Institute Focuses on Preparing All Students for Civic Participation

CIC’s 45th annual Institute for Chief Academic Officers, held together with chief student affairs officers, took place November 4–7, 2017, in San Antonio, Texas. Under the theme of “Preparing All Students for Civic Participation,” sessions focused on changes in the core responsibilities of chief academic and chief student affairs officers and how both senior officers must build and sustain strong cooperation as they lead teams of colleagues who champion student learning and development as well as institutional strength. For the first time, chief diversity officers also participated in the Institute, examining the challenges these campus leaders face collectively.

“I especially appreciated the civic engagement topic at the Institute for Chief Academic Officers. The robust conversations inspired me to use a similar theme for Dillard’s Spring 2018 Faculty and Staff Institute,” remarked Yolanda W. Page, vice president for academic affairs at Dillard University (LA). And Nina Caldwell, vice president for student life at Maryville University (MO), reflected, “The Institute was informative and engaging. I enjoyed discussing with my colleagues the ways in which we can collaborate to enhance student learning in both curricular and co-curricular areas. I look forward to implementing many of the strategies that were shared as we prepare and plan for the evolution of higher education.”

The Institute is the largest annual conference of chief academic officers of any of the higher education associations. This year, the event attracted 547 chief academic, chief student affairs, and chief diversity officers, and a grand total of 637 people. Participants traveled from as far as Greece, Spain, Canada, and Mexico and from all across the continental United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. CIC hosted the 2017 Institute in cooperation with NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and ACPA–College Student Educators International.

The program featured leading authorities on key aspects of the work of chief academic and chief student affairs officers. Keynote speaker Shaun R. Harper, Clifford and Betty Allen Professor in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California and executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center, discussed how campus leaders can understand and respond to the longstanding problem of racism in higher education. Plenary speaker Andrew R. Chan, vice president for innovation and career development at Wake Forest University, explored how to help students find their way through the college-to-career pipeline. A plenary session on navigating difficult conversations on campus with those of different backgrounds or viewpoints on issues of race, gender, politics, and religion featured Franklin & Marshall College (PA) panelists Margaret Hazlett, dean of the college, and Joel W. Martin, provost and dean of faculty; Elizabeth F. Ortiz, vice president for institutional diversity and equity at DePaul University (IL); and moderator Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of Interfaith Youth Core, delivered the closing address on what liberal arts colleges can do to promote interfaith understanding.

Session presenters offered practical advice on responding to student dissent, building effective living-learning communities, and providing access and retention support to low-income and first-generation students. Discussions of legal issues provided fresh perspectives on hiring, evaluation, and Title IX. Other topics explored included new opportunities for international study, approaches to student housing, publication outlets for faculty members and students, programs that serve communities across the generations, issues in athletics, and the future composition of the faculty.

Academic and student affairs officers had the opportunity to participate in an “open mike” session and gain professional development in several workshops: Financial Literacy, Student Debt, and Post-Graduation Success; Building an Organizational Structure to Support Retention and Students’ Success; and Designing Learning Spaces That Work. In addition, the Institute offered pre-Institute seminars designed for new chief academic officers, CAOs in their third or fourth year of service, and new academic team members, as well as special programming for spouses and partners of CAOs.

Ron Cole, provost and dean of the college, Allegheny College (PA), remarked, “I especially value the opportunities the Institute provided for in-depth discussions of current issues in higher ed that generated ideas I can bring back to my home institution.” Mary Boyd, provost of Berry College (GA), emphasized, “The Institute is my ‘must attend’ meeting, and this year’s conference was no exception. I appreciated the brilliant keynote address by Shaun Harper, the other plenary and concurrent presentations, and the opportunities to connect with friends and colleagues.”

During a presentation of awards, CIC honored Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, vice president for academic affairs of Texas Lutheran University, with the 2017 Chief Academic Officer Award for her dedicated service to Texas Lutheran, her willingness to help numerous campus leaders better understand the challenges facing them including as facilitator and presenter for CIC workshops, and her exemplary efforts to enhance the role and work of the independent college CAO. Eboo Patel received the 2017 Academic Leadership Award for his leadership of Interfaith Youth Core and the CIC/IFYC seminars on interfaith understanding, his contributions to the national conversation on interfaith cooperation on campuses nationwide, and for his unfailing devotion to the students and faculty members of liberal arts colleges and universities.

View podcasts of the plenary sessions as well as slideshow presentations and handouts from many Institute sessions.

During the Workshop for New Chief Academic Officers, participants discussed key issues, analyzed case studies, and were paired with experienced mentors.

Participants discussing topics seated at a roundtable Participants in the Workshop for CAOs in Their Third or Fourth Year of Service explored key institutional needs CAOs should address at this stage.

Participants discussing topics seated at a roundtable The 2017 Institute offered for the first time a Workshop for New Academic Team members who have served for fewer than two years.

 Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, vice president for academic affairs of Texas Lutheran University, received the CIC 2017 Chief Academic Officer Award.

CIC honored Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, with the 2017 Academic Leadership Award.

CIC presented awards for service to the CAO Institute Task Force to Lily D. McNair, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Wagner College (NY); Andrew A. Workman, provost and senior vice president, Roger Williams University (RI); and Laura Niesen de Abruña, provost, York College of Pennsylvania.

Breakfast discussions provided informal opportunities for participants with similar interests to share information and ideas.


Harper Instructs on Racially Responsive Leadership in Higher Ed

Shaun R. Harper presents from the podium
Shaun R. Harper

“What I want to talk about is not just how to value diversity, equity, and inclusion, but how to do it,” explained Shaun R. Harper in his keynote address on “Racially Responsive Leadership: Understanding and Responding to the Longstanding Problem of Racism in Higher Education.” Harper is Clifford and Betty Allen Professor in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California and executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center. Johns Hopkins University Press will publish Harper’s 13th book, Race Matters in College, in 2018.

