Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ran the Bunny Palooza 10K at Bethany Beach this morning with my favorite runner.  Ashlee was first in the 20 to 29 women and I was third in the over 50 men.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Enjoyable dinner and discussion tonight with officers of the Bethany College Student Government Association at Christman Manor, Pendleton Heights.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bethany Trivia

Prior to the Civil War, where did most students come from to attend Bethany College?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thanks to Bethanian George Manahan of The Manahan Group for hosting tonight's Charleston area alumni and friends gathering at his corporate offices in the historic downtown.

Good spending time in Charleston today with a couple of friends from West Virginia Wesleyan: Pam Balch (former Bethany Dean of the Faculty and now President of WVW) and Ben Exley, Executive Director of West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities (and WVW grad).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Finding the Value in College Affordability

(The Huffington Post, March 19, 2013)

What's a college education worth these days?

Amid rising costs of tuition and an economy still rebounding from recession, higher education consumers and observers are increasingly asking that question -- and with good reason.

Since 1978, according to a Bloomberg report at the start of the current academic year, costs of tuition and fees at colleges and universities have increased more than 1,100 percent -- "four times faster than the increase in the consumer price index."

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama warned against "skyrocketing costs (that) price way too many young people out of a higher education, or saddle them with unsustainable debt" while asserting that "taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the soaring cost of higher education." He proposed changes in the Higher Education Act "so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid."

I would respond that no one is more concerned about "affordability and value" than we leaders of our nation's colleges and universities. It is precisely those factors that have diminished consumer confidence in the investment required today for a four-year college degree. More to the point, it is consumers' perceptions of affordability and value that keep many college presidents awake at night. "If you build it, they will come" is no longer a viable marketing strategy for engaging college high school seniors and their families in the process of applying and enrolling at a traditional campus.

Although the evidence remains compelling that an individual's career earning power, fitness for leadership, and adaptability to global citizenship continue to benefit substantially from attaining a college or university degree, Americans do expect value for their tuition dollar. That translates into the expectation that successful completion of an undergraduate course of study is a given, that it will lead to successful and lucrative entry into the job market, and that it will impart the necessary skills for lifelong learning and continued personal marketability.

A February 15, 2013, article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, referring to a poll by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation, states that:

"Americans acknowledge the central role of postsecondary education in employment and financial stability--but hardly think the current (higher education) model is perfect. Three-quarters said college is unaffordable. And more than half said the quality of higher education is the same as or worse than in the past."

These perceptions, while serious and indicative of higher education's need to focus on a business (consumer-centered) model of service, tend not to give credit where it is due. That is, affordability and value can still be found in abundance at our colleges and universities. In fact, they are likely to be more prevalent today, broadly speaking, than during most of the history of American higher education when few were expected, encouraged, or able to attend.

Financial aid is certainly a major factor in affordability. The majority of students attending colleges and universities probably receive some form of assistance, whether through Pell Grants, state-funded scholarships, work study, loans, or institutional grants and scholarships -- most of the latter either need-based or merit-inspired. Although federal support of student aid remains at risk, and excessive loan debt for graduating students is a major concern, competitive aid packages exist for most college freshmen, especially if they enjoy high academic standing.

Affordability can best be addressed, however, by colleges ensuring that their students graduate in four years, or less. At Bethany, we escort our new students through the Oglebay Gates, a campus tradition, and back out in four years, on average. Many of our students accelerate their majors and finish in three. The national average for graduation, however, is much more than four years, and closer to six. The U.S. Department of Education reports that nearly 60 percent of students complete their undergraduate degrees in six years.

Still, the value of a college education remains in the eye of the beholder -- and Americans perceive that there is worth in attaining it, regardless of how long it takes. About a third of students are first-generation, the first in their families to attend any form of post-secondary education. The fad-like inclination to opt out of college periodically gains momentum, but the ranks of non-traditional (older, returning, retraining) students continue to grow. Online education providers pose an important competitive challenge, but traditional colleges like Bethany still offer an original, personalized, and compassionate experience geared to human development. No computer can do that as well, and our students cite personal support and mentoring of the kind they receive at Bethany as the number-one reason for enrolling.

Higher education institutions must adapt to new enrollment-marketing realities, offering the best student-support services, learning technology, internships, and career counseling that they can. But as to the question of whether affordability and value continue to exist for American students seeking four-year degrees, there is little doubt. I've written before that higher education should not be afraid to change its operational ways, to embrace change, but our principal service is sound, desirable, and worthy of not only financial investment but of time and effort.

