Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Balancing global enrollments but not just for the balance sheet...

Some of my comments are based on my experience with institutions, universities and students in the PRC for the past 15 years as well as many other nations. I believe that one of the greatest challenges facing globally directed American universities and colleges will be the balancing of enrollments of qualified students across majors including STEM (science technology, engineering, mathematics) communications, business, arts and more. Educational institutions are closely monitored for reputation, trust and value as many other institutions. Some of our institutions have fallen off their pedestals of respect. Are American universities and colleges poised for the same decline in respect garnered by governments, businesses, religion and other sectors of the economy and culture?  What challenges face universities beyond the obvious tuition increases, decreasing public support, diversity, graduation rates, building and grounds, increase in part-time faculty, standards of tenure, scholarship standards, faculty shortages in some fields, faculty mobility and more. 

Should universities conduct "due diligence" on hiring full-time and part-time adjunct and tenure track faculty to protect students?

From a salary committee at Northwestern University I raised a question to a senior VP for consideration. 

A key question for university salary committees will be due diligence.  We have not done a satisfactory job of investigating the backgrounds of academic and clinical track teachers who influence the undergraduate and graduate students. A number of schools are working through the challenges of due diligence to avoid the embarrassment and risks to university reputations and students.   Businesses, government and other institutions often do a much better job of reviewing the previous work experience, legal conflicts and well documented complaints against prospective employees. What do universities carefully need to do regarding employees or teachers

Are you interested in the salaries for university staff and faculty? It may surprise you that most salaries have not kept up with inflation rates of tuition (or does it?).    See over 4700 schools.

If I were dean...

One of the most difficult administrative jobs in a university or college is the professional task of "dean"* of a college (liberal arts to the professional schools).  Though the job is not listed as "executive" but "administrative" by the Chronicle of Higher Education career search system it seems to have bridged the roles. Dean must for her school must conduct strategic research, plan actions, implement innovations and routines and evaluate success. It is both policy and practice driven.  Historically (at least beginning over 60 years ago) the role of Dean was a role for more senior faculty who had shown some interest in leadership as a department chair, member of the faculty senate, chair of an productive university or college committee or other policy and administrative assignments. The mix of talent is much greater today but all deans must understand the fundamentals and future of higher education as  unique and uniquely critical institutions.

While there is much more to be said in other venues and future blogs, I have worked with over a dozen deans in Management Schools and a Journalism School. Eight of the deans were part of the past 25 academic years of service in the now unusually named Medill School of Journalism Media Integrated Marketing Communications (no commas). From this experience I have noted that the best leaders who see the future of university education (its warts and its glories) are tied by years of professional practice to the faculty and students of  educational institutions, understand the important roles of other institutions including business, government, educational, NGOs and, of course, the global versions of all these entities.

Of course, the leader must also work well with the leadership of relevant (and extensive) stakeholder groups (alumni, diversity, professional, other educational institutions, suppliers, consultancies, individual donors, charities, employers, research institutes and dozens more (easily mapped using stakeholder values). I served as chairman of my department for several of the Medill deans including having served as chairman of a growing and restructured department, With the teamwork of 3 senior faculty and one junior faculty (myself) we renamed with mostly positive effects the "Advertising Department" eventually to the Department of Integrated Marketing Communications. We rebalanced the department to include more junior faculty with doctorates in business (my own degree was a joint doctorate in business and journalism-mass communications).  Our plan was to offer a new generation of graduate students and now to a lessor degree undergraduate students managerial knowledge to create and lead organizations using the increasingly respected field of communications as a leadership strategy.  Management schools I have taught in then and still today have not found a comprehensive model to educate the next generation of professionals and leaders to use communications to consumers beyond one of the so-called 4th "P" (promotion) of traditional marketing or useful but simple tactical methods. Modern professional communications helps an organization lead to reach and help dozens of stakeholders (audiences, publics).

Why do I care?  I am the kid who paid a nickel for a candy bar and the teenager who worked for 90 cents an hour changing tires and who delivered 300 newspapers daily for a lot more per hour in a Rambler American. I am the kid who could work during summer to pay for more than the cost of tuition ($300 per semester) at the extraordinary and global University of Wisconsin-Madison and managed an apartment building to get free housing or lived at home when my middle class family had some financial challenges. I am also a first generation college graduate in my family which still defines me and my concern for continuing first generation college students today. All this means I see university education from a perspective that constantly drives me to consider better ways to deliver that valuable education to each generation and to maintain and develop new definitions of educational excellence and valuation.

I expect to comment on this topic and a range of related topics in the future as I revitalize this blog and other channels of communicaitons open to me. The list grows if you share coffee with faculty or conversations with families saving for their children's college education. Some of the topics and some of the questions I expect to answer include a round number of 10:
1. educating the public and leadership on the true costs of college to lower income and middle income families.
2. identifying more creative scholarship models for lower and middle income students and families.
3. balancing the globalization of U.S. and global university student bodies and faculty for the best possible educational model
4. carefully plan and target curriculum and advising to make 4 year universities a 4 year opportunity to graduate for students, but create awareness of alternative higher education career models.
5. examine orientation programs for global students as well as all students to increase their likelihood of success in class and timely graduation
6. Hiring practices that honor the broadly liberal cultural values of education by insuring due diligence of Constitutional and legal standards for educational role models
7. Beyond contact with alumni on financial target lists design more diligent efforts to reach out to alumni including global graduates, first generation graduates and diverse alumni to keep their life progress associated with their schools and degrees.
8. Celebrate the undergraduate degrees impact on education and a safe educational environment but also celebrate the graduate degree for that special degrees contribution to professional and educational development.
9. Naturally, measure and plan the "newer" mix of educational delivery systems including "distance learning" which I taught to medical professionals more than 25 years ago. I will use Skype as I post this note today for a colleague's class in Florida and then use WeChat tonight with a "think tank" in the PRC. What is the best mix of degrees, courses, instructors, students and contact?
10. Not finally, but in addition, how do we maintain excellence in core areas of knowledge for a civilized, diverse and thoughtful society of educated women and men. What role does fleeting methods of technology really have in higher education?

*dean is defined in late Latin (showing the value of two years of high school Latin at Madison West) as "chief of a group of 10". I might multiple 10 by one or two 10s today.

The Handbook of Strategic Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Communications (2012) ed. Clarke Caywood, McGraw-Hill: NY.

Monday, April 6, 2015

PRC again and again

For the 15th year I visited the PRC (China) this past March and April.  Beginning with Guangzhou at Sun Yat-Sen University and Jinan University the trip concluded at Peiking University in Beijing with a stop-over in Shanghai. With the cooperation of we expect to invite several MBA and EMBA programs to Chicago and the U.S. for seminars and corporate visits.  The series has been highly successful with the collaboration of Kellogg and Medill IMC faculty. Learn more at the website.