Many of the ideas Harper shared at the Institute are drawn from years of research conducted first at the University of Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education and now at the USC Race and Equity Center. The research has included climate studies of 50 campuses across the country that included more than 10,000 participants. Data gathered through the assessments can guide effective conversations and reflective examinations to address discomfort about race, plan for deep levels of institutional transformation, and achieve excellence in fostering racially inclusive learning environments. Chief academic and chief student affairs officers—and all campus leaders—can take steps, based on this information, to improve campus climates for everyone.

Harper shared a key insight gleaned from the campus climate studies: “Just about everywhere we go, we hear from students and faculty across all racial groups that race is rarely talked about on campus—until a racial crisis occurs on campus that forces people to grapple with it.” He said that campuses tend to operate under a culture of silence in which white people don’t discuss race because they fear they will misspeak and be called racist, and people of color don’t discuss it out of fear that they will be criticized for speaking out.

The climate studies also show that racism is a widespread problem on campuses, that campuses are largely segregated racially, and that the higher education workplace itself is racially stratified.

“Despite their personal commitments to equity, inequities remain on campuses. Why? Because the people who are supposed to fix the problems don’t know what to do because they were never taught how themselves.” Harper elaborated that if students don’t learn how to talk about race during their K–12 or undergraduate education, they probably won’t learn in grad school either and could begin a leadership role without the knowledge—“creating a largely mis-educated, low-skilled work force.” He emphasized, “Many of the inequities, the persistent pervasive ones, in higher education are partly attributable to the under-preparation of the people who are supposed to do something about the inequities.”

So, how can campuses do diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus? First of all, Harper stated, “You can’t do racial equity if you can’t talk about race—it’s absolutely impossible. Many of you get data reports from academic schools and departments or offices of research that show some racial inequities between groups on campus. You can’t fix those inequities if you can’t talk openly and honestly with your colleagues about the reality of race on campus.”

And the racelessness of the college curriculum doesn’t help students. “Students say in climate studies that unless someone trips and falls into a sociology of race course or an ethnic studies course, it’s entirely possible to matriculate through four years of college and learn nothing about race, racial other, racial inequity, or how to do race equity work.”

Second, along with educating people and enabling them to discuss issues such as racism, many people must work together to solve the problem. When it comes to equity, diversity, and inclusion, Harper said, “highly skilled professionals are what it’s going to take for 21st century higher education to be all it can be….and the work has to be collective, collaborative, and cross sector. That means it can’t just be left to a handful of faculty of color on campus to do it…. It certainly can’t only be the one chief diversity officer who is supposed to help the entire college become the equitable and inclusive place that it aspires to be. Nor can it just be done by student affairs. Academic affairs has to be deeply, meaningfully involved.”

Third, Harper said, the work should be considered opportunistic, not problematic. “Imagine if instead of thinking of a ‘diversity problem,’ we thought of ‘opportunity’—an opportunity for the college to make a meaningful impact for America and for the world, opportunity for the college to actually enact the values it espouses in its mission statement and admissions brochure, an opportunity for a college to become one of the leading institutions in the country on equity, diversity, and inclusion. That sounds like much more exciting work than if we have to deal with problems.”

Harper described the USC Race and Equity Center institutes that help higher education leaders improve racial equity on campus. Designed for 20 leaders on a single campus, the institutes guide participants through eight modules that are customized for them by a team of experts. The participants develop projects that should “take flight at the end of the equity institute” while receiving feedback and coaching from the center. After completing the institute, participants receive an executive leadership certificate as well as permanent access to an extensive digital library of readings, videos, tools, and other resources as well as a virtual, national network in which others give advice and perspectives on vexing equity issues on campus.

Leaders can do many other things to advance equity on campus as well, Harper remarked. For example, everyone should develop their racial literacy by reading great books about diversity and inclusion, news articles about equity issues on campuses, climate studies, and related resources and data. Publications can be read individually, or read and discussed by a division or whole campus. Harper suggested that when the press covers a racial problem at a college or university, campus leaders track and discuss it. “We should engage that issue with a provost cabinet group or in conversations with deans and ask ourselves: Are we at risk? Are the same things happening to us? How do we know? How can we minimize the risk?”

Harper encouraged campuses to conduct climate studies and make their data transparent, discussable, and actionable. “We can’t just ask people to unpack their pain and then do nothing. There has to be a strategy that is informed by what we hear. We’re not going to achieve racial equity if we are unwilling to engage these things. Sometimes campuses need to hire a facilitator to come and guide the conversation or campus-wide forum, because it could be that no one on campus is sufficiently skilled at doing that.”

Finally, he stated, “It’s important for us to assess and discuss our own implicit biases…. We all have been socialized in particular ways to think about the racial other. It plays itself out in the people we hire, things we say that we didn’t intend to say, and in other ways.” He recommended that provosts and vice provosts try an online implicit bias assessment tool such as Project Implicit, run by a nonprofit organization and international collaborative network of researchers who investigate implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other topics. After taking the assessment, the team can discuss what they discovered about themselves and how it impacts how they lead and work at the college.

Chan States College-to-Career Focus Should Be ‘Mission Critical’

Andrew Chan presents from the podium Andrew Chan

Although college-to-career was a taboo topic on campus years ago and many faculty members and administrators still resist talking about it now, “college to career must become mission critical on all campuses—especially liberal arts colleges and universities,” remarked Andrew Chan, vice president for innovation and career development at Wake Forest University. Chan oversees Wake Forest’s Office of Personal and Career Development for students and alumni, the Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship, and the Mentoring Resource Center. In the plenary session “Competencies, Confidence, and Vocation: Helping and Motivating Students to Find Their Way,” he discussed effective ways colleges can collaborate to support, motivate, and equip their students to be fully engaged, to become career-ready, and to transition successfully into the dynamic and challenging 21st-century work place.

Chan began by explaining why college-to-career initiatives are so important right now. Colleges face new pressures—for instance, the world perceives and measures college outcomes in part by whether alumni can get high-paying jobs; the world of work has changed—employers expect increasingly more from students before they begin their careers; and expectations of students and parents have changed—especially after paying what they consider a high price tag for college.

Chan recognized that “For many of us, the words ‘job’ and ‘career’ weren’t even allowed to be spoken on our campuses 20 years ago…and CAOs and CSAOs weren’t trained to deal with these issues.” But he asked Institute participants to consider the statement: “I am accountable and responsible for the college-to-career process and outcomes of our students. The buck stops with me,” as well as to ask themselves, “If not me, then who?”

Barriers to Student Engagement

Several barriers and challenges make engaging students in the college-to-career pipeline particularly hard. Chan said that in the career center, “A major barrier is that many career center staff members are not appropriately educated or trained for what’s needed, given today’s student and employer. Career counselors with masters of counseling degrees are educated to work with students individually and over time.” Yet now, he explained, “staff must not only proactively coach and track students, but they also must network with employers and alumni so that they have current market knowledge and can offer students valuable connections.”

In highlighting other potential barriers, Chan emphasized that the culture of the college also can create obstacles. For example, many faculty members consider career development as strictly the job of the career services office and thus do not support the efforts. And the very terminology career centers use can create stumbling blocks. “We assume students know more than they actually do…. Many students don’t understand the vocabulary of careers…and [thus] don’t know the difference between terms such as ‘vocation,’ ‘vacation,’ ‘avocation,’ ‘careers,’ ‘occupations,’ and ‘jobs.’”

“The biggest barrier can be the students themselves, and it’s not something they’re even conscious of,” said Chan. Many students are scared of and unfamiliar with the job process and delay the process until absolutely necessary. He remarked, “This barrier is the only one that is really about the student. The other barriers are embedded in our own institutions and cultures.”

Career Services Challenges

Chan said that when he meets career services staff across the country, they consistently mention challenges to the college-to-career transformation process that fall into five areas: The staff find it difficult to engage and motivate students; the career centers lack the desired budget resources and staffing; campus leaders don’t support the effort; the technology or tech training is inadequate; and staff are uncertain which outcomes to measure and how. “With all of these challenges, there is no silver bullet. We have to consider a transformational approach,” he remarked.

Keys to Transformational Change

Chan listed five keys to achieving mission critical innovation in college to career.

First, he said, campuses should ask if they have aligned leadership—whether everyone agrees on the goals and whether the right person is leading the charge. “The president is the only person who can make this mission critical and maintain it over time as a priority…. The president doesn’t have to be a project manager, but he or she does have to be the congregator.” He added that the career center leader must be capable and trusted. “Do you have the best person for the job, and if you don’t, what will it take?” The person must not only be a strong leader, communicator, marketer, and operational manager, but also will need to build relationships, represent the university externally and internally, and have the right cultural fit while also being a change agent.

Second, Chan emphasized that campuses should determine the outcomes they want to aim for and measure regarding both employer and student satisfaction, employer and student engagement, career readiness competencies, and desirable post-graduate outcomes.

The third key involves using a systems-thinking approach, as opposed to a siloed approach. “All of our schools are trying to be more cross-collaborative and interdisciplinary. That’s what systems thinking is about.” He explained that the career center can act as the hub of the university when it comes to college to career. “At Wake Forest, we don’t expect every student to use the Office of Personal and Career Development or to see the office as the sole source for their career development. They have so many other people who they trust and who will influence their trajectory. But we act as the source of information to often educate, motivate, and inspire others around the campus and even off campus to support students…. We act as a hub to connect everyone inside and outside the university.” He added that the most influential systems-thinking approach is to use curricular initiatives—such as career courses, course integrations, or entrepreneurship majors—to educate and engage students in their personal and career development.

The fourth key concerns financial and staff resources. “Many of us say we don’t have the resources, but if we have a big enough vision or have many partnerships with foundations, alumni, or parents, the resources will come. Money comes for bolder visions.”

Chan explained how career services centers traditionally have been staffed—with a career center leader, a career education coach, and an administrative assistant. Ideally, he said, the center should include a career center leader and staff for career education and coaching; employer relations; administration and operations; technology, surveys, and data; and marketing and communications. If a college is unable to support such a large staff, some roles can be combined. Chan elaborated, “If you can’t do bigger, then think really small…. It will be tough, but some of the jobs can be combined into one. I would break the conventional wisdom that says you need many career counselor coaches.” Depending on the circumstances, career coaches can also manage employer relations, or the center could hire an employer relations person with a technology marketing background, Chan offered. “Colleges can reach more students through their phones and through other means in the community than through career coach meetings.” When a college doesn’t have a big budget, faculty and alumni can help with career education, and employer relations staff can partner with advancement and admissions offices—all while the career services office serves as the hub.

The fifth key is related to technology and data. Highlighting the importance of technology for engaging students and employers, connecting them, measuring outcomes, and tracking their progress over time, Chan described a new online recruiting platform—Handshake—which has become the industry standard for career management and recruiting. The platform is used by 400 colleges and universities, 8 million students, and 200,000 employers and “could change the game in terms of thinking how students will get exposed.” Chan added that technology and data go hand in hand. “If you don’t have outcomes data, you can’t report what’s happening to your students and alumni. And if you can’t report it, most people will assume that things are not good. You also need this data to know what’s working and to determine if certain groups of students need more support than others.”

Tips to Get Started

Chan reemphasized that to begin a college-to-career transformation, the right leaders have to support the effort and agree on the goals, resources need to be raised for staffing and for internship and externships. “And then,” he said, “you have to ask yourself if you have the right leader—someone who fits the culture and will be a catalyst for change. The college has to give them latitude to drive for change. If you’re not ready for change, don’t bring in a big change person—you’ll all be frustrated.”

Chan concluded by suggesting that if the campus culture resists needed changes, the career services leader may still be able to “slip in” changes by running pilot programs or working one year at a time. In that case, he recommended that leaders avoid hot terms and phrases such as “change the culture.” He also said to “stop blaming career services—we need to elevate this conversation to the highest level possible because that’s what our constituents want us to do. We can find some people who want to help and see how it goes. People don’t have to change all at once.”