In a few weeks, graduating seniors will celebrate that reality at Commencement, and the value of a new life made possible by a college degree will be as evident as the splendor of spring on our nation's campuses. That is always a welcome milestone, one worth celebrating by Americans seeking the true "value" for their tuition dollars.

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, March 18, 2013

Bethany Trivia

What does the inscription say on Campbell's monument?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bethany Trivia

When was Phillips Hall originally built?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Monday, March 11, 2013

Senior Vice President Sven de Jong (left) and I welcomed new Enrollment Counselor Adam Llanos back to Bethany College this morning. Adam graduated from Bethany in 2005 and has been working in the admissions/enrollment field in Pittsburgh.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dedication of The Grace Ryland and William Henry Robinson Children's Library

A special day today at the T.W. Phillips Memorial Library as we celebrated the dedication of The Grace Ryland and William Henry Robinson Children's Library. Pictured at the dedication with me are William and Tony Robinson, Tom Lyons and Heather Ricciuti, The Mary Cutlip Director of Libraries and Learning Resources. In front, Grace Ryland and William Henry Robinson, the new collection's namesake.

"Seusstacular" Celebration

Matthew Ricciuti enjoys a moment with Boomer at today's Children's “Seusstacular” Celebration at the T.W. Phillips Memorial Library.

2013 Kalon Scholars Program Keynote Speaker: Dan Verakis '94

Dan Verakis '94, Senior Vice President of Chicago-based Cramer-Krasselt, was the keynote speaker at today's Kalon Scholars luncheon in the Ogden Dining Hall. Following his comments, Prof. Kathy Furbee, Director of the Kalon Scholars Program/Chair of the Department of Social Work, and Dr. Darin Fields, Vice President for Academic Affairs, joined me in presenting Dan with an Old Main print.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Founder's Day

Bethany alum and recently appointed West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman ’73 was today's keynote speaker at the Bethany College Founder's Day Convocation. Here, he receives the honorary Doctor of Letters degree.
Founder's Day
Celebrating 173 years

Friends — Today, March 7, 2013, we celebrate Founder's Day on the campus of historic Bethany College. We invite you to view our Founder's Day greeting by clicking on the link below or you may cut and paste it into your browser.

(Please adjust the volume on your speakers for optimum listening.)

Tuesday, March 5, 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 "The Commoditization of Higher Education: Reflections on How We Got to Where We Are."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bethany Trivia

What softball pitcher broke five records in one season?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions

Friday, March 1, 2013

Holding Cautious Hopes for the Future, Keeping a Wary Eye on Washington

(The President's Letter, March 2013)

It’s certainly been a year of mixed news for small, private colleges.

In October, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) reported that private, non-profit colleges and universities like Bethany saw an overall enrollment increase of 1.9 percent in 2011. Enrollment at public institutions, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics, dropped 0.3 percent; at for-profit schools, 2.9 percent.

Said NAICU President David Warren, “The data speak volumes about the resiliency of private colleges, and their deep commitment to providing access and affordability.”  He cited “efforts by independent institutions to slow tuition increases, boost student aid, and lower students’ actual out-of-pocket costs” as key factors in the rate of enrollment growth at private colleges and universities.
Similar welcome news, we hope, awaits us again this coming autumn about private-institution enrollment trends for 2012. But as the poet Robert Frost might have said, we enrollment-driven colleges have miles to go before we can rest.
Unfortunately, for small, private institutions, resting is a luxury we can ill afford any time. The pressure is on 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.

Thanks to reaching $45 million and counting in our “Transformation Now” capital campaign, Bethany College has secured funds for new and existing scholarships, academic programs and faculty development, and facility improvements. These dollars are critical to funding our campus master plan, which calls for long-range enhancements to the teaching, learning, and living environment at Bethany.

But as Senior Vice President Sven de Jong and I learned in recent briefings during NAICU’s annual meetings on Capitol Hill, we are simultaneously 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 have expressed concern for months to legislative representatives in Washington about the potential, 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.

These are critical factors for students and their families as they shop around for the best financial-aid deals at desirable colleges. Although Bethany awards aid packages to the majority of applicants each year, so do most of our peer competitors. Our goal is to leverage financial aid as part of our marketing appeal, signaling that Bethany College is an affordable and worthy investment, and the top choice for some of America’s best and brightest.

