Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times

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

Though it may sound counter-intuitive, challenging times represent an opportunity to invest in the future, while advancing boldly, when others are retreating.  History is replete with examples. At the start of the Great Depression, for instance, Post and Kellogg were neck-in-neck. Post, however, chose to retrench, while Kellogg went full-steam ahead.  When good times returned, Kellogg was well-positioned to become the industry leader in breakfast cereals.
As Molly Brand of ACE advises, “Hunkering down is not a good option.”

On the contrary, especially when times are tough, we need to be proactive and often downright aggressive to move beyond sustainability.

Writing in our book Presidential Perspectives (Aramark Publications, 2010) our colleague Dr. Dan Angel, president of Golden Gate University in San Francisco, emphasizes two strategies:

          ¨ Invest for the future.  There is an oft-repeated fund-raising quip revolving around a yearly calendar in which there is a monthly excuse for not actively seeking support. For example, in January, people have overspent for holiday gifts; in February, they are planning for summer vacations, and so forth.  Though there may never be an ideal time to raise money, it is an absolute necessity for future sustainability.  Investing in technology is one example. Investing in staff and support resources is another.   At most institutions, planned giving programs now generate the bulk of endowment funds.  Therefore, it is critical that colleges attract and retain highly-qualified professionals to cultivate these long-term relationships. Our history suggests that a college can recognize major returns on this investment within five years or less.

          ¨ Think strategically.  Dr. Angel tells the story of the 12-year old sharpshooter who was drawing widespread acclaim for always hitting the bull’s-eye.  Asked how he achieved this remarkable accuracy, the marksman replied, “It’s really not so difficult. I just shoot the holes and then draw the bull’s-eye around them.”  As Dr. Angel points out, “Unfortunately, we have to draw our targets first and then lead our institutions toward the center.”

          To these recommendations, we would add,

           ¨  Institute or update a comprehensive institutional review as a vehicle for positioning your college or university for the future.  Especially in difficult economic times, a thorough review can also more clearly delineate priorities, provide a sharper focus and establish a future agenda.  Further, an in-depth review by outside experts will provide a more objective foundation for strategic and long-range planning and specific to building endowment, it will advise on perceptions of key constituencies while helping to determine the potential for increased support. Moreover, it may also reveal hidden “minefields” that need to be addressed before embarking on a capital or planned giving campaign.

          ¨       Cultivate and recognize women donors.  As our valued colleague Jerold Panas, executive partner and chief executive officer of Jerold Panas, Linzy & Partners, a leading specialist in financial resource development, emphasizes, women now hold more than 53 percent of the nation’s net worth; by 2014, that figure will be nudging 60 percent. In Jerry’s words, “If you don’t have a very strong representation of women in your donor base, you need to change your direction.”

          ¨       Help donors to get more of what they want.  Prospective donors obviously want to know about the institution, Panas notes, but first, they are interested in why you are contacting them.  “If you will help people get what they want, they will help you get what you want,” he emphasizes.
A strong endowment is the bedrock on which all future institutional growth and development is built, and institutions who fail to create long-term financial sustainability in the midst of current operational expenses do so at their peril. 

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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 this 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.  

Tuesday, November 29, 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 "Cost, Price, and Value: The Challenging Landscape of Higher Education." 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bethany Trivia

In what year did the construction of Old Main begin?  What building did it replace?

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Recognizing three of Bethany College’s best and most loyal.

Three recently retired long-time members of the Bethany faculty were honored at a dinner at Christman Manor for their meritorious service to the College. Jay Buckelew (biology), Mary Ellen Komorowski (mathematics) and Randy Cooey (business and economics) were recognized with the distinction of professor-emeritus and presented with engraved Bethany College rocking chairs.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bethany Trivia

In what year did the Bethany football team win the Presidents' Athletic Conference Championship?

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bethany Trivia

Where is Strangers Hall located?

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

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bethany Trivia

Since the founding of Bethany, how many presidents have there been?

