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Changing U.S. Age, Racial, and Ethnic Demographics and Its Impact on Higher Education

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Continuous improvement of programs, practices and people.

Tagged Division

Continuing Professional Development

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Mitchell L. Springer PMP, SPHR, SHRM-SCP Purdue University-Main Campus, West Lafayette

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Dr. Mitchell L. Springer

Dr. Springer currently serves as an Executive Director for Purdue University’s Polytechnic Institute located in West Lafayette, Indiana. He has over thirty-five years of theoretical and defense industry-based practical experience from four disciplines: software engineering, systems engineering, program management and human resources. Dr. Springer possesses a significant strength in pattern recognition, analyzing and improving organizational systems. He is internationally recognized and has contributed to scholarship more than 300 books, articles, presentations, editorials and reviews on software development methodologies, management, organizational change, and program management. Dr. Springer sits on many university and community boards and advisory committees. He is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including local, regional and national recognitions for leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion; as well as, recognition for exceptional teaching and support of military connected students.

Dr. Springer is the President of the Indiana Council for Continuing Education as well as the Past-Chair of the Continuing Professional Development Division of the American Society for Engineering Education.

Dr. Springer received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Purdue University, his MBA and Doctorate in Adult and Community Education with a Cognate in Executive Development from Ball State University. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR & SHRM-SCP), in Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), and, in civil and domestic mediation. Dr. Springer is a State of Indiana Registered domestic mediator.

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Kathryne Newton Purdue Polytechnic Institute

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Dr. Kathy Newton is an Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Faculty Success for the Purdue Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University. She is a Professor of Supply Chain Management Technology in the School of Engineering Technology. Her teaching and
scholarly interests are in the areas of supply chain management, quality control, and graduate education. She
served as Department Head of Industrial Technology from 2007 to 2010. Prior to her appointment at Purdue University
in 1993, she spent seven years teaching for Texas A&M University’s Department of Engineering
Technology. Dr. Newton has a Ph.D. in Educational Human Resource Development, a Master’s degree in Business Administration,
and a B.S. in Industrial Distribution, each from Texas A&M University.

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The United States of America is undergoing, and will continue to undergo, a demographic transformation the likes of which have never been experienced in this great Nation. The demographic changes which surfaced in the literature and became more pronounced around 2008, are now at the precipice of tectonic change, and its impact on higher education is already being felt.

Three major events will take place over the upcoming decade. Each of which, by itself, may appear relatively harmless and unnoticed. Together these three transformative changes paint a forever changing face of the demographics of the U.S. The impact of these three primary drivers of demographic change are already being felt in the hallowed halls of higher education. Colleges and universities are scrambling to accommodate these, still to be fully understood, major impacts.

The first of these three major changes is the “graying” of America. The last of the Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, will turn 65+ years of age in 2030. This is particularly significant because of the financial impacts on social services and safety nets currently enacted into law in support of a generally aging population.

The second of the three major changes is the marked cross-over (2035) where the number of people 65+ years of age outnumber the youths under the age of 18. The manifestation of this cross-over resides in the number of working age individuals for every aged dependency. When youth dependency, those aged under the age of 18, is added to the older-aged dependency, the net effect is a total dependency where there are two dependents for every three working age adults. This cross-over as well represents what has been termed the new minority majority of America; where the non-Hispanic White population becomes the minority overall population for the first time in U.S. history.

The third, and final, of the three major demographic changes is the recognition that the primary driver for population growth in the U.S. will be from international migration. Not because of an increase in international migration, but because of an aging natural population and a declining birth rate of same. The new demographic of the United States has had a negative impact on enrollments in higher education. New minority populations are not equally prepared, financially or otherwise, to participate in higher education as the current non-Hispanic white majority population. To this end, 25 years of researched literature materializes into multiple changes currently being implemented by institutions of higher education to accommodate this new minority majority population.

This paper extracts from the literature the most recent current demographic changes, the impact of these changes on the enrollments in higher education, and, the response of colleges and universities to these rapidly changing American demographic realities.

Springer, M. L., & Newton, K. (2019, June), Changing U.S. Age, Racial, and Ethnic Demographics and Its Impact on Higher Education Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32504

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