Monday, October 29, 2012

Bethany Trivia

What is Bethany College's most popular study abroad program?

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bethany Trivia

Which Bison athlete set a single-season record three years in a row?

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mission Possible: Keeping Private Higher Ed Affordable and Relevant

(The Huffington Post, October 16, 2012)

 Amid all the concerns about affordability, value and consumer preference in the higher education arena today, some good news has surfaced that should give private colleges and universities optimism heading into the fall prospective-student visitation season.

A tuition and student-aid survey released on October 5 by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) indicates that although "published tuition and fees" at our private institutions increased 3.9 percent, on average, it's the lowest such rate increase in some 40 years. Institutional student aid -- typically in the form of scholarships -- went up 6.2 percent, offsetting the sticker price of tuition, room and board.

Writes NAICU President David Warren in an email to member presidents, "While the financial challenges facing students and their families are still very real, this year's survey provides encouraging news."

It's good news indeed as college enrollment managers struggle to push their brands beyond the recent economic downturn and hit freshman recruitment targets. At my institution, Bethany College, we're increasingly selective but still driven by the right numbers. Our marketing program yielded 330 incoming students this fall, bringing total enrollment to around a thousand and demonstrating our ability to attract top-notch students looking for a unique educational experience at West Virginia's oldest and most scenic college. Our first-tier national liberal arts listing in US News & World Report certainly helps (Bethany is the only West Virginia institution to be included in the first-tier rankings), along with our stellar academic reputation and an intensive career-development program offering plentiful internships, study-abroad opportunities, and professional networking with our well-placed alumni.

Add in abundant financial aid (Bethany grants) totaling over $9 million annually, our small student-to-faculty ratio and the latest campus amenities, among other features, and Bethany makes a persuasive case for enrollment.

Yet when I speak to prospective students and their families during our regular campus visitation days, I am ever mindful of their bottom-line thinking. I can read it in their faces: Is this the right college for the money, yielding the right results?

Naturally, my answer is consistently yes, and we can prove it. For one thing, the length of time needed to earn a degree recommends us. The nationwide average is over five years and rising. This additional time increases the cost of a student's education. At Bethany, our students complete their degrees within 4.5 years.

 Another positive factor is who we are. Our liberal arts mission is not just a tradition at Bethany; it's a leg up in the marketplace. It's been often said that liberal arts colleges prepare students not just for their careers but, perhaps more importantly, for their lives -- which are likely to include multiple job and career transitions, employment-market shifts and demand for the kind of broad thinking that anticipates those very changes. As our Bethany College Board of Trustees Chair Greg Jordan, global managing partner of the law firm of Reed Smith, stated to a campus audience last year in reference to the value of his own liberal-arts experience at Bethany, "The evidence is compelling that no matter where you want to go in life, no matter what you want to do, you can get there from here. You can get anywhere in life from here."

So I encourage prospective students and their families to think long-term value, not just react to our advertised cost. Meanwhile, my advice to our enrollment team is to listen very carefully to what students and parents are asking about -- successful career starts, comfortable residence halls, co-curricular activities, campus safety, and, above all, return on investment. As Chronicle of Higher Education vice president and editorial director Jeff Selingo in the September 2012 issue of CASE Currents magazine notes, "Today parents and students want answers to three questions: 'What and how will I learn?'; 'Will I get a job?'; and 'Will I make enough money in that job to pay for the debt I incur?'"

Such questions have the ring of marching orders, especially for independent colleges and universities where the traditional classroom model still predominates, where the budgets are enrollment-driven and where the imperative of customer service runs strong. It's as if our clients are saying, "We like who you are, and you've made a great first impression with a lovely, tradition-minded campus with caring faculty, where people still perform Shakespeare. Now, prove your real worth."

I hear them. Underscoring institutional strengths is vital to building and maintaining enrollment. Examples of attractive features might include an innovative mix of traditional and non-traditional programs; online, three-year options in selected disciplines; and international and synergistic partnerships with like-minded (peer) institutions. Small private colleges can often move faster to build new partnerships that enhance attractiveness to students. An example is collaborating with larger institutions to offer bachelor's-to-master's programs in popular career fields like health, information and systems management. In a matter of a few months, Bethany launched just such a program with Carnegie Mellon University last spring.

