Introduction

​During the 2016–2017 academic year, the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) convened a series of eight gatherings on member campuses across the United States under the title, Securing America’s Future: Workshops for Leaders of Independent Colleges and Universities. The goals of the workshops were to increase understanding of the sector’s distinctive strengths as well as its greatest challenges, and to facilitate thinking about a future both grounded in mission and open to new possibilities.

As CIC staff traveled around the country—and later reflected upon the entire series of workshops—we were most struck by the enormous amount of creativity and innovation taking place on member campuses. Feedback from workshop participants also made it clear that they were especially energized by learning about the programs and strategies developed by their colleagues at other CIC institutions. Our hope in these pages is to bring some of that energy and many of the innovative examples to the broader CIC membership so that the wisdom of the workshops can be shared with those who did not have the opportunity to participate in the actual meetings. No one doubts or would deny that higher education faces a number of challenges today, but independent higher education is meeting those challenges with adaptive, creative, and successful responses, many of which we have tried to capture in this report. In the words of one workshop participant: “How can we be nimble, accessible, responsive, and maintain quality?”

Interest and participation in the workshops exceeded expectations, with 121 institutions and almost 500 individuals taking part over the course of the year. College and university presidents participated in the one-day workshops with a campus leadership team of their choosing. Teams usually included faculty members as well as administrators, and occasionally a trustee. There was no fee for participation, and the events were scheduled throughout the country, from upstate New York to central Texas to southern California. Most—although not all—participants chose a workshop in their region, which meant that lodging expenses were usually unnecessary and travel costs were modest. (An unanticipated benefit, we learned from participants, was that driving time with colleagues often served as a valuable extension of the workshop activities.)

WORKSHOP AGENDA

The agenda for the day (which typically lasted from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) interwove presentations with interactive sessions designed to promote participants’ engagement in small groups. Seating arrangements were varied throughout the day; for some sessions, random seating enabled new colleagues from different institutions to meet, while at other times institutional teams were seated together for brainstorming or seated in groups according to campus role. The presentation sessions featured higher education researchers whose research about the independent college and university sector was rigorous and often counter-intuitive and individual presidents who described innovative strategies they had implemented at their institutions.

Prior to each workshop convening, registered participants received a substantial packet of materials. This included detailed information about independent higher education, such as:

  • Data about trends in demography, degree completion in relation to low-income and first-generation status and other factors, affordability, and post-graduate employment;
  • Information graphics produced for the public information campaign to dispel popular misconceptions concerning access, affordability, diversity, and graduates’ success;
  • Executive summaries of six major research reports on topics such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degree production and cost-effectiveness;
  • Five research briefs on such timely topics as competency-based education, career preparation, and online learning;
  • A compilation of widely-discussed “disruptive trends” in higher education; and
  • A checklist of  “characteristics of success for mission-driven innovation.”

All of these materials continue to be available on the CIC website.

MISSION AND INNOVATION

Although the major focus of the gatherings was on creative strategies that have been or can be implemented on member campuses, most of the workshops began with discussion of the significant issues that participants believed their own institutions faced. The litany of challenges (or “disruptive trends”) thought to confront higher education today is well known and often rehearsed in the media. Lists of such factors typically include a national and international context of financial uncertainty, changing demographics in the United States, the rise of digital media, increased competition from new educational providers, and diminished public confidence in educational institutions. Indeed, the very nature of liberal arts education and its value have been topics of public debate.

Going into the workshops, CIC staff and advisors expected that such overarching concerns would loom large in the conversations; in fact, few workshop participants were preoccupied by issues that could be painted in such broad strokes. Rather, the institutional teams were much more interested in the particular ways their individual institutions could be responsive and resilient in the context of larger cultural conditions. This pragmatic focus by no means neglected larger conceptual issues—almost always, discussions of innovation would turn back in the end to the “true North” of institutional mission.

Allegiance to mission does not stifle creativity or even forestall a degree of re-invention. For example, an independent college founded by Scandinavian Lutherans, yet also responsive to its Southern California location, has now evolved into a Hispanic-serving institution. A pharmacy college decided to strengthen its three-year pre-professional curriculum by transforming it into a four-year liberal arts-based program. Contrary to popular misconceptions, American colleges and universities are not averse to change; they have proven remarkably adaptable over time. Nevertheless, for the healthy institution, fidelity to mission typically serves as a fulcrum, balancing tradition and innovation. The comments of two presidents frame the issue well. One noted, “Staffing and finances must support current and future needs, not ‘historical academic icons,’” while another affirmed, “We went back to our roots to learn from them.”

INNOVATIVE STRATEGIES

A large portion of each workshop was devoted to innovative strategies that presenters and participants have implemented on their own campuses. The programs and initiatives that were discussed were widely varied and inventive. Looking back on the entire series of workshops, however, it became clear to the CIC staff that many of the innovative practices could be organized into several major areas of opportunity. Here, listed alphabetically, are eight areas in which colleges and universities are responding creatively to today’s challenging environment for higher education.

  • Athletics
  • Career Connections
  • Community Engagement
  • Consortial Arrangements
  • Cost Containment
  • Curricular Reform
  • New Academic Programs
  • New Student Populations

This report devotes one section to each of these opportunities for innovation. By design, each section can be used separately by campus leaders to provide an introduction to the topic or to stimulate thinking in particular contexts, such as with a curricular or budget committee, in speaking with community leaders, or in working with a board of trustees. Each section includes examples of mission-driven innovations and suggests some of the particular challenges addressed by each set of examples.

In most cases, however, an innovation in one strategic area will actually address several different challenges. Community engagement, for example—depending upon the form it takes—can be a way to enhance revenue, offer new opportunities for experiential learning, engage civic partners, meet regional economic needs, and more.

FOCUSED AND EFFECTIVE

The management expert Peter Drucker defined innovation as “the effort to create purposeful, focused change.” He also noted that, “Effective innovations start small. They are not grandiose. By contrast, grandiose ideas for things that will ‘revolutionize an industry’ are unlikely to work.” The pages that follow offer many examples of changes taking place on independent college and university campuses today. The changes vary in scope from relatively small shifts in specific practices to more thorough re-thinking of institutional choices. All of the changes are purposeful and focused; specifically, they are focused on successfully leading this distinctively American form of education into a future when it will continue to contribute to the education and success of our students and our nation.

We hope that dissemination of ideas from the workshops will provide a valuable resource to CIC member institutions, as they continue to evolve and improve. To that end, we encourage you to add to this resource, sharing creative ideas from your campus. Contribute examples of innovation from your own institution.

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Athletics

Athletics section banner, orange
​Achieve the optimal balance of number and types of athletic teams for the institution’s mission, budget, culture, and student populations


Nearly half of CIC member institutions compete in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and another 21 percent compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Among other defining criteria, Division III institutions do not offer athletic scholarships; NAIA institutions offer limited athletic scholarships. Yet a large number of students choose to attend CIC colleges and universities because of the opportunity to continue playing a sport they pursued in high school. Even small colleges may support as many as 30 sports, and a high percentage of students are intercollegiate athletes. In light of such strong student interest, a number of colleges and universities have re-examined their commitment to athletics and expanded the role they play on campus in order to enhance other functions of the institutions—especially student recruitment and retention.


CHALLENGES

Intercollegiate athletics can help CIC colleges and universities improve enrollment by attracting students—especially male students—who have specific athletic interests or a general interest in sports. Athletics also can help smaller colleges to compete successfully with institutions in both the public and the for-profit sectors for students and to retain students through graduation. In addition, intercollegiate athletics can help integrate the student life and academic affairs experiences and provide a wider variety of experiences for traditional-aged students while diversifying revenue streams, including alumni contributions.


Most of the following examples were provided by CIC member institutions and the expert presenters that participated in Securing America’s Future workshops in 2016–2017. They represent distinct but replicable responses to common challenges that many independent colleges and universities face.


EXPANDING ATHLETIC PROGRAMS

By far the most ambitious example of capitalizing on student interest in specific athletic teams and other co-curricular activities to increase enrollment was offered by Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan. President Jeffrey Docking told workshop participants that Adrian was in poor condition in 2005: The college was under-enrolled, with a significant operating deficit, deferred maintenance, low morale, and underpaid employees. To increase enrollment, Adrian created a business model built on leveraging athletics and other co-curricular activities. Using this strategy, the college’s enrollment rose from fewer than 900 students to nearly 1,700, the annual budget increased from $28.4 million to more than $70.3 million, and the endowment doubled.

First, the college gathered data to determine what was needed for a viable financial plan. The conclusion was that the institution needed to attract at least 280 more students every year. Reasoning that most prospective students see academic programs as largely the same at all institutions, Docking determined that “the draw had to be about the co-curricular experience. We spent a lot of time getting into the head of an 18-year-old.” Working with faculty and staff, the president identified 41 sports and other activities, appointed a person to direct each activity, and established the number of new students who had to enroll in each activity. The college then raised or borrowed funds to build a stadium, ice arena, tennis courts, track and field complex, baseball field, and practice fields. Meanwhile, Docking promised the faculty that returns on these immediate investments to attract new students would be used to strengthen academic programs later. In the final analysis, Docking said, enrollment success was a “three-legged stool” built on facilities, accountability of staff to attract the specified number of students they were assigned to bring in, and support for each of the activities.

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Two students stand on Adrian College branded motorboat
Adrian College (MI) introduced varsity bass fishing as one unconventional way to attract more student-athletes. (Photo credit: Adrian College)

Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania, has expanded the number of its athletic offerings—including a new football program in 2018—as part of a comprehensive plan to increase enrollment and become a more residential campus. The physical expansion of the campus includes an innovative recreation, wellness, and health sciences complex (“The PLEX”) that is designed to serve student-athletes, other undergraduates, and members of the surrounding community.

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Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota, has undertaken a feasibility study to inform a decision about adding football or lacrosse teams.

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California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California, recently added two new varsity sports and five new junior varsity sports teams to improve enrollment and retention.

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Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio, plans to reinstate a dormant men’s varsity wrestling program in 2018. According to Defiance College President Richanne Mankey, “This addition will enhance our athletic program, and the recruitment of future students will provide support to our strategic enrollment plan.” Wrestling is especially popular in Ohio, so the move will help attract high school graduates from inside the state.

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Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth attracts many international students to join its coed table tennis squad and has won dozens of collegiate and national championships since the program began in 2001. The 2017–2018 roster includes 49 student-athletes, 43 of whom are international students from 19 different countries. The university also has become an international center for training table tennis athletes and coaches, including Paralympians in the sport.
 

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Two students playing table tennis
The success of the Texas Wesleyan table tennis team, which has won dozens of championships since the program began in 2001, has led the university to become an international center for training table tennis athletes and coaches. (Photo credit: Texas Wesleyan University Sports Information)

Young Harris College in rural Young Harris, Georgia, has watched the success of one varsity program—men’s soccer—help attract other students once the team built momentum and began to win matches on the field. The next step was to appoint a women’s soccer coach. The college also has started junior varsity programs that attract students without adding to scholarship costs. The JV teams in men’s and women’s soccer now annually attract 23 students each to the institution.

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JUNIOR VARSITY TEAMS

Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia, is one of many CIC member institutions that has increased the number of junior varsity teams as a way to attract and retain students. Beginning in 2015–2016, the university offered new junior varsity teams in basketball and softball and added a dance unit to its competitive cheerleading team. The university has recruited an additional 30 to 40 students per year as a result of these additions, with a total entering student population of approximately 950.

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PARTNERSHIPS WITH PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAMS

A number of CIC colleges and universities have partnered with professional sports teams to build new facilities, support the institution’s athletics programs, and capture media and community attention. The professional teams often provide jobs and internships for students as well. St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, has hosted pre-season training for the Green Bay Packers since the late 1950s, and Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, has hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1966. At least five CIC members provide facilities for NFL training camps, although the number is declining as professional football teams increasingly rely on their own facilities.

