Thursday, January 31, 2013

Building the Senior Team

(College Planning and Management, February 2013 - by Scott D. Miller and Marylouise Fennell)

Team-building is one of the most urgent, yet most challenging, of all priorities facing a CEO in the earliest days of his or her tenure.  Choose too quickly, and you risk making damaging mistakes that may cripple your presidency from its outset.  Move too slowly, and you lose the “honeymoon” phase in which new presidencies must flourish if they are to succeed.

While there are no guarantees when human variables are concerned, our experience has shown that these time-tested strategies will produce senior-level teams that can hit the ground running while creating a climate of success for new presidencies:

Look for complementary strengths and skills.  High-performing presidents are not threatened by individuals with greater skills in their areas of expertise than they; on the contrary, they seek them out.  Effective leaders build on their areas of strength, while minimizing their weaknesses.  An experienced search firm will help by adding diversity and balance to senior-level positions. 

Bring Nay-Sayers Into the Fold.  In her acclaimed 2005 bestseller Team of Rivals, Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin describes President Abraham Lincoln’s inclusion of four outspoken former rivals for the Republican nomination into his cabinet, thus demonstrating his political genius.  “That Lincoln made the unprecedented decision to incorporate eminent rivals into his political family, the Cabinet, was evidence of a profound self-confidence and a first indicator of what would prove to others an unexpected greatness,” she writes in her introduction.   In so doing, Lincoln brought these nay-sayers and their former supporters into his inner circle, not only benefitting from their diverse strengths and talents, but also neutralizing opposition to his policies that could have doomed his fledgling administration.  It’s an astute tactic that can benefit college and university presidencies as well.

Use a search consultant.  An executive search firm will greatly broaden the playing field, identifying candidates who may not be actively looking. Properly selected and used, consultants can actually save time, money and costly hiring mistakes by thoroughly vetting candidates before the interview process begins.

Here are additional reasons why a professional executive search represents a prudent use of institutional resources when building a senior team:

·       Executive search firms can shorten the interviewing process, thereby maintaining the interest of strong candidates.

·       Executive search firms can perform “due diligence,” preventing costly mistakes in hiring and maximizing a strong fit with the organization.

·       Executive search firms can both enhance the quality of the candidate pool and help the institution focus on a manageable list of finalists. 

Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth.  In his 2011 New York Times bestseller In the Garden of Beasts, author Erik Larson describes the rise of Adolf Hitler in the first full year of the Third Reich, in which the rise of Nazism might still have been halted.  Despite numerous warning signs and personal misgivings, senior diplomats and leaders of major world powers failed to challenge the German chancellor, in part because, ignoring Hitler’s actions to the contrary, they heard only what agreed with their own goals and values.  Diplomats such as U.S. Ambassador William E. Dodd, who did tell the truth as he perceived it, were alternately ignored and rebuked. 

The best presidents surround themselves with senior advisors who can be counted on to tell them what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear.

No presidency succeeds alone; every CEO needs the synergy of a loyal, committed and talented senior team to fulfill the promise of a new presidency. Using these strategies will help to ensure that the new administration achieves its full potential.

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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 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.)  Both serve as consultants to college presidents and boards.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bethany Trivia

Which Bethany Trustee went on to become President of the United States?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Loyal Bethanians Peter and Lynne Morgan attended the final event on the Bethany College Alumni & Friends Caravan today at the Estero Country Club in Fort Myers, Florida. Back to West Virginia in the morning.

Enjoyable dinner in Fort Meyers tonight with David and Valerie Black. We've been friends since the early 1980's at Rio Grande. David will be retiring from the presidency of Eastern University in May.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

MOOC-Covered Towers? Online Education's Coming Impact on Traditional College

(The Huffington Post, January 26, 2013)

When I recently mentioned to some higher-education colleagues my concern about MOOCs, I was astonished that none of them seemed to know what I was talking about.
They ignore MOOCs at their peril. Here's why:
MOOCs, or "massive open online courses," reflect the continuing emergence and influence of consumer demand in the traditional higher education arena, with a technological vengeance. For years, colleges have been responding to rising student expectations -- building new and more deluxe student centers, remodeling residence halls, adding food courts and fitness centers and going wireless campus-wide. Such physical changes, along with revisions of curriculum and addition of innovative student-support programs, have been necessary to position colleges and universities for financial stability in tough enrollment markets. The student consumer no longer simply responds to campus planning; he or she increasingly directs it.
This is especially true with the latest online courses, the availability of which will affect profoundly every traditional institution's strategic planning for years to come. MOOCs differ from older for-profit distance-learning programs in several ways. Often more rigorous and offering highly motivated students a fast track to completing their undergraduate educations, MOOCs allow students to move more quickly into graduate programs and the career marketplace. Many courses are offered from elite institutions tuition-free, which especially appeals to veterans and other non-traditional learners who constitute the fastest-growing demographic segment in higher education today. MOOCs also have a natural, traditional-aged student fan base, reflecting the fact that for nearly a generation, students from pre-school to high school have already been learning online.
What are the implications for traditional, residential colleges and universities? For openers, MOOCs pose some complex questions: What MOOC credits are transferable? From which other institutions will we accept them? How and by whom will such courses be evaluated for equivalency and quality with existing courses and degree requirements?
Then there is the simple fact of finance. If a student expects to transfer, say, 30 credits of online coursework toward a bachelor's degree at a residential institution, won't that college or university confront a corresponding drop in revenues? That student may opt to enroll at a campus that will accept those credits.
Advantages also abound, however, for those colleges that find a way to incorporate MOOCs into their curriculum. At Bethany College, students can now take summer online courses through Bethany's participation in the Online Consortium of Independent Colleges and Universities. With up to 12 credit hours to choose from, this program enhances Bethany's course offerings and availability to students. And for institutions seeking a neat new marketing angle to attract young faculty as well as students, MOOCs may be the right strategy.
Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera, a California-based virtual learning community, points out in a January 24 piece for Inside Higher Ed that while MOOCs "are still the wild west of higher education, and there is no 'one size fits all' approach" to developing them, he and his colleagues are "reimagining many aspects of what it means to teach a course, ranging from lecture delivery, to assignments, to strategies for engaging the online community of students."
As with many technological issues of our time, however, institutional practice must keep pace -- if it can -- with electronic applications and options. 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 and administrators. Few precedents exist now for such evaluation, though as Coursera's Andrew Ng notes, MOOCs offer new opportunities for faculty collaboration and mutual mentoring.
Despite such obvious advantages, however, colleges and universities are notoriously slow to change their curricula. Even small private colleges like Bethany, which can often move fast to embrace innovative opportunities like MOOCs, may encounter resistance by traditionalists as proposed curricular adaptations crawl through campus committees.
Nevertheless, significant expansion of distance learning, especially when coupled with continuing education programs, offers increased marketing possibilities for even the most traditional campuses. I trust that a substantial number of students will continue to seek the residential, classroom-based college experience. My college, Bethany, has survived greater challenges than MOOCs in its nearly 173-year history, and the strength of our academic reputation and devoted faculty will always recommend us as a top choice for college freshmen.
The challenge is to figure out how to embrace MOOCs and other technological innovations so that they best complement, not replace, that primary and original learning experience.
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.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Enjoyable evening with Bethany College alumni and friends at the home of Bob and Nancy Goin in the Ponte Verda Golf and Country Club Community. Pictured, from left: Carol, Nancy, Bob and Doug.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Special thanks to Dr. Eugene and Thelma Miller for hosting our Bethany College Alumni & Friends event tonight at the St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton. A graduate of Bethany, Dr. Miller is Trustee-emeritus of Bethany College.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First night of the Bethany College Alumni & Friends Florida Caravan. Enjoyable dinner with Doug Goin, son of legendary Bethany Coach Bob (and Nancy) Goin at Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill club Club & Lodge.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

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 "Equity vs. Efficiency: Maintaining Differentiation and Quality in the New Commodity-Driven World of Higher Education."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bethany Trivia

When was Alexander Campbell's last public appearance?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Monday, January 7, 2013

Bethany Trivia

Who donated the Carillon Bell system used in Old Main?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Enjoyable dinner tonight with Earl Brooks and Melanie Noah Brooks. Friends from our Lincoln Memorial University and Wesley College days.

Great visiting with Bruce Alperin, Senior Director of Marketing for Aramark Higher Education, at a dinner tonight at Innisbrook Resort. Bruce and Aramark are sponsors of our popular higher education thought series "Presidential Perspectives," now in its 7th year.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Honored to be serving a two year term as Chair of The Council of Colleges and Universities of the Christian Church (D.O.C.). Pictured as today's Council meeting with other officers of the organization: Kenneth Garren, (President, Lynchburg College), vice chair & treasurer; Richard Valentine (President, Culver-Stockton College), secretary; and David Arnold (President, Eureka College), immediate past-chair.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Future Holds Challenges, Opportunities for Bethany

 (The President's Letter, January 2013)

The history of Bethany College shows that few things have been easy in our 173 years. From the moment we were founded in 1840, operating a distinguished small college in the Appalachian wilderness has brought challenges. Through grit and grace, however, along with dedicated faculty and staff, and the generous leadership of trustees, alumni and friends across the decades, we have built something of enduring value. Bethany is a place that has inspired and influenced generations, a small college of national distinction.

Although the outlook for the College is very bright, as we look ahead, we must, nevertheless, be watchful of the trends that are impacting all small private colleges. These include not only the familiar economic and social forces that affect us, but also—following the recent election—political ones, as well.

A recent post-election webinar, sponsored by the American Council on Education (ACE), offered some insights, from a legislative standpoint, on what the future may hold for Bethany and our peer institutions.

According to Terry Hartle, ACE’s senior vice president for government and public affairs, the November 6 election, while largely preserving the political status quo, reminds us of the exposure of higher education to certain national issues. These include the “fiscal cliff” mix of automatic budget cuts (or sequestration), expiring tax cuts, and the federal debt ceiling; preservation of Pell Grants (currently exempted from federal budget sequestration); student loan interest rates (scheduled to double as of July 1, 2013); funding for scientific research (not exempt from sequestration); and Higher Education Act reauthorization.

