Concluding Thoughts on How Higher Education Can Reposition Itself

To read all the articles in this series, click here.

In this series, we have discussed how higher education can reposition itself for by the future. We began by discussing how institutions can grow their enrollment and resources, which is not an easy task given the recent cuts to higher education funding and the anemic economy. Next, we discussed the need for universities to embrace diversity as a way to provide a top-notch learning experiences and to generate much needed financial resources in the form of tuition and fees.

Then we discussed a need for universities to improve their educational quality and increase their degree offerings, which will allow them to attract students from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. We concluded the series by discussing how institutions can use data analytics to improve student outcomes which will significantly improve retention and graduation rates.

In the concluding piece, I want to present a 20-point plan for bringing even the most moribund universities back to life. Not all of my suggestions will be actionable or needed for your university, so just use the strategies that you think will fit your needs. Without further ado, here is my 20-point plan.

  1. Rethink the way we recruit and reach out to students
  2. Develop strategies that address the needs of students who are not ready for college
  3. Place a strong focus on recruiting a competent and experienced executive team
  4. Strategically allocate new faculty hires
  5. Enhance campus life and student development opportunities, including investment in facilities and support
  6. Reexamine the types of academic programs we offer and how they are delivered to students
  7. Reimagine the concept of “student ”
  8. Re-engineer the current business model
  9. Reassess our infrastructure and develop the physical and technological infrastructure to best support our mission
  10. Inject our university into national and state policy conversations
  11. Revisit our approach to governance and leadership
  12. Assess the pedagogical skills of our faculty
  13. Reassess our current student advising system
  14. Discuss the viability of establishing a Center for Teaching and Learning
  15. Reexamine the efficacy of our current financial operations
  16. Develop a communications strategy that changes public perceptions about our university, including those held by alumni
  17. Establish an Office of Institutional Effectiveness
  18. Rethink our Institutional Advancement strategy
  19. Revisit our value proposition
  20. Develop a plan to reengage our alumni

Your institution does not have a smooth journey ahead. Not only must it traverse the changing terrain of American higher education, but it must also rise to meet a myriad of challenges and threats. With these challenges, however, come some opportunities which if seized upon, can broker the success of its students both now and in years to come. Any discussion relating to the future of higher education must begin with a frank evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses, and it is clear that some difficult conversations are required.

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