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Heritage Trail sign describing St. Norbert College & the Packers
St. Norbert College (WI) has hosted preseason training for the Green Bay Packers since the late 1950s. (Photo credit: St. Norbert College)

When the Rams football team returned to Los Angeles in 2016, California Lutheran University moved quickly to offer its campus as a site for team offices and training facilities to be used throughout the year. The Rams paid for the installation of two practice fields on the northwest corner of campus, a paved parking lot, and temporary modular buildings containing offices, training areas, and locker rooms. The facilities will remain in place even if the Rams establish another base of operations at the end of their current multi-year contract with Cal Lutheran.

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Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is home to the Carolina Panthers’ training camp. The team has prepared for the upcoming season at the college each summer since the team was established in 1995. The Panthers are hosted in the college’s 60,000-square-foot Richardson Physical Activities Building. The facility also provides Wofford students with a fitness center, aerobics studio, and racquetball courts.

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ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES

A number of CIC institutions have taken a different path by reducing the emphasis on athletics to focus attention and resources on other aspects of the institutional mission. For example, Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, decided in 2002 to eliminate all intercollegiate athletics. The leaders of this historically black women’s college offered two compelling reasons for the decision. First was the relatively high cost of the intercollegiate athletic program (about $1 million a year for 80 varsity athletes competing in NCAA Division III). Second was a desire to focus the institution’s resources on more effective health and wellness facilities for the entire student population, especially in the face of rising obesity rates and related health issues among young African American women.
 

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Four students running on treadmills
Spelman College (GA) eliminated intercollegiate athletics and withdrew from NCAA competition, instead focusing on a campus-wide wellness initiative that emphasizes fitness for everyone. (Photo credit: Spelman College)

In 2000, Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, eliminated its football program in the interest of “build[ing] a class that was equal in men and women and racially and ethnically diverse, with a large international population, and with engineers and classicists, musicians and biologists. The college’s small size was [considered] severely limiting and something had to give.” More than a decade later, however, the college was still reaching out to disappointed alumni and former football players.

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OTHER IDEAS AND ADVICE

According to James C. Hearn and Jarrett B. Warshaw, authors of the CIC-commissioned report Mission-Driven Innovation: An Empirical Study of Adaptation and Change among Independent Colleges, one of the most common institutional responses to the pressures faced by independent colleges and universities is to expand the athletic program.

A small but significant innovation was reported by the workshop team from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York: College administrators finally persuaded the athletic coaches to use the same purchasing source for all uniforms—and the cost of uniforms was reduced significantly.

QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE

  • Researcher Christopher Morphew posed a challenging question during the workshops: How can institutions create an intellectually engaging academic environment for students when 75 percent are on athletic scholarships?

  • How can student-athletes be encouraged to identify themselves as scholar-athletes outside the athletic teams?

  • Are there opportunities to create curricular programs that appeal especially to athletes, such as facilities management, athletics management, athletic training, sports medicine, or even dance? How can co-curricular programs be aligned with the curriculum?

  • What are the most effective ways to integrate the academic program and career preparation?


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Career Connections

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​Prepare college graduates for successful entry into the labor market and promote the effectiveness of the liberal arts and liberal arts colleges for their graduates’ lifelong success in the labor force


The role of higher education in preparation for employment has been a topic of debate in American culture since at least the time of the Civil War, when the Morrill Act established a system of public land-grant universities “to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanical arts…in order to promote the…practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.”

In times of economic downturn, concern for professional preparation has typically topped Americans’ expectations of a college education. In our current environment, the recession that began in 2007, coupled with rising tuition levels, has led to an over-riding emphasis—for both students and families—on the college degree leading directly to employment opportunities. Educators usually hold a more holistic view of college outcomes, including development of the “whole person” as an individual and as a citizen. Many colleges and universities today, however, have recognized and responded to the perceived need for pragmatic skills and “workplace readiness.” Moreover, such preparation can be integrated effectively with such goals as the development of critical thinking, problem solving, and effective communication skills. In fact, a recent survey of employers found that 93 percent agreed that “candidates’ ability to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.”*

Career centers have taken on an enhanced significance, often moving literally to the center of campuses, where they may bring opportunities for career exploration, internships and apprenticeships, community-based learning, entrepreneurship, and more. Many colleges also have seen the advantage of linking current undergraduates directly with alumni, forming a network that benefits the student, the graduate, and the institution. Purposeful career preparation efforts by smaller private colleges help explain why 91 percent of their graduates achieve a successful career outcome within six months of graduation, defined as meaningful employment, military or other public service, or further education.†

*Margaret Loftus, “Liberal Arts Colleges Cater to Employers’ Needs,”U.S. News and World Report, September 14, 2017.

†National Association of Colleges and Employers, First Destinations for the College Class of 2016, October 2017.


CHALLENGES

The opportunity to enhance career connections helps address several challenges for independent higher education: the increased public focus on career preparation and the related diminished public respect for higher education; the need to meet enrollment goals; and the proliferation of such competitors as online education, certificates, early colleges, and career “boot camps.”


Most of the following examples were provided by CIC member institutions and the expert presenters that participated in Securing America’s Future workshops in 2016–2017. They represent distinctive but adaptable responses to common challenges that independent colleges and universities face.

Agnes Scott College, a women’s college just outside Atlanta, Georgia, has been named one of the most innovative colleges in the nation for its newly implemented SUMMIT curriculum, which emphasizes both women’s leadership and global engagement. Each student forms an individual “Board of Advisors” and begins exploration of leadership and career paths from the first day of orientation.

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Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, offers a multi-pronged initiative called “Augie Choice” to help students identify what they want to do with their lives early in their college experience. For example, the institution gives students support to defray the cost of travel abroad, to travel to present papers, and to engage in other experiential learning opportunities that enhance their employability. The chaplain works in the career center to promote the concept of vocational and not just career exploration. The college also uses a “Viking Score” worksheet that tracks students’ level of professional preparation for life after graduation. The institution’s CORE (careers, opportunities, research, and exploration) office helps students discern their interests and goals.

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Blackburn College’s identity as a “work college” shapes all of its career development efforts. Located in the small town of Carlinville, Illinois, it boasts a 99 percent placement of graduates into jobs or graduate school. The college attributes its success largely to the head start on careers that graduates gain from the student-run work program.

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Concordia University Texas in Austin has created an Incubator for Innovation and Impact, developed partnerships with local businesses, placed students in internships throughout the community, invited businesses to rent university space, provided professional development programs for students, and brought career services together with the academic program.

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To make clearer the connection between a liberal arts education and preparation for a career, Connecticut College in New London focuses its curriculum on problem solving and making connections among disparate subjects. For example, sophomores are asked to choose courses based on an issue that is meaningful to them, juniors pursue experiential education through internships or study abroad, and seniors are asked to integrate their prior learning through a capstone project.

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During one of the Securing America’s Future workshops, the team from Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri, asserted that two “non-negotiable features” of the institution were its experiential learning mission and an emphasis on preparing students for a changing world.
 

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Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, takes advantage of the fact that world-class scientists from the state’s chemical and pharmaceutical industries often stay in the region when they retire. The university’s RISE program (Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti) enables students to do research with scientists who have extensive experience in the private sector. In 2015, RISE Fellow William Campbell was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine.

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Three students in lab coats are observed by a professor
Drew University’s (NJ) RISE program offers undergraduates a unique opportunity to research under the supervision of retired industrial scientists. (Photo credit: Drew University)

After a decline in enrollment and retention in the early 2000s, Hampden-Sydney College in Hampden-Sydney, Virginia, refocused its attention on the connections among academics, career education, and student vocations. Participation in CIC’s Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) provided benchmarking data as well as new resources and ideas for exploring issues at the nexus of education, career, and vocation. In 2012, the institution introduced C-Day (C stood for Career, Community, and Calling, among other things), a day-long program for all students that included different shared activities with the common goal of building a sense of belonging and guiding students’ personal and professional development. As a result of this and subsequent initiatives, recent sophomore retention has been the best in more than two decades.

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Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, works with the craft beer industry in upstate New York to help prepare students for jobs in that expanding industry by offering internships and undergraduate research opportunities.

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Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, connects co-curricular opportunities with more traditional coursework to demonstrate to potential employers the value of both. The institution requires a co-curricular transcript that supports the curriculum and that shows a clear connection among coursework, experiential learning, and such skills as problem solving and critical thinking.

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Students walking on a slack line between trees
Heidelberg University’s (OH) HYPE Career Ready Program starts with a Common Experience for first-year students to bond with their classmates and helps students bridge the gap between academics and life skills. (Photo credit: Heidelberg University)

The Center for Experience and Opportunity at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland, connects students with experiences and opportunities designed to enhance classroom learning through career exploration and development, community engagement, and educational opportunities abroad.

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Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, instituted “limitless learning,” an innovation through which the institution engaged several partners—including a web development boot camp and an institute for social entrepreneurs—to help provide real-world skills for students in such emerging careers as technology design, digital marketing, web development, social innovation, and entrepreneurship. This effort builds on the university’s earlier initiative to become an all-Apple campus.

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three students wearing Watson Institute ponchos
Lynn University collaborates with Watson Institute, a start-up incubator based in Colorado, to offer a bachelor’s degree in social entrepreneurship. (Photo credit: Lynn University)

New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire, is working hard to position its “graduates with the requisite skills and credentials needed to secure employment following graduation, and a key component of this focus is to ensure students have the educational experiences needed and that their experiences are in sync with employers’ and industry expectations.” One example is its partnership with Pegasystems, a regional software firm that specializes in cloud-based enterprise systems. A master of science program in computer information systems enrolls more than 400 students from India—but a software certification program developed with Pegasystems also has drawn strong interest among the college’s more traditional undergraduate student population.

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A new collaboration with the Amazon Web Services Academy (part of Amazon) will help Robert Morris University in Moon, Pennsylvania, prepare students for certification in Amazon Web Services cloud computing architecture. Two RMU professors will be trained by Amazon engineers to offer this high-demand credential.

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Saint Michael’s College reports that, as a result of having participated in the CIC workshops, this Colchester, Vermont, institution has become much more serious about career preparation and has implemented programs that prepare students for their lives immediately after college by greatly expanding research and internship opportunities.

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The College of Wooster in Ohio has developed a new center, housed at the heart of the campus in the library, that brings together seven integrated offices where students can meet one-on-one with advisors, research internship opportunities, work on their résumés or interview skills, plan off-campus experiences, or obtain advice about pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities. The APEX (an acronym for Advising, Planning, and Experiential Learning) has become a popular hub on campus and has attracted visitors from around the country interested in emulating the concept.

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Wesleyan College, a women’s college in Macon, Georgia, recently instituted “From Here to Career: Connecting the Liberal Arts to Professional Development,” an initiative that integrates a structured, four-year professional development plan—including a student e-portfolio, an internship, and a guided job search—into every liberal arts major.

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SUBMITTED EXAMPLE: The “CSE Promise Program” at the College of Saint Elizabeth (NJ) is designed to augment classroom learning and prepare students for graduate school or employment. Students are required to sign a contract, engage a mentor, meet regularly with career development staff, participate in career fairs and mock interviews, and complete four years of extra-curricular programming including workshops on financial literacy, diversity, resume writing, and professionalism. Students are also expected to maintain a 2.5 GPA, finish their degrees in four years, and complete a required internship. In return, the college guarantees a paid six-month internship to any student who completes the program successfully and does not receive an offer of full-time employment or enroll in graduate studies within six months of graduation.

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CONNECTING ALUMNI TO STUDENTS TO HELP PREPARE FOR THE WORKPLACE

In launching its ambitious new SUMMIT curriculum, Agnes Scott College explicitly reached out to alumnae to serve as mentors and advisors to current students—and hundreds of alumnae responded.
 

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Augustana College energized a new program in media and film production and created new internship opportunities for students by encouraging an alumni-run television production company to relocate from Chicago to the college campus in Rock Island, Illinois.

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Three people choosing a lens for a videocamera
Augustana College (IL) student Tawanda Mberikwazvo ’19, right, traveled from coast to coast over the summer as an intern with the Fresh Films crew. (Photo credit: Augustana College)

The Center for Creativity and Careers at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is co-located with the alumni, development, and provost’s offices as a symbolic and practical way to “ensure that our [institutional] connections become your [student] connections, with alumni who are passionate about Coe and eager to connect with students, with businesses that support Coe events, programs and operations, and with Coe faculty who support experiential learning.”