As higher education continues to be a consumer-driven business, we can take heart from the enduring popularity and reputation of the private, liberal arts college, and take inspiration from those students and families who still look to us as their preferred choice for a comprehensive, student-centered educational experience. That the market has become ever more competitive, our campus model ever more costly to maintain and our case for enrollment in need of ever more clarification and persuasion should not diminish our confidence in planning for the future. But consumer satisfaction and commitment depend on the plans we make now to remain affordable in cost, relevant in mission and rewarding in value. And we have no choice but to be at the top of our marketing game.

As I am reminded each autumn, our future is foretold in the faces we see on campus visitation days: willing and hopeful, but insistent.

Dr. 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.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bethany Trivia

Who was Harlan Hall named after?

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Bethany Trivia

What were the third floor rooms of the Carnegie Library in 1918?

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Visiting with the 2011 Homecoming King and Queen, Mat Robinson and Brittani Seeman, just before the 2012 coronation.

Bethany Trustee Bill Newton and I enjoyed visiting with generous Bethanian Bob Martin at the Donor Recognition Reception tonight at Christman Manor. Bob recently celebrated his 96th birthday.

Former Bison coach Don Ault visits with alumni, friends and fans at the tailgate area outside of Bison Stadium before Saturday's Homecoming game with Geneva College.

Just finished a special dedication honoring a distinguished family's long history with Bethany College. Members of the Bado family have graduated from Bethany across five decades since the 1950s. Their campus activities, notably within our Greek community, have been indicative of their love for Alma Mater, their willingness to serve, and their generous spirit as Bethanians. The commonly-known "Greek Hill" will henceforth be known as "Bado Place." The dedication recognizes: George Walter Bado, Sally Schreiver Bado, George McKenzie "Ken" Bado, Angela "Angie" Ryder Bado, Matthew Schreiver Bado, and Mark Alan Bado.

Moments ago, recognizing the Jay Buckelew Endowed Fund to be used to further the outstanding level of teaching, scholarship, and service in the biology program. Now Professor-emeritus, Jay retired last year after 43 years on the Bethany College faculty. A wonderful tribute to an outstanding educator who dedicated his life to this College. Thanks to Donna L. Smith '74 and James E. Gerb '77 for lending their names and valued leadership to launch the fund and therby continue Dr. Buckelew's legacy at Bethany.

Enjoyed sharing a private moment this morning with former Bethany football coach Don Ault before the dedication of the Don Ault Coaches Suite in Hummel Field House.

Great turnout last night in the Renner Art Gallery for the annual Homecoming Alumni Exhibit. Contributing artists included: Aaron Anslow (2006), Frank Ballato III (2004), Josh Beck (2002), Marjorie Valentine Card (2013), Richard Creighton (1987), Brennan Davies (2014), Lora Jude DeWolfe (2001), Perricle Fazzini (1986), Brenda Sorice Girod (2004), Jason Hartz (2000), Elizabeth Kletzli (2013), Kenn Morgan (1971), Dennis Pavan (1972), Kirstie Pomilio (2012), Mat Robinson (2012), Jennifer Smith (2009), Kayla Smuck (2013), Cheryl Sorice (2003), Victoria Spriggs (2013), Richard Strassguetle (2012).

Three stellar student-athletes who completed their athletic careers at Bethany College during the 2011-12 academic year were recognized last night by the Bethany College Athletic Hall of Fame: Eric Walker (football) was recognized with the William Hanna Award; Carrie Talkington (volleyball) received the Susan Hanna Award; and Megan Hoffman (volleyball) was tabbed for the Scholar Athlete Award.

Over 100 golfers took to the links Friday for the 8th annual Hugh Joyce Golf Tournament at Highland Springs Golf Course just outside of Bethany. The event is a major fund raiser for the Department of Athletics and Recreation each year.