There is much else to do to enhance our appeal. We’re looking at additional graduate programs in selected fields, along with the kinds of collaborative and convenient degree-completion options we currently have with Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve, Duquesne, and Columbia universities. As always, we reach out to our alumni and friends for their assistance in recommending Bethany to family members, neighbors, and colleagues who have traditional college-aged sons and daughters. Private colleges also need to pay special attention to non-traditional students—returning veterans, work-experienced learners retraining for the career marketplace, and other special groups who will discover the unique appeal and lasting influence of a quality education at an independent institution.

The annual meeting of another group with which Bethany is closely affiliated, the West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities, WVICU, showcases top scholarship students who benefit from the funds raised on behalf of West Virginia’s private institutions. At this year’s meeting at Davis & Elkins College, I proudly listened to the presentation of Bethany’s Khristian Smith, a sophomore English major from Marlinton, West Virginia. He is the recipient of a generous scholarship funded by the Schenk Charitable Trust in Wheeling.

As Khristian spoke of his admirable academic interests, student activities, and career plans (he would like to be a college professor and/or an author), I was reminded of why we work so hard to make private higher education available to our students. They are the reason we strive in the halls of Congress and in the homes and businesses of our alumni and friends to tell the compelling story of independent higher education, with all of the freedom such an experience affords for students like Khristian Smith.

They are also the reason that despite the sometimes gloomy outlook for traditional colleges, I remain optimistic for the future of Bethany College—celebrating its 173rd year on Founders Day, March 7, and preparing in just a few months hence to welcome a new generation of Bethanians to our mountain-top campus.

As always, I invite you to join me in celebrating the good work that we do, year after year, and to find a meaningful way to support our mission going forward as A Small College of National Distinction.

March's Schedule -- Upcoming Events and Meetings

March 1 – Math and Science Day

March 7 – Bethany College Founder’s Day (see web site for full schedule of events)

March 9 – Kalon Leadership Scholarship Day

March  9 -- Children’s Seuss-Tacular Celebration, T.W. Phillips Memorial Library, 1 p.m.

March 15 – Parents and Friends of Bethany Baseball Social at Cobb’s Landing, Ft. Pierce, Florida (contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations for details and to RSVP)

March 17 – Parents and Friends of Bethany Softball Social at Oakwood Smokehouse, Clermont, Florida (contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations for details and to RSVP)

March 29 – Good Friday

March 31 – Easter

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

March 1-2 – Softball at Beach Blast hosted by Virginia Wesleyan

March 9 – Baseball v. Washington & Jefferson (2), Bethany Park, 1 p.m.

March 12 – Men’s Tennis v. Mt. Aloysius, Ewing Tennis Center, 4 p.m.

March 14-22 – Baseball (Spring Break Trip) at Fort Pierce, Florida

March 15 --  Lacrosse v. Hope, Bison Stadium, 5 p.m.

March 16 – Lacrosse v. Hiram, Bison Stadium, 2 p.m.

March 16-22 – Softball at National Training Center (Spring Break Trip), Clermont, Florida

March 23 – Lacrosse v. King’s, Bison Stadium, 1 p.m.

March 25 – Golf at Westminster Invitational

March 27 – Softball v. Capital (2), Bison Field, 3:30 p.m.

March 27—Men’s Tennis v. Washington & Jefferson, Ewing Tennis Center, 3 p.m.

March 30 – Baseball v. Waynesburg (2), Bethany Park, 1 p.m.

March 30 – Men’s Tennis v. Franciscan, Ewing Tennis Center, 1 p.m.


March 2-5 – American Council on Education Annual Meeting and President’s Agenda Day, Washington, D.C.

March 3-4 – International Association of University Presidents Winter Meeting, Washington, D.C.

March 20 – West Virginia Campus Compact President’s Advisory Council, Stone Wall Jackson Resort

March 21 – West Virginia Higher Education Day at the Legislature, State Capital, Charleston

March 25 – NCAA Division III Nominating Committee, Indianapolis

March 6, 12, 19, 26 – President’s Cabinet

March 13 – Leadership Council

March 13 – Athletic Management Council

March 19 – President’s Staff

Schedule and attendance at events subject to change