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Heidelberg University and McDaniel College are among the many CIC institutions that regularly bring alumni back to campus to advise students about a wide variety of possible careers.

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Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, has developed a robust online database, the Kenyon Career Network, designed to assist students and graduates in making connections with more than 6,000 Kenyon alumni who have volunteered to provide information about their careers, workplaces, or the pursuit of advanced degrees.

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St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, developed the SLU Connect program, first in Washington, DC, and then expanded to Boston, Albany, and the Mountain States. The program connects students to alumni who help students explore career paths and offer them mentoring advice. As with many such programs, an ancillary benefit is re-connecting alumni with their alma maters, as they engage with today’s students.

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University of Indianapolis in Indiana reaches out to alumni to prepare students to succeed in internships. The institution reports that alumni appreciate having a meaningful role to play with current students; according to one CIC workshop participant, “giving has gone through the roof, and alumni have become an active part of the college community.”

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OTHER IDEAS AND ADVICE

Robert Morris University has a vocational orientation that goes back to its origins in the 1920s as a for-profit accounting college. According to President Christopher Howard, the informal mission statement of the institution is “RMU offers good programs that provide good jobs for good students.” During his presentation to one of the Securing America’s Future workshops, Howard turned a popular business mantra on its head and urged the participants to “go from great to good”—that is, good for the students and good for the community—in their thinking about student recruitment and preparation for careers in a rapidly changing economy.

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Increasing numbers of liberal arts colleges and universities are providing students with opportunities to conduct research with faculty members as explicit preparation for careers in STEM or other fields. These opportunities may come as early as the first year of college. Because students acquire experience in the use of sophisticated scientific equipment that is often available only to graduate students in larger universities, they have an advantage during graduate school or in the job market. Among the many CIC institutions with especially sophisticated research programs for students are Allegheny College, Capital University, Carthage College, College of Wooster, Dominican University of California, Furman University, Hamline University, Hope College, Lehigh University, North Central College, Oberlin College, and Susquehanna University.

CIC institutions also are connecting internships, study abroad, community-based research, fieldwork, and other forms of experiential learning with a liberal arts education and touting the combination as the best possible form of career preparation. Some, such as Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, even offer students stipends to make up for unearned wages when they accept internships.

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The Liberal Arts Career NetWORK is a consortium of 39 highly selective liberal arts colleges, many of which are CIC members. The objective of the consortium is to share resources to provide a competitive advantage to liberal arts students in the marketplace, and all member institutions contribute to a database of employers that offer internships and employment.

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CIC prepared a research brief on “Career Preparation and the Liberal Arts” as part of the Project on the Future of Independent Higher Education. This includes additional examples of how independent colleges and universities help prepare their students for careers.

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QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE

  • How can independent colleges and universities best promote the value of a liberal arts education for career preparation and success?

  • How can student affairs and academic affairs be structured and function to provide career planning and preparation services to students?

  • How can institutions based in the liberal arts and sciences equip students with the skills they need to find and succeed in careers in ways that are consistent with their liberal arts mission?

  • How can institutions collaborate to provide career services to students?

  • What are the most effective ways to integrate the academic program and career preparation?


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Community Engagement

Community Engagement section banner, orange
Establish strong, enduring, and multifaceted relationships with regional businesses and organizations


Many CIC colleges are among the top employers and economic drivers in their communities. This is an inherent characteristic of even the smallest colleges because of the staff they employ, the services they purchase, and the faculty, students, and visitors (often drawn from a broad geographical range) who contribute dollars to the local economy. Recently, however, colleges and universities have begun to be more intentional and collaborative in building relationships with their local communities. These relationships take many forms: responding to a local educational or research need; collaborating to re-invigorate civic culture; partnering to build mutually beneficial facilities; and developing experiential learning opportunities that both enhance students’ educational experience and offer needed assistance to local businesses and organizations. The theme of community engagement was a particularly rich vein among the examples of innovation brought forward in the Securing America’s Future workshops.


CHALLENGES

This opportunity can address such challenges as diversifying revenue streams; meeting student and public concerns about career preparation; increasing public respect for higher education; promoting the value proposition of independent colleges and universities; and sometimes lowering capital expenses.


Most of the following examples were provided by CIC member institutions and the expert presenters who participated in Securing America’s Future workshops in 2016–2017. They represent distinctive but adaptable responses to common challenges facing many independent colleges and universities.

Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, overcame steep declines in student enrollment and unprecedented operating deficits by instituting “innovative partnerships with businesses that could advance the college’s educational mission while meeting talent needs in the business community,” according to Adrian College President Jeffrey Docking. Students work with faculty members to conduct research studies with local business leaders and create business plans with nearby startup companies, for example. While doubling enrollment in eight years, the college integrated the liberal arts with workforce preparation so students will be better prepared to enter the local workforce.

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Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, has a dynamic relationship with Deere & Company and the John Deere Foundation, whose headquarters are located in neighboring Moline. In addition to manufacturing farm equipment, the company offers a series of financial and business services. In 2016 the company endowed a chair in data analytics so the college could offer a program in this emerging field to support existing programs in management, marketing, finance, international business and management information systems, economics, biology, and public health. Over the years, Deere and its leaders have supported construction of science facilities, a library, and a planetarium. According to Augustana College President Steven Bahls, “Hundreds of Augustana students and alumni have benefited from internships and jobs at Deere … [and this partnership] will provide opportunities for hundreds of students well into the future.”

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Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, created a Center for Craft Food and Beverage in 2014 in response to the expanding craft brewing industry in upstate New York. The center includes programs for testing the quality of malt, water, soil, and grains. The center also provides testing, research, and technical assistance to farmers who want to cultivate such beer-related crops as malting barley and grains, and to other small businesses, such as craft maltsters, who process the necessary raw farm products. Other activities that connect teaching and learning with service to regional industries include market research, professional development, and research collaborations with community partners.

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Linfield College in the Willamette Valley of Oregon has an evolving partnership with the local viniculture industry. Among many other aspects of the mutually beneficial collaboration are the establishment of a wine industry archive, an annual international celebration of pinot noir, and summer programs that engage students in the wine industry. Linfield established the intensive, year-long Oregon Wine Industry Experience (OWIE), graduate certificate programs, and a minor in wine studies. Linfield also is working toward a wine and sustainable systems major. Undergraduate programs as diverse as theatre and communication arts, sociology, and anthropology have incorporated wine-related themes into the curriculum. These programs are intended to provide students with unique academic experiences and preparation for work in wine-related industries.

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Student touring a wine production facility
Linfield College’s (OR) Center for Wine Education integrates numerous wine education programs and activities into academic and experiential learning for both undergraduate students and adult learners. (Photo credit: Aaron Williams)

Augustana College established an Upper Mississippi Center to leverage a connection with the river. Faculty members also work on Mississippi River-based community projects such as one that studies lead paint remediation.

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Brevard College in Brevard, North Carolina, has developed a number of community partnerships: a collaboration with a well-known community music program, targeting community needs that can be met with summer programs; and a partnership with a private research facility to undertake joint projects in astronomy and physics.
 

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Aerial view of the Pisgah Astronimical Resarch Institute
Brevard College (NC) partners with the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) to provide handson educational and research opportunities for students in STEM disciplines. (Photo credit: PARI)

Concordia University Texas in Austin created an Incubator for Innovation and Impact, which partners with local businesses. The Incubator’s framework enables entrepreneurs to discover and execute business practices and ventures that are designed to make a positive impact on both local and global communities. The Incubator offers several services to local businesses, including co-working spaces, entrepreneur training, academic classes, audio-visual production facilities, and onsite professional printing and mailing services.

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Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, has initiated a new program, “Growing for a Healthy Future,” that will work with the local interfaith community to develop community gardens to supply fresh food to low-income residents. The program will partner with the Center for Watershed Protection, a nonprofit organization in Ellicott City, Maryland, to design environmentally sustainable gardens that use excess storm water runoff for irrigation.

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When an investigation revealed that many students were interested in a career in nursing but the region faced a shortage of nursing programs and nurses, Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee, collaborated with area health care facilities to develop several nursing programs and now has a new health science building and a School of Nursing, Health Sciences, and Human Services to support them.

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After the University of Charleston expanded to include a campus in Beckley, West Virginia, it developed a new associate’s degree program in nursing that leads to the RN certification. The program was designed to meet the needs of an underserved part of the state.

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The University of St. Francis is in its second year of a “downtown program.” Corporate partnerships have grown significantly. For example, a Free Enterprise Center opened in April 2017 in downtown Joliet, Illinois. USF also operates arts and design programs and a gallery at the Rialto Square Theatre in downtown Joliet near the university’s St. Bonaventure Campus.

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OTHER IDEAS AND ADVICE

Mark Roberts, vice president for academic affairs at Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia, suggested that independent institutions should identify the “knowledge needs” in the community or region. Doing so increases the probability that institutional innovations will have a real impact and be well accepted on and off campus. He further advised that faculty members “put data points in the context of real people’s lives.” “Knowledge,” he added, “is the primary asset of a college or university. It is our cultural capital and we should connect it with community needs.”

In a report commissioned by CIC, Strategic Change and Innovation in Independent Colleges: Nine Mission-Driven Campuses (2016), James C. Hearn and associates identified several common characteristics of independent colleges and universities that succeed at innovation. One characteristic is “a drive to connect locally, regionally, and beyond.” The report includes several practical examples of engaging external stakeholders, campus constituencies, community supporters, and current and potential markets in the quest for regional impact.

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QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE

  • What opportunities are available in the community for student internships, community-based research, or volunteering that might help students apply what they learn in the classroom or add valuable job skills?

  • What newly emerging industries in the region could become partners in developing attractive new academic programs? Are there legacy industries in the community or region that may deserve less attention and resources from the institution?

  • What real social or economic needs could be met through connecting student organizations and the curriculum with community needs?

  • Are there established businesses or nonprofit organizations that might gain from a mutually beneficial relationship with the institution?

  • What populations—for example, children, older adults, immigrant communities, or the incarcerated—could give students valuable perspectives in return for their services?


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Consortial Arrangements

Consortial Arrangements section banner, orange
​Connect with other institutions of higher education, businesses, employers, and other nonprofit organizations to engage in activities of mutual benefit


Ours is an era of collaboration, partnership, and networking. By whatever name we call it, the emphasis in many fields is on relationships and their benefits. Many factors contribute to this phenomenon, including the heightened complexity of the global issues we confront, increased specialization of knowledge, greater frequency of travel and migration, and the powerful tools available for worldwide and instantaneous communication. For conceptual, economic, and logistical reasons, partnering with others rather than “going it alone” is increasingly valued.

The growth of collaboration is as evident in higher education as it is in other fields of endeavor. For many colleges and universities, joining consortia—usually, but not always, regionally based—offers attractive benefits. Often, economics is a driving factor. Consortia can provide a volume of activity that enhances purchasing power. Agreeing on a single vendor, for example, for software or hardware or even office supplies can have a similar effect. Shared facilities can lower both construction and maintenance costs. In some cases, shared positions can stretch personnel budgets. Certain arrangements, however, are based on programmatic, rather than economic, needs. Colleges clustered closely enough for students to commute can enrich their curricula in such areas as foreign-language instruction through agreements in which each partner assumes responsibility for teaching a particular field, rather than duplicating their offerings.


CHALLENGES

Joining with other organizations to pursue similar or complementary objectives can help independent colleges and universities meet enrollment targets, gain public respect, diversify revenue streams, cooperate rather than compete with other institutions of higher education, and prepare students for the world of work. It may, however, require institutions to make distinctions between unique, mission-based aspects of their operations and those that can be shared without diluting the mission or quality of their education.


Most of the following examples were provided by CIC member institutions and the expert presenters who participated in Securing America’s Future workshops in 2016–2017. They represent distinctive but adaptable responses to common challenges that independent colleges and universities face. Many other CIC colleges and universities also have developed strong collaborative relationships of mutual interest and benefit.


