All posts by Dr Sean Joseph

Sean Joseph Creighton, Ph.D., is the President of SOCHE, a regional association of colleges and universities dedicated to educating, employing, and engaging citizens. SOCHE coordinates programs for over 20 diverse members of higher learning with an annual economic impact of $3.3 billion, serving over 120,000 student and more than 36,000 employees. SOCHE received the Dayton Business Journal’s Non-Profit Business of the Year Award in 2012 and Innovation Index Award in 2015. Sean is currently in his second term as an elected member of the Board of Education for the Yellow Springs Public Schools, where he has been president, chaired the 2020 Strategic Plan, and served as the district’s legislative liaison. He also serves on advisory committees and boards for several local and national organizations, including Dayton Literary Peace Prize, International Leadership Association, TEDxDayton (license holder and co-chair), ThinkTV Public Broadcasting, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Community Partnership Leadership Council. Sean has published and presented extensively on higher education, collaboration, civic engagement, and talent retention. He is also a principle investigator for the Kettering Foundation on several research projects concerning the civic mission of higher education. A higher education advocate and voice for collaboration, he posts regularly at creightoncollaborative.com. Sean holds degrees from Marist College and New York University, and earned his PhD from Antioch University. He lives in the charming village of Yellow Springs with his wife, Leslee, and his five fun children, Liam, Maya, Quinn, Audrey, and Juliette. sean.creighton@soche.org @seancreighton

Oxbridge: Innovative or Outdated?

Thirty years ago, I had the good fortune of spending a year studying at the University of Oxford. I recall the time fondly, especially after a recent visit to England and a few days spent in Oxfordshire, strolling the grounds of Harris Manchester College with my family.

This trip down memory lane reminded me of the experience I had in the University of Oxford tutorial system, a unique pedagogy not widely used outside of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.  The classroom in the tutorial system is replaced with students being taught one-on-one with a faculty member. The sessions are called tutorials.

Once a week, I would meet with my professor in the tutorial. In between, I would attend open lectures at different colleges in the system, as well as read assignments and, then, write a reflective paper on the assignments. Each tutorial started with me reading my paper aloud. After, the professor provided critical feedback, engaging in discussion about the main ideas in the paper, as well as sharing his or her perspective on the subject matter. Typically, the format followed this order: challenge, criticize, educate, and encourage. Each session ended with a review of assignments for the following week and, after a courteous farewell, off I went.

Is this pedagogy an outdated approach to teaching and learning that widens the divide between faculty as sage on the stage and students as vessels for absorbing knowledge? Or,  is it an innovative approach that founded personalized learning and self-directed study?

The tutorials did not empower faculty to serve as mentors, nor did they necessarily create a strong, personal bond between student and professor. While the open lectures delivered knowledge by university scholars, knowledge is ubiquitous and available online today unlike the creators of Oxbridge could have ever envisioned. Even in the UK, the tutorial system is not the adopted pedagogy by other universities. Though, I really enjoyed the experience. 🙂

While Oxbridge was innovative in the 1100s, the tutorial system is outdated in today’s times. Yet, we can learn from and repurpose the tutorial system, bringing it into the 21st century. The personalized experience can be personalized and content delivery modernized.

While higher education is undergoing a slow disruption, trace elements of the past will always remain, meaning Oxbridge isn’t going away, nor are liberal arts colleges or fraternities. However, more commonly innovative will be universities in which the faculty are mentors, knowledge is found by students not fed to, and learning is measured not by seat time, but by acquired competencies. Maybe even Oxbridge will begin to make adjustments and move back into the innovative category, or not.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One: We Need MORE English Majors!

So, the story goes, my wise and imaginative grandmother said my first word was “more.” I cling to this story as evidence to support my drive to continually connect with more people, raise more money to advance more mission-driven nonprofits, and stay focused, always, on waking up each morning to bring more opportunity to the workplace and more goodness to the world

However, as I look for answers and solutions to more challenges in our communities, organizations, and politics, nowadays, I’m left scratching my head, crossing my eyes, and feeling like Herb Morrison reporting on the Hindenburg disaster, but this time on the glorified STEM fiasco and exclaiming, “Oh, the humanities!” followed by a rush of Juliet Capulet asking, “Wherefore art thou?

With all due respect to my scientist friends, neighbors, colleagues, it has become exhausting for the last baker’s dozen years hearing that we need more students in the STEM fields. The STEM rhetoric has reached saturation. Sure, we need to continually develop a pool of individuals who will dedicate themselves to advancing science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine. Yet, too many college students are being pushed toward a false sense of security in STEM majors. And, at the expense of the humanities?

We need generations of students who graduate with passion, curiosity, empathy, and their own American dreams.

Oh, the humanities! Wherefore art thou?

