Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Editorial, The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, VA), July 29, 2012

Barely two years into her term, the president of the University of Virginia, Teresa Sullivan, was asked to resign because she had not instilled board confidence about her ability to plan effectively for the university’s future (planning was referenced in Rector Helen Dragas’ statement, which also identified the need for “bold and proactive leadership”).

Then, almost three weeks later, following faculty, student and alumni protests, and with an interim president already identified, she was reinstated by the Board of Visitors.

What a discordant cacophony resounded across the country.

But contrary to countless media reports, the positions of both sides were valid.

Increasingly concerned about ominous funding forecasts and inspired by enlightened new programs at a number of prestigious institutions (Harvard, MIT, Stanford), the board asked the president to resign, as was within its authority. In another sense, however, the board did the right thing the wrong way. Its action was contrary to the spirit of the 1966 American Association of University Presidents’ statement on shared governance, which, along with academic freedom, is an established cornerstone in American higher education (and coincidentally includes the importance of “long-range planning”).

What should the president have done? She should have commenced work on a strategic plan during her first months in office, a plan that would have identified the most relevant issues and included faculty and student representation. Strategic planning is endorsed by the Association of Governing Boards and virtually every presidential association in the country, and it is not considered top-down management.

What should the president do now? Commission an uninvested, experienced third party to conduct a complete assessment of the university. That dispassionate third party should be approved by both the president and the board.

What should such an assessment include? It should be conducted by four or five tested external authorities in higher education, all experienced in conducting institutional assessments. The team would evaluate the present condition of the University of Virginia and make specific recommendations with an eye toward strategic planning. 

The assessment should consider the following in terms of the university’s costs, strengths, limitations, funds, trends, aspirations and recommendations:

General condition;

·        Academic programs;
·        Technology;
·        Faculty credentials and compensation;
·        Students;
·        Administration;
·        Budget and finance;
·        Senior officers;
·        Private support and outside grants;
·        Public relations;
·        Governance, both board and campuses;
·        Recommendations; and
·        Other issues and conditions presented during the course of the review.

All recommendations would be consistent with the AAUP 1966 Statement on shared governance and the 1940 Statement on Academic Freedom. Interviews should be held with faculty, students, staff, alumni, board members and other persons internal and external selected by position, by stratified random sample and at random.

In retrospect, an assessment done in association with the University of Virginia presidential search process would have provided a logical and appropriate juncture for institutional health, appraisal and evaluation. A search that avoids this process, as was the case with the University of Virginia search, squanders a pivotal opportunity.

Additionally, such an assessment enables search committees to establish more than messianic criteria, allowing the board to address conditions that will make the position more attractive to first-rate candidates, and appointing a president whose qualifications are more closely matched with the institution’s identified needs.

For the sitting president, an assessment can do even more:

·        Ensure a better informed and more supportive board by bringing to its attention important issues and potential problems affecting the institution.
·        Help establish a tentative agenda for the institution and provide a more objective foundation for strategic and long-range planning (i.e., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Pittsburgh, Auburn University, University of Alaska System, et. al).
·        Serve as an objective way to evaluate the institution and its academic programs, as well as the faculty and student body of an institution.
·        Advise on the attitudes of all constituencies, including alumni, media, political bodies and townspeople, as well as faculty, staff and students.
·        Help determine the potential for increased private support.
·        Enhance the image of the institution.
·        Prepare effectively for accreditations and other outside evaluations.

At the University of Virginia, an outside evaluator — using proven assessment methods — would be able to chart the shortest road to harmony, heightening the trust of all university stakeholders and positioning the institution for effective strategic planning.

Scott D. Miller is president of Bethany College and M.M. Cochran Professor of Leadership Studies. Now in his 22nd year as a college president, he serves as a consultant to college presidents and boards. He is chairman of the Board of Directors of Academic Search, Inc., in Washington, D.C.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bethany Trivia

In what year did Bethany stop providing athletic scholarships?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bethany Trivia

What grant allowed Bethany College to raise professor's salaries?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Leadership Succession Planning at All Levels an Imperative Strategy

(Enrollment Manager, July 2012 – by Scott D. Miller and Marylouise Fennell)

With some 50 percent of all college presidents at age 61, or older, according to a recent American Council on Education report, many campuses will experience significant change in leadership in the near future.  Further, these shifts will not be limited to the presidential level; because changes at the top usually result in replacement of a number of senior personnel, an institution stands to lose momentum, vision and significant funding without a solid succession plan in place.

Unlike corporate America, which has witnessed countless quick internal appointments during recent transitions, higher education has not actively embraced the importance of this ongoing and vital process.

In the words of our colleague Dr. Jack P. Calareso, president of Anna Maria College in Massachusetts: “Succession planning is really about leadership. . . it is developing a clear roadmap for the future and ensuring that strong leadership will be in place to guide the institution.”

Further, Calareso continues, “Succession planning is more than thinking about the next president. It is just as important in anticipating needs at every senior level of the institution, developing internal candidates and being prepared for a search.”

Therefore, it is critical not only for institutions to begin ongoing discussions about succession planning now, but also that these conversations include the following steps suggested by Dr. Calareso in a recent conversation.

Defining clear timelines and processes for selecting an interim administrator;

Delineating the profile of the desired leadership qualities, skills and experience;

Engaging the best consultant to conduct the search for a permanent replacement;

●  Identifying a search committee; and

●  Preparing for the transition and induction of the new president or senior administrator.

Several of these key elements require special consideration, among them the significance of identifying and mentoring internal candidates with the potential to succeed in senior-level positions.   Because of shared governance, multiple (sometimes competing) constituencies often play an active role in the search process. They tend to believe that external candidates always bring prestige, translating into enhanced institutional reputation and an ability to attract other candidates from aspirational colleges or universities in future searches.

However, “Insiders have a better ability to understand how to affect change within an organization than outsiders typically do,” reports Per-Ola Karlsson, managing director of Europe for Booz & Co. in the corporation’s recent newsletter. Its recently-released survey on succession planning suggests that in terms of their tenure, “inside” CEOs usually outlast those hired from the outside.” 

“When you do an external executive search and bring in an external leader,” notes Lucie Lapovsky, president of Lapovsky Consulting and past president of Mercy College in New York, as quoted in the Booz & Co. newsletter, “you often lose a year or more of time. Productivity is likely to suffer during the 1-2 years of transition in executive leadership.”

Not only do boards and senior management need to be consistently developing promising administrators who can think strategically, not just tactically, but also they need to take a more proactive role in grooming colleagues as part of the entire succession process, notes John P. Butler, III, Chairman of Barnes & Roche, Inc. “There is often an unwillingness among senior academics to mentor colleagues in lesser administrative roles, limiting their preparation for higher positions,” Butler observes.

Succession planning today will mitigate institutional crisis tomorrow.  As Dr. Calareso notes, “Succession planning helps to avoid a leadership crisis.

“The Lewis Carroll quote, ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there’ is a dangerous approach for colleges and universities,” Dr. Calareso concludes.

We couldn’t have said it better.

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 nearly 22 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 principal of Hyatt Fennell, a Higher Education Search Firm.

They have collaborated on nine books, including “President to President:  Views on Technology in Higher Education” (2009) and “Presidential Perspectives: Strategies to Address the Rising Cost of Higher Education” (2012).  Both serve as consultants to college presidents and boards.  They are regular columnists for “College Planning and Management” and “Enrollment Manager.”   

"I will prepare and some day my chance will come. " Abraham Lincoln

Friday, July 6, 2012

With Promising Year Ahead, It's a Busy Summer at Bethany

 (The President's Letter, July 2012)

As the excitement from Bethany’s 172nd Commencement recedes into memory, we are busily planning to welcome the Class of 2016 in late August. For the moment, at the July mid-point of our summer as we close one fiscal year and officially start a new one, Bethany looks forward to a new academic year in which we continue to position the College to meet the needs of a highly competitive and volatile marketplace.

