APU Welcomes General Counsel and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education

by Shannon Linton '07

APU welcomed Kent Talbert, General Counsel and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, to campus July 18 to engage in discussion on current education policy initiatives. Members of the university's administration, faculty, and staff gathered to dialogue with Talbert on how current events in Washington D.C. could affect higher education.

Talbert explained that he does not anticipate many changes in higher education in the next few years, but encouraged APU to continue to be aware of steps being taken in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. With more than $80 billion in loans and grants dispensed annually, the Department of Education is seeking to tighten the accreditation requirements which influence the disbursement of those funds.

"Our focus in higher education is on accessibility, affordability, and accountability," said Talbert.

Provost Michael Whyte, Ph.D., introduced Talbert, expressing excitement over having a representative of the U.S. Department of Education on campus. "APU aims to raise the bar of excellence and offer quality education. The Department of Education has held us to a higher level of accountability, especially these past couple years, and has made us better," said Whyte. "I've seen the bar raised at APU and at other universities as well."

Talbert also encouraged APU to promote the sciences in higher education, especially in light of a changing global environment and economy.  "It's been said that this country has the best higher education system in the world," said Talbert, "and I think that still holds true. But there needs to be an increased focus on science, technology, and math to remain competitive and deal with what is happening globally."

Talbert was nominated by President Bush to serve as General Counsel in September 2005 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May 2006. Prior to his confirmation, he served as the Department's Deputy General Counsel for the Division of Business and Administrative Law and the Division of Legislative Counsel. Talbert also served as Education Policy Counsel for the Committee on Education and the Workforce in the United States House of Representatives, as well as on the staff of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in the United States Senate, and the staff of the late U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) before coming to the Department of Education.