Our companies, societies, nation, minds, and hearts are desperately in need of a fervent return of students from the humanities. Let’s invest more in Art, Language, and Philosophy and infuse and inspire today’s youthful minds with the curiosity for learning instilled in me, you, and many contemporary leaders and CEOs. Let’s get lost in histories and religions, and bring back passion for critical thinking, communication, cultural perspective, and civic care.

Oh, the humanities! Wherefore art thou?

On this beautiful February day, an unseasonably warm, comfortable, superb morning with a brilliant sun. The kind of day you want to last forever. Flower buds tricked and doing their business in winter. Creeks slowly thawing and moving along the fields, emptying into the larger, magnificent pools of water. Just a cloud in the sky, a rare day reaching the height of a perfect winter moment, I chant,

“We need MORE English majors!”

Mighty Edu’s $7.3 Billion SWO Economic Impact

In 2009, I wrote my first ever blog post for Richard Florida’s Creative Class Group on Mighty Edu: higher ed’s positive impacts on economies, communities, and people.  I wrote this post as our nation descended in its second greatest economic depression. Living through that period reinforced my Might Edu mantra as I watched higher ed’s value and importance increase during this period. Pivotal to emerging from the depression, higher education helped, first, stabilize and, second, grow local economies by re-tooling America’s workforce with advanced degrees and certificates, and research and commercialization. It’s impact on economies continues to grow.

Recently,  SOCHE released its report on the Economic and Fiscal Impacts of its member colleges and universities in southwest Ohio. The collective impact for fiscal year 2016 amounted to over $7 billion, including $3.8 billion in new monies brought to the region from tuition, sponsored research, and alumni giving.

This sustained level of spending and revenue generation ripples through our region, driving the success of other sectors that directly and indirectly support higher education through specific goods and services. The wage and tax revenue contributes amounts that help sustain local government services, and the job creation is over 70,000 making higher education once of the largest employment sectors.

More importantly, as region’s become more competitive for talent, last year, SOCHE member colleges and universities awarded over 31,000 students with degrees and certificates, providing an ample supply of talent for the workforce.

Even better news is that this data reflects only the southwest region of the state. Ohio is rich in higher education and the combined and cumulative impact of its over 80 colleges and universities, I would wager, more than quadruples SOCHE’s impact findings.

Now, imagine if Ohio invested in higher education and increased the education levels of its population to the point where, instead of less than 20 percent of people older than 25 have only a high school diploma, 80 percent had college degrees. What if?

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEDxDayton’s Fifth Anniversary

On October 20th, TEDxDayton will celebrate its fifth anniversary. Every step of the way, this community initiative has been driven by unmatched volunteerism and leadership. Individuals from diverse backgrounds and professions have joined together, building new connections, relationships, and synergy in the spirit of lifting up TED’s motto Ideas Worth Spreading. More than a fun day of stories and performances, TEDxDayton exemplifies effective citizen engagement, and has become a beloved community event for Dayton since its inception.

Thank you Chris Anderson and the team at TED. And many congratulations to all those who have been involved from day one up through year five and have been the Current in our community!

 

Time to Tell the Higher Story

Higher education continues to get beat up in the public eye. When will it respond?

During the presidential campaign season last year, candidates focused on the cost of higher education, student debt, making college affordable (or even free). No one talked about the value and impact of higher education. Now, a Pew study indicates 58% of Republicans think higher education is bad for America. This is a dangerous public opinion trend for our nation and our future.

Where’s the counter narrative?

Jim Tressel, president of Youngstown State University, delivered a strong message at the Ohio Department of Higher Education Efficiency Summit that higher education has done a poor job telling its story and illustrating its value and impact. President Tressel shared data points from a Lumina Foundation report to illustrate the impact of higher education. In comparing high school graduates to college graduates, individuals with bachelor’s degrees:

  1. Earn 56% more annually
  2. Earn an additional $625,000 in lifetime earnings
  3. Are 3.5 times less likely to be in poverty
  4. Are 2.2 times less likely to be unemployed
  5. Contribute $275,000 more in taxes
  6. Are 47% more likely to have health insurance through an employer
  7. Are 3.9 times less likely to smoke
  8. Have a life expectancy that is seven years longer
  9. Are 4.9 times less likely to go to prison
  10. Are 21% more likely to be married and 61% less likely to get divorced
  11. Are more involved in community, more likely to vote, own a home, contribute more to charity, volunteer, are much more likely to report being happy….and…
  12. Only 4.9% of the opioid deaths in Ohio in 2016 had a bachelor’s degree or higher (95% did not have a college degree)

These dozen data points are the tip of the iceberg. We know there are an infinite number of stories that illustrate higher ed’s value and the impact it has on people, economies,  communities, and America.

Now more than ever, we need a comprehensive campaign that provides the counter narrative; one that is influential and, ultimately, changes public opinion, ignites public trust, and prioritizes investing in higher education. Our colleges and universities are the best solution America has for a brighter future.