The College’s strategic plan for sustainable growth continues to undergird all our endeavors, driving program initiatives. Our recent agreement with Carnegie Mellon University for six dual degrees offering accelerated bachelor’s/master’s programs is a strong example of our growth potential. Another is our new Master of Arts in Teaching degree program. At Commencement on May 12, we awarded the first seven degrees in this  program, the first accredited graduate degree in the history of the College. Finally, this summer, 33 students are enrolled in our first online academic session. Bethany students are allowed to take 12 hours of online classes from the College during their four years here. 
As we reflect on the new academic year ahead, we note other significant recent developments:
  • The incoming Class of 2016 is among the strongest in history. Our enrollment team continues to expand its recruiting beyond our Tri-State region into New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States. 
  • Nine incoming freshmen have been awarded the prestigious Bethany College Kalon Leadership Scholarship. Dating back to 1984, this competitive scholarship program determines awards based on eligible incoming students’ past leadership achievements, school record, submission of a required essay and an interview with the selection committee.  
  • Bethany’s capital campaign “Transformation Now!” has reached the $42 million mark in gifts and pledges. The campaign benefits operations, capital improvements and the endowment. Our endowment, while the largest of any private institution in the state, lags behind the national average of $496 million for the top 50 national liberal arts colleges. We seek additional partnerships, auxiliary enterprises and gifts to close the gap while ensuring that a Bethany College education retains its accessibility, affordability and value.
  • Alumni continue to give back to their alma mater, mentoring young alumni and current students. It was especially gratifying to welcome several back to campus this spring, including Chad Barnett ‘96, Headmaster of the Linsly School, who was keynote speaker at the Kalon Scholar Service Leaders Leadership Academy; Emmy Award-winning producer Jhamal K. Robinson, ’98, Head of Production, Third Party, Yahoo! Studios, who keynoted the 28th annual Kalon Scholarship Luncheon in March; and Susan Lister ’89, former Assistant Commissioner of The Big Ten Conference and senior specialist in global communications for Whirlpool, who was guest speaker at the 65th annual Darline Nicholson Spring Breakfast honoring Bethany senior women.  Formal research has shown that the strength of our alumni network and enduring, close faculty-student relationships represent a significant marketing advantage that Bethany can leverage in the recruiting process.
  • Bethany’s strong scholar-athlete tradition continues. Our women’s volleyball team, coached by Courtney Kline, boasted three academic All-Americans and two graduates with 4.0+ grade point averages, while the team won a record 31 contests and earned its second consecutive ECAC championship this spring.
  • The Bison men’s basketball team continued a history of success, winning the conference championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament.  They were led by junior Nick Wilcox, PAC Player of the Year.
Although Bethany is doing all of the right things to remain competitive, it is critical for us to stay on top of the trends that impact the health of private colleges. In April, I was invited to attend a conference, the “Lafayette Group,” convened by President Daniel H. Weiss of Lafayette College who framed the discussion with a detailed opening keynote address that provided a far-sighted perspective on trends in higher education. Sixty of America’s most prestigious private liberal arts colleges, including  Bethany, were represented.

Cost, competitiveness and value were dominant themes of President Weiss’s analysis. We learned that college expenses have grown at rates in excess of the cost of living, and that educational costs now make up more than half of median family income. On campuses, the cost-per-student rate has risen faster than the economy.

We are already seeing some results of shifts in consumer confidence toward traditional colleges and universities. These include a proliferation of online education and for-profit providers and growing discussion about the number of years it takes—and should take—to complete a four-year undergraduate degree. A June 3, 2012, article in The Washington Post reminds us of government figures that show a four-year graduation rate of 31 percent for public institutions, 52 percent at private schools. (Bethany’s average is 4.2 years to complete an undergraduate degree.)

The good news for private colleges, according to President Weiss and the Lafayette Group conference, is that those institutions offering a comprehensive, residential learning environment, committed faculty, strong post-graduate outcomes and the formative educational approach offered through the liberal arts, with careful financial management and wise investments in technology, will be sustainable. I would add that sound strategic planning, understanding of shifting demographics in the higher education market and a focus on student-centeredness are imperative. Bethany definitely meets these criteria.

The greatest area of need, of course, is to ensure that a solid liberal arts education in a comprehensive, residential setting such as that offered by Bethany remains accessible to all who can benefit from it. Although the College has kept tuition increases below the level of many other peer institutions, tuition has nearly doubled in the last decade.  Tuition revenue currently accounts for 54 percent of our institutional revenue, with income from endowment at 9.6 percent and auxiliary enterprises at 27.3 percent. We continue to explore new sources of revenue, including establishing a possible Master of Fine Arts degree; expanding the current, highly successful Master of Arts in Teaching program, and enhancing current dual-degree programs such as those we now have with Carnegie Mellon University. 

In my August State of the College remarks to faculty, staff, volunteer leadership and friends (to be webcast on the Bethany Broadcasting Network), I will highlight the continued momentum of the College in enrollment, fundraising, academic and student-life programs, while discussing opportunities to prepare us to prosper in a changing higher education landscape with shifting demographics.  It’s a tall order for a small private college, but Bethany—consistent with our 172-year history of overcoming every challenge—is up to the task.

Enjoy your summer, and be sure to visit if your travels take you in the direction of A Small College of National Distinction.

"One minute of patience can result in ten years of peace." Italian Proverb