Thursday, December 27, 2012

Changing the Campus Climate on Climate Change

(The Huffington Post, December 27, 2012)

Going green is nothing new at Bethany College, we like to say. Our school colors are green and white, and the splendor of our mountaintop campus, especially in the greening season of spring, is unmistakable.

But there’s a more urgent reason that we have chosen a green path. Along with some 700 colleges and universities throughout the nation, Bethany has joined the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC, About 400 of the signatories to the Climate Commitment have already filed action plans signifying their institutions’ goal of becoming climate-neutral in two years.

 As with so many other economic, social and cultural issues of our time, environmental awareness is a natural for academe. Not only do we have capable science and engineering faculty on many of our campuses who are actively monitoring and researching the realities of global warming, but we also have a fresh army of students who are eager to participate in an updated version of the 1970’s Earth Day celebrations of our planet.  Today campuses are experiencing a growing interest in doing the right thing environmentally—from recycling to commissioning energy-usage audits to revamping business practices to reflect greater environmental conservation and stewardship.
There are compelling reasons to do so beyond simply protesting pollution. As my colleague Dr. Marylouise Fennell and I wrote recently in a piece for College Planning & Management, “curbing emissions and using clean, renewable energy sources will not only stabilize and reduce long-term energy costs, but also attract funding while fostering new opportunities and synergistic partnerships.” Even better, perhaps, than financial incentives, the ACUPCC believes that institutions “integrating sustainability into their curriculum will better serve their students and meet their social mandate to help create a thriving, ethical, and civil society.”

Because solving global environmental problems must be a collaborative effort to succeed, such modeling can begin on campuses. At Bethany, students worked with faculty to develop a survey that yielded useful data about campus pollution. The first comprehensive analysis of greenhouse gas emissions at Bethany, the survey instrument became a model for future data collection.

At the grassroots level, meanwhile, students embraced recycling, working with our dining service to foster food awareness and stewardship of energy resources through a series of workshops and demonstrations designed to illustrate what it costs to produce, dispense and waste food.  Over a two-day period, they collected 239 pounds of wasted food from the campus cafeteria, while promoting a food drive that secured 250 pounds of canned and non-perishable items which were donated to area needy families. Nearly all of our students contributed to the food drive.

Bethany will soon significantly increase paper recycling, collecting and shredding paper waste throughout the campus and devoting much of it to bedding for our horses at the College’s equestrian center at Wheeling’s Oglebay Resort and Conference Center.

Sustainability is the magic word, of course. The ACUPCC encourages campuses not only to foster awareness, but to inculcate it permanently in institutional practice and tradition. Assistance is available to colleges and universities in identifying financial resources, including initiatives available through government and private-sector programs, to offset the start-up costs often associated with “going green.” That’s useful in convincing governing boards to buy into the plan. Long-term, campus environmental programs pay for themselves in reduced energy costs and enhanced facility efficiency, along with stewardship of tuition dollars and public-relations benefits that appeal to prospective students and their families.

Interdisciplinary approaches that unite curricular programs toward achieving common goals also offer exciting possibilities. Encouraging departments in the natural sciences, political science, public policy, business and economics, communication and others to analyze environmental problems from multiple perspectives offers tremendous opportunities for building interdepartmental consensus, developing new programs and strengthening institutional marketing.

If recent weather patterns are any indication of climate change—and there is compelling evidence that points to human intervention as the leading factor—our colleges and universities may be the perfect laboratories in which to develop practical models and solutions for addressing complex environmental problems. Although institutions are often resistant to rapid change, climate change is a reality that higher education can and must address—locally, globally and definitively.

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.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Get Ready for the Online Invasion

(Enrollment Manager, January 2013 – by Scott D. Miller and Marylouise Fennell)
What if they gave a traditional classroom lecture and nobody came? Although that’s not about to happen any time soon, the growing popularity of free virtual courses transcending barriers of time and geography, coupled with online offerings from for-profit institutions, poses a plethora of challenges for college presidents.
As the next wave of students weaned on the Internet engulfs our campuses, enrollment managers and CEOs need to prepare now with strategies and answers before they begin to receive, in large numbers, requests such as these from 18-year-olds:  I’ve completed 30 units of online coursework.  Can I transfer them in for credit toward a bachelor’s degree?” 
Many educators note that MOOC’s (massive online open courses) such as MITx, a portfolio of free MIT virtual courses also offered online by Harvard, Stanford, Yale and other prestigious universities, have taken higher education by storm. Further, with the advent of sites such as Coursera, a California-based virtual learning community, this issue has taken on considerable urgency in the larger context of how traditional colleges and universities can best deliver courses to students who have been learning online since pre-kindergarten.  The American Council on Education (ACE) has just announced, in its words, an initiative next year using faculty teams to assess the content and rigor of these courses to evaluate whether they should be recommended for college credit.

