Clayton Spencer -- a key figure in higher education policy setting -- was named Sunday as the next president of Bates College. Spencer is currently vice president for policy at Harvard University, and previously served as associate vice president for higher education policy there. From 1993 to 1997, she was the education counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, where she worked for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Spencer takes over as the president of a private liberal arts college at a time of increased national scrutiny of college costs -- including a White House meeting today. At a press briefing Sunday, she said that she anticipated working to raise more money for financial aid in part because she doesn't think colleges like Bates are going to become less expensive. As long as liberal arts colleges focus on providing a high quality education, with top faculty members, small classes and a full residential experience, she said, "I don't see a way to make that fundamentally, structurally less expensive." But she said that increasing financial aid is essential, given that the sticker prices at institutions like Bates (total costs exceed $55,000) would otherwise seem too high to many prospective students and families.
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