Generally for private colleges like Bethany, some issues have minimal impact; because we are not a research institution, for example, cuts in funding for scientific investigation are not very hurtful. For our prospective students and their families, however, any future erosion of Pell Grants, the scheduled increases in student-loan interest rates and the ever-present risk of falling back into economic recession all portend risk and uncertainty.

During the recent recession, many private colleges, including Bethany, had to work especially hard to hit enrollment targets for their incoming freshman classes. That was because budget-minded families, though they may have wanted to send their children to college, weighed their options carefully before committing to enrollment. Although Bethany offers more than $9 million annually in institutionally funded financial aid (mostly through scholarships), perception is reality in the minds of consumers. If they don’t perceive they can afford a college education, they may choose not to commit to it.

The good news is that in recent years, Bethany has increased enrollment, as well as retention, of students. We’re attracting academically well-prepared and motivated young scholars who find that our traditional liberal arts programs are the best preparation for the multiple career and life changes they will undoubtedly experience once they graduate. The strength of our national academic reputation, coupled with Bethany’s traditional emphasis on personal mentoring, internships and career development, will continue to recommend us to some of America’s best and brightest future Bethanians.

But our small college among the wilderness is not, so to speak, out of the woods. Competition from online and for-profit educational providers, to name just two challenges to our market share, is increasingly a force to be reckoned with. As my colleague Marylouise Fennell and I wrote recently in a forthcoming column for Enrollment Manager, the digital revolution is impacting how traditional colleges view acceptance of transfer credits. With the availability of low-cost, virtual-classroom options, we stated in the article, “a growing number of students will seek the cost-effective, convenient and expeditious virtual community to enhance their educational experience.”
So Bethany must keep alert not only to these challenges but also to the opportunities that our historic mission and formats of learning offer. We will always remain a viable choice to those seeking a residential, personalized and intellectually invigorating and interactive educational experience. Although our marketing must keep pace with students’ technological proficiency, and our residence and campus-life options must meet, or exceed, students’ expectations, our fundamental reason for being is sound, attractive and worthwhile.

Still, as I said before, few things are easy—not only at Bethany but also in much of private higher education today. Perhaps as our founder Alexander Campbell knew so well, the decisions we make to overcome obstacles and produce the thoughtful leaders that America needs are what continue to recommend us across the ages as a great institution. We have always managed to survive and, more importantly, to flourish.
As we enter the new year of 2013, our 174th as Bethany College, let me thank all of you for your support of our success in these remarkable times, and offer my wishes for the happiest of new years to you and yours. 

January's Schedule -- Upcoming Events and Meetings

January 1 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

January 2 – Staff returns to work

January 7-25 – January Term

January 21-22 – Senior Written Comprehensive Examinations

January 22-28 – Bethany College Florida Caravan

January 23-26 – Senior Oral Comprehensive Examinations

January 23 – Bethany College Boca Raton, Florida, Area Alumni and Friends, St. Andrews Country Club, 5:30 p.m., RSVP required.  Hosted by Eugene Miller ‘47

January 24 – Bethany College Ponte Vedra, Florida, Area Alumni and Friends, location and time TBA, RSVP required. Hosted by Bob Goin ‘59

January 26 – Bethany College St. Petersburg, Florida, Area Alumni and Friends, Marchand’s Bar & Grill at the Vinoy Renaissance, 11 a.m., RSVP required.

January 27 – Bethany College Estero, Florida, Area Alumni and Friends, Estero Country Club at The Vines, RSVP required.

January 28 – First day of classes for the Spring Semester

(faculty and students are invited to breakfast or lunch with the president; contact the Office of the President to schedule)

Home Athletics

January 9 – Swimming and Diving v. Washington & Jefferson, Knight Natatorium, 6 p.m.

January 11 – Swimming and Diving (women only) v. Franciscan, Knight Natatorium, 6 p.m.

January 12 – Women’s basketball v. W & J, Nutting Gymnasium, Hummel Field House, 2 p.m.

January 12 – Men’s basketball v. W & J, Nutting Gymnasium, Hummel Field House, 4 p.m.

January 30 – Women’s basketball v. Westminster, Nutting Gymnasium, Hummel Field House, 6 p.m.

January 30 – Men’s basketball v. Westminster, Nutting Gymnasium, Hummel Field House, 8 p.m.


January 3-4 – Council of Independent Colleges New Presidents Program (Chair/Speaker)

January 4 – The Council of Colleges and Universities of The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Council of Presidents (Chair)

January 4-7 – Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute

January 6 – InterAmerican Consortium Board of Directors (Chair)

January 8, 15, 29 – President’s Cabinet

January 9 – Athletic Management Council

January 10 – West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities, Winter Board of Directors Meeting

January 15 – President’s Staff

January 16 – Leadership Council

January 18 – NCAA Convention, Presidents Agenda Day

January 18 – Presidents’ Athletic Conference Meeting at NCAA Convention

January 26 – Faculty Workshop

January 30-31 – Academic Search, Inc. Board of Directors (Chair) & American Academic Leadership Institute Board of Directors (Vice Chair)