Bethany College coaching legends Jan Forsty and John Cunningham share a moment at the Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet last night in Commencement Hall. The two have combined for over 1,400 wins...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

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 "Higher Education's Non-Commodifiable Public and Private Benefits." 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Performing the Critical Post-Mortem on Your New Entering Class

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

Summer is over, a new class is comfortably tucked in and you can relax and celebrate your recent recruitment efforts while marveling at the numbers and the profile of the incoming class.  Does this scenario sound familiar?  So it is reported on many campuses throughout the country.

Now is not, however, the time for complacency.  Rather, it is the time to evaluate this achievement and plan constructively for next year’s class.  An enrollment-cycle post-mortem to analyze what worked and what did not can be essential to ensuring future success.

Dr. James L. Fisher, president-emeritus of the Council for  Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), once said , “A college or university that is standing still is going backwards.”  So often we hear of colleges that have a good year in enrollment followed by a downturn in the following cycle because of unwarranted complacency.  Now, when the momentum is high, is the ideal time for the institution to plan for even greater productivity, rather than to make the too-common mistake of becoming caught up in the hoopla of today’s accomplishment. 

Effective college presidents regularly demand a focused analysis by their chief enrollment officers.  At the completion of each recruitment cycle, presidents should request an evaluation of:

·         Overall numbers and the accompanying academic-preparedness profile;

·         Effectiveness of financial aid packaging;

·         Effectiveness of recruitment publications;

·         Effectiveness of technology (including e-blasts, personalized URLs, the web, and social media);

·         Effectiveness of the call center;

·         Effectiveness of the chief enrollment officer and director of financial aid;

·         Effectiveness of all support staff;

·         Effectiveness of staff travel programs;

·         Productivity of college fairs and search pieces. 

The bottom line is whether the process is producing desired (planned) results; if not, what adjustments need to be made? Only the kind of analysis described above can provide the needed perspective. Because objectivity is difficult when one is so close to an institutional process, we recommend using an outside enrollment consultant and/or formal research to hone next year’s “funnel,” staffing and procedures. 

One effective president in the Mid-Atlantic region utilizes “Survey Monkey” to question students (and parents) who deposited but who ultimately did not enroll. The president then randomly calls some of the responders to collect additional data.  He uses the same technique with students who transfer to another institution.  “The results are amazing,” he reports.  “I get good, candid feedback, and from time to time, we do get students to re-enroll after a disappointing experience somewhere else.”  He indicated that he has used this approach successfully for more than a decade.

Another president in the Midwest annually uses an enrollment consultant to give a “fresh set of eyes” to the process.  “We’ve had a successful operation for many years,” he noted.  “But evaluative comments and new ideas always spark a better discussion when they come from outside the organization.  Outside counsel can say things in a way the insiders often can’t.”  He has utilized John Dysart of The Dysart Group in this capacity for nearly 20 years.

Highly effective presidents go a step further.  Always thinking ahead, they convene summer planning retreats to set the desired marketing tone on campus.  They constantly challenge their campuses to look at new enrollment opportunities.  Currently, that approach might include an innovative mix of traditional and non-traditional programs; online, three-year options in selected areas; and international and synergistic partnerships with “like-minded” institutions.
The president of a selective liberal arts college in the South proudly reels off a list of dual-degree programs with a highly selective  private research institution that creates a “value added” for students.  “They can take a prescribed curriculum for three years with us,” he notes, “then attend the other institution for 1 ½ to 2 years…earn two world- class degrees and be in the workforce within a shorter period of time, ultimately saving thousands of tuition dollars for his or her family.”

The completion of a recruitment cycle often compels a staffing change.  Presidents with whom we work add that this is the most competitive market in years for the recruitment and retention of admissions and financial-aid leaders and staff.  We recommend experienced search consultants to evaluate critical staffing positions as an effective return on investment, and we are always happy to suggest specific consultants upon request.

#          #          #

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. He is Chair of the Board of Directors of Academic Search, Inc. , Washington, D.C.

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 (2008)” and “Presidential Perspectives: Strategies to Address the Rising Cost of Higher Education” (2012.)  They are regular columnists for College Planning and Management and Enrollment Manager. Both serve as consultants to college presidents and boards.

