Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times

Strengthening Student Enrollment and Retention 
(College Planning and Management, August 2011 - by Scott D. Miller and Marylouise Fennell)
Recent statistics from ACT and other sources underscore the fact that students today are more mobile than at any previous time, “voting with their feet” and thereby, making enrollment management especially challenging and critical.  Roughly one-third (34.3 percent) of first-year students college nationwide are not retained into the second year by the institution at which they originally matriculated. Moreover, students and their families are increasingly savvy consumers, comparison-shopping among campuses and often “walking and talking” with their checkbooks. 

As we’ve previously written, enrollment management is more about long-term planning and sustainability than about short-term strategies to bring in the next class.  We submit that even in tough economic times, it is possible to increase yield and enroll qualified students who are a good match for the institution and likely to be retained while incrementally enhancing selectivity—and without “buying students.”  In our experience, runaway tuition discounting has landed more presidents and institutions in hot water than virtually any other financial practice.

In addition, it is essential that the President be the driving force in making recruitment and retention a top priority on campus, remaining highly visible and setting the tone.  He or she must remain constantly “in the loop” and hands-on in this critical area.  Moreover, it is critical that the enrollment management functions reports directly to the President.

Increasing enrollment without incurring capital expense requires some specific strategies.  Distance, weekend and evening courses leverage existing facilities without requiring new capital construction.  Often, however, students comprising this demographic are non-traditional learners, requiring different delivery systems and instruction methods than those employed by traditional undergraduate faculty.  Thought must be given to how to integrate the two.  It is also important to recognize that non-traditional alumni without the typical four-year residential experience typically will have a different relationship with the institution as alumni and will likely require different programming and fund raising strategies.
Noting the impact of the global recession, coupled with rising higher education costs impacting the ability of families to pay, Dr. Ronald A. Crutcher, president of Wheaton College in Massachusetts, recommends:

            ¨  Leading with connections. Inter-disciplinary academic programs, coupled with experiential learning, foster innovation, enhance institutional morale and engage prospective donors and students;
            ¨ Reaching beyond.  Enhancing student success and outcomes, extending the college’s reach and reputation and increasing faculty, staff and student diversity will attract new audiences and create fresh possibility;
            ¨ Demonstrating success.  Nothing succeeds like success.  By focusing on evidence of institutional effectiveness and ongoing assessment of student learning, growth and outcomes, institutions must proactively anticipate growing public demand for accountability.

Writing for our book Presidential Perspectives (Aramark Publications, 2010), Dr. Crutcher, in his chapter on “Strategic Growth for Challenging Times,” notes, “Strengthening student enrollment and retention are critical to advancing academic quality and financial vigor.”

Finally, we would add,

¨ Stay abreast of emerging technologies and consider investing in personnel with expertise in use of contemporary techniques and methodologies, especially the social media, and use of instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook and personalized URLs.  Marketing to different target markets changes almost daily as a result of new technological developments and demands considerable skill in communicating to diverse audiences across multiple platforms.

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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 is in his 21st year as a CEO.

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.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bethany Trivia

What current professor is publishing two books in coming years?

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Bethany Trivia

In what year were females admitted as matriculated students to Bethany College?

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Bethany Trivia

What originally stood at today’s Kirkpatrick Hall?

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Bethany Trivia

Which departments at Bethany have the most honors societies?

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Securing the Green When Going Green

(The State Journal, August 4, 2011 - by Scott D. Miller)
During the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the steering committee of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), representing signatories from 667 higher education institutions throughout America. In June, I chaired a panel discussion in Washington about practical ways to finance sustainability and renewable energy initiatives on college and university campuses.

The ACUPCC, according to its website, is “a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate.”

Given the worldwide scale of pollution and climate change, that may be a tall order. But we think it’s a great idea to equip higher education institutions with resources not only to foster discussion about global environmental issues, but also to develop action plans as practitioners of energy conservation and efficiency.

From the earliest Earth Day activism in the 1970’s, colleges and universities have played a key role in raising environmental awareness. The protests and petitions of a previous generation have been succeeded on many campuses by an institutional commitment to stewardship of resources. From recycling to constructing more energy-efficient buildings to commissioning environmentally-smart campus master plans, higher education has gone green—or has plans to do so.

But good intentions cost money. As with heavy industry, retrofitting campuses to be environmentally friendly can be expensive.

A working committee within the ACUPCC identified financing as a significant barrier to implementing sustainability on campuses. One of the goals of the Climate Commitment, therefore, is to identify available funding strategies for budget-sensitive institutions. A second goal is to encourage the federal and state governments to increase support to signatories that practice or envision energy efficiency, conservation and renewability.

Ultimately, we hope to create a plan to help a specified percentage of the higher education community reduce on-campus energy consumption by 50% and achieve 100% renewable energy use by 2022. The Climate Commitment is designed to move colleges and universities away from the notion that efficient and renewable energy projects have to pay for themselves; rather, we urge our fellow institutions to allocate funding for sustainability initiatives as part of their strategic planning process.

There are many practical issues to be addressed along the way, of course. Among other topics, the Climate Commitment is examining the following: What mechanisms are in place, or should be put in place, to measure the costs and benefits of climate action plans and communicate with stakeholders? How can we quantify the economic benefits of greenhouse gas reduction and sustainability initiatives within existing accounting systems? Should sustainability-related debt be viewed differently than other forms of debt by accounting firms, creditors and ratings agencies?

As with reaching most lofty goals, real change comes slowly. Colleges and universities, which serve multiple constituencies, can be resistant to the kind of broad, comprehensive policy-making that underlies environmental success. But with the Climate Commitment identifying workable campus projects, gathering buy-in from governing boards and addressing issues of budget support, higher education can, in turn, serve as a resource model for other organizations.

In April the ACUPCC launched a web page intended to become a clearinghouse for ideas and information about identifying and securing financing opportunities for sustainability initiatives:

We look forward to finding answers to the complex questions related to environmental stewardship. Going green doesn’t have to be a painful journey, but it is one that requires organizational commitment and financial planning to ensure success.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hello to Hot, Hopeful August

(The President's Letter, August 2011)

August, with its promise of things to come, is one of my favorite times of the year. For many, summer 2011 will be remembered as a time of searing heat and the July release of “Deathly Hallows 2,” the final film in the Harry Potter series, when viewers said “goodbye” to Hogwarts, Harry and friends after ten wildly successful years. On the Bethany College campus, though, the summer has been a time not of fantasy but of bustling activity and the hard work associated with preparation for another academic year.

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Bethany Trivia

What did the Grace Phillips Johnson Arts Center originally serve as?

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