When did enrollment at Bethany College drop to only 53 students?
Monday, February 18, 2013
(The Huffington Post, February 18, 2013)
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in a series of briefings sponsored by NAICU, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, on Capitol Hill. NAICU and its president, David Warren, have been steadfast advocates for private higher education, keeping member institutions apprised of potentially harmful developments that could affect college and university enrollments nationwide.
What we learned in Washington earlier this month was that March -- not April, in the poet's words -- may be the "cruelest month." All colleges and universities, public and private, are well advised to keep a wary eye on Washington lawmakers' deliberations as they confront "fiscal-cliff" budget sequestration.
These automatic federal spending cuts, scheduled to go into effect March 1, would critically reduce Federal Work Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants. Pell Grants, though spared this year, would remain at risk. We at Bethany College have expressed concern for months to legislative representatives in Washington about the potentially harmful impact of reduced Pell Grants and federal budget cuts for higher education, in general. Although we private-college leaders recognize our responsibility to raise the bulk of funds ourselves for enhancing the attractiveness of our institutions to prospective students, Washington still sets much of the tone for consumer confidence, affordability of higher education and projections of economic stability. A family's commitment to any form of higher education these days -- private or public -- represents a significant investment of funds and faith, as well as an understandable desire for a return on that investment.
These are critical times for students and their families as they shop around for the best financial-aid deals at desirable colleges and universities -- an important time for the institutions, too. Most campuses leverage financial aid as part of their marketing sell to high school juniors and seniors. That's because higher-education choice remains a buyer's market, giving prospective students and their families unprecedented opportunity to compare institutions' offers of discounted tuition -- usually in the form of generous scholarships that defray the sticker price of enrolling.
The higher-education landscape is already changing due to the emergence of for-profit providers, MOOC's ("massive open online courses"), the public's growing expectations of value for their tuition dollars and other factors. So amid these uncertain economic projections, the pressure is on campuses to increase funds for merit scholarships, to package available financial aid attractively and innovatively and to keep up to date with the quality-of-life campus extras that students and their families expect when choosing a college these days.
All of this underscores a discussion theme of NAICU's annual meetings in Washington: whether higher-education presidents need to speak out publicly on such broad national issues. Yes, we do. It's in our best interest to do so.
Although many presidents are reluctant to voice their opinions in public, for fear of offending key constituents (donors and/or legislators), I see little reason to decline an opportunity for using the "bully pulpit" of our offices. Throughout my own 22 years as a college president at three institutions, I have been supported by my governing boards for voicing public support for key higher-education initiatives. These have included joining the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment to reduce campus emissions that contribute to climate change and most recently signing a letter to President Obama, pledging to engage our campuses in a national dialogue about gun control and mental health, and urging adoption of gun-safety legislation.
So now is the time, as well, for presidents and other institutional leaders to weigh in on the political deliberations that influence economic policy in this country. Our stewardship of our students and their investment in our institutions should extend to protecting them from the worst results of the "fiscal cliff" as well as harmful climate change and gun violence. (And, no, I don't mean to imply that an economic crisis or climate change is equivalent to mass shootings.)
A January 28, 2013, letter by Oglethorpe University President Lawrence M. Schall to the editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education reminds us of former University of Notre Dame President Father Theodore Hesburgh's charge to other presidents: "How can we urge students to have the courage to speak out unless we are willing to do so ourselves?"
Because America's institutions of higher education have traditionally fostered open dialogue about the most compelling issues of our times, we should not find it inconsistent to join the current debate about how best to address economic problems that affect not only our campuses, but all of our citizens. To shrink from doing so relegates our institutions to an unsettling and unnecessary silence.
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, February 15, 2013
Attended the West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities annual meeting dinner last night with Bethany College sophomore Khristian Smith. Khristian is one of eight students from WVICU institutions selected to attend the three day event, held in Elkins this year. A native of Marlington, he majors in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and is a Philosophy minor. Khristian plans to study at Oxford in 2013-14. His education is supported by WVICU and the Schenk Charitable Trust.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Nice visiting with our new Acting Director of Intercollegiate Athletics & Recreation, Brian Rose, at halftime of the Bethany v. Chatham University basketball game. A Bethany graduate, Brian has served for several years as Sports Information Director. His wife, Becky, is Director of Communications.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
(The President's Letter, February 2013)
Being a college president these days leaves precious little time for reflection—I’m on the road and away from campus at least a third of each year. But as we look toward the spring term at Bethany, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on how where we’re going has been positively influenced by where we’ve been during the past five years, and why your support has made such an incredible difference in the process.
Let’s start with communication. Revamping our website and communication strategies has been an enormous advantage to Bethany’s marketing program. Five years ago, we weren’t very visible or interactive, electronically that is. Now, using online versions of this letter and The Old Main Journal, webstreaming of campus events, and social media like Twitter and Facebook, we’ve expanded our audience to be truly worldwide. More alumni, friends, families, and prospective students than ever before can access Bethany College for breaking news, sports statistics, and live events. Following consumer preferences in other organizations, “our Bethany” has truly become a more personalized “my Bethany.”
Our challenge is to continue to stay ahead of the technology “curve” by securing the latest tools to take Bethany to the world.
A second key area of progress is campus facilities. With a substantial investment of millions of dollars over the past five years, the Bethany campus has been enhanced while preserving the traditional splendor of our historic buildings and natural environment. A few highlights are the Bethany Beanery, a popular food and coffee shop in the heart of campus; the reopening of Cochran Hall, offering modern, suite-style housing to 72 students; the technologically smart Hurl Center for Education; our 24-hour Cummins Community Fitness Center and athletic enhancements including an all-weather turf and lights at Bison Stadium, expanded weight and workout rooms, and the Goin Locker Room and Ault Football Suite.
