Category Archives: Civic

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!

 

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!

A College President for the Public Good

Harry Boyte’s latest profile in the Huffington Post is on my bow-tie sporting colleague/mentor Paul Pribbenow, president of Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Paul exemplifies a college president who carries with him the vision of leading for the public good. One would think, as Paul notes, that the majority of college presidents are driven by this same notion, carrying the torch of American higher education that contributes to realizing significant public ends.

Unfortunately, many college leaders have lost touch with higher ed’s foundational roots of providing students with the civic knowledge and skills to become engaged citizens. Paul is not one of those leaders, obviously. He belongs to a group of outlier presidents who remain steadfast in their commitment to creating a learning environment that teaches how to contribute to the civic health of our society and democracy. Paul is committed to graduating the “citizen professional” – a mindset that values leadership for the public good and rebuilding the civic life of communities.

Paul Pribbenow’s profile is one in a series in the Huffington Post by Harry Boyte on college presidential leadership for the Kettering Foundation’s College Presidents and the Civic Purposes of Higher Education Project. Read more profiles and other musings by Harry.

 

What else can you do?

During its ten-year history, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize has selected and honored authors who have improved humanity through their work and words. Every year I go to the DLPP ceremony bothUntitled the fiction and non-fiction winners inspire me to want to do more. This year, I asked Gloria Steinem, who received the 2015 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, “What else can I do?” Gloria’s lifetime as an author and activist changed the lives of women all over the world. Now, in her 80s, she keeps on going. Her answer to me at first was modest, suggesting I’m already doing so much and just keep it up. But she also talked about small change, and living a conscientious life. Always be aware of the choices you make and how they impact others. Make the choices that contribute to social justice and an improved humanity.

What else can you do?

 

College Presidents as Public Philosophers

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Kettering Foundation’s Deliberative Democracy Exchange and participated in the work session College Presidents and the Civic Purposes of Higher Education. What a great group of personable, thoughtful, engaging presidents, whose campuses reflected the diversity of American higher education. The two-day session challenged the presidents to reflect on revitalizing democratic narrative, expanding public understandings of democracy beyond elections, politicians, and formal government, and becoming deeply woven into the life of their communities and regions. More so, KF challenged us to restore the role of the president to one of public philosopher – such a vital role, missing from our national dialogue. Where are the college president pundits?

I understand why KF continues to bring the civic purpose of higher education topic to the forefront. I, too, think it is imperative that college and university presidents ensure their campus ecosystem challenges students to develop a deep sense of civic purpose. There’s no better place than on a college campus to instill in student development and learning the acquired knowledge and skills to be effective citizens and, ultimately, the protectors and leaders of democracy. More so, as anchor institutions in communities, higher education is perfectly positioned to build educational, economic, and civic partnerships.  Imagine the positive influence on humanity if 21st century college students graduated with a heightened commitment to local, national, and global social justice.

While the presidents in the KF work session wished to restore civic purpose to their pulpit or the president to the civic pulpit, a reality emerged that speaking out on civic issues can be detrimental for some presidents, especially those at public institutions in conservative states. When did improving health and human welfare, ensuring community prosperity, and educating citizens on the value of deliberative democracy become partisan?

Nonetheless, it is unfortunate to think that a president’s job security might be threatened if he or she increased speaking publicly on civic issues. I’m hopeful a situation as such is an anomaly instead of a common fear of presidents. And I am driven by wishful thinking that we will see an uptick in presidents who are inspired by the KF challenge and, therefore, speak often on the civic purpose of higher education – like Rassoul Dastmozd, President of Saint Paul College, did recently in the Huffington Post, Civic Engagement and Our Responsibility in Higher Education – a public philosopher is born!

Homage to Benjamin Franklin: Forefather of Collaboration

I had the good fortune of spending the 4th of July in Philadelphia, America’s first city. Having not been there before, I found myself wondering, where have you been my whole life Philly? Until now, I didn’t know how much I missed you…your history, artists, museums, mosaics, and murals…your old narrow city streets, magic garden and harbor, amongst green space, squares, and fountains. Until now, I didn’t know how much I missed your mixologists, Vedge, cheesesteak, and world markets…your neighborhoods, working class, professors, and hipsters, locals and transplants…your roots, love, Wawa, Independence Day, and grand finale booms at PAM. Until now, I didn’t realize how much I missed your jawn and, especially, Ben Franklin.