The Spirit—and Importance—of Giving

 (The President's Letter, October 2012)

As I travel the country meeting with alumni and friends of Bethany, providing updates on the progress of the College and the many noteworthy accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students, I am reminded of the steadfast loyalty of Bethanians of all generations.  Many have heard me say that in 22 years as a college president at three very different institutions,  never have I seen a college or university in which graduates openly express their love for their alma mater to the extent that Bethany alumni do.  Whether the accolades come from corporate chief executive officers, church leaders or educators, I have heard countless stories of the influential—indeed, transformational—powers of this historic place and the roles Bethany has played in shaping both the personal and professional philosophy and direction of its graduates.
The consistent and fervent support of Bethanians reflects a true and inspiring spirit of giving that often is also expressed through generous financial contributions.
Vice President for Institutional Advancement Sven de Jong recently provided me with an update of progress on our capital campaign, “Transformation Now:  The Campaign for Bethany College.”  To date, he noted, total gifts and pledges have exceeded $44 million. Over the past four years, most of these gifts have come from alumni of the College who recognize that what we charge in tuition and fees represents just a fraction of what it costs to operate our 1,300-acre campus, to provide a world-class education and to remain competitive as a nationally ranked institution. 
Although our campaign continues, we have already funded many key components of our 10-year, $68 million campus master plan.  They include:  

  • Major renovations to buildings (Cochran Hall, Hurl Center for Education, Christman Manor, Cummins Community Center, Benedum Commons, and Bethany House);
  • Expansion of facilities (artificial turf, all-weather track, lights and expanded locker rooms at Bison Stadium; 200 new parking spaces; Bethany Beanery in Morlan Hall);
  • Academic initiatives (the Matthew Quay Ammon Professorship in Mathematics,  the McCann Family Student Investment Fund, the John R. Taylor Award in Liberal Arts, the Cooey-Davis Experiential Learning Fellowship, Cooey Value Added Award and a wide variety of endowed funds);
  • Technological and instrumentation upgrades (including Bethany’s participation in the Bowen Central Virtual Library of Appalachia).

Along with 31 new endowed funds established through giving, these and other achievements represent highly visible areas of support that are greatly appreciated.  Moreover, during these very difficult economic times, The Bethany Fund has been essential to the College’s operational stability.  The Fund provides support for salaries, faculty and staff development, travel, scholarships, the student work program, campus upkeep and much more.   

Now, more than ever before, the need for alumni participation is critical. Whether or not you play the college-rankings game, it’s a reality that prospective students and their families, guidance counselors and others do give credence to external rankings of colleges and universities, ratings which are in part influenced by participation of alumni in their institutions’ annual funds.  Further, as we visit with foundations, businesses, corporations and wealthy individuals, we are frequently asked about our alumni participation rate.  While it is a respectable 11 percent above the national average, it still lags 10 percent behind that of our peer national liberal arts colleges.  Although our endowment ranks first among private colleges in West Virginia, it is just one-tenth the amount of the very top of national liberal arts colleges nationwide. 

In addition, planned gifts (trusts and estate gifts) form the foundation of success for most private colleges.  As you make your estate plans, don’t forget Bethany.  Providing for your alma mater is easy to do, and although you won’t see your impact immediately, you will enjoy the satisfaction that comes from building a legacy from which future generations will benefit. Truly, it is a gift that keeps on giving.

Our fall Phonathon is now underway with a team of students reaching out to alumni and friends throughout the country.  These are students who are calling seeking support for scholarship funds that help underwrite their education.  Please answer your phones, visit with our students and make a thoughtful gift that will impact the lives of many for years to come.   Or make a gift now by clicking on the “Give a Gift Now” link on the front of our web site ( .  The academic profile of the Class of 2016 is the strongest in 12 years and one of the most impressive in 30 years.  Clearly, our numbers are growing, but so is the need to provide a first-rate education.  Every gift and every dollar counts. Thanks in advance for your generous support.

P.S.  I can think of 44 million reasons to say thank you for what you have given to date.  Let’s propel this campaign over the top. 

Bethany Trivia

When was the first time that men and women were able to dine on campus together?

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