Colleges and universities should be adaptive to change to maintain quality of education

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Colleges and universities should be adaptive to change to maintain quality of education

Workshops for Leaders of Independent Colleges and Universities. As CIC staff traveled around the country—and later reflected upon the entire series of workshops—we were most struck by the enormous amount of creativity and innovation taking place on member campuses.

Colleges and universities should be adaptive to change to maintain quality of education

Feedback from workshop participants also made it clear that they were especially energized by learning about the programs and strategies developed by their colleagues at other CIC institutions. Our hope in these pages is to bring some of that energy and many of the innovative examples to the broader CIC membership so that the wisdom of the workshops can be shared with those who did not have the opportunity to participate in the actual meetings.

No one doubts or would deny that higher education faces a number of challenges today, but independent higher education is meeting those challenges with adaptive, creative, and successful responses, many of which we have tried to capture in this report.

In the words of one workshop participant: College and university presidents participated in the one-day workshops with a campus leadership team of their choosing. Teams usually included faculty members as well as administrators, and occasionally a trustee.

Learning Objectives:

There was no fee for participation, and the events were scheduled throughout the country, from upstate New York to central Texas to southern California. Most—although not all—participants chose a workshop in their region, which meant that lodging expenses were usually unnecessary and travel costs were modest.

An unanticipated benefit, we learned from participants, was that driving time with colleagues often served as a valuable extension of the workshop activities. Seating arrangements were varied throughout the day; for some sessions, random seating enabled new colleagues from different institutions to meet, while at other times institutional teams were seated together for brainstorming or seated in groups according to campus role.

The presentation sessions featured higher education researchers whose research about the independent college and university sector was rigorous and often counter-intuitive and individual presidents who described innovative strategies they had implemented at their institutions.

Prior to each workshop convening, registered participants received a substantial packet of materials. This included detailed information about independent higher education, such as: Lists of such factors typically include a national and international context of financial uncertainty, changing demographics in the United States, the rise of digital media, increased competition from new educational providers, and diminished public confidence in educational institutions.

Indeed, the very nature of liberal arts education and its value have been topics of public debate. Going into the workshops, CIC staff and advisors expected that such overarching concerns would loom large in the conversations; in fact, few workshop participants were preoccupied by issues that could be painted in such broad strokes.

Rather, the institutional teams were much more interested in the particular ways their individual institutions could be responsive and resilient in the context of larger cultural conditions. Allegiance to mission does not stifle creativity or even forestall a degree of re-invention.

For example, an independent college founded by Scandinavian Lutherans, yet also responsive to its Southern California location, has now evolved into a Hispanic-serving institution. A pharmacy college decided to strengthen its three-year pre-professional curriculum by transforming it into a four-year liberal arts-based program.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, American colleges and universities are not averse to change; they have proven remarkably adaptable over time. Nevertheless, for the healthy institution, fidelity to mission typically serves as a fulcrum, balancing tradition and innovation.

The comments of two presidents frame the issue well. The programs and initiatives that were discussed were widely varied and inventive.» Articles published in the past year To view other articles click corresponding year from the navigation links on the side bar.

Colleges and universities should be adaptive to change to maintain quality of education

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