You are here

Articles: UB Archive

With furloughs, layoffs, and slashed budgets becoming a "business as usual" occurrence in higher education, professional development is taking a hard blow. In some cases, it has been dramatically cut or eliminated for the foreseeable future. Yet, even in these trying times, a few proactive leaders have found new tools and creative tactics to keep people learning and growing. They are energizing their teams and raising morale with minimal expense.

A funny thing happened to the College of William & Mary (Va.) on its way to a more efficient way to determine each of its undergraduate students’ home address.

Dreading the implementation of the solution agreed upon, college officials instead found efficiencies in the process of working together to solve the problem.

For Mike Freeman, the projected arrival of a Wendy's in fall 2012 in the student union at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is not just about tasty burgers.

Medieval castles were protected by moats, fortified walls, and small villages, yet enemies sometimes still snuck through using disguises.

A similar multilayered approach is needed to protect the modern campus IT infrastructure. Only this time the enemy is malware and viruses and the disguises are links on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

"We're the new U." The tag-line is fitting for The University of North Texas at Dallas, which, in September became its own independent four-year university after a decade of being considered a branch campus of UNT in Denton. The just-opened second building on its campus creates a physical presence to complement the separate identity UNT Dallas officials have been building for themselves.

Several years ago The College of St. Scholastica, a Catholic Benedictine school in Duluth, Minn., purchased a business intelligence (BI) system to improve its ability to make data-driven decisions. Along the way, we learned some important lessons that have strengthened us, and that may be of use to other institutions.

Have you heard the news? E-mail might not be dead yet, but it is going away. That's what Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, announced on June 24, 2010, in a keynote at the Nielsen Consumer 360 conference. This assertion was based on a data point from the Pew Internet and American Life Project's April 2010 "Teens and Mobile Phones" report. Sandberg noted that only 11 percent of teenagers use e-mail daily - while an overwhelming majority don't stop text-ing and "Facebooking" all day long.


Gov. Mitch Daniels recently implored Indiana's public college trustees to maximize efficiencies and cut administrative costs. Instead of coming to the "Statehouse asking for more money," as he stated, trustees should "stay back at the school and find ways to be more efficient with those dollars." As the president of Indiana's largest public college, I applaud the Governor for acknowledging how critical it is to manage costs as our state faces serious budget challenges. And we all have put some recent efforts in place, under the guidance of our trustees, to cut spending.

Since emerging in the college recruitment world just three years ago, college search social media sites have been a rapidly growing category of recruitment tools that combine the function of college search websites with the interactive, dynamic communications of mainstream social media networks. As the sites have come of age, they have given admