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Rural Matters

Dec 22, 2021

In Part VIII, the final segment of this fabulous series we’re producing in collaboration with and supported by the Ascendium Education Group, Michelle chats with Nicholas Hillman, professor in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Hillman’s research examines how finance, policy, and geography shape educational opportunities in the United States. Hillman discusses the goals of his current research effort; the definition of “rural”; how his research team used “commuting zones,” rather than “counties” or “metropolitan areas” to locate rural places; how the team found large enrollment declines among rural “broad-access” colleges but how the opposite was true for selective research universities. This episode and the entire series on rural higher education and workforce development is sponsored by Ascendium Education Group, a nonprofit organization committed to helping learners from low-income backgrounds reach their educational and career goals. For more information, visit

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