Academic, Student Affairs Leaders Advise on How to Navigate Difficult Conversations on Campus

Kevin Kruger, Margaret Hazlett, Joel W. Martin, Elizabeth F. Ortiz, and Eugene L. Zdziarski II present from the stage (From left to right) Elizabeth F. Ortiz of DePaul University (IL); Kevin Kruger of NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education; and Joel W. Martin and Margaret Hazlett of Franklin & Marshall College (PA)

​The audience for the plenary session, “Navigating the Most Difficult Conversations on Campus,” responded with tense laughter when the first panelist offered the tongue-in-cheek advice: “Try to be lucky.” The moment, however, was a good indication of educators’ current apprehension about the environment for difficult conversations on their campuses. The panelists—a chief academic, a chief student affairs, and a chief diversity officer from CIC institutions—drew on their own experiences of controversial, even confrontational, events on their campuses to discuss the values, preparation, and follow-up activities that have helped to navigate through such events, as well as lessons learned for seemingly unavoidable future instances.

Two of the panelists were from Franklin & Marshall College (PA). Joel W. Martin has served as provost and dean of the faculty since 2014, and Margaret Hazlett has been dean of the college since 2013. The college experienced protests when the Danish journalist and author Flemming Rose came to speak on campus in March 2017. The appearance of Rose, who as culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten had published in September 2005 cartoons deemed offensive by many Muslims, was protested by Franklin & Marshall students but able to speak.

The third panelist was Elizabeth F. Ortiz, vice president for institutional diversity and equity at DePaul University (IL) in Chicago. DePaul became a site of physical confrontation when the conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos came to speak at the campus in May 2016. Subsequent to this episode, tensions continued to flare on campus, and the university’s president was in the process of stepping down. As Ortiz characterized it, the episode “rocked the campus” and “remains a defining moment to this day.”

The session was moderated by Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Kruger recalled that, in recent decades, student activism has been low—with some campus leaders even expressing a degree of nostalgia for the days of vigorous debate and protest. But today a new activism has arisen, intersecting with the 2016 presidential campaign and election and the intensified political polarization of the country. Kruger indicated that both resources and protest strategies are coming in from off-campus groups choosing college campuses as sites for activism and amplifying their messages through social media. One result, for example, has been for some campuses to expend hundreds of thousands of dollars on security for provocative speakers. “This isn’t sustainable,” Kruger said, for financial reasons, as well as free speech concerns.

Focusing on the topic of free speech, Martin emphasized that “a sense of dignity and belonging must be pre-conditions for free speech” and noted that, historically, robust free speech has encouraged those holding minority opinions to join the academy. To make clear its principles on this matter, faculty members and administrators at Franklin & Marshall College have formulated and disseminated a “Statement on Freedom of Expression.” Modeled to some extent on an earlier statement by the University of Chicago, the Franklin & Marshall document declares that the institution “extends to all members of the College community the broadest possible latitude to express themselves freely and to challenge the views of others.” The statement concludes, “In short, the College holds the core principle that debate or deliberation should not be suppressed because of the ideas put forth.”

Martin underscored that, in acting on this statement, the emphasis at the college is not so much on “rules” as on “the use of prudential judgment,” again stressing primary concern for the dignity of the individual. To sustain engagement with debate and free expression, Franklin & Marshall has held since 1991 an annual “Day of Dialogue” when classes are suspended to enable a campus-wide conversation about cultural, racial, and religious differences. Community also is fostered by the Common Hour each Thursday, where the entire campus comes together for culturally and academically enriching events, as well as a shared midday meal.

While Martin spoke particularly to the principles Franklin & Marshall seeks to uphold, Hazlett discussed some of the processes by which the college has sought to carry out those principles. She emphasized the importance of a partnership between student affairs and academic affairs. Drawing on the experience of hosting a controversial speaker, she offered a dictum from Winston Churchill: “Plans are useless, but planning is invaluable.” She made clear how much the college relies on planning and forethought—preparing, for example, not only for controversial speakers, but for tensions that might arise on campus with regard to DACA, Title IX, or other controversial issues. The college prepares space for protests, runs through planning scenarios, and engages in role-playing. Fundamentally, she said, colleges need a shared understanding of what to allow and what the limits are. She noted that these “difficult conversations” can be exhausting for staff; costs to the college include not only financial but human resources. Moreover, sometimes more work needs to be done after an event than before it—including debriefing with staff and working with students to help them process the event. Yet Hazlett concluded on a positive note—she’s optimistic about the excitement and the energy on campuses today.

With respect to crisis and conflict on campus, Ortiz stated, “It’s not a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when.’” Her remarks centered around Milo Yiannopoulos’s visit to the urban Chicago campus, although she chose not to name the controversial speaker in her remarks. This disruptive event—in which individuals stormed the stage, took the microphone, tussled with the speaker, and prevented him from continuing—was particularly shocking for this Catholic institution, she felt, because of its self-perception of “a higher standard of social justice” and sense that, “all are welcome in this place.” Having been unprepared for this blow to its core beliefs, DePaul has concentrated particularly on how to respond, recover, and learn for the future.

Ortiz spoke of many different steps the university has taken. Like Martin and Hazlett, she highlighted that campuses need to prepare and to communicate clear policies to everyone. In the aftermath of the incident, the university held a town hall and college administrators acted on what they heard. Monthly follow-up meetings continue, and all information is shared online. Departments had been too “siloed,” she said; now emphasizing “systems thinking” makes clear that everyone shares responsibility and needs to work together. Ortiz estimated that 80 percent of the approximately 600 people involved in the incident were not members of the campus community. Currently, university ID cards are required to attend campus events. Campus policing, however, is shifting from a model of “authority” to one of “partnership.” But even after a year of intensive work, Ortiz noted, “some still feel unsatisfied; some feel that we did too much, some that we did too little.”

