May 7, 2019
College Affordability Advocates tap Community College Administrator as President

Dr. James Toscano will lead Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust; pursue state policy shifts to promote affordability, transparency in higher education decision making.

WASHINGTON, DC (May 30, 2018) - Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust, a national nonprofit committed to elevating the voices of students and parents on issues of college affordability, today announced the selection of Dr. James Toscano as the organization's president. Matthew Farrey has been appointed Vice President for Development and Projects.  Tuition and fees at public universities have increased at three times the rate of inflation over the past three decades. Recent reports indicate that student debt now exceeds $1.5 trillion -- $600 million more than all credit card debt combined. More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, and borrowers in the most recent graduating class left with an average student debt of $37,172. 

"James knows firsthand, as someone who's worked as a change agent within the public higher education system, how complex and challenging it can be to transform not just policy -- but practice," said Dr. James Koch, president emeritus of Old Dominion University and Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust outgoing interim president.  "Most importantly, he brings to the work a genuine and deep-seated commitment to advocating for affordability on behalf of students and families who rarely have a seat at the table in higher education policy making."    

Toscano's passion for higher education reform and innovation took root as an undergraduate representative to the Board of Visitors at Old Dominion University.  Most recently, Toscano served as vice president for institutional advancement at Tidewater Community College, the 14th largest public two-year community college in the nation. During his tenure at Tidewater, his colleagues pioneered the use of open educational resources to reduce student costs. Toscano also spearheaded the development and adoption of an expanded public comment policy for governing boards designed to provide citizens access to public decision making.

"This isn't a partisan issue. Everywhere I go, people share stories about their struggles with student debt. Parents are anxious about their ability to provide an education for their children," said Toscano. "There is a groundswell of support for change, but parents and students feel the deck is stacked against them and don't know where to turn."       

Farrey has 24 years of experience in management, fundraising and issue advocacy at several nonprofit organizations , and in higher education.  He most recently served as senior director for development at Families USA.  He has also directed  philanthropic partnerships for the Pew Research Center, designed and managed issue advocacy campaigns for the Alliance for Better Campaigns and the League of Women Voters of the U.S. , served as a fundraiser and adjunct professor at Mount Ida College and directed foundation relations at American University.  "As the proud graduate of a public university, I know how an affordable college education can transform careers and lives, "said Farrey." I am excited to go to work for an organization that is committed to ensuring that our public institutions of higher education will fulfill their mission to be affordable and accessible engines of social and economic mobility for people of all incomes and backgrounds."