Barely a year old, MOOCs differ from older for-profit distance learning programs in several ways: they are often more rigorous, offering highly motivated students a fast track to completing their undergraduate educations and allowing them to move more quickly into graduate programs and into the marketplace.  The fact that courses from elite institutions are tuition-free appeals to all students, but especially to veterans and other non-traditional learners, the fastest-growing demographic segment in higher education today. 

With similar live courses costing several hundred dollars per unit, traditional campus-based programs obviously cannot compete on cost.  A possible solution -- limiting the number of units which students can transfer in -- may simply drive them to other universities. 

We urge presidents and chief enrollment officers to arm themselves and their respective institutions now for this new wave of virtual learners who increasingly will seek a $200,000 degree for the price of a few on-campus courses. In addition to what and how many virtual courses will be accepted and from what institutions, the time required to evaluate these courses will be of great concern to faculty.

The questions to be asked, then, are:

What credits will we accept?

How many and from whom will we accept them?

Who will evaluate them for equivalency with our current courses and degree requirements?     

As they ponder these emerging challenges, presidents and senior campus leadership, including faculty, will also want to consider the larger picture of how to best deliver courses to students who are “digital natives.”

Rather than the traditional “lecture” approach, one president from a primarily residential campus in the Northeast with a distance component suggests encouraging faculty to use the MOOC approach to teaching, using digitalized multimedia, online offerings as class preparation. Valuable classroom time is then used for discussion and analysis based on students’ virtual participation beforehand.

Similarly, Yale Provost and President-Elect Peter Salovey teaches a seminar called “Great Big Ideas” in which students watch the course’s lectures online, leaving classroom time entirely free for interactive discussion.

“MOOCs really (constitute) only one part of what online tools can provide, and it may in the end not be the most important part,” Provost Salovey says.

Although there will always be the traditional undergraduate demographic that seeks and benefits from the residential experience, a growing number of students will seek the cost-effective, convenient and expeditious virtual community to enhance their educational experience.

Experienced, respected enrollment management professionals such as the Dysart Group, Inc., can suggest strategic tools and strategies to help college presidents and enrollment managers to anticipate and craft proactive responses combining the best of both virtual and traditional, campus-based learning.

“We can project trends and suggest innovative solutions to adapt the traditional classroom model to contemporary online learners,” President John W. Dysart notes.

Keeping a college education affordable and accessible to all students who can benefit from it has long been the principal challenge facing presidents and senior campus management.  The new distance alternatives make this balance both more complex and more urgent.

Thoughtful answers need to come soon, because our 17-year-old students wanting to complete most of their undergraduate education free and online are not going to wait for us to advance favorable solutions.  Instead, they are quite likely to reply, “Well, if you won’t accept my online courses for credit toward a degree, I’m going to enroll at another institution that does.”

 #     #     #

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.

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. Both serve as consultants to college presidents and boards.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bethany Trivia

Who was the first female professor to be granted emeritus status?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bethany College President's Office Student Staff Holiday Dinner

Annie and I enjoyed hosting the student staff of the Office of the President at Christman Manor tonight for the annual Christmas dinner. Pictured (back row, from top): Amber Ridings, Carlie Fisher, Mindy Bierhals, Chelsea Benson, and Heidi Soriano. Front (from left): SDM, Johnathan Foster, Morgan Jacobs, and Annie Grogan. Clark Creel (Executive Chef) and Shawn Stewart catered tonight's event.
The “Alliance of Language Clubs” (German, Italian, & Spanish Clubs) here at Bethany College stopped by the president's house (Christman Manor) tonight as a part of their community Christmas Caroling. Christmas carols were sung in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish by Bethany College students and faculty members. Kudos to Prof. Joe Lovano and Harald Menz for organizing this wonderful Bethany tradition.
Nice visiting at lunch today with our talented chaplain, Rev. Scott Thayer, and his wife Jeannie. Jeannie works in our Department of Education in the Hurl Center. Both have been a significant part of campus life for three years.
Four-time All-PAC and two-time first team Academic All-American volleyball star Jessica Zavatchen visits with Prof. Aaron Anslow (Bethany's NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative) at the 19th annual Bethany College Faculty/Student Pottery Sale in the Grace Phillips Johnson Visual Arts Center. Zavatchen holds an impressive 3.9 cumulative grade point average!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Beta Theta Pi (Faculty, Staff, and Alumni Holiday Party)

Great turnout and enjoyable time at the Beta Theta Pi Faculty, Staff and Alumni Holiday Party at the house. 
Dr. Miller pictured with members in front of the tree.

The tree selection committee of Tyler Buchanan, Casey Hamilton and Alex Delgiorno.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bethany Trivia

In what year did a member of the women's swim team break five individual records?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Presidents' Athletic Conference Council of Presidents Winter Meeting

Just returned from the Winter Meeting of the Presidents' Athletic Conference Council of Presidents in Pittsburgh. It was good to see and visit with Kevin Fenstermacher, left, new Assistant Commissioner/Director of Communications of the PAC. He is a 2000 grad of Bethany. He is pictured with PAC Commissioner Joe Onderko.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holidays Highlight the Special Blessings of Bethany

 (The President's Letter, December 2012)

The holiday season at a small college is always special. Students and faculty prepare for the end of their fall semester, holiday travel arrangements are confirmed, campus special events (such as our interfaith Light Up Night on November 29) bring the community together, shortened days gently nudge us toward winter.