Patel Encourages Campuses to Build Real Interfaith Understanding, Not Mere Tolerance

Eboo Patel presents beside a podium, gesturing with his hands Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, began his powerful closing address by sharing a story that Concordia College (MN) President William Craft tells.

Across the street from the Moorhead, Minnesota, liberal arts college is the Prairie Home Cemetery, where many Norwegian-Swedish Lutherans who founded and guided the college are buried. “We come from this place,” Craft likes to say. “We ought to be very proud of that.”

Two blocks away is the Ellen Hopkins Elementary School. Any one classroom reflects half a dozen languages spoken at home and a similar number of religious identities. Like many CIC member colleges, Patel explained, “Concordia both honors its heritage and lives into the reality of the present and future, as represented by Hopkins Elementary School. How does Concordia do both of those things?” Much the same way that the University of Notre Dame did.

Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame, once explained the trajectory of his institution to Patel. Notre Dame embraced religious diversity by connecting its Catholic (specific) tradition with its catholic (universal) mission. Changing institutional identities is just one of the major current tensions in higher education that Patel said invite us to better prepare students to live, lead, and serve in today’s world.

The increasing religious diversity of colleges also creates tension around campus culture, Patel noted. “What happens in a college with a religious identity when students want to form an atheist group? Or what happens when the Muslim students point out that prayer in a room with Christian religious icons, which can be seen as idols, cancels their worship?” Diversity often includes expressions of identities that are painfully objectionable to other traditions.

From these examples, Patel emphasized the need to build real understanding, not mere tolerance. Such understanding recognizes and respects differences, while creating ways to share a common life together.

Religious diversity prompts us to ask “how best to prepare our graduates to be a good teacher in Hopkins Elementary” or to be a competent professional in any similarly diverse setting, he said. Then Patel told this story:

My oldest son was in elementary school, and he traded sandwiches with another kid at lunch. What he thought was turkey turned out to be ham.... We’re a Muslim family, we don’t eat pork. My son takes that seriously, and he went into his next class despondent, and laid his head on the desk. His teacher asked, “What’s going on?” All he could manage to say was, “I ate ham.” His teacher instinctively knew what to do. She said, “It’s okay. I understand that is against your religion. It’s a mistake, and your parents will understand. They would want you to participate in class.”
“It sounds simple,” Patel admitted, “but any number of other things could have happened.” What if the only thing she knew about Muslims was what she saw on the evening news? “But someone along the way presented my son’s teacher with a case study to think through that situation before she encountered it. Someone prepared her to be a competent professional.”

Patel said academic leaders also are asking, “What does it mean to prepare good citizens?” In the United States, the largest amount of social capital is in religious communities. “In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, religious organizations provided shelter and meals to a large number of people who identified with different religious traditions.” But those who coordinated volunteers and shelters had to navigate a host of different traditions about food, shelter, worship spaces, and religious practices in order to help.

Perhaps most importantly, he said, chief academic officers set the standards for an educated person. Decisions about curriculum and requirements shape what students know and understand when they cross the stage at graduation. “Isn’t it remarkable that we work in environments where this is what we do?” But we must face up to these tensions, he urged. “If good people don’t take on challenging and difficult topics, bad people will.”

After explaining the urgency and opportunity, Patel offered several examples of academic and co-curricular interfaith work.

He said his own DPhil in religion at Oxford was of little help in figuring out how to maintain his own values, beliefs, and traditions in a society with those from other traditions. “Knowing Koranic Arabic will not help you work to resolve a dispute between Arab grocery store owners who sell alcohol and black Muslims who think that is terrible.” Interfaith studies, an emerging discipline, likely will. This field includes international politics, social psychology, politics, economics, and other subjects that examine how diverse people find common ground.

Interfaith studies is less theoretical and more applied than the academic study of religion. It poses intellectual questions such as: What can I do as a teacher, health care professional, camp director, or social worker to nurture environments in which the interaction will be more positive?

He offered three examples of interfaith academic programming that campus have launched:
  • A weeklong or longer interfaith module within an existing course, such as at Southwestern University (TX);
  • A course on interfaith encounters, such as at University of St. Thomas in Minnesota; and  
  • An interfaith major or minor, such as at Elizabethtown College (PA).
The co-curricular programming offers immediate opportunities to apply what students learn. Patel suggested three ways to begin:
  • Offer religious diversity training for staff who work in student affairs;
  • Provide a multicultural fellows program in which students plan and manage multicultural and interfaith activities; and
  • Encourage student organizations, such as the more than 250 interfaith student groups on college campuses nationwide.
Patel concluded by emphasizing that American society is becoming no less religiously diverse. Some diverse societies result in civil war. “What will happen in America?” he asked. “What kind of relationships and interaction will bring us together as a civil society?” What we must do, Patel said, is, in the words of Concordia President Craft: “Educate the whole of the self for the whole of a young person’s life, for a positive engagement with the whole world.”

If interfaith connections are not experienced on college campuses, where else will students experience them? Patel challenged his audience, “It’s on us.”

To provide opportunities to explore curricular and co-curricular strategies in depth, CIC and IFYC will offer for the seventh time a seminar for faculty members on Teaching Interfaith Understanding, directed by Patel and Laurie Patton, president of Middlebury College (VT), June 17–21, 2018, in Chicago. Applications are due January 19, for more information see the related newsletter story or visit the program website.

Workshop Helps Campuses Create Integrated Retention Models for Student Success

​Nearly 100 workshop participants, many of them institutional team members, learned from the experience of other CIC colleges and universities that have built organizational structures to support student retention and success. The workshop presenters from Berry College (GA)—provost Mary K. Boyd and vice president for enrollment management Andrew R. Bressette—and Roger Williams University (RI)—associate dean of student success Alison Chase Padula, vice president for student life John King, associate provost for teaching and learning Robert Shea, and provost and senior vice president Andrew A. Workman—described how their institutions developed retention programs that coordinate academic affairs and student life initiatives and collaboratively prevent students from falling between the cracks.

