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.
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.
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!
Led by David Oxley, President of Pomona College, nearly 550 college and university presidents, to date, are signatories on the Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students. This statement sends a strong message to the president-elect and his incoming administration on the importance of DACA and “the critical benefits of this program for our students, and the highly positive impacts on our institutions and communities.”
Now is time for public and private higher ed leaders to be more vocal on policy issues that impact their students and campuses, and come together to form a civic coalition that protects students and their access to learning and, ultimately, prosperity.
Bravo presidents for using your voice in defense of education!
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.
I’ve been meaning to share the good news here regarding the Cin-Day Cyber Corridor initiative I’ve written about earlier. The greater Cincinnati-Dayton region is one of five recipients of a regional alliance grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The five grants, as part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), total nearly $1 million are to take a community approach to addressing the nation’s shortage of skilled cybersecurity employees.
Working collaboratively with the Dayton Development Coalition, the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education submitted a NIST proposal on behalf of a cyber alliance of lead partners in higher education, economic development, industry, government, and K-12 The alliance has been awarded $198,759 in project funding to advance partnerships that increase the pipeline of students pursuing cybersecurity careers, help more Americans attain the skills they need for well-paying jobs in cybersecurity, and support local economic development to stimulate job growth.
Congrats to all the partners in the alliance! This has been a hugely collaborative effort, and is just the beginning of a longterm focus on cyber education and workforce readiness for our region.
Read the full press release.
SOCHE launched a new program thanks to a partnership with the Denver-based company Innovative Educators. SOCHE Education on Demand provides our members access to more than 100 professional development training courses, as well as access to unlimited live webinars.
We teamed up with Innovative Educators due to their expertise in providing online training for educators and the breadth of programming available for faculty, administrators, and staff. More so, their live webinars cover the most pressing topics in higher education that address:
- At Risk Populations
- Campus Safety
- Organizational Development
- Student Success
- Teaching and Learning
This is a wonderful partnership for learning for faculty and staff at SOCHE member institutions!
A multi-stakeholder alliance is emerging in our region of the country under the name of Cin-Day Cyber. The alliance brings together K-12, higher education, industry, and government in a strategic effort to establish/enhance Cincinnati-Dayton’s reputation as a national leader in cybersecurity education, research and private and public partnerships. SOCHE is at the center of the alliance, providing administrative infrastructure to help Cin-Day Cyber reach its goals. From our vantage point, we are again witnessing firsthand how collaborative thinking emerges and forms based on the pull of workforce demand. Congrats to all the partners!
Systemness (to borrow Nancy Zimpher’s term) is without a doubt central to the sustainable future of higher education. While many states have higher ed systems and many universities have multiple campus locations that comprise a system, they are struggling with systems thinking. It is not a common mindset; in fact, quite the opposite mindset of the silo-based evolution of higher ed.
Recently, I’ve been wondering: what can higher education learn from other perspectives when it comes to system integration? What can we learn from the engineer’s mind on process and design?
What can we learn from biology and how the organ systems of the body work together? Or, from the structure of Shakespeare’s sonnets or the plot and power of Toni Morrison’s Beloved?
Very specifically, what can we learn from studying our comprehensive health care systems?
While we will keep vision, mission, and values as higher ed’s central operating system, the goal of deepening our understanding of other systems is to find transference: what functions and services work best when centralized and which are best left decentralized?
Ultimately, how do we strike a collaborative balance in higher ed that enables mission assurance, creates cost efficiencies, adds value to multi-campus operations, and yields positive outcomes for the student experience? And does all of these things guided by the everlasting motto of Students first!
Robert Reich described a leader as …someone who steps back from the entire system and tries to build a more collaborative, more innovative system that will work over the long term. Recently, I’ve seen this sentence cited in a few books, signature lines of colleagues, an online game about redistricting, and websites that collect cool and/or brainy quotes. The sentiment seems timely as collaboration and innovation, from my vantage point, are two of the most commonly used words by leaders nowadays. Last week, I attended an annual meeting in which the main theme was “collaboration + innovation for the future.”
Okay, if we’re on the same page about desired qualities in our leaders, now what?
As an academic, I’m thinking higher ed needs to expand its scholarship and curriculum on collaborative and innovative leadership. As a practitioner, I’d add there’s a desperate need to elevate (and teach) proven processes and practices that get leaders to a place of collaboration and innovation within and between organizations and between and within leaders and followers. As a global citizen, I sit here wishing for a future shaped by collaborative leaders that step back and engage/challenge citizens to work together to find innovative systemic solutions to society’s most long-standing and disruptive challenges.
Clearly, Reich is right!