It’s been a wonderful year at Bethany, worth celebrating as Christmas arrives and 2012 comes to a close. Here a few highlights:

We achieved major goals in enrollment and fundraising, as well as collaborative initiatives with such institutions as Carnegie Mellon University, now a Bethany partner in six new dual-degree programs. Our strong standing as a first-tier, national liberal arts college has been reaffirmed through the latest higher education rankings. The strength and quality of Bethany’s enrollment program, along with our having achieved $44 million to date in the capital campaign, are just some of the indicators of the College’s continuing success and national prominence.

Homecoming Weekend, October 5-6, was spectacular—a classic coming together of alumni and friends, campus dedications and the honoring of those who make Bethany so special. Later that month, Bethany Trustee Vice Chair Dr. Robert McCann, CEO of UBS Group Americas, hosted 25 Bethany students at an in-depth series of leadership and career-development forums in Pittsburgh, capped by an off-the-record examination of current issues by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Dr. Greg Jordan, chair of the Bethany Board of Trustees, summed up the importance of the day’s activities with this challenge to our students: “Get into the game…You are at a very exciting point in your life. It’s all in front of you.”

Our ability to look ahead as a college is matched only by the empowering strength of our traditions, especially those closely identified with our founding denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A highlight of the year for me was the invitation to address the congregation and friends of the National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., October 14. Convened by the Rev. Dr. Peter Morgan, Bethany College’s Director of Church Relations Dr. Larry Grimes, and the Rev. Scott Thayer, our campus chaplain and minister of the Bethany Memorial Church, the occasion was a celebration of the historic relationship between Bethany and the iconic Washington church which once counted among its parishioners U.S. Presidents Lyndon Johnson and James Garfield, the latter a former trustee of Bethany College.
In my address to the congregation, I had the honor of commenting on that relationship by saying, “Bethany College is our founder Alexander Campbell’s legacy to those chosen students who seek to free their minds from prejudice, explore the wonders of the world, and diligently, pleasurably, and perhaps even uncomfortably reflect as they learn amid the spiritually nourishing splendor of the Appalachians. To walk where President Campbell walked, to glimpse the far-reaching vision of possibility that he possessed, is an honor and privilege that defines our work at Bethany each day.” What a great day for Bethany, our friends in the Church and all who share our mission.
As the calendar year winds down to its final weeks, I hope you will join the thousands of alumni and friends who make an annual gift to The Bethany Fund.  The holiday season is often when our contributors decide to make their calendar-year-end gift to Bethany, but we welcome your support at any time.
Why does your gift matter? Contributing to Bethany helps us address some of the most urgent challenges that we and our peer institutions confront in preparing for the future. These include having adequate resources for scholarships, faculty development, campus technology and facilities, the library, study-abroad initiatives and many other needs and opportunities. Every gift, of any amount, matters and is gratefully received.

At a time when the public increasingly questions the worth of an investment in a quality, four-year educational experience such as that offered by Bethany, gifts from alumni and friends aid us in assuring our prospective students and their families that Bethany is indeed worth that investment by providing important enhancements to our learning environment. Thank you for your commitment to our success.
On behalf of the entire campus community, Annie and I wish for each of you the happiest of holiday seasons, along with a spectacular new year of 2013. We hope your plans for the new year will include a visit to the beautiful, historic mountaintop campus of A Small College of National Distinction.

Bethany Trivia

When was the Bethany Alma Mater written?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kappa Delta Pi (International Education Honor Society) Induction

The honorary held its annual inducation ceremony today at the Hurl Center. Chad Barnett, Headmaster, The Linsly School, was the keynote speaker.

45th Bethany Fall Annual Art Exhibition

Professor Kenn Morgan recognizes "Best of the Show" winner Betsy Cox, pictured with "The Watcher."

Prof. Morgan, left, pictured with: Betsy Cox, center left, "Best of the Show,"; to the left of her, Merit Award Winners, April Waltz, Robert Sako, Greta Foose, Jim Watson, Bozena Plucinska. On right, Honorable Mention Awards, Calvin Matzke, Greta Foose, Judith Minder, Robert Morris and Len Smith.

Professors Kenn Morgan and Aaron Anslow are proud to carry on this significant Bethany College tradition.

2012 Pittsburgh Polar Plunge

Bethany College's Student Athlete Advisory Council joined other SAC teams from the Presidents' Athletic Conference for the Pittsburgh Polar Plunge. Our "team" is pictured with PAC Commissioner Joe Onderko and Assistant Commissioner Kevin Fenstermacher (a Bethanian) at Heinz Field.