Monday, March 28, 2011

Bethany Trivia

How much money did Alexander Campbell purchase Campbell Mansion for? Why did Campbell’s father-in-law offer him the property?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Presidential Perspectives

(This month's issue of Presidential Perspectives, a presidential thought series, published by Scott D. Miller and Marylouise Fennell with support of Aramark Higher Education).

This month's chapter is titled "Sustaining Sustainability":

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bethany Trivia

In what year was the current Bethany Bridge built?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Teaching and Learning in a New Era of International Realities

(The State Journal, March 18, 2011 - by Scott D. Miller)

Recent astonishing developments in Egypt, Libya, and other nations underscore the significant challenge of colleges and universities in teaching international relations. These events are fast-moving, fueled by decades of frustration and minutes of diligent social networking by would-be revolutionaries.

Like the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the former Soviet Union, and our own experience on 9/11, the revolutions sweeping across northern Africa present highly practical, teachable moments on a global scale. Educators seek to give American students relevant, current perspectives on events that are seemingly sudden and technology-driven, and yet deeply rooted in history. How do we make sense of, and the best intellectual use of, these complex and dramatic events on the world stage?

Whatever our approach, if nothing else we have a lot of work to do in conveying to our students the career importance of world awareness.

Speaking at a Council of Independent Colleges-sponsored forum last October, Philip E. Lewis of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation acknowledged the expectations of students and parents in turning expensive educations into “secure and lucrative employment.” But, he cautioned, “the globalized, post-industrial, knowledge-driven economy into which we have gravitated may well remain fragmented, volatile, and politically unmanageable.” Lewis said, therefore, “that a liberal education may provide better preparation for dealing with the turbulent socio-economic environment the younger generations will face than a college experience that provides a currently valuable skill or competency that will fade into obsolescence or be undermined by the vagaries of supply and demand.”

That American students are often woefully ignorant of world history, current events, and economic trends has been well documented. Our students remain so at their peril. American economic strength, national security, and environmental health, among many issues of importance to our nation and others, have a direct correlation to a working grasp of international trends, threats, and opportunities. America’s relationship with China, to cite one obvious example, is a complicated, multi-layered, and evolving story of critical importance to our country. The same can be said of Mexico, India, Pakistan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Those of us who grew up in the Cold War will likely respond strongly to a new book by Ron Rosenbaum, How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III, which offers sobering perspective on the “unthinkable” threat many of us assumed was over. Other international issues may be less frightening but remain just as compelling. Can we deal effectively with global climate change, loss of species, and health and diversity of our ecosystems without an understanding of the politics and cultures of other nations with which we share the planet?

Fortunately, many of our academic institutions continue to be sources of enriched thinking and analysis of international issues. At the height of the turmoil in Cairo, Bethany College Assistant Professor of Political Science and Director of International Studies Dr. Marc Sable provided a thoughtful and thorough overview of the revolution in Egypt and its likely implications for other nations in that region. Last fall, 1959 Bethany alumnus and retired United Nations official Charles “Pete” Perry returned to his Alma Mater to offer his insights on a variety of international topics, drawing on his rich experience representing the UN in Africa, Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, and the Caribbean. Mr. Perry eloquently challenged our students to do their part to help determine the course of the world’s destiny.

That is a challenge, however, that America’s students cannot manage alone. As educators, business leaders, economic forecasters, and trend watchers, we will very likely need to reframe our teaching of what is known in campus core curricula as “international studies.” Our approach should always be interdisciplinary, uniting the examination of history, languages, culture, economics, art, religion, politics, and society—leading to a more comprehensive appreciation by students of other nations that is not only rewarding intellectually but also professionally. Their future jobs, as Philip Lewis suggests, may well depend on “coping confidently with instability” in a global society.

To teach international relations effectively, we also need to rely on our best professors and other leaders, such as global business executives, with up-to-date international perspectives to offer. Finally, there is no substitute for encouraging American students to travel abroad and to experience other nations firsthand—not as tourists but as scholars learning about their future responsibilities and opportunities as world citizens. What they learn there cannot be duplicated in a classroom, or retrieved from the Internet.

Dr. Thomas Buergenthal, Holocaust survivor, Bethany alumnus, and former American judge on the International Court of Justice in The Hague, returned to Bethany for this year’s Founders Day Convocation. Citing the value of his liberal arts experience at Bethany College, this leading authority on issues of global law and human rights counseled our students to have “international interests and internationally transferable skills.” He warned of avoiding “foreign policy debacles” resulting from lack of understanding of other nations, and suggested that “weapons alone and grandiose statements by our politicians full of ignorance about other countries and peoples do not make for wise foreign or economic policy decisions which increasingly have negative consequences for the United States.”

