We have students who are primarily first-generation college students who are hungry and trying to make a difference in their lives. More than half of our students are Pell Grant recipients, just like I was, and trying to make a difference in their lives. We have over 150 countries of origin represented among our student body. We have 50 different languages spoken among our student body.

20:51 GH: It is a very diverse institution with 35 plus percent of our students being Hispanic, 25 plus percent of our students being Black. We have a community that embraces diversity, they embrace excellence. We have faculty and colleagues who know who our students are, and are doing everything possible to make the greatest difference possible in the lives of our students. And it’s been clearly an interesting time for us to be tested in terms of our resolve for continuing to make the greatest difference possible in the lives of our students and our community, and I couldn’t be more grateful to a part of it.

21:35 SA: You can hear the pride in your voice about this institution, which I love. And we spoke during the midst of COVID hitting, and you talked about how you had to demonstrate that resilience in continuing to serve your students. Can you talk a little bit about how the institution stepped up in that moment?

21:54 GH: Yeah, they’ve done an incredible job. So I’ve mentioned the size of our institution, 63,000 students, that translates into over 3,500 core sections for our students. So we made the decision pretty early that we would move to a remote environment. Pretty early, being early March, for Florida anyway. And there has been nothing but incredible focus, a shared understanding of what the priorities were and how we would try to move in the best direction possible for our students. So that actually included finding some time early on to survey our students and get a sense from them of how they would respond to a remote environment. Are they comfortable? Do they have the technology infrastructure? If there are challenges, are these challenges that we can overcome collectively? And we did the same of our faculty and personnel. The overwhelming majority understood the challenges and said, “The only concern I have is, am I going to be able to culturate to a remote environment or an online environment?” And we’ve been able to do that, and it is without question, because of the work of our faculty and staff and their ability to do that and the persistence of our students.

23:03 GH: When I think about, empirically, what does this look like? We… On the whole, our students have performed just as well in the COVID environment as they did pre-COVID, and in some categories they performed even better than they have over the last year or two. And so we’ve seen the persistence and grit and strength of our students. And we had great academic continuity through the summer, and we continue to move forward in the fall. And I continue to think about, “What does it look like to be better because of this?” And one of the ways that we know we’re going to be better because of this is because now we have folks who have acclimated to this remote environment, both from a student and from a faculty and staff perspective.

23:44 GH: Those who may have been reticent before understand, not only is it a viable way and successful way, but it may be a better opportunity for students to learn things that they otherwise wouldn’t learn by being in a remote environment. Now we’re seeing how this translates into a work life and how those who’ve been able to move into a remote environment have a better chance of maintaining their careers, maintaining their employment and continuing to pursue their success. That otherwise may not have been viable. If I would have told our team on January, 1st and there was no COVID, that we’re gonna go remote in a week, we know that that wouldn’t have happened.

24:20 GH: But now we’re also looking at things such as… We know that we’re gonna have significantly more online degree programs that we will be able to offer to our students. We know that we’ll have significantly more programs that don’t require any textbooks in order to pursue their degrees. Those are cost-saving measures, those are ways to expand access and opportunity. So it has been more than just for keeping the wheels turning, if you will. It has truly been about, “How do we materially get better at who we are in providing the ultimate service?” And that is equitable opportunity for academic success ad a great job thereafter.

25:00 SA: That’s a great way to look at the silver linings of this challenging time. But to be fair, you have been pushing the business model of higher ed for a while, and I wanna explore Broward UP, which you’ve noted is not a program, it’s not an initiative, it’s actually a re-imagining of the construct of education and releasing it from a campus-bound construct, if you will. Can you talk a little bit about Broward UP and how it accomplishes that?

25:31 GH: For sure. Sally, when I started pursuing this role as the president now, I guess just under three years ago, one of the things that I was talking to our board and the community about is the importance of engaging the community in ways that we hadn’t historically, and perhaps even in ways that we hadn’t seen before. I harken back to a critically important data point. I’m sure you’re familiar, maybe some of your audience members are familiar, but 50 years ago, the bottom quartile of income earners had about 6% of their kids graduating from college, and the top quartile had approximately 40% of their children graduating from college. And you fast-forward to today, the top quartile has gone from 40% of their kids graduated from college to 77% of their children graduating from college, and the bottom quartile has gone from 6% of their children graduating from college over 50 years to a mere 9%.