REGIONAL CONSORTIA

Some institutions have entered into consortia of public and private institutions in close proximity to one another. Some of these arrangements are longstanding. The Colleges of the Fenway, for example, was founded in 1996 and involves six adjoining campuses in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood—including Emmanuel College and Simmons College—that collaborate on security, intramural sports, the performing arts, and other student activities. Students cross-register in classes and share a common identification card.

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In 2016, Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Luther Seminary in St. Paul launched a shared services alliance to reduce the cost of common business operations. The alliance began with shared library and information technology resources and has expanded to include human resources and other back-office support. The seminary also provides space at its downtown campus for Augsburg’s graduate program for physician assistants.

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In 2016, the six private Catholic colleges in Iowa—Briar Cliff University, Clarke University, Loras College, Mercy College of Health Sciences, Mount Mercy University, and St. Ambrose University—formed a new consortium to reduce administrative and programmatic costs through collaboration while sustaining the distinctive role of Catholic higher education in the state.

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The Five College Consortium, which incorporated in 1965 after successful collaborations dating back to 1914, consists of Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The institutions collaborate in the use of educational and cultural resources and facilities (including an online library borrowing system), open cross-registrations, open theater auditions, joint academic departments and programs, and an inter-campus transportation system.

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Five students from five colleges pose while wearing their college shirts
For more than 50 years the Five College Consortium has offered students and faculty and staff members benefits beyond those offered on their home campus. (Photo credit: Francis Phan)

Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and the Morehouse School of Medicine constitute the Atlanta University Consortium. Among other things, they share some space and services, offer simple cross-registration for students, and purchase property and casualty insurance together at preferential rates. Along with the Interdenominational Theological Center, they also operate the Robert W. Woodruff Library as a shared facility.

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Atlanta University Center Consortium annual report cover
The Atlanta University Center Consortium is a way for four independent institutions in Atlanta, Georgia—Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College—to cut costs and share resources that range from joint career fairs to a shared library. (Photo credit: Atlanta University Center Consortium)

In 1970, St. Lawrence University joined forces with three other institutions in upstate New York (two state university campuses and a private research university) to form the Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley. This relatively limited collaboration focuses on shared faculty development, academic support, and contract services that range from a web-based tax return preparation system for international students and scholars to discounted moving trucks for faculty and staff.
 

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The Great Lakes Colleges Association, a consortium of 13 independent colleges and universities in the Midwest, offers a wide array of educational opportunities. Some are supported by foundation grants, including study abroad programs, a tuition remission exchange, discipline-specific meetings for faculty members, an academic leadership and innovation institute for faculty members, a student/faculty research initiative with the Library of Congress, a variety of programs to improve teaching and learning, and linkages with similar institutions throughout the world.

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CIC’s State Councils are statewide consortia that raise funds for and coordinate collaborative programs among the independent colleges and universities in a given state. In many cases, these statewide consortia include joint purchasing programs, faculty development programs, and joint development of new academic initiatives.

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Nearly 100 CIC colleges and universities are members of the Higher Education Systems and Services Consortium (or “The HESS Consortium”), a national, nonprofit, membership-run organization that focuses on lowering costs and increasing collaboration in administrative systems and services.

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SUBMITTED EXAMPLE: Established in 2013, The Green Mountain Higher Education Consortium (GMHEC) is a collaborative endeavor of three Vermont colleges: Champlain College, Middlebury College, and Saint Michael’s College. The partnership began as a strategy for cost-containment through increased purchasing power. Current efforts focus on greater efficiency and improved service for administrative services common to all three institutions. These initiatives include implementation of a shared technology solution for advancement, finance, and human resource management over the next 18 months. A shared student information system is in the early stages of evaluation.

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ACADEMIC PARTNERSHIPS

The experience of Hilbert College in Hamburg, New York, is an excellent example of one collaboration leading to others. Hilbert’s first collaboration was with eight other Catholic colleges in the Diocese of Buffalo. Today, Hilbert is a member of the Western New York Higher Education Consortium (a group of 21 public and private institutions that collaborate to recruit students, support workforce development in the region, and sponsor a women’s leadership institute); a health care trust (eight institutions that became the largest purchaser of health care in Western New York, saving the institutions millions of dollars in the process); and the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (a national organization that supports the members’ mission of Catholic higher education by providing a forum for dialogue and fostering and facilitating collaboration among members).

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In recent years, the presidents of Hilbert and St. Bonaventure University, whose main campuses are about 60 miles apart, undertook to determine whether collaboration to the point of merger would be mutually advantageous—but concluded that a merger was not feasible. Nonetheless, they developed a joint degree program in cybersecurity and continue to collaborate on other initiatives.

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Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina, offers two bachelor’s degrees for Florence-Darlington Technical College graduates: BS degrees in business management and in applied criminology. Students earning an associate degree in business management, business marketing, or criminal justice technology can transfer those credits into Coker’s business management or criminology program and enter with junior standing.

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In January 2018, Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, began collaborating with Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, to offer an online doctor of nursing practice degree program. This joint initiative is the first doctoral degree program offered by any of the five Mennonite Church USA colleges and universities.

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Some institutions offer 3+2 or 4+1 programs through which students earn a bachelor’s degree from one institution and a master’s degree from a cooperating institution in a total of five years. Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, offers a 3+2 dual degree program with either Columbia University in New York or Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, leading to two bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering. Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, offers two 3+2 engineering programs, one with the University of Vermont and one with Clarkson University. Both programs begin with mathematics and laboratory science courses at Saint Michael’s.

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The College of Wooster in Ohio offers a 3+2 program with the University of Akron that results in a BA from the former and a master’s degree in polymer engineering from the latter.

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Similarly, Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri, has entered into a partnership with the University of Missouri to offer a 3+3 juris doctor program that allows students to complete an undergraduate degree while also finishing the first year of law school. Students can earn both undergraduate and law degrees within six years.

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Many CIC member institutions collaborate with local high schools and community colleges to strengthen educational attainment in the community or region. For example, Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas, received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant in 2017 to build bridges to the local high school, its increasing population of Hispanic students, and their families. The grant will be used to develop a summer bridge program with courses in Mexican American Studies and English composition. The university has had other pathway programs to connect high schools with the university for more than a decade. It also has transfer articulation agreements with three large community colleges, 12 clearly articulated degree programs, and reverse articulation to enable bachelor’s degree students to earn an associate’s degree.

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At the academic program level, Connecticut College in New London and Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, coordinate course offerings in their small Russian studies programs and share students and teaching resources in a collaboration that stops just short of being a joint degree program. Students participate in the shared classes through a combination of face-to-face meetings and online tools. This has allowed two undersized programs to maintain a robust major in a language that might otherwise become less popular among undergraduates.
 

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PARTNERSHIPS WITH UNIVERSITIES ABROAD

Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, established a dual-degree program in 2014 with Guangzhou University for qualified female students from China. This is part of an ongoing relationship that includes study abroad in China for Wesleyan students, a Confucius institute in Georgia, an American Cultural Center in Guangzhou, and a legacy of training Chinese students at the American women’s college that dates back to the early 20th century.

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As part of a mission-centered challenge to its students to “Take on your world,” St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, has developed exchange programs with an extensive network of 24 partner universities around the world.

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In 2015, Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana, launched a cross-cultural engineering program in collaboration with the Dalian Jiaotong University in northeastern China. American students and faculty members have opportunities to study and teach in China while a cohort of engineering students from China will complete their degrees at Valparaiso’s Indiana campus. The university also has maintained a study center in Hangzhou, China, for more than 25 years.

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OTHER IDEAS AND ADVICE

The Association for Collaborative Leadership maintains an extensive list of academic consortia and collaborations and offers resources for higher education leaders who are interested in pursuing collaborations.

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At least since the early 1970s but increasing dramatically in recent years, independent colleges and universities have instituted a number of changes designed to attract transfer students from community colleges. For example, they assign admissions officers to visit area community colleges on a regular basis, develop articulation agreements that enable transfer students to graduate in four or five years, and hire transfer advisers specifically for these students.

As articulated by Kevin Dyerly, vice president for enrollment at the University of Redlands, “Creating more seamless pathways for community college students will be essential for many institutions. This will require embedding some of our staff on the community college campuses more frequently to develop and strengthen relationships with counselors and articulation officers. We must be in the conversation with community college students early on and better articulate that an independent college education can be an affordable and accessible option.” For other examples of partnerships with community colleges, please see the “New Student Populations” section of this report.

Cynthia Zane, president of Hilbert College and a presenter at one of the Securing America’s Future workshops, emphasized the value of inter-institutional collaboration in higher education. “True collaboration is hard,” she said. “It means you give up as well as gain. It requires communication, and it develops into a third entity.” Zane offered the following advice to would-be collaborators:
  • Actively recruit trustees who have partnership and/or merger experiences for support;
  • Retain strong ties with potential partners even when particular collaborations don’t work out;
  • Abandon individualism to move the current institutional culture toward the collective good;
  • Fiefdoms and siloes must be negotiated on your own campus first; and
  • Initiative fatigue, managing expectations, and harkening back to former failed experiments must be overcome.

QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE

  • How does your institution identify community needs that the college could help meet?

  • What existing collaborations might be expanded or strengthened?

  • What can be done more effectively and/or efficiently in concert with others?

  • What do you do on your campus that other colleges and universities also do? What aspects of your operations are distinctive to your campus or your mission—and what operations could be shared with other organizations without compromising your mission or the quality of the education you offer?

  • With what other institutions of higher education would your institution want to be affiliated?

  • What message would it send to students and other campus constituents that the leadership is willing to share costs and benefits with other institutions in order to enhance programming?


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Cost Containment

Cost Containment section banner, orange
​As colleges and universities strive to offer the best educational experience to their students, only two paths are possible: increase resources and/or contain costs


Across higher education, budgets are tight—and economic forecasts make it unlikely that this situation will improve in the near term. To increase resources, independent institutions rely on four main sources of revenue: donor and alumni support, research funding, state and federal financial aid, and tuition income. A small percentage also rely on endowment earnings. Again, none of these streams is particularly robust or expected to grow in today’s economy. Diversifying revenue streams is possible through new programs and partnerships, and a number of institutions have been especially creative in developing such initiatives, as described elsewhere in this report.

To balance budgets and provide for future stability, however, most institutions need to develop prudent cost-cutting or cost-containment measures in addition to seeking revenue growth. These may range from relatively straightforward shifts—such as consolidating purchases from a single vendor—to comprehensive, college-wide efforts to analyze costs and determine how they can be trimmed systematically in ways that do not impair mission.


CHALLENGES

Exploring creative ways to contain or lower costs can enable institutions to meet the challenges of providing a high-quality educational experience in a sustainable way.


Nearly every institution of higher education is addressing the need to lower costs without sacrificing quality in a time of budgetary constraints. Most of the following examples were provided by CIC member institutions and the expert presenters who participated in Securing America’s Future workshops in 2016–2017. They represent distinctive but adaptable responses to common challenges facing independent colleges and universities.


INCREASING PURCHASING POWER

Joining with other colleges or universities in consortial arrangements may offer many advantages, including lowering institutional costs by increasing volume and, thereby, purchasing power.

The Five Colleges of Ohio (the College of Wooster, Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, and Ohio Wesleyan University) began as an effort to avoid redundant library costs. Faced with the potential costs of constructing additional facilities to house expanding collections, these colleges, clustered relatively closely together, collaborated on a unified collection and catalogue. Over time, the libraries increasingly consolidated their back-office functions and even shared several staff positions. More recently, the colleges have extended their collaboration beyond library functions, for example, by jointly hiring a procurement director, which makes possible shared purchasing. As well, a number of risk management and compliance functions have been shared, such as auditing, emergency preparedness, environmental health and safety, and Title IX compliance.

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Information technology can offer another opportunity for colleges to lower costs through collaboration. The University of Charleston joined with seven other colleges in West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee to form the Independent College Enterprise. Working with the Ellucian software company, the colleges share hardware, software, and technical personnel—although each college has exclusive access to its own data. Forming the consortium took time and effort, requiring the support of presidents, vice presidents, and program heads. The results, however, have been satisfying. Initially, the participating institutions saved $1 million, and they have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in each succeeding year.

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Hilbert College, together with several other colleges in western New York, formed a health and benefits trust, a group-purchasing consortium that became the largest purchaser of health care in the region. Membership has shifted over time (currently including four colleges and one charter school), but consortium members have been able to retain robust health care plans and realize cost containment. During a period of significant hikes in health care costs between 2009 and 2016, trust members experienced no increase in premiums and no significant change in benefits.

Consolidation and its concomitant savings can even be accomplished within a single institution. St. Lawrence University, in Canton, New York, for example, persuaded all the athletic coaches to use the same vendor for uniforms and reduced costs in this area significantly.


INNOVATIVE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES

Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, worked with a consultant from a local hospital to create a LEAN management team. LEAN is a continuous improvement method that directly involves the people who do the work rather than being managed from the top down. The objective is to create more value for customers with fewer resources, for example, by examining work processes to identify opportunities to streamline operations. Augustana analyzed 25 different processes, from the admissions process to internal mail delivery to gift processing, and identified almost $200,000 in potential savings. In addition, the college established the Augustana Future Initiatives Taskforce, engaging all employees in looking for cost-savings as well as revenue-generating ideas. The task force identified more than 50 possible initiatives that the college is exploring systematically for feasibility.


FINANCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Efforts to foster environmental sustainability often go hand-in-hand with achieving cost reductions. One area of considerable attention on college campuses has been food waste—costly both for the environment and a college’s bottom line. Researchers at American University found that 75 percent of colleges and universities have now eliminated trays in their dining halls in an effort to decrease the waste of food. CIC member institutions that have helped pioneer this movement include Moravian College in Pennsylvania and Augustana College. Proponents argue that trayless dining’s multiple benefits include reduced use of water and energy as well as reduction in both food waste and weight gains because students are more selective about what they will consume.

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Student carrying food on a plate instead of a tray
Small efforts, such as eliminating trays in the dining halls at Augustana College (IL), can add up to significant cost savings. (Photo credit: Augustana Photo Bureau)

The problem of food waste also has been highlighted by awareness campaigns on several campuses. The University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, has made “sustainable dining” part of its mission, using a food waste reduction system called “LeanPath.” Since November 2016, the university has eliminated almost 11,000 pounds of food waste, a reduction of 28 percent. While this is good news for the environment, it also makes good financial sense. A number of CIC colleges also participate in initiatives such as the Campus Kitchens Project and the Food Recovery Network, which divert food that otherwise would be wasted to community partners and the elderly.
 

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Similarly, good financial stewardship and student interest in environmentalism find common ground in campus initiatives to monitor and reduce consumption of power and water. Campaigns to replace incandescent light bulbs with low-energy alternatives, to post stickers encouraging energy awareness, and to install low-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads are widespread. Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, has been particularly active in this movement. The college holds an annual “Ecolympics,” a competition to achieve the largest reduction in energy use. While individual savings from sustainability initiatives may be small, over time these altered practices can make a substantial difference in institutional budgets.

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Beyond encouraging changes in individual behavior, such as switching off lights, lowering thermostats, or limiting shower time, some colleges and universities are making institution-wide adjustments in energy usage—aiming to be both environmentally friendly and fiscally prudent. Some of these efforts require substantial up-front investment but with a business plan that offers a substantial return over time. When the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, constructed its new athletics facility, for example, it included the largest solar roof of any college facility in the country. The institution also entered into a ten-year contract to help reduce its carbon footprint, which is expected to yield $5.6 million over the life of the contract.

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Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, has embarked on a long-term carbon-reduction plan, too. The project includes campus-wide lighting, heating-system, and water-use improvements, and automated residence-hall room controls. The goal is to trim 10,785 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year from the college’s energy use—and to recoup the initial $7 million investment, then reap the savings. Kenyon is already ahead on both goals.

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INSTITUTION-WIDE ANALYSIS OF PROGRAM DELIVERY COSTS

Although it is not unusual in the business sector to employ “zero-based budgeting,” the practice is rarely found in academe, where annual budgets tend to be constructed incrementally. That is, each year’s institutional budget typically serves as the starting point for the next year’s budget, with relatively minor adjustments—up or, less frequently, down—to the individual line items. This may be an appropriate approach, given that so many of an educational institution’s activities are non-discretionary, core functions. Yet this fundamentally conservative budgetary process can mean that programmatic costs at the granular level (for example, per course, per student, per credit hour) are examined infrequently.

McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland, undertook a thorough analysis of costs for its distinctive “McDaniel Plan” curriculum. The goal was to “determine the costs of each McDaniel Plan component and recommend cost-saving measures, while maintaining high quality in the general education curriculum.” A cross-campus strategic thinking group analyzed 70 data sets of information about enrollments, instructional quality, and future planning strategies. Faculty members received comparative data from peer institutions and were polled about their preferences for next steps. Ultimately, two standing committees of the faculty brought forward a plan that resulted in savings of $350,000 in the undergraduate curriculum. The analysis and savings realized enabled the college to decrease reliance on adjunct faculty and to invest in a deeper commitment to the McDaniel Plan curriculum, delivered by full-time faculty.

Alma College in Alma, Michigan, adopted a similar strategy of cost analysis and reinvestment. According to Ann Hall, vice president for planning and communication, last year the college formed a Strategic Allocations Task Force to identify budget dollars that could be reallocated into academic programs, and this year a new committee, the Strategic Investments Review Team, has been evaluating proposals submitted by the campus to invest those funds into new or enhanced academic programs.

Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia, also undertook an Academic Effectiveness and Efficiency Study, working with a campus-wide team. The goal is to invest savings identified through efficiency studies into faculty and staff development.

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St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, New York, created an Operations Effectiveness Task Force and developed a framework for the sound and consistent analysis of the cost of each university unit and developed and implemented a data-driven process for determining the financial sustainability of every university operation including a thorough evaluation in terms of expenditures and return on investment.


OTHER IDEAS AND ADVICE

For a research report commissioned by CIC, Mission-Driven Innovation: An Empirical Study of Adaptation and Change among Independent Colleges (2015), authors James C. Hearn and Jarrett B. Warshaw found that 100 percent of the 206 presidents who responded to their survey instrument reported pursuing some form of cost containment and reduction as well as revenue diversification and enhancement. The most commonly reported cost reduction measures included: leaving open positions unfilled or reducing staff, freezing salaries, and re-structuring or closing programs. They also found that campuses with multiple and simultaneous innovations met with the greatest success in getting them adopted.

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In his presentations at the Securing America’s Future workshops, however, Christopher Morphew, formerly of the University of Iowa and now dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, underlined the challenges of reducing staff size in independent colleges given the labor-intensive activities of teaching, mentoring, and preparation for citizenship that lie at the heart of these colleges’ missions. The examples provided above illustrate that colleges can take many other measures—perhaps more creative measures—to contain costs while maintaining quality.

QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE

  • Have “front line” staff members had an opportunity to suggest improvements in the process and determination of areas for cost-cutting?

  • Are data available that clarify the costs of delivering individual courses or academic programs?

  • Does the institution routinely benchmark its costs against similar institutions? Are discrepancies a reflection of the institution’s distinctive mission—or simply a matter of inertia and status quo?

  • Would students be interested in streamlining or reducing some amenities, if those measures would be reflected in reduced tuition? Would such a process be feasible?

  • Has the institution developed a process for prioritizing programs (both academic and non-academic), based not only on cost, but on centrality to the mission as well?


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Curricular Reform

Curricular Reform section banner, orange
​Teach and learn traditional liberal arts content using new curricular structures and methods of delivery


Periodic review and revision of the curriculum has long been the standard practice in American higher education. Changes in disciplinary fields, pedagogical practices, faculty interests, and student demand all contribute to the need for each institution to reconsider, from time to time, both the content and the delivery of its curricular offerings.

In the current environment, new factors also contribute to this healthy practice of institutional self-reflection. Entirely new fields of study, such as genetics, nanoscience, behavioral economics, gender studies, and digital animation have developed in recent decades, and faculty members have debated whether and how to incorporate them into the curriculum. To fulfill their missions of preparing students effectively, colleges and universities must remain current with new epistemological developments.

In addition, a number of long-standing traditions, such as distribution requirements, “general education” expectations, disciplinary boundaries, and even the distinction between the “academic” and “student life” domains are all open to examination. Institutions are seeking to streamline the students’ path, emphasize the development of cognitive skills, and more intentionally recognize the roles of experiential and co-curricular learning.


CHALLENGES

This opportunity helps address several challenges for independent higher education: widespread misunderstanding among students, their families, and policy makers about the value of the liberal arts; the perceived need to revise traditional business models; the need to clearly distinguish nonprofit private from public institutions, from for-profit private institutions, and from each other; and preparing students for careers through academic programs that include substantial liberal arts content.


Most of the following examples were provided by CIC member institutions and the expert presenters who participated in Securing America’s Future workshops in 2016–2017. They represent distinct but replicable responses to common challenges facing other independent colleges and universities.


CREATING DISTINCTIVE CURRICULA

At Dominican University of California in San Rafael, faculty members developed the “Dominican Experience” as a distinctive model characterized by integrated advising (including peers, faculty members, other advisors, and alumni); self-directed work on a signature project; building relationships with community members; and the development of a digital portfolio. The faculty then re-aligned the existing curriculum to match these new emphases.

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The Dominican Expereice for all: Coaching, Community Engagement, Self-Directed Work, and Proof of Experience
Faculty members and campus leaders at Dominican University of California rebuilt the undergraduate curriculum around four central themes to create “The Dominican Experience.” (Photo credit: Dominican University of California)

Bethany College in rural Lindsborg, Kansas, has a distinctive general education program that capitalizes on its geographic location by emphasizing its Missional Directions of Excellence in discovery, reflection, and vocation; servant leadership; global citizenship; and sustainable living. Its Bethany Pathway emphasizes the total student experience that blends curricular and co-curricular learning, that is documented in an e-portfolio. Requirements include a two-year exploration of the community surrounding the institution, a focus on educational outcomes rather than particular courses, a living-learning community in the first year, and minors in each Missional Direction.

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In Baltimore County, Maryland, Goucher College recently revised its general education program to replace distribution requirements with an integrative interdisciplinary program (“Goucher Commons”) built around inquiry-based learning. In particular, students are now expected to develop proficiency in three areas designed to “make them ready for the jobs of the future”: writing, data analytics, and foreign language and culture.

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University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia, eliminated its general education program altogether and now offers a performance-based curriculum that focuses on specific outcomes that have been determined to be essential abilities every student should have for a lifetime of learning and opportunity. Liberal learning outcomes—critical thinking, communication, citizenship, creativity, involvement, ethical practice, and inquiry—are embedded in all university programs to help students understand how coursework relates to society and the individual student and how the outcomes can be applied to lifelong career development.

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In San Antonio, Texas, University of the Incarnate Word faculty eliminated courses that were not essential to the core curriculum, with the objective of moving away from a collection of courses to a more coherent curriculum. All students soon will have a degree plan that includes fewer electives and a higher probability of graduating on time.

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Virginia Wesleyan University in Virginia Beach undertook a curriculum mapping project to streamline academic programs, closing the gap between 100- and 200-level courses and 300- and 400-level courses, focusing on the importance of advising, and using this “scaffolding” approach to enable more students to benefit from experiential learning, including study abroad.

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Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, introduces all students to financial literacy in the first-year seminar. Wilson also offers a debt buyback program for students who complete the financial literacy training, excel academically, and complete their bachelor’s degree in four years or less.

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SUBMITTED EXAMPLE: The College of Saint Elizabeth in New Jersey has developed a “Preset Curriculum Pathways Program” for incoming students to support degree completion. The program includes prerequisites and foundational courses that are grouped into four “meta-majors”: arts and humanities; social sciences; natural and physical sciences; and math, technology, and science. Incoming students select a meta-major rather than an individual major. During their first two years, students take courses in the meta-major as part of a cohort, and most of these courses are offered in block schedules to maximize efficiency, equity, and elective options. Seventy-five to 90 percent of general education and core requirements are thus completed in the first two years.