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Two Homecomings Reveal the Faith of Our Founders

(The President's Letter, November 2011)

Another Homecoming Weekend at Bethany has come and gone. This year, October 7-9, we enjoyed summer-like weather as alumni and friends gathered to renew friendships and share memories.

We hosted another successful Hugh “Tiger” Joyce Golf Scramble benefiting Bethany athletics and the Allison’s Run/Walk that underwrites the student prize named in memory of Professor James Allison ‘64. We inducted four new members into the Bethany Athletic Hall of Fame: Rudolph Frank ’77, baseball; Brian Dickman ’95, football/track; Brian Taylor ’98, tennis/golf, and Amy Harvilla Rocini ’01, soccer.
Eight alumni from print and broadcast media joined the Wall of Fame at the Department of Communications and Media Arts in Bethany House: Michael Christman ’88; Scarlett Foster ‘79; Kurt Franck ’78; Peter Jensen ’81; Rick Kenney ’80; Matt Mastrangelo ’87; Gene Miller ’47; and Toria Tolley ’78.
An amazing exhibit, “Science Becomes Art: A Galapagos Islands Experience,” was on display at Renner Art Gallery. This collection of photographs and memorabilia from a Bethany College student and faculty research trip impressed viewers with the scientific significance and other-worldly beauty of the Galapagos.

Although our travels as Bethanians may take us far from campus, even to Pacific waters off Ecuador, all roads eventually lead us back to our mountaintop home. The irresistible pull of their alma mater continues to captivate Bethany alumni in ways they can hardly anticipate as undergraduates.
A very special homecoming for me was delivering the keynote address at the October 14 Founders Day convocation of my alma mater, West Virginia Wesleyan College. For the Wesley Chapel audience of fellow alumni, friends, faculty, and current students convened by my talented colleague President Pamela Balch, former Vice President for Academic Affairs at Bethany, I described the transformational experience of attending a small, church-related college. These institutions are defined by the courageous faith and work of founders who foresaw the lasting value of independent higher education. Traditions such as Founders Day at our two colleges, I said, are opportunities to affirm our promises of continuity to those who have gone before us, and conveyed to us the gift of their trust, their labor, and their dreams.

During my recent time on the campus where I had first arrived in August of 1977 as an anxious freshman, I visited with Bethanians William B. Grove ’51, Bishop of the West Virginia Area of the United Methodist Church, retired; Elizabeth Weimer ’42 and Dan Martin ’73, former and current members, respectively, of the Wesleyan faculty, and the man who had recruited me more than three decades ago to the Wesleyan cross-country team, coach Hank Ellis. It had occurred to me that alumni of Wesleyan, Bethany, and other vibrant colleges tend to carry with them a sort of passport of their onetime campus identity. We may become citizens of our nation and world during the course of our lives, but somehow we always remain, first and foremost, citizens of our undergraduate experiences. I had referenced this during my convocation address, and later experienced it in the warm handshakes and embraces of those who had shared — and helped to shape — my undergraduate journey.

Coming “home” to my alma mater is always more than a sentimental journey. It is a continuation of the exploration of who I am. The friendships I developed during my college years have impacted my life and career in profound ways. I am sure the same is true for Bethany’s alumni for whom our small college is an anchor of their lives, as our founder intended.

The world is often a place in turmoil; during the last few years, a faltering economy, high unemployment, and disenchantment with institutions have replaced confidence with uncertainty. Yet each autumn our colleges roll out the welcome of Homecoming, renewing the precious ties of graduates to one of the most influential, reliable, and enduring forces in their existence. Alumni faithfully return to a place that will always be there for them — in Bethany, Buckhannon, or wherever the college-nurtured mind and spirit converge in memory and experience. Such was the Homecoming experience of our Bethanians early in October and for me, a week later, at Wesleyan.
Accompanying us—indeed, directing us—on the journey of our lives is that special time and place of our undergraduate years, all too fleeting, yet forever memorable, and certainly irreplaceable.