26:38 GH: And so essentially, we’ve seen tremendous and valuable growth for the highest earners, but we’ve seen inertia from those who are the lowest earners. And in the role that I live in, in the role at Broward College lives in and many other state or community colleges live in, that number, that data has to be deemed important. It should by all of us, in my view, in higher ed. But the question, and it may be, but the question is, how do we actually resolve it knowing that there’s 50 years of data that tells us that correction is required? So what we decided to do was to actually penetrate those communities that need us most. We identified six ZIP codes in Broward County.

27:22 GH: Now, Broward County, for those who need perspective, it has about 2.1 million people. We have 31 municipalities, 32 if you include our county, and seven months ago, Broward County had a 2.5% unemployment rate, which was a historic low, much like our country was in. But if you took a deeper dive, you would quickly find that there were ZIP codes with 10, 12, 15-plus percent unemployment. The corollary for those ZIP codes is that with those high unemployment rates, there were very low post-secondary attainment rates. Many of those individuals don’t have the vehicles to get to our campuses, many of them don’t have the public transportation available, many of them don’t have the technology infrastructure, and many of them may be single parents who are doing incredible work in terms of raising their children, in terms of managing two jobs, and whatever other challenges are being thrown at them, many of which most of us could never fathom.

28:23 GH: And so the question is, if we wanna make the greatest difference in their lives, do I expect them to take two buses on top of what they have to do? Do I expect them to find the resources for technology? Or as an individual, as an institution that believes it’s critical to engage those communities, do we go, absorb some of those challenges for them and provide post-secondary attainment? So the operationalization of this has probably been what’s most critical, and I can’t take credit for. This is what our college has done and our colleagues have done incredibly well.

28:53 GH: When I started this conversation, the first thing people would say to me is, “Well, what does that mean? Are you going to put buildings in these communities? And if you’re going to do that, well, how are you going to find the resources to do that?” And it has been through a process of incredible collaboration among non-profits, among our municipalities, that we’ve reached out to organizations and they’ve embraced us. A very simple example. We’ve looked at the heart of those most challenged communities and found non-profit organizations or municipalities and said, “What we wanna do is we wanna provide post-secondary opportunity in the heart of this community which needs us most. You have a vision and mission that’s similar to ours. Would you provide us with a space by which we could provide the post-secondary opportunity?” And this space would have the technology infrastructure, it would be in the heart of those communities, so you don’t have the transportation challenges, and because it’s in the heart, you don’t have to worry about the time constraints that often would be involved for someone who, again, might be working multiple jobs and have other obligations. So time, technology, and transportation all being resolved simply by providing stable post-secondary opportunity in these communities.

30:07 GH: And I come back to the story I told you earlier. I found out the word “college” by way of a very fickle circumstance. My children, however, have known the word “college” since the day that they were born. They will never remember learning that word. What we have to engage in is ensuring that every community, particularly those we know need us most, grow up in environments where college is a clearly and obvious and available option for them. Starting as children, to be perceptive of it and to aim towards it, or if they’re an adult, to know that in the heart of their own neighborhood, if they wanna take courses or programming to upskill, that they don’t have to take a journey to do it. It is in the heart of their own community. And one of the things that I’ll share is when we started this journey, if I showed you a map and showed you where Broward College’s 11 sites were in relation to the six ZIP codes where we needed to be, you would find nearly zero overlap. In two years, we have added more than 15 different locations in the heart of those communities that need us most. We have smothered them, with the goal of making it impossible for anyone growing up, even in the most challenged community, not to realize the opportunity to attain a post-secondary education.

31:35 GH: We know nearly every economist in the world will tell us that the higher your post-secondary attainment is, the higher your salary is, the more likely you are to live longer, the more likely you are to have savings during difficult times, the more likely you are to have a job during difficult times, and if you end up without a job, the less likely you are to stay unemployed, the less likely you are to go to prison. Nearly every metric is tied back to educational attainment. So as we think about trying to address these challenges and these issues and we think frankly about where some of these challenges are seeing the most exposure, particularly as we can look at the pandemic and who’s being affected to the greatest extent, I ask all of us to think about how do we provide post-secondary opportunity in a tangible way, in a consistent way. Not bouncing in and out of communities, but to live in those communities that need us most so that we can provide the opportunity and avail it in the way that’s most… That will provide the most viable options.