At SOCHE, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we plan to capture and communicate the value and impact of higher education. While we will focus on our region, we need a coalition of partners to campaign with us to change public opinion nationally, so Pew’s next study produces different results and policymakers trend
toward investment not divestment in higher education.

It’s time to tell the higher story!

Be True to Yourself

I completed the second leadership profile in what will hopefully be a series and, eventually, a published collection with a global audience (wishful thinking!). Interviewing Felice Nudelman from Antioch University provided another glimpse into the personal and professional influences and pathways that shape a leader and his or her commitment to civic engagement

This was the second interview I conducted as part of the collaborative research SOCHE is doing with the Kettering Foundation on the role of the college president in advancing community engagement.  In this profile, Felice reflects on her early childhood influences, struggling around the idea of going to college, and eventually finding a perfect blend of her passion for the arts with fighting social injustices.

It is hugely rewarding to have the opportunity to talk at length with higher education leaders on a subject of mutual and profound interest, civic engagement. And, truly, an honor to be able to share their stories. Please take a moment to read Felice Nudelman’s profile Be True to Yourself.

A Concerned and Caring Civic Leader

Fortunately, I had the honor (and, definitely, the pleasure) of interviewing Dr. Roger Sublett, president of the Union Institute & University. I conducted the interview as part of a project I am doing with the Kettering Foundation on the role of the college president in advancing community engagement

This research project turned into a personal and professional story about Roger that I am excited to share. Please take a moment to read about a remarkable individual, colleague, mentor, and friend: A Concerned and Caring Civic Leader.

Thank you!

Hyper-Collaboration

Recently, I had the chance to participate on a panel at Antioch College. They relaunched a program, a fond memory for many Antiochians, called Friday Forum. Our forum focused on the Financial Sustainability of Liberal Arts Colleges in the 21st Century.

The moderator asked me to reflect on the financial situation facing colleges and universities across southwest, Ohio. I apologized upfront for the gloomy picture I would initially have to paint: 1) declining state support for public universities coupled with increase in unfunded mandates; 2) extremely competitive, therefore expensive, environment for recruiting students; 3) tuition discount rates rising north of 50% on average (north of 75% for some; north of 90% for others) and climbing steadily; 3) more than 70% decline in applications from international students (for some campuses, their cash cow) due to the presidential race and election results; 4) escalating costs of infrastructure and general operations; and 5) poor decision making by boards and administrations.

These scenarios, and many others, are stressing already tight budgets at colleges and universities, and certainly contributing momentum to the disruption of its business model.

In the face of this reality, the value-proposition for collaboration is rising. However, we need to advance beyond your typical practice of collaboration; the time for hyper-collaboration has arrived.  While purchased goods and services saved campuses a few dollars in the past, these strategies are not enough to transform the business model. Higher education must transcend traditional cost savings methods by forging deep partnerships.

What does hyper-collaboration look like? It is a deep partnership that is resilient, substantial in cost savings or revenue generation, and mutually beneficial to all parties. It can include sharing faculty, facilities, and courses. It can include a research collaborative that garners significant external support. It can be the centralization of backend services. It could be a tuition management system for multiple campuses. It could be…whatever we can challenge ourselves to envision and implement!

In the case of Antioch, there is definite opportunity to partner with several nearby liberal arts colleges, as well as look for partnership opportunities with the Village of Yellow Springs, a uniquely charming and progressive community.

Sandbox Collaborative

Recently, I came across Sandbox Collaborative, which is housed at Southern New Hampshire University. The organization’s goal is to reimagine higher education, approaching this goal with an expertise in disruptive innovation and collaboration.

What I find most intriguing about Sandbox is that it operates within and is supported by the university. It is a self-described “internal consultancy and incubator of new and alternative business models of higher education….” This approach is a unique example of intra-collaboration and innovation embedded in the university.

As we at SOCHE embarks upon our 50th anniversary as a higher ed collaborative, we think intra-collaboration will become an increasingly important model and strategy for higher education to navigate its disruption. Hence, we have reached out to Michelle Weise, Executive Director of Sandbox, to join us for a future conference.

Stay tuned!

Smart Collaboration

As we kick off 2017, I am delighted to see Heidi Gardner’s book Smart Collaboration has entered the marketplace (and my iPad). The book claims to show “firms earn higher margins, inspire greater client loyalty, attract and retain the best talent, and gain a competitive edge when specialists collaborate across functional boundaries.”

While Gardner’s book appears to have a bent toward professional service firms (e.g. legal), I’m looking forward to reading this deeply researched effort to discuss the importance of collaboration. Optimistically, I anticipate finding examples of collaboration that may serve as models for higher education, as well as the public sector. And, undoubtedly, I am thinking this book will shed light on existing gaps in the research and, consequently, perpetuate scholars-practitioners to wrestle further with the study of collaborative enterprise across all sectors.

Please look forward to a more thorough review of Smart Collaboration to come. Until then, happy collaborating to all in 2017!