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SUBMITTED EXAMPLE: Centenary College of Louisianaintroduced its “Centenary in Paris” program in 2014. Each August, the college takes the entering freshmen to Paris for a 4-credit course as the students’ first college experience. In addition to honoring Louisiana’s French roots, the program is designed to prepare students for college work by taking them out of their comfort zone, to develop intercultural competence, to build a strong cohort and personal connections with the faculty and staff who join the students in Paris, and to cultivate an identification with Centenary. Freshman who participate in the trip achieve higher GPAs and better retention rates four years later.

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SUBMITTED EXAMPLE: Following an extensive, campus-wide assessment of the student experience during the sophomore year, St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, applied for and received an $800,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for curricular innovation and co-curricular connections for sophomores. The centerpiece of the “Sophomore Journeys” initiative will be the development of integrative seminars designed to bridge the gap between an interdisciplinary first-year experience and the selection of a student’s major. The initiative also will include summer internships and fellowships across the disciplines as well as opportunities for community outreach.

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RESTRUCTURING THE ACADEMIC SCHEDULE

Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina, has changed its class schedule to allow faculty members to teach for an hour each Monday and Wednesday and for two hours every other Friday instead of the traditional Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes for 50 minutes. Faculty will use the Friday block for “pedagogical innovation and deeper student learning.” The goal of the change is to find ways for the college to “engage students and integrate its liberal arts and pre-professional mission.”

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A professor and two students investigate under sheet metal in the woods
A Coker College (SC) biology class can do fieldwork on Fridays thanks to a new class schedule that allows professors to incorporate hands-on activities, in-class assignments, and videos. (Photo credit: Jennifer Borgo, Coker College)

The Culver-Stockton College faculty members in Canton, Missouri, reviewed the curriculum and changed the college’s academic calendar to support the experiential learning that is part of its distinctive mission. Faculty members developed a 12/3 semester calendar that Culver-Stockton President Kelly Thompson says “enables students to gain an understanding of other cultures by choosing a domestic or international course for a full semester, summer experience, or part of the three-week block.” Students take three or four classes in a traditional format during the 12-week term and then use the three-week term to focus on one intensive class, an internship, or travel. According to Daniel Silber, vice president for academic affairs, “We used the introduction of a new calendar to transform the curriculum and made changes to general education that focus more on experiential learning. It allowed us to transform the [campus] culture.”

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ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS

According to a 2016 survey conducted by Learning House, Inc., 61 percent of CIC member institutions offered one or more online degree programs and 90 percent offered at least one online or hybrid course. Webster University, with a home campus in St. Louis and additional locations around the world, was an early adopter of online education and now offers 30 graduate degrees fully online in addition to 22 certificates and eight undergraduate degrees fully or partly online. Approximately 9,500 students take at least one course online each year, and many traditional undergraduates take online courses to increase the flexibility of their schedules. Webster is moving from asynchronous forms of instruction—appropriate for widely-scattered students—to more sophisticated synchronous systems.

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THREE-YEAR UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE PROGRAMS

Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, offers a highly-structured three-year degree program that enables students to save a year’s tuition and enter a career or graduate school a year earlier than usual. The program is available for most majors and does not require summer classes or online courses. Hartwick designed the program so that students can still experience the kinds of high-impact pedagogical experiences that are typical of smaller independent colleges, including internships, engaging in research with a faculty member, and study abroad.
 

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Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, launched a three-year degree program in 2009 with the goal of making the “undergraduate degree fast, flexible, and financially friendly.” The university also offers a 3+1 master’s program in all majors except education and music and a 3+3 law program in conjunction with partner institutions.

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University of Charleston in West Virginia offers three-year undergraduate degree programs in business, physician assistance, and several other majors. When the university reset tuition rates in 2012, a Fast Track initiative to encourage three-year degree completion was launched as a complementary approach to reducing student costs.

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LINKING PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMS WITH THE LIBERAL ARTS

Many independent colleges link traditional liberal arts programs to training in the professions. Two examples are Houghton College in Houghton, New York (with an applied physics BS program), and Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia (with a business management major and a post-baccalaureate pre-med program).

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St. Louis College of Pharmacy in Missouri converted a year of its undergraduate professional program to liberal arts courses “to help make pharmacy humane” and to maintain the college’s unique niche among pharmacy schools. This counters the general trend in pharmacy education, which emphasizes narrower professional training at the graduate level.

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OTHER IDEAS AND ADVICE

Additional examples of curricular innovation may be found in a series of research briefs prepared by CIC as part of the Project on the Future of Independent Higher Education on competency-based education, interdisciplinary education, learning communities, career preparation and the liberal arts, and online learning.

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QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE

  • Does the curriculum reflect current understandings of how students learn most effectively—including new expectations and epistemological habits arising from a world of digital networks?

  • Does the general education curriculum reflect the faculty’s best collective judgment about what all students should know or has it evolved to become a mix of courses championed by individual departments?

  • Does the general education curriculum preserve or extend the institutional mission?

  • Should the general education curriculum be competency- or performance-based (that is, based on specific outcomes that every student should achieve for a lifetime of learning)?

  • How can academic affairs and student affairs work together to offer students maximum opportunities to achieve agreed-upon learning outcomes?


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New Academic Programs

New Academic Programs section banner, orange
​Develop new undergraduate academic programs that attract or retain different student populations and that respond to local, national, or even international changes and opportunities


Colleges and universities have always responded to changes in the academic environment, such as the emergence of new disciplines or areas of study. In recent decades these changes have included everything from gender studies to genetics, nanoscience, behavioral economics, public history, and data analytics. Faculty members and administrators have debated whether and how to incorporate these new fields of study into the curriculum—as well as the impact of new initiatives on the mission and culture of each institution.

In addition, a number of primarily undergraduate institutions have re-examined the contours of their curricula with respect to such “pre-professional” fields as business, nursing, cybersecurity, forensics, or media production. Most of the programs offered by CIC institutions remain firmly grounded in the liberal arts and emphasize the added value of the liberal arts to graduates with majors in career-related programs. Teaching these fields in ways that capitalize on the traditional strengths of liberal arts-based inquiry can yield graduates with both breadth and depth in their studies, leading to greater personal satisfaction and greater success in their chosen careers.


CHALLENGES

This opportunity helps address several challenges for independent higher education: meeting enrollment targets, bolstering traditional liberal arts programs that are not attracting as many students, and diversifying revenue streams, among others.


Most of the following examples were provided by CIC member institutions and the expert presenters who participated in Securing America’s Future workshops in 2016–2017. They represent distinct but replicable responses to common challenges facing other independent colleges and universities.


PROGRAMS IN NEW AREAS OF STUDY: MEDIA AND FILM

Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, introduced a filmmaking program that draws upon its well-known programs in English literature, creative writing, and drama. By emphasizing film as contemporary narrative—a natural extension of literature—the college helped constituents see the program as an extension of the college’s mission, not a dramatic departure.

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Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, introduced a new interdisciplinary major in media studies and a new certificate program in entertainment and media industries in 2017. The latter was developed with Fresh Films, a media company founded by alumni that relocated from Chicago to the Augustana campus.

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Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, offers a number of degree and certificate programs in visual and digital media. A new interdisciplinary program in film, television, and video production resulted from a merger of separate programs in film and video production and was designed to reflect changes in technology and career paths within the media industry.

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PROGRAMS IN NEW AREAS OF STUDY: LEADERSHIP

Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania, offers a PhD and two master’s degrees in leadership through its O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership, and Public Service, “a nucleus for dialogue on contemporary ethical and leadership issues, with a focus on promoting interdisciplinary discourse around social justice and Franciscan values.”

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In 2014, Augustana College introduced a certificate program in nonprofit leadership development to help prepare liberal arts majors for leadership roles with nonprofit organizations. The program was developed in response to student interest and in alignment with the college’s mission and values. It provides students with formal documentation of their competence in the areas of communication, business, accounting, and ethics.

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Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, offers a certificate program in conflict resolution and leadership.

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A student stands at a microphone to ask a question among seated participants
The certificate program in conflict resolution and leadership at Drew University (NJ) prepares students and professionals in a wide range of fields to deal with conflict. (Photo credit: Drew University)

In 2016, Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, expanded a small graduate program in sustainability to embrace social innovation and sustainability leadership. This program builds on strong undergraduate and graduate programs in environmental sciences; reflects the institution’s geographic location and identity as a “green college”; and takes advantage of regional partnerships with the city and county, a health care system, and the flagship public university.

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PROGRAMS IN NEW AREAS OF STUDY: DATA ANALYTICS

Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, requires all students to complete two courses in data analytics as part of a new undergraduate curriculum that was introduced in fall 2017. According to President José Antonio Bowen, the rationale for this new proficiency requirement is that “big data is going to be part of your future whether you’re an artist or you’re working in marketing or in any field.”

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Texas Lutheran University in Seguin added a new graduate program in data analytics that enrolled 18 students in its first semester of operation.

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PROGRAMS IN NEW AREAS OF STUDY: CYBERSECURITY

A number of workshop participants described new or proposed programs in cybersecurity. Hilbert College and St. Bonaventure University, both located in the Buffalo region of western New York, have even joined forces to offer a combined major in cybersecurity. The two institutions share faculty resources, taking advantage of St. Bonaventure’s expertise in its department of computer science and Hilbert’s strength in such areas as cybercrime and information assurance. No travel between campuses is necessary for students or faculty, as shared courses are offered via distance learning technology. A grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation supported a joint faculty “think tank” that envisioned opportunities for academic collaboration between the institutions. Cybersecurity was identified as one of several potential areas of opportunity.

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Several students seated in a computer lab
Hilbert College (NY) joined forces with St. Bonaventure University (NY) to offer a major in cybersecurity. (Photo credit: Hilbert College)

Hilbert College also partnered with the University at Buffalo, a public research university, to build new capacity in the region in the expanding fields of computer forensics and information assurance. With grant support from the National Science Foundation, the two institutions offered faculty development workshops and seminars to other institutions across the region. This collaborative effort helped strengthen pre-professional and professional degree programs at several colleges and universities, not just Hilbert.
 

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Other CIC member institutions with new or recently expanded programs in cybersecurity include Bluefield College (Bluefield, Virginia), Hood College (Frederick, Maryland), Immaculata University (Immaculata, Pennsylvania), and Mount St. Mary’s University (Emmitsburg, Maryland).

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PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMS: HEALTH CARE

The State of Minnesota approved a new undergraduate nursing major (BSN) at Bethany Lutheran College in Makato in December 2016, and students entered the program in fall 2017.

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Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia, decided to offer a nursing program grounded in the liberal arts after a detailed study revealed both a need in the community and interest among students. Mark Roberts, provost, described the study as a way to identify the “knowledge needs” of the region and to “put data points in the context of real people’s lives.” The goal, he added, was institutional change that can be powerful and well accepted both on and off campus. The program launched in January 2018.

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When Nancy Moody became president of Tusculum College (Greeneville, Tennessee) in 2009, she hesitated to suggest the introduction of a nursing program at the small liberal arts college, despite her own background in the nursing profession. An investigation, however, revealed that many students in the region were interested in nursing—and there was an acute shortage of nursing programs to serve them. The college now offers several nursing programs.

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The satellite campus of the University of Charleston in Beckley, West Virginia, which opened in 2016, offers associate degrees in nursing, diagnostic medical sonography, occupational therapy, and radiologic technology. The associate’s degree program in nursing leads to an RN certification and was designed to address the severe shortage of nurses in Appalachia.

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Dominican University of California in San Rafael introduced a new master’s program for physician’s assistants in 2017 and almost immediately received 369 applications for 24 slots in the inaugural cohort. The initial explosion of prospective student interest has continued and the university is exploring new programs in other high-demand health care fields.

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PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMS: CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Reinhardt University has offered an online degree completion program in criminal justice since 2012, designed primarily for active-duty police officers and other public safety professionals. In 2017 it introduced new concentrations in cybersecurity and computer forensics. Reinhardt also offers undergraduate and low-residency graduate programs in criminal justice.