32:39 SA: But there were many skeptics when you were starting out this effort, particularly around the viability, finding space, and you really embraced this idea of community partnerships, and you talked about partnering with municipalities and also some not-for-profit institutions. Can you talk about one of them in particular? I know many of our listeners are thinking about partnerships in more innovative ways these days, and I think you have some great examples.

33:10 GH: Yeah, I’ll try to think of examples that might be applicable around the country. Our first partnership was with the Urban League, which of course has a national presence and a mission in terms of uplifting communities and often communities of color, and we partnered with them and their facilities. They provided space to us at no cost to us and we provide the post-secondary opportunity. Another really important partnership, I’ll share two more, is the Big Brothers… Excuse me, the Boys and Girls Club. If you know the Boys and Girls Club, you know that they are usually strategically placed in the communities that need them most. And I remember talking to the local CEO and I said, “We really need to be in your space.” And they said that they’re completely booked. I said, “When are you booked?” They said, “8:00 to 6:00.” I said, “How about we teach classes from 7:00 to 10:00?” And they said, “Done.”

34:00 GH: Another fantastic organizational model that we have is with what’s called the Jack and Jill Children’s Center. Now, this is a local enterprise, but there are these types of centers all over the country where they have a multi-generational impact model. They want to help the child with early learning, but of course, they wanna help the parent who is often a single parent. So what we did with the Children’s Center is we actually bring post-secondary education to the center so that the child has exposure, and then while the child is being educated by the center, we’re contemporaneously educating the parent, who now has been relieved of the child care, I’ll call it a hurdle, and now contemporaneously is getting a post-secondary education. And these models have a different look to them, each way.

34:47 GH: Among our partners is also the Broward County Library System. There’s probably not a library in America that is not under-utilized to some extent. And you think about these libraries that have the technology infrastructure, they have the space, they almost perfectly replicate a classroom environment, and again, many of them are under-utilized, and we’ve decided to partner with our local library system, and that has been an outstanding opportunity. Again, with the recognition that we have 31 cities and 37 libraries, a library in at least each one of our cities. And again, none of this is beholden to the community that I represent. This is the kind of opportunity that certainly can be leveraged throughout the United States.

35:31 SA: And coincidentally, during COVID, these are the communities that have been hit the hardest in terms of unemployment, in terms of healthcare issues, and so your Broward UP is actually helping to drive regional recovery there as well, by upskilling and educating.

35:49 GH: Yeah, Sally, we try to tell the truth about what’s going on in our communities and those we’re trying to serve most. We know that our local unemployment rate in Broward County is about 10 plus percent. We’re trying to pin this data down, but we speculate in light of the fact that there was a three-fold increase, three to four-fold increase prior to the pandemic, we expect there to be about a three to four-fold increase, which means that we have ZIP codes with 30 to 40 plus percent unemployment. So yes, the engagement now is about re-tooling and making sure that folks are aware of the opportunities that we believe to be post-COVID, if you will. We know that businesses that have laid off or terminated employees, they’re going to look different, their needs are going to be different, and contemporaneously, we as an institution of higher ed, have to be ready to train those for those different opportunities that will be there.

36:49 GH: I can’t trust that the individuals will know it for themselves, part of our job is to be the bridge between the opportunity that employers will provide and the needs that can be satisfied by individuals who right now may not know where their next meal is coming from. But we want them to be self-sufficient, we want them to be tooled so that the opportunities that do come, they’re well prepared for. And the work at Broward UP, UP standing for unlimited potential, because we recognize the unlimited potential of everyone who’s a resident of our community, regardless of their ZIP code, regardless of their challenges, this is about ensuring that the opportunity still can be yielded by those who otherwise may not have it.

37:25 SA: Thank you. President Haile, thank you for your time today. Thank you for this amazing work that you and Broward College are doing. This is how we change the narrative around higher ed. I’m so pleased that you were here to share it with our listeners.

37:37 GH: And this was an absolute honor. Thank you so much for having me, I truly appreciate it.


37:47 MP: Thanks again for listening. Join us next week when we jump across the pond, so to speak, we’re gonna discuss the differences in how the US, and European, and UK higher education systems responded to the Coronavirus, including what each region is doing well or poorly, and what they can learn from each other. Until next week, I’m Matt Pellish for Office Hours, with EAB.


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