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LEADING QUESTIONS: Education guru's back-to-school advice

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Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” where  IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about their industry and the habits that lead to success.

Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education, knows firsthand the sacrifices and hard work necessary for some working-class families to send their children to college. His mother went back to work to help send Merisotis and his three siblings to school. Attending Bates College in Maine, Merisotis cobbled together a mix of grants, scholarships, student loans and part-time jobs (including delivering newspapers at 4 a.m.) to finance his education.

"It wasn't easy," said Merisotis, 46. "And the challenge for paying for college has gotten worse instead of better."

The goal of Lumina Foundation is to increase the percentage of Americans receiving high-quality degrees and credentials from 40 percent to 60 percent in the next 15 years. Rather than give money directly to students, the foundation uses proceeds from its $1.1 billion endowment to help fund education programs that further its goal, to encourage effective public policy, and to build public support for change. In the video below, Merisotis describes how an early work experience ignited his passion for helping more students enroll and graduate from college, and provides advice for keeping students engaged once they arrive on campus.



Like those of many private foundations, Lumina's endowment took a major hit during the recession, dropping from a recent high of $1.4 billion to as low as $900 million. Despite the decrease and subsequent cost-cutting measures, Lumina avoided laying off any of its 40-some staff members. In the video below, Merisotis describes why maintaining human capital was the group's top priority.



 

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  • Thanks
    Thanks, Mason, for delivering my favorite portion of the IBJ webpage! Another inspiring leader we can all learn from.

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  1. Liberals do not understand that marriage is not about a law or a right ... it is a rite of religous faith. Liberals want "legal" recognition of their homosexual relationship ... which is OK by me ... but it will never be classified as a marriage because marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. You can gain / obtain legal recognition / status ... but most people will not acknowledge that 2 people of the same sex are married. It's not really possible as long as marriage is defined as one man and one woman.

  2. That second phrase, "...nor make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunitites of citizens..." is the one. If you can't understand that you lack a fundamental understanding of the Constitution and I can't help you. You're blind with prejudice.

  3. Why do you conservatives always go to the marrying father/daughter, man/animal thing? And why should I keep my sexuality to myself? I see straights kissy facing in public all the time.

  4. I just read the XIV Amendment ... I read where no State shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property ... nor make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunitites of citizens ... I didn't see anything in it regarding the re-definition of marriage.

  5. I worked for Community Health Network and the reason that senior leadership left is because they were not in agreement with the way the hospital was being ran, how employees were being treated, and most of all how the focus on patient care was nothing more than a poster to stand behind. Hiring these analyst to come out and tell people who have done the job for years that it is all being done wrong now...hint, hint, get rid of employees by calling it "restructuring" is a cheap and easy way out of taking ownership. Indiana is an "at-will" state, so there doesn't have to be a "reason" for dismissal of employment. I have seen former employees that went through this process lose their homes, cars, faith...it is very disturbing. The patient's as well have seen less than disireable care. It all comes full circle.

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