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In 2017, Jarvis Christian College, a historically black college in rural Hawkins, Texas, opened an instructional site for adult learners at a shopping mall in Dallas that offers courses in criminal justice, business management, data analytics, and cybersecurity.

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NEW PROGRAMS: VARIATIONS ON STUDY ABROAD

Most CIC member colleges and universities offer their students opportunities for study abroad, with programs that are integrated into the general curriculum to various degrees. (For example, Goucher College has required all students to study abroad since 2006.) These programs may be developed independently or offered in partnership with other organizations. A number of participants in the Securing America’s Future workshops identified significant cost and political challenges to study abroad but expressed a desire to expand their students’ access to foreign travel and study. Virginia Wesleyan University (Virginia Beach) is using a curriculum-planning grant from the Teagle Foundation to identify new ways for students to benefit from experiential learning, including study abroad.

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Drew University in northern New Jersey takes advantage of its proximity to New York City to offer an alternative to study abroad: semester-long residential programs built around unique aspects of the city, including Wall Street, Broadway, and the United Nations. These programs are administered by the same Center for Global Education that directs international study programs.

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OTHER APPROACHES TO DEVELOPING NEW PROGRAMS

Rather than trying to generate student interest in only the traditional arts, humanities, and social sciences, Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, developed curricular programs that “go hand in glove” with popular co-curricular programs, such as facilities management (under business administration), dance, and athletics management.

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Several students perform dance exercises along a ballet barre
Adrian College (MI) offers curricular programs matched with popular co-curricular programs, such as a minor in dance. (Photo Credit: Adrian College)

When more immigrants began to move to northern Indiana, a need was created for more teachers of English as a new language. Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Indiana, seized the opportunity to create a new English as a second language licensure program that became the “go to” program in the region.

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OTHER IDEAS AND ADVICE

According to Elizabeth J. Stroble, president of Webster University, her institution’s “informal mission is: ‘We meet unmet needs.’ The corollary to this theme is that unmet needs change, so the institution has to change, too.” Many other institutions share this informal mission or a close variant.

In his presentations to the workshops, Christopher Morphew, then executive associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Education at the University of Iowa (and now dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education), offered several relevant recommendations to CIC institutions:
  1. Promote their efficiency in producing STEM graduates to attract support from the health care industry;
  2. Work with state agencies for direct support (that is, appropriations) or loan forgiveness programs for specific high-demand degree programs; and
  3. Be prepared to be “moderately satisfied” or to achieve mixed results from innovations in this or any area.
Morphew also encouraged independent college leaders to try some new things and learn from both successes and failures. He urged them to try innovations knowing that some will fail, which may mean “creating a campus culture where risk-aversion is replaced with more of a ‘ready-fire-aim’ mentality.” The most innovative institutions, he has found, tend to default toward action—even without the comprehensive information some on campus believe is needed.

Christopher Howard, president of Robert Morris University, advised during one workshop that “on the matter of experimentation and identity, if you wait too long, the cosmic monster will force you to do things that you can’t necessarily do well. We don’t have the luxury of being ‘previous’ about our mission. Some experimentation is worth it. If you’re doing it when you are desperate people will know you’re desperate.”

Finally, the CIC Independent newsletter Campus Update section includes a list of notable new academic programs and majors introduced by member colleges and universities.

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QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE

  • What unmet needs will this new academic program meet? For example, will it help educate students in new fields of study? Or prepare students for emerging careers? Or help meet the workforce needs of the community, region, state, or nation?

  • Which new (or existing) programs are likely to be most attractive to 17-year olds and their families, or to other targeted populations of students?

  • What are the sources of revenue to support the new academic program: Increased tuition revenue? The elimination of existing programs and reallocation of resources? Enhanced support from employers or the community?

  • Can new programs be staffed to meet mission expectations while reducing costs or generating net revenue?

  • Has the institution fully appraised the relationships among curriculum, institutional identity, geography, and market position? Or should the institution incline toward action—even without comprehensive information—while recognizing that some innovations will not be successful?

  • Does a new academic program clearly reinforce or extend the institutional mission? Or does the new program call for a reevaluation of the mission?


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New Student Populations

New Student Populations section banner, orange
​Increase or maintain enrollment while diversifying the student population


The demography of those who enroll in college is changing in many ways. Historically, the majority of college students in America were young people, 18–22 years old, who matriculated directly after high school graduation and completed a degree in four years. Today, approximately 40 percent of college attendees are 25 years old or older. They may be completing degrees begun years earlier, updating skills for the workplace, or seeking intellectual enrichment after retirement. Before the civil rights and feminist movements of the late 1960s and 1970s, the majority of college students were white males. Today, the majority of students are female, and students of color are a substantial presence. International students, who have long been attracted to graduate study in the United States, now enroll as undergraduates as well. Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), students with disabilities also have become more likely to matriculate. In addition, digital developments in distance learning enable college study for those remote from any campus, such as active-duty military personnel.

CIC colleges and universities are reaching out in new ways to previously underserved student populations, whether to boost enrollments, develop new sources of revenue, honor a commitment to social justice, or respond to population changes in their region.


CHALLENGES

This opportunity helps address several challenges for independent higher education: declining numbers of high school graduates, lack of student diversity, failure to meet enrollment goals, and shifts in the concentrations of some student populations.


Most of the following examples were provided by CIC member institutions and the expert presenters who participated in Securing America’s Future workshops in 2016–2017. These examples represent distinct but replicable responses to common challenges facing other independent colleges and universities. The examples are grouped by specific student populations, but many of the approaches could be adapted to attract other groups of students.


TRANSFER STUDENTS

Some CIC institutions, notably colleges founded as women’s colleges, have had well established transfer and articulation agreements to serve community college transfer students since the early 1970s. By that time, the proportion of the nation’s female undergraduates who attended a women’s college had dipped to 2 percent, so the colleges began to recruit a new population of adult women who—inspired by the women’s movement—were returning to college to complete their undergraduate degrees. Many of these women had performed well in community colleges and became attractive prospective four-year college students. Examples of this continuing trend include Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Today, many additional institutions are developing new transfer-friendly policies and procedures. Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania, recruits approximately 100 transfer students every fall, a success rate that campus officials attribute, in part, to a major change in how transfer credits are counted: The institution now accepts up to 90 credits (out of a required 136–140) for graduation.

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Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is committed to access and diversity and is building pipelines to community college partners and developing curricula that align the two types of institutions. Augsburg understands the importance of transfer students not losing academic credit, so the university teams with regional two-year institutions to develop transfer articulation agreements. The faculty members have found that tightly constructed curricula improve the community college graduation rate.

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The Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas Foundation (ICUTF) worked with the Texas Success Center at the Texas Association of Community Colleges and College Consortium, a leading higher education technology company, to launch a new initiative accelerating completion and reducing the cost of bachelor’s degrees. The ICUTF Transfer Portal will use an extension of College Consortium’s academic sharing platform to connect associate degree-earners with transfer-friendly degrees at private, nonprofit colleges and universities in Texas, some of which will accept up to 90 credit-hours.

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Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, California, has created community college transfer pathways specific to nursing and criminology.

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Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, began a 2+2 bachelor of business administration program in partnership with a local community college that is offered on the Point Loma campus.
 

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Texas Lutheran University near San Antonio has transfer articulation agreements with three large community colleges in the region. It has a dozen clearly articulated degree pathways, which became easier to implement after the state adopted a common curriculum for the public system. The university also offers reverse articulation to enable bachelor’s degree students to earn an associate’s degree.

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Through its “Pathways Promise” program, the University of Redlands in Redlands, California, is embedding faculty members and recruiters on community college campuses, building inter-institutional relationships, making transfer seamless, and creating strong partnerships between community college and university counselors.

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Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio, reduced the number of required credits from seminars in the core curriculum to promote the smoother matriculation of transfer students.

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VETERANS

California Lutheran University (Thousand Oaks, California), New England College (Henniker, New Hampshire), and the University of Charleston (Charleston, West Virginia) are three of many independent colleges and universities that offer “yellow ribbon” scholarships for veterans.

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University of Charleston is a military-friendly institution in other ways, beyond scholarships for veterans. It has made the education of Navy SEALs a particular focus. Thanks to its strong connections to the military, the institution now has more than 1,000 online students it probably would not have enrolled otherwise.

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Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, has become one of the largest nonprofit providers of education to military personnel. It offers classes in more than 30 cities throughout the United States, on 39 military installations, and in many cities outside the country. The university also offers online courses for military personnel. Webster also is consistently ranked as a “Best for Vets” college.

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INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, developed a pathway program that brings international students to campus for two years to help build their language and academic skills before continuing to a degree program at a U.S. institution; many of the participants continue at Drew for the remainder of their American education. A newer program offers a five-semester program with an emphasis on English-language skills for international students who want to start earning credits toward a bachelor’s degree.

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St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, places a high priority on expanding global learning by offering programs that attract international students from 55 countries to its main campus while developing international partnerships with 24 universities in 17 countries. This is a practical extension of the university motto, “Take on Your World.”

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Webster University brings courses to American and international students on satellite and partner campuses in more than 60 cities and eight countries across the world.

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Map of Webster University course locations
Webster University (MO) offers an American-style university education with a global perspective on four continents. (Photo Credit: Webster University)

Since 2011, students at the Hartsville High School, the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, and Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina, have been learning Mandarin Chinese from the same instructors. The college also houses Chinese exchange students who attend a private high school in the community—all of which generates revenue as well as supporting the college’s undergraduate Chinese program.

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STUDENTS OF DIVERSE FAITHS

According to St. Edward’s University Executive Vice President Sr. Donna M. Jurick, the university is “a Holy Cross Catholic institution that is very welcoming to people of all or no faiths. For example, the university has Muslim students from the Middle East studying there who feel fully embraced and welcomed.” Other examples of institutions with strong faith traditions that have stretched to recruit students from very different religious backgrounds include Benedictine University, Dominican University (Illinois) and Valparaiso University (Indiana), which is redefining itself to become “a Lutheran institution rather than an institution for Lutherans.”

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UNDERREPRESENTED POPULATIONS

Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia, offers a Pathways tuition plan, an alternative to institutional financial aid, to help meet the national call for making a high-quality education affordable for those in the lowest socio-economic levels. Participating students pay a reduced tuition rate.
 

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McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland, instituted an initiative to attract more students of color from nearby Baltimore that includes a specially designed retention program, held prior to student orientation each fall, and an orientation for parents that is held on weekends in Baltimore. The college also has created its own “Posse program” by forming groups of students from the same geographic area. The theory is that students will feel more comfortable going to college with people they know or who are from a similar background; once enrolled in college, they form support groups that enhance retention. Between 2007 and 2017, applications from Baltimore high school seniors rose from 13 to 335 (and enrollment deposits increased from two to 42).

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California Lutheran University instituted the Public Price Promise, which offers a matching tuition price—and all the advantages of a small private college—to any student who has been admitted to one of the six top public universities in California. The program has led to an increase in the number of students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and it is open to nearly any applicant, including incoming freshmen, transfer students from other colleges or universities, out-of-state students, and international students.

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St. Edward’s University welcomes 35 children of migrant workers as new first-year students each year through its College Assisted Migrant Program (CAMP).

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Changing demographics have given independent colleges an impetus as well as better opportunities to hire Hispanic faculty and staff and become more “culturally competent.” Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, is a Hispanic-serving institution that graduates Hispanic students at the same rate as non-Hispanic students. The college promotes this metric actively and takes every opportunity to tell the success stories of individual Hispanic students. It also prints admissions materials in Spanish and offers a successful bridge program for Hispanic high school students.

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SUBMITTED EXAMPLE: The Fastrak Scholars Program at the College of Saint Elizabeth (NJ) is a college-transition program for freshmen and sophomores from underserved, at-risk populations that fosters community and creativity through an intensive, reading-based curriculum designed to promote literacy, critical thinking, campus engagement, and confidence for college success. Components of the program include a Summer Catalyst program, intensive literacy instruction and interventions, and a co-curricular learning community for first-year students that promotes engagement and belonging. The first-year retention rates, credit completions, and over-all academic success of program participants rival those of their non-Fastrak classmates.