For our students, cultivating knowledge, collaboration, adaptability, and vigilance on an international scale is more than a noble cause. It’s an approach that will yield practical benefits for our nation and others whose fortunes will someday depend on the decisions these future leaders will make. We should invest in international pursuits to ensure that those decisions will arise from informed judgment about the potentially challenging, even troubling, but always relevant realities of other nations.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bethany Trivia

How many students attended Bethany College on opening day?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times -- Five Myths About Strategic Planning

(College Planning and Management, February 2011- by Marylouise Fennell and Scott D. Miller)

“No one ever said it would be easy.”  These cautionary words from our colleague Dr. Jo Young Switzer, president of Macalester College, aptly summarize the climate facing college CEO’s, COO’s and CFO’s today.  As Dr. Switzer notes, although headline-grabbing items abound, college presidents and senior administration receive “scant attention for leadership during times of external challenge.”

There is no doubt about it. Leading an institution is hard work in good times.  In sustained difficult times, the arduous job becomes even more wearing.
The good news, though, is that sustainable, quality growth continues on many campuses.  In this series, we want to debunk five prevalent myths surrounding institutional sustainability. Among common misconceptions are these:
  • Colleges without large endowments cannot thrive in tough economic times;
  • Increased enrollment must come at the cost of decreased selectivity;
  • Capital projects should be put on hold or severely scaled back;
  • Scarce resources mean fewer opportunities for synergistic partnerships; and finally,
  • The unstable times demand short-term solutions rather than long-term planning.
In this first of a five-part series, we will address the fifth prevailing myth first, because careful planning is the bedrock upon which all future growth must be based. As an astute admissions dean once remarked, “The ability to respond to the market is a better benchmark of the health of an institution than any short-term tactics.”

In a chapter for our book Presidential Perspectives (Aramark Publications), Dr. Antoine H. Garibaldi, president of Gannon University, emphasizes that “strategic planning is a time-consuming but worthwhile process that requires discipline and effective implementation,” including the following steps:
  • The plan must include a clear vision and focus for the president and senior leadership, emphasizing priorities and aspirations;
  • It must also serve as a working blueprint for the institution’s current and future direction, giving guidance to faculty and staff in their development of new programmatic initiatives;
  • A clear transitioning plan is essential to blend the existing strategic plan with the new and next five-year strategic plans; and finally,
  • Because strategic planning is a continuous process, the strategic plan must be viewed as a living document that is updated every few years.
While thoughtful, focused strategic planning, implementation and annual progress reporting are essential elements in fostering sustainable growth, we offer these additional recommendations:
  • Leverage facilities to create value.
Sustainable viability means long-term, planned growth, planning for alternate uses, leasing, rather than buying, and leveraging the successful strategies of the non-academic environment to create a competitive advantage. “Tired” classrooms, grounds and facilities create a drag on the entire enrollment management process.  Often grouped under the areas of “student services and facilities,” enhanced residences, recreation-fitness facilities and dining services as an integral part of the student experience play a vital role in attracting and retaining students; supporting institutional growth and retaining faculty and employees.
  • Investing in technology today reaps rewards tomorrow.
Technology in higher education is best understood and managed, not as a one-time expense, but as an ongoing investment for the vitality and growth of the institution.  Thus, we must continue to manage what our colleague Michael K. Townsley, former president of the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, called the “six conditions of high technology management,” including the need to change structures, policies, processes an delivery of services to accommodate new technologies.  Randomly spreading technology around campus, Dr. Townsley emphasizes, will neither automatically yield operational efficiency, nor will it enhance strategic value.
  • Keep the focus on students by constantly evaluating and reviewing the institutional product mix.
As families become increasingly savvy about educational values and outcomes, we must continually find new ways to communicate these as well as accountability.  Nontraditional, graduate, certificate and distance programs offer the opportunity for a healthy rate of growth without increasing expenditures on infrastructure.

Finally, sustainable growth demands a relentless focus on core mission and values, recognizing that any institution that attempts to be all things to all people is doomed to fail.

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Dr. Scott D. Miller is President of the College and M.M. Cochran Professor of Leadership Studies at Bethany College in West Virginia.  Now in his third college presidency, he has served as a CEO for 20 years.

Dr. Marylouise Fennell, RSM, a former president of Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, is senior counsel for the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and a partner in Hyatt Fennell, Higher Education Services-The TCR Group.

They have collaborated on six books, including “President to President:  Views on Technology in Higher Education” (2010) and “Presidential Perspectives: Economic Prosperity in the Next Decade” (2010.)  Both serve as consultants to college presidents and boards.