Leading throughout the Organizational Life Cycle May 8, 2017

Leading throughout the Organizational Life Cycle


According to organizational life cycle theory, institutions and units within institutions progress through a sequence of stages—inception, growth, maturity, and decline or revitalization. Understanding the challenges specific to each stage can help leaders be more effective. Although inevitable, progression through these stages can be upsetting to those who are averse to change, but “if you can convince them that this is a natural progression, it may allay their fears or concerns,” says Claire Phillips, dean of instruction at Lone Star College–CyFair.

New Academic Programs in Lean Financial Times May 3, 2017

New Academic Programs in Lean Financial Times: Process Revisited and Lessons Learned


In lean financial times, colleges and universities need to ask themselves whether to take a conservative approach to new program development or to scan aggressively for growth markets, seeking opportunities to invest in the future. In the case of University of Mount Union (UMU), we took a more aggressive approach toward investing in the future, and the investments are paying off.

STEM Fatigue March 16, 2017

STEM Fatigue


For a little more than a decade, the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) have been enjoying something of a privileged status at American colleges and universities. While enrollments in some other areas are stagnant or declining, they have been rising steadily in many STEM courses. In state systems, investment in faculty, equipment, and facilities often focuses on STEM while other fields go begging. Public figures call for more students to become interested in STEM, often at the same time as they denigrate such disciplines as anthropology, art history, and philosophy.

What accounts for all the positive attention the STEM disciplines have been receiving? The answers are many. First, the severity of the economic recession has caused many students, parents, and politicians to focus on the immediate employability of college graduates. Even if a classicist is as likely as an accountant to find suitable employment within six months of graduation, it is easier for many people to see the connection of business programs to jobs than it is to make that same leap for the liberal arts. “A college of engineering produces engineers,” some may think. “A college of humanities produces . . . what exactly? Secular humanists? Is that a good thing?”

moving beyond majors January 10, 2017

Moving Beyond Majors


As I sat looking at data for the newly enrolled students in our incoming class, comparing it with institutional and national SAT data, I wondered, is the concept of a major becoming obsolete? Our colleges and universities are built around them. For generations, faculty have been training in one discipline with a distinct identity. Curricula have been designed to make the student’s major the most prominent piece of his or her educational pathway. Even on the admissions side, the first question we ask in a typical interaction is, “What major do you want to study?”