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OLDER STUDENTS

University of Redlands has for more than 40 years actively recruited “mid-life students” who return to college to complete a degree or change careers, and it welcomes the opportunities for intergenerational interaction these students provide.

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Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, offers bachelor’s-level courses at the First Presbyterian Church of Jefferson City for adults who previously completed 90 hours of coursework. The plan is for adults to complete five courses each year for two years through a combination of classroom and online coursework.

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HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

Many CIC institutions have dual enrollment programs through which high school students take and receive college credit upon successful completion of courses, including Hood College, Nebraska Wesleyan University, and Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).

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In addition to its outreach to community college students, Texas Lutheran University has a bridge program for local high schools, their students, and the students’ families. The focus of the project is a summer bridge program with coursework in Mexican American studies designed to help the high school students “understand they have a place within the university.” The institution has had other programs to connect high schools with the university for over a decade.

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Young Harris College, in the southern Appalachian Mountains of Georgia, recently has expanded its Early College program through which high school students take courses to receive transferable college credits while still earning credit toward high school graduation. The online courses are free to the students because the costs of tuition, campus fees, and books are supported by the State of Georgia.

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NEW POPULATIONS WITHIN EXISTING POPULATIONS

Many institutions are reaching out to a new population of students—enrolled students who are at risk of dropping out prior to graduation. A few examples include:

Malone University in Canton, Ohio, has instituted “intensive mentoring” for students who are “probationary admits.” The program has had a high success rate in retaining mentored students and is being expanded.

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Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, has instituted special efforts to retain students classified as “at risk.” The college also is making efforts to stay in touch with students on leave and has reached out to non-completing students who are close to meeting graduation requirements.

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Virginia Wesleyan University in Virginia Beach recently established Opus, a summer work program for current students with financial need to help them remain enrolled at the university.

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OTHER OUTREACH

Benedictine University in suburban Chicago, Illinois, decided to embrace new and more diverse student populations by “going where the students are” and building satellite campuses and programs across the state (in Springfield and elsewhere), across the nation (in Mesa, Arizona), and across the world (in China and Vietnam). The new students, who come from a diversity of religious backgrounds, are encouraged to take a common course on Catholic and Benedictine traditions as an introduction to the university’s mission.

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Stetson University in central Florida also opened satellite campuses and undertook geographically-specific initiatives, such as a new Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience. Increasing the “geographic diversity” of the campus in four separate cities helped attract new place-bound students while centralizing the university’s administrative activities and student support services helped reduce costs.

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OTHER IDEAS AND ADVICE

William Zumeta, professor of public policy and higher education at the University of Washington, has suggested that CIC institutions partner with public systems to increase the number of transfer student to private colleges and relieve the pressure on overburdened public universities.

From 2008 to 2012, CIC partnered with the Walmart Foundation and 50 member colleges and universities to identify, strengthen, and share programs to recruit, retain, and graduate first-generation college students. Lessons from this initiative were gathered in a final report, Making Sure They Make It! Best Practices for Ensuring the Academic Success of First-Generation College Students. Many of these best practices can be adapted to the recruitment of other student populations.

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A recent report written by one of the CIC presidents who offered case studies of innovations undertaken at their institutions, Edwin H. Welch, president of the University of Charleston, expands on the remarks he made in a new publication, Embedded Creativity: Building a Culture of Innovation. His case study crosses many of the major areas of opportunity included in this report on campus innovations.

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QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE

  • Are there specific populations of new students—such as men at a women’s college, or students from different religious backgrounds at a faith-based institution, or working adults at a primarily residential college—that might challenge or stretch the traditional mission of the institution?

  • What new resources or strategies may be necessary to support new student populations once they enroll?

  • How are changes in current political or economic conditions likely to affect your institution’s access to new populations of students? For example, economic conditions and new government policies have both reduced the number of international students who apply to enroll in American colleges.


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A Final Word

​The series of workshops organized by CIC in the 2016–2017 academic year was envisioned and suggested by a task force of CIC member presidents charged to think creatively about the future of the sector. We know from the reports of workshop participants that each event was a valuable opportunity to exchange ideas with colleagues. But in retrospect, the initiative appears to be a classic case of “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.” One aspect of the program design was a commitment that CIC would survey participants at three-month and six-month intervals after their participation in a workshop. Analysis of detailed notes from the workshops, combined with the responses of participants to the subsequent surveys (all conducted by the project evaluator, CIC Senior Advisor Barbara Hetrick), enables an unprecedented overview and compendium of strategies, programs, and initiatives that CIC institutions are undertaking to respond creatively—and successfully—to a changing and challenging context for higher education.

Participation in the Securing America’s Future workshops encouraged colleges and universities to form leadership teams that extended beyond the president and his or her senior staff, to include faculty members, mid-level administrators, and—on occasion—trustees. As team members from McKendree University in Illinois noted on their evaluation survey, “It was very beneficial to have presidents, provosts, and faculty in the room. Our faculty member…specifically said he broadened his understanding of higher education issues, and he can better grasp the whole picture.”

The workshops also enabled leadership teams from many different campuses to meet and learn from one another, and workshop participants identified the opportunity for cross-institutional conversation as one of the most valuable aspects of the program. “The opportunity to connect with colleagues and learn about the struggles and successes of other institutions was very valuable,” reported Elizabeth Medina, dean of students at Concordia University Texas. J. Michael Pressimone, president of Fontbonne University in Missouri agreed that, “For me, part of the benefit of workshops like these is the opportunity to share among institutions. It gives us the feeling that we are not alone and isolated in our challenges.” CIC facilitates this kind of encounter and exchange across campuses in virtually all of its programs—but not always with mixed teams of faculty and administrators.

In fact, all campus constituencies stand to benefit from such a broadened understanding. The team from Culver-Stockton College in Missouri, for example, reported that, “our executive director of admissions and marketing has made extensive use of CIC resources to help inform and train her staff about private, liberal arts-based education.” Thomas Hellie, president of Linfield College in Oregon, indicated that, “CIC’s research—shared at the workshop, but also in many other ways—has been very important for the education of our board and our employees.”

Evidence from the evaluation surveys indicates that follow-up has been most successful when, like the workshops, it has entailed an inclusive process and involved many campus constituencies. Participants from several institutions indicated that the workshop conversation had been extended to the entire academic and senior leadership teams. In some cases, presidents held small group meetings at their homes to discuss new initiatives for the campus. Tim Barry, president of Alderson Broaddus University, held a series of “Greystone Conversations” (named after the president’s home) that involved 17 small gatherings of faculty members, staff, and administrators; eventually, 98 percent of these constituencies participated in one of the conversations. During each one hour session, all participants were asked the same three questions: Who are we? What do we do here? Where are we going? Emergent themes are being used to begin strategic planning efforts and will create a dynamic document for now and the foreseeable future.

Although the workshop experience itself was considered by participants to be valuable, the most significant aspect of the program is the work that continues on the campuses. Initial indications from the follow-up surveys are very encouraging. At the three-month interval, more than 84 percent of the institutions responding indicated that their institution had already engaged in consideration of new approaches to fulfilling their institutional missions. A substantial percentage of respondents reported activity on cost containment and even more reported activity on revenue enhancements.

Almost every survey respondent indicated that a participating institution had taken some action to develop new strategic initiatives. For example, Marymount California University respondents wrote that they have been moving aggressively on their mission, strategic plan, and new innovative ways of learning and teaching. Richanne C. Mankey, president of Defiance College in Ohio, said that her board has “recently aligned committees with the campus’s strategic initiatives rather than the administrative structure of the campus, in order that we might focus on the future alongside its fiduciary responsibilities.”

Comments from other workshop participants also echoed this sense of active campus engagement, such as, “We have engaged in all sorts of campus-wide communication; we have also involved our community leaders!” and “We have empowered groups to make bold changes to how we do business.”

The engagement of diverse institutional teams, both in the workshops themselves and in activity back on campus, confirms a common research finding that innovation proceeds most successfully when diverse constituencies on a campus are consulted and engaged in the change process. Some workshop participants highlighted the excitement of this process with such comments as “the car almost ‘exploded’ with ideas on the way home; we have engaged all of our constituents—faculty, staff, students, trustees, and community leaders” and “the faculty have never been more exuberant about a process like this, so we count it as a huge success.”

In addition, the workshop presentations, the lively conversations at each site, and the post-workshop survey responses all confirm the research findings on campus innovation contained in a pair of reports that CIC commissioned from James C. Hearn and associates: Mission-Driven Innovation: An Empirical Study of Adaptation and Change among Independent Colleges (2015) and Strategic Change and Innovation in Independent Colleges: Nine Mission-Driven Campuses (2016). In the second report, Hearn distilled six themes that characterize particularly innovative campus cultures:

  1. A Bias for Action;
  2. A Drive to Connect Locally, Regionally, and Beyond;
  3. Realistic Self-Assessment and Adaptation;
  4. Structuring for Innovation;
  5. Assertive Leadership with Shared Governance Traditions; and
  6. Alignment of Mission and Innovation.

But as Hearn and Christopher Morphew both emphasized in their presentations at the workshops, the reality is that not all innovations will succeed. Being “moderately satisfied” with an attempt at innovation is more the norm than the exception. In fact, truly innovative organizations typically demonstrate the ability not only to tolerate but even to welcome failure, as an opportunity to learn. In the workshops, the example of Hilbert College and St. Bonaventure University, both in the Buffalo, New York region, presented an illustrative example. Their proposed merger did not take place, but the process ultimately bore fruit in a number of positive, collaborative outcomes, in part because thoughtful leaders in both institutions avoided adopting an “all-or-nothing” attitude.

All aspects of the Securing America’s Future initiative—research presentations, discussions, and written feedback—indicate that the most likely path to a successful future for independent colleges and universities begins with strong and compassionate leaders, sharing information broadly with campus constituents and empowering them to contribute their knowledge and expertise to planning and change processes. To that end, this report is intended as a resource. Individual sections of the report are designed as stand-alone modules that may be distributed to groups on campus, trustees, or community colleagues as a compendium of possible strategies that have been implemented by other CIC colleges and universities and as a stimulus to the campus’s own thinking about a future that successfully marries innovation with fidelity to mission.


Appendix


SECURING AMERICA’S FUTURE WORKSHOPS: DATES, LOCATIONS, AND FEATURED PRESENTERS


Hartwick College (Oneonta, NY)
September 14, 2016

Presenters:
Margaret Drugovich, President, Hartwick College
Edwin H. Welch, President, University of Charleston
William Zumeta, Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education, University of Washington

Adrian College (Adrian, MI)
September 29, 2016
Presenters:
Jeffrey R. Docking, President, Adrian College
Kevin Ross, President, Lynn University
Christopher Morphew, Executive Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, College of Education, University of Iowa*
*Now Dean, Johns Hopkins University School of Education

Augustana College (Rock Island, IL)
October 25, 2016
Presenters:
Steven C. Bahls, President, Augustana College
Jeffrey R. Docking
Christopher Morphew

California Lutheran University (Thousand Oaks, CA)
December 12, 2016
Presenters:
Chris Kimball, President, California Lutheran University
Mary Marcy, President, Dominican University of California
William Zumeta

Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA)
January 26, 2017
Presenters:
John S. Wilson, Jr., President, Morehouse College
Ed L. Schrader, President, Brenau University
James C. Hearn, Professor of Higher Education and Associate Director, Institute of Higher Education, University of Georgia

St. Edward’s University (Austin, TX)
February 10, 2017
Presenters:
Chris Kimball
Cynthia Zane, President, Hilbert College
James C. Hearn

Webster University (St. Louis, MO)
March 14, 2017
Presenters:
Elizabeth J. Stroble, President, Webster University
Christopher Howard, President, Robert Morris University
Christopher Morphew

McDaniel College (Westminster, MD)
April 18, 2017
Presenters:
Roger N. Casey, President, McDaniel College
John R. McCloskey, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Alvernia University
Harold V. Hartley III, Senior Vice President, Council of Independent Colleges


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