Hence, Ben, I pay homage to you, as an innovator and forefather of collaborative problem solving. Indeed, you created one of the first collaborative clubs in America (The Junto), a group of citizens that met regularly to improve their minds and strengthen their community. Ben, you valued diverse perspectives and felt that this brain trust of people could solve social, political, and business problems better together than could any single person. Consequently, out of collaborative thinking emerged many of your historic contributions that continue to underpin our society. Thank you, Ben, for the good you have done, and for motivating us citizens by always asking the question:

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We cannot wait to see you again Philly.

Higher Education 2067

SOCHE will turn 100 in 2067 and we are posing the question to our members: what will higher education look like in 52 years?

a) No Title IX incidents
b) No student debt
c) Unlimited federal and state support for instruction
d) Low tuition, room/board, and fees
e) Big market share of high school graduates
f)  No difference between traditional and non-traditional students
g) 85-95% retention and completion rates
h) Abundance of classroom space and human capital to handle higher enrollments
i) Perfect balance of part-time practitioners and full-time scholars
j) No developmental education required
k) International student population assimilated on campuses
l) Globalized curriculum
m) Crisis on campus minimized
n) Choice of pathways that align with specific industry needs, prepare you for effective citizenship and leadership, or educate you to build your community.
o)  College educated workforce above 67 percent
p) Role of MOOCs and its resistance to commodification
q) For-profit higher education sector bankrupt
r) Higher Learning Commission EZ forms available to most campuses
s) Return on investment of a college degree reaches new peak
t) Public proud of public dollars spent on higher education
u) Resources abundant for technology upgrades
v) Safety on campuses reaches new peak
w) Affordable Health Care Act creates budget relief for campuses
x) Administrative and academic leadership pool strong for future growth
y) New facilities and infrastructure on campuses designed for student success
z) Fill in the blank ___________________________

These are just 26 ideas…and we know that higher collaboration will be at the nucleus for even these few advances. “Together, we are an ocean.”

Contemporary Challenges to the System (Part I)

Higher education is increasingly faced with challenges that are not easily surmounted. These are contemporary challenges with no simple answers or quick solutions. While the list below could be ten times longer based on who you talk to, several contemporary challenges include, in no particular order:

a) Increase in Title IX incidents
b) Rise in student debt
c) Decline in federal and state support for instruction
d) Rise in tuition, room/board, and fees
e) Competition for market share of decreasing high school graduates
f) Change in student profile from traditional to non-traditional students
g) Pressure to increase retention and completion
h) Shortage of classroom space and human capital to handle higher enrollments
i) Decrease in tenure track positions and continued rise in adjunct model of teaching
j) Increase in number of students needing developmental education
k) Challenges associated with serving a growing international population
l) Pressure to prepare graduates to work in the era of globalization
m) Increase in plagiarism among students and faculty
n) Pressure to align programs, certificates, degrees with industry needs
o) Pressure to increase college educated workforce to 60 percent
p) Role of MOOCs and its resistance to commodification
q) Growth of for-profit higher education sector
r) Increase in accountability by Higher Learning Commission and DOE
s) Question about the return on investment of a college degree
t) Increase in scrutiny by the media on how public dollars are spent
u) Demand on resources created by ongoing technology upgrades
v) Challenge to provide increased security on campuses
w) Impact of Affordable Health Care Act on budgets
x) Looming retirements of administrative and academic leadership
y) Aging facilities and infrastructure on campuses
z) Fill in the blank ___________________________

Again, this list is far from complete. Most of the challenges identified are from the perspective of what might keep higher education leaders awake at night. We could list an entirely different data set by spending time in the trenches, where we would discover additional challenges with campus infrastructure, student behavior, and personnel that would make our heads spin. Or we could conduct an inquiry with faculty and the list would grow even more. Garnering the student perspective would reveal unique challenges that we never knew existed, and let us not forget to include the challenges seen by the external community partners. The list of contemporary challenges would grow exponentially. Furthermore, these challenges are escalating, and creating pressure on a higher education system that was not initially designed with them in mind. These challenges need to be resolved or they will remain an ongoing distraction that pulls and pushes the educational economic, and civic mission of higher education off course, or simply prevents it from maturing. Where do we go from here? Part II will focus on solutions.