Annual Conference for State Council Executives Focuses on Expanding Support for Member Colleges

“It’s all about the value proposition. What additional benefits can your consortium bring to the table to strengthen and advance its member institutions?”
Posed by opening speaker Roger Casey, president of McDaniel College (MD), this question was the focus of two days of presentations and discussions at the recent annual conference for executives of CIC’s State Councils, consortia of private colleges and universities with the mission of advancing and strengthening their member institutions. The conference for CIC’s State Councils—formerly called State Funds—took place May 1–3, 2016, in Baltimore, Maryland.
“In today’s challenging environment for private colleges, our State Councils cannot simply rely on a status quo approach. We must actively seek ways to provide additional value-added support for our member colleges and universities,” said Richard Ludwick, president of the Independent Colleges of Indiana. With its theme “Enhancing the Value Proposition: Best Practices, New Opportunities,” this conference “gave state executives a practical workshop opportunity to hear from speakers and from one another about new ideas that could have traction,” Ludwick continued.
Supporting the exchange of new ideas to benefit member colleges were speakers Jeffrey Docking, president of Adrian College (MI); Elizabeth Johnson, founding partner and CEO of SimpsonScarborough, a national marketing and communications firm; Marilyn Mackes, executive director of the National Association of Colleges and Employers; Thomas Kepple, president of the American Academic Leadership Institute; and Jeanette Norton, community outreach manager for the Foundation Center.
“It’s clear from these presentations and from our discussions that there are times that the work of a consortia can reach farther, be more cost-effective, and have a wider impact than the work of individual colleges,” said Bob Bartlett, president of the Michigan Colleges Alliance. He noted that targets of opportunity for consortial focus highlighted at this conference echoed those that the CIC Board of Directors and the advising committee for the State Councils recently pinpointed in a long-term plan for the network, including:
  • Increasing recognition and enrollment of member institutions through collective public relations and branding initiatives that help “make the case” for private colleges and universities;
  • Putting a college education within reach for deserving students of all income levels by raising private gifts and grants for scholarships;
  • Expanding student internship and career opportunities, as well as developing corporate grant and sponsorship support, by connecting the private college sector to America’s business community; and
  • Enhancing curricular and co-curricular programs at member institutions by facilitating the development of multi-college approaches to key targets of opportunity and seeking grant funding for these collaborative initiatives.
“By working collectively on these kinds of initiatives, CIC’s State Councils can further strengthen the independent college sector nationwide,” noted Brent Wilder, vice president of the Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges and Universities. “We encourage college presidents to think collaboratively and to make even greater use of the leverage provided by their State Councils. We’re here to support them, and by working together we can maximize the impact.”
The conference also included the annual Awards Dinner, held at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Two key volunteers were honored at the special event: Kenneth Garren, president of Lynchburg College (VA), who received the 2016 Charles W. L. Foreman Award for exceptional leadership at both the state and national level of the State Councils program, and Christina Cutlip, managing director of TIAA, who received the Outstanding Service Award for her long and dedicated involvement on the Boards of the former Foundation for Independent Higher Education (FIHE) and the Council of Independent Colleges, into which FIHE merged in 2010. In addition, a Distinguished Service Award was presented to CIC Vice President Ned Moore, who headed the State Councils program from 2010 until his June 2016 retirement and guided FIHE’s successful merger into CIC. (See CIC News for more information on Moore and the new vice president for State Council Programs, Carol Schuler.)

Roger Casey, Tina Bjarekull, Natalie Jones, and Frank Romeo posing beside UPS Foundation sign
Roger Casey, president of McDaniel College (MD); Tina Bjarekull, managing director of the Independent College Fund of Maryland; Natalie Jones, UPS Scholar and student at Stevenson University (MD); and Frank Romeo, vice president of the UPS Foundation, celebrated the UPS Scholarships during the 2016 State Councils Annual Conference.