Berry College used data to create strategies that increased first-year retention from fall 2011 (75 percent) to fall 2016 (85 percent) and to understand why retention fell back to 78 percent in fall 2017. Boyd and Bressette emphasized the importance of grasping the big picture through such indicators as retention by major; SAT/ACT scores and high school GPA; differences by gender, race, and ethnicity; and enrollment in particularly challenging introductory courses before diving deeply into the data. They also warned participants to avoid potential detractors from the initiative. Following this initial presentation, participants worked in small groups to identify the data they will need to develop a retention plan, how and where they will find the data, and what skills they will need to analyze the data.

The team from Roger Williams University described how their institution moved from a traditional student support structure to a single administrative unit within the academic affairs division that includes a center for student academic success. One associate provost is responsible for global studies, experiential learning, and career services, while another oversees a center for scholarship, assessment, technology, and teaching. Again in teams, participants evaluated their own student support organizational structures according to how suited they are to increasing the retention of students.

Representatives of Berry and Roger Williams then described the processes they and their colleagues used to integrate academic and student affairs. While the components of their respective models differ, they share a model of process that includes staff members primarily concerned with student life, faculty and staff responsible for academic programs, and faculty members and other staff throughout the institutions. Faculty and staff at Roger Williams work together to offer such programs as first-year seminars, living-learning communities, peer mentoring, and a student committee that represents student opinion on academic and student affairs. Berry College pays particular attention to high-risk students such as those with inadequate academic preparation, uses faculty and staff mentors from various college units to work with students according to their intended majors and other interests, and sponsors various activities to monitor student success and encourage retention.

Following a final small-group discussion of potential impediments to change and of the organizational and programmatic changes that might improve communication and coordination, each team or participant chose three action items to undertake upon their return to campus. In the final analysis, it became clear that campuses should “admit to fit,” in Mary Boyd’s phrase. That is, colleges and universities should enroll students who can be retained, adopt strategies that allow all areas of the college to work together, develop admissions strategies with a clear understanding of student success data, and make sure that campus leadership has a common vision of the institutional mission and of each of its divisions. Boyd reminded participants, “Retention requires admitting students who fit the culture and then supporting them through the college journey. Retention is everyone’s business.”

CAO-CSAO Teams Share Strategies for Innovation in Curricular and Co-Curricular Initiatives

Six presenters seated at the head table with projector screen behind them Craig Goebel of Art & Science Group, George Shields of Furman University (SC), Laurel Kennedy and Kim Coplin of Denison University (OH), and Karen Goff and Kerry Pannell of Agnes Scott College (GA) discussed innovative programs in academic affairs and student life.

​During the session on Institutional Strategies for Innovation in Academic Affairs and Student Life, two pairs of chief academic and chief student affairs officers discussed with more than 100 participants the challenge of developing distinctive and sustainable programs for a changing academic marketplace. Presenters explored several central questions: How do liberal arts colleges position themselves in a competitive environment where the words “liberal arts” no longer resonate with many prospective students and their families? How can institutions launch new curricular initiatives that are appealing to students, supported by all key campus constituencies, and likely to promote increased enrollments and stronger revenues? And how can academic affairs and student affairs teams work together to ensure that innovations in the curriculum and co-curriculum are closely aligned to support one strategic vision?

The session began with a review by Craig Goebel, principal of the Art & Science Group, of the results of a recent survey about prospective students’ perceptions of liberal arts colleges. The major finding was discouraging: “adding the two words [liberal arts] to the description of a college makes the institutions less appealing.” Fortunately, students continue to value the attributes of smaller liberal arts colleges, such as strong student-faculty interactions, emphasis on critical thinking, discussion-centered classrooms, and a commitment to life-long learning.

The challenge for colleges and universities seeking to expand enrollments is to develop and differentiate programs that “resonate with the market” yet remain true to their distinctive missions. Most appealing will be integrated academic and student life initiatives that move beyond the traditional liberal arts. The best way for colleges to differentiate themselves, Goebel concluded, is “to build on elements of the educational experience that are distinctive to each institution” and then make sure the new programs are bold, distinctive, appealing, and “believable to a 17-year-old.”

Laurel Kennedy and Kim Coplin, vice president for student development and provost, respectively, at Denison University (OH), offered a detailed case study. Around 2014, Denison launched a strategic planning process designed to “secure our institution’s health and longevity.” The process built upon a 25-year history of curricular innovation and a commitment to several “legacy values” that seemed to define the success of Denison alumni and current students, including diversity, leadership, civic-mindedness, and an entrepreneurial mindset. A new president, Adam Weinberg, urged the campus to embrace a new attitude of “strategic doing.” This attitude fueled an iterative, transparent, and intense process—involving the president, board, faculty members, and staff—that resulted in five strategic priorities.

Academic affairs addressed one of the new priorities, new curricular programs, by soliciting proposals from faculty members. Faculty-led committees reviewed the proposals, considering several criteria: “Are they rooted in the liberal arts? Are they something faculty members are excited about and that we can deliver at the highest level? Are there potential benefits across academic divisions and programs? Will they help strengthen admissions?” As a result, the university introduced two new academic programs in 2015–2016: global commerce (which rapidly became the most popular major on campus) and data analytics. Meanwhile, the student affairs division addressed a second strategic priority—focusing co-curricular efforts on innovation, diversity, and wellness—by developing the Red Frame Lab, an entrepreneurial “problem-solving space” where students apply design thinking to complex, real-world problems such as climate change and poverty.

Successful as they became, both initiatives initially produced tension between the two divisions. For example, the demand for internships, vital to the new academic programs, quickly outran the career center’s capacity to cultivate and manage internships. The solution, explained Kennedy, was a collaborative internship flowchart that detailed the entire process and assigned clear responsibilities to faculty and staff members. Meanwhile, some faculty members resisted the Red Frame Lab as an encroachment on their responsibility for instruction. So Denison engaged more faculty members in the pedagogy of design thinking and in recruitment of alumni and community partners (and faculty) to conceptualize the new lab “as a start-up [enterprise].”

Agnes Scott College’s (GA) Kerry Pannell, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, and Karen Goff, vice president for student life, rounded out the session with a case study involving extensive programmatic changes. In 2015, under the leadership of a “charismatic and change-driven president,” Agnes Scott introduced Summit, an integrated curricular and co-curricular program built around the theme of global leadership. This was one of several “big ideas” to attract new students that were initially test-marketed with groups of prospective applicants and new students. Once the new focus was selected, Pannell explained, the next challenge was to build faculty support for a highly structured program that stretched the liberal arts tradition of this women’s college. President Elizabeth Kiss hosted a series of informal wine and cheese receptions to “listen to and cajole” faculty members, while the faculty president took a prominent leadership role in convening ad hoc committees of faculty members to tackle specific program development challenges rapidly. The college also devoted resources to faculty development in two skill areas that became central to the new academic program: digital literacy and leadership development.

The Summit program encompasses a core curriculum focused on global learning and leadership development, faculty-led tours abroad during every student’s first year, the development of a “board of advisors” for each student, and a digital portfolio of classroom and co-curricular activities. Goff arrived at Agnes Scott as vice president for student life after the planning process for Summit was well under way. Her first impulse was, “I wanted to meet the people who convinced the faculty to adopt this!” Her second was to “make sure we don’t just have parallel programs” on the curricular and co-curricular sides but a truly integrated initiative. To help accomplish this, the senior administration instituted a position with a dual reporting line to ensure that one of the key staff in the leadership development programs always “had a seat at both the academic affairs and student affairs tables.” Faculty members also were invited to participate in orientation experiences for new students that had been designed by the student affairs staff and to partner with the student affairs staff on leadership development workshops that supplement specific classroom activities with external speakers from the Atlanta community.

The final words in the session were provided by George Shields, vice president for academic affairs and provost of Furman University (SC): “You have to have effective leadership,” and not just from the president’s office.

Session Explores Strategies, Techniques, and Resources for Student Success

​When will at least 60 percent of Americans have high-quality college degrees, certificates, or other credentials if progress continues at its current rate? 2041, according to a 2017 study by Educational Testing Service. But the Lumina Foundation and others have set for American higher education a more ambitious timeline calling for achievement by 2025. In an Institute session asking, “What will it take for the ‘student success’ agenda to succeed?” Jonathan Gyurko, CEO and founder of the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE), and Emily Ford, interim dean of the School of Professional and Graduate Studies at Baker University (KS), began with that stark contrast between goals and assessments.

Gyurko asked the more than 50 session participants to ponder three questions: Who on your campus is directly responsible for helping students succeed? What are the key elements of your student success strategy? And is this strategy sufficient to achieve your institutional goal? Following small group discussions, Gyurko asked each group to explain, “how do we know the impact of what we’re doing?”

In the lively discussion that followed, chief academic officers and others elaborated on a range of strategies institutions are employing to increase their student retention and completion rates. These include real-time data tracking and interventions with students in trouble, getting departments to work together to make changes, and providing resources to students who need help to succeed. One institution reported using a point system to replace a failing work study program in order to incentivize taking advantage of campus resources. The result was higher student satisfaction and improved retention.

It became clear, however, that one of the most important strategies for student success was missing from the campus approaches discussed by participants: improving the quality of teaching. In a normal semester, a student spends nearly 200 hours with instructors and only one hour with an advisor. Yet colleges often emphasize advising and other student interventions over improving the quality of instruction and student-faculty interaction. “You wouldn’t send a surgeon into an operation with training in only some of the relevant skills,” illustrated Gyurko, and yet most faculty members have never been trained in evidence-based instruction. And most faculty development programs do not reach the fastest-growing sector of the workforce: part-time instructors.

ACUE’s course in effective teaching practices prepares college instructors to use research-based techniques to help students succeed. The course’s online design is intended to help colleges and universities put teaching at the heart of their student success plans. The course has modules for course design, creating a strong learning environment, using active learning, promoting higher order thinking, and assessing outcomes. ACUE plans to add a module on helping students prepare for careers.

Not all institutions are receptive to ACUE’s approach: “We found a lot of skepticism about the effectiveness of investment in faculty development,” Gyurko said. Do faculty members actually implement the techniques, and are student outcomes improving as a result? Early results from the ACUE course at participating institutions suggest that faculty members like using the techniques and that, in fact, student outcomes are improving.

Emily Ford explained the implementation of the ACUE course at her institution and how results will be assessed. Baker University is fully committed to improving teaching and learning through ACUE and is one of seven competitive grant winners selected by the Kauffman Foundation to receive support to implement ACUE’s effective teaching practices course.

David Brailow, CIC’s vice president for development, explained that CIC and ACUE hope to create a consortium of CIC institutions that will be able to adopt the ACUE course through funding from a foundation. Participants expressed interest in the possibility, and some indicated that they intended to implement the course with or without outside funding.

Sessions on Controlling Costs Show Understanding the Budget Is Everybody’s Business

Four speakers present from the head table David Gurzick and Deborah D. Ricker of Hood College (MD) and Pamela Regis and Julia Jasken of McDaniel College (MD) discussed processes for cost-containment and reinvestment.

To fulfill its mission and improve its economic viability, a college does not necessarily need to implement revolutionary change or dramatically reverse course. Instead, as presenters in two Institute sessions on controlling costs convincingly laid out, success requires a decision-making process that is data-driven, fits the culture and specific circumstances of an institution, and so inspires a broadly shared commitment to change and the collaborative development of a vision for the future.