We’ve upgraded learning technology throughout the campus; one important example is that the T.W. Phillips Memorial Library, through a Mellon Grant, is now a part of the Bowen Central Virtual Library of Appalachia with more than two million additional resources available for research. Last but not least, Christman Manor at Pendleton Heights, the president’s residence, has hosted more than 2,000 guests per year in that renovated, historically significant facility.
Predictably, Bethany’s challenge is to implement the recommendations of its campus master plan to continue to upgrade classrooms, labs, residence halls, and student- and faculty-support facilities. It’s vital to our recruitment and retention of students and faculty in the coming years to foster the best possible teaching and learning environment for Bethanians.
A third area of innovation is academic partnerships. During the past five years, Bethany College has significantly expanded its synergistic partnerships with institutions around the world. They include dual-degree completion programs in engineering (Columbia University and Case Western Reserve University), law (Duquesne University), and new bachelor’s-to-master’s degree programs with Carnegie Mellon University. Our global initiatives include expanded offerings through the InterAmerican Consortium and partnerships with Harlaxton College and Arcadia University abroad.
Along with expanding an already active internship program with corporate and organizational partners in major U.S. cities, Bethany must continue to develop such collaborative initiatives—including increased emphasis on study-abroad opportunities—to give our students the best possible start on their careers.
Fourth, affirming that the core of our mission is and will remain the liberal arts, within the past five years we have focused on making that mission even more meaningful and marketable to a new generation of Bethanians. Our reputation, as always, precedes us, as confirmed in our most recent ranking as a First-Tier National Liberal Arts College in U.S. News & World Report—the only West Virginia higher education institution so named. Today’s students, however, want specific advantages tied to our good name—as they should, in order to pursue the latest opportunities available to them in a hotly competitive career marketplace.
That means that Bethany must redouble its planning for academic initiatives three, five, seven years out. Progress is promising thus far. Our new Master of Arts in Teaching program, the student-managed McCann Family Student Investment Fund, our partnership with the New York Times Knowledge Network, and cooperation with International Relief and Development, Arlington, Virginia, on a campus video and online journal, to cite just a few examples, are ways that our small, liberal arts college is offering big advantages to career-minded students. Combined with Bethany’s marketing and communications expertise, academic innovations will offer a highly visible, attractive, and advantageous package for students who seek an updated residential campus experience for their 21st-century expectations and ambitions.
I could cite numerous other areas where the best of what we have accomplished in recent years foretells continued progress for Bethany College. My colleagues and I are committed to realizing the ultimate goals of our strategic-planning process by building on that success.
And here is where you, our alumni and friends, come in. Your generous commitment to Bethany through gifts and grants has made, and will continue to make, possible our plans in the above areas and more. Our $44 million secured to date through the “Transformation Now!” campaign for the College is having direct impact on our ability to recruit top students and faculty, fund academic innovation and collaboration, and tell the Bethany story with exciting new narratives of scholarship, service, and global leadership.
We therefore thank you for your direct support through The Bethany Fund. I invite your continued giving in 2013, and promise to share exciting updates each month from A Small College of National Distinction.
(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 "Edge Leadership in the Age of Commoditization of Higher Education."
This month's chapter is titled "Edge Leadership in the Age of Commoditization of Higher Education."
Monday, February 4, 2013
Friday, February 1, 2013
February 2 – Recruiting Day
February 4 – Singer Rudy Currence, Ogden Dining Hall, 8 p.m.
February 9 – Recruiting Day
February 13 – American Red Cross Blood Drive, Benedum Commons, 1-7 p.m.
February 18 – Opening of “UNframed & INstalled” Art Show, Renner Art Gallery, Bethany House, Thomas P. Johnson, Jr. College Center.
February 23 – Kalon Leadership Academy, Mountainside Conference Center
February 24 – Recruiting Day
February 28 – “Noel and Gertie” in Wailes Theatre
Faculty and students are invited to breakfast or lunch with the president; contact the Office of the President to schedule
Home and Special Athletics Events
February 6 – Women’s basketball v. Chatham, Nutting Gymnasium, Hummel Field House, 7 p.m.
February 9 – Women’s basketball v. Saint Vincent, Nutting Gymnasium, Hummel Field House, 2 p.m.
February 9 – Men’s basketball v. Saint Vincent, Nutting Gymnasium, Hummel Field House, 4 p.m.
February 13-16 – Presidents’ Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championship (at Grove City College)
February 19 – PAC (Men’s and women’s) Basketball Tournament Quarterfinals (Site TBA)
February 21 – PAC (men’s basketball) Tournament Semifinals (Site TBA)
February 22 – PAC (women’s basketball) Tournament Semifinals (Site TBA)
February 23 – PAC (men’s and women’s) Basketball Championship (Site TBA)
February 21 – Men’s lacrosse v. Otterbein, Bison Stadium, 2 p.m.
February 21 – Presidents’ Athletic Conference Track and Field Indoor Challenge (at Youngstown State University)
February 1-7 – Bethany College Board of Trustees Mid-Academic Year Meetings
February 3-4 – National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities Government Relations Academy, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
February 4 – Speaker “Building the Bully Pulpit,” NAICU Public Relations Academy, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
February 4 – Press Conference: President’s for Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., 1:15 p.m.
February 5 – NAICU Annual Meeting and Advocacy Day, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
February 7, 19, 28 – President’s Cabinet
February 13-15 – West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities Board of Directors/Annual Meeting, Elkins, WV
February 18 – Athletic Management Council
February 18 – West Virginia Campus Compact Steering Committee
February 19 – President’s Staff
February 20 – Leadership Council
February 21-24 – American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities Annual Meeting, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Schedule and attendance at events subject to change