In the session Cost Containment for Mission-Driven Innovation, provosts and faculty members tag-teamed to detail how their institutions identified cost-saving measures to create opportunities for innovation. In the McDaniel College (MD) example, provost and dean of the faculty Julia Jasken and professor and chair of the English department Pamela Regis noted that the first order of business was to break the idea held by many faculty members that their sole role was to teach and that administrators would handle the budget. By intensely sharing more than 70 data sets, Jasken noted, they were able to make clear that “every curriculum decision has monetary implications.” And rather than simply applying one of the customary approaches to program review, Regis said, “we spent a lot of time thinking about what in our case of shared governance faculty members could and should decide.” Also critical to the success of the process was, Jasken emphasized, that everybody embraced the goal of identifying opportunities to reinvest in the McDaniel promise of strengthening “career preparation, advising, and mentorship” of students.

The starting point at Hood College (MD) was the advent of a new president and a new strategic plan, noted provost and vice president for academic affairs Deborah D. Ricker and associate professor and chair of the department of economics and business administration David Gurzick. A few things were key to creating campus support of the plan, however. The college needed to turn the top-down imperative into a bottom-up approach that required absolute transparency about the revenue generation and productivity of departments and broadly taught the concept of opportunity analytics (delivering the same value for less or delivering more value with the same investment). The college then collected cost-saving proposals through a survey of “How Can Hood Do Things Better?” that a representative committee sifted, organized, and turned into decision opportunities. While still in the middle of bundling opportunities into a comprehensive plan, Ricker said that implementation will be opportunistic, “What can be done quickly will be done quickly.”

During the session Making Hard Decisions about Academic Program Costs, Caroline J. Simon, provost and executive vice president at Whitworth University (WA), emphasized that every academic program cost review process should start by confirming that all involved fully understand “why you are doing what you are doing.” The goals in the accelerated nine-month process at Whitworth were to address faculty discontent, create opportunities for modest raises, and free up 3 percent of operating costs as flexible project funds to innovate. Ad hoc committees outside the existing governance structure were charged with assessing program contributions to centrality, quality, and demand as well as cost effectiveness. Michael Williams, president of the Austen Group, a division of Ruffalo Noel Levitz, walked participants through how all departments scored at Whitworth, using detailed data graphs showing the pressures on the institution and the program demand, which created the reality framework to discuss program review strategy. New net-revenue generation in the academic and non-academic areas and operations, infrastructure, and personnel cost-savings resulted in an impressive combined $3 million benefit to the bottom line over three years.

The impetus at Calvin College (MI), provost Cheryl K. Brandsen shared openly, was the finding of an independent task force in 2013 that the institution was facing a $7 million budget shortfall. In addition to refinancing debt, selling non-core real estate assets, and intensified fundraising, the task force stipulated the need to slash $4.5 million from the annual operating budget. A reform committee of “all college citizens,” consistent with Calvin’s mission, was charged with identifying a plan that would preserve educational quality, minimize impact on students, stay true to foundational documents, and “follow the faculty handbook scrupulously.”

Presenters highlighted several general lessons in the two sessions, including the thought, “If you think you shared enough information, do more.” Other lessons included that colleges should: establish up front a clear decision-making process that identifies who informs, recommends, and decides and that fits the institutional culture; prepare for the potentially disruptive impact of reform discussions spilling into the social media sphere; involve faculty members as much as possible and at every step; know that there also will be some good news; and end up in a place where most campus family members think, “We should have gone a little further.”

New Open-Access Press Gives Scholars at Liberal Arts Colleges More Options

Mark D. W. Edington of Amherst College Press and Lever Press, Abu Rizvi of Lafayette College (PA), and Andrea Milner of Adrian College (MI) provided details on the new Lever Press publication initiative.

The financial model that supports the infrastructure to qualify faculty members for tenure is broken. So says Mark D. W. Edington, director of Amherst College Press and publisher of Lever Press, a new publication outlet for faculty members at liberal arts colleges. In a session that explored the new Lever Press initiative, participants were able to hear from those involved in framing the idea and structure of a new publishing platform for liberal arts academic content: Edington; Andrea Milner, vice president and dean of academic affairs at Adrian College (MI); and Abu Rizvi, provost of Lafayette College (PA).

Edington cited trends such as the increasing prices of scholarly books, while pointing out that the number of copies printed and the rates of library borrowing are rapidly decreasing. “We’re paying more and using less.” This is particularly true at liberal arts colleges, where the model of scholarship differs greatly from that of research universities, where most scholarly presses are housed. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for faculty members at liberal arts colleges to publish their scholarship and, thereby, to fulfill one of the tenure requirements.

Lever Press has created an open access, digitally native platform for scholarly publishing aligned with the liberal arts ethos. In partnership with Michigan Publishing and the Oberlin Group (a consortium of liberal arts college libraries), a pilot funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been launched to produce 60 titles over five years. Since there will be no marketing expenses, the average cost to produce each title will be far less than for other university presses.

Lever Press also changes the author/publisher relationship. The author retains the copyright and receives a one-time payment in lieu of royalties. According to Edington, this payment will exceed what most scholarly authors receive in royalties now.

Lever Press plans to focus its publishing program on several areas: major questions explored through interdisciplinary perspectives; teaching, learning, and leading in the liberal arts college; scholarship based on special collections at participating institutions; new frontiers in the digital liberal arts; and new editions of frequently assigned texts with supporting scholarly apparatus. This latter category in particular “provides a pathway for faculty members and supports the needs of students” at the same time. The editorial board for the press is composed of faculty members at liberal arts colleges who have become partners in the project.

Edington acknowledged that open access publishing has a “reputation problem” in that it is assumed to mean “not peer reviewed.” Lever Press is peer reviewed and publishes its peer review policy on the web.

Rizvi and Milner emphasized the importance of faculty research at liberal arts colleges and the need to make the research outcomes accessible. While collaborative publishing has not always been successful, the economic pressures on scholarly publishing indicate that “we need to make a start,” Rizvi said.

Participants asked many questions of the presenters, and most seemed eager to learn more, to encourage their faculty members to submit proposals, and to join the collaborative effort. Edington encouraged them to take advantage of publishing workshops for faculty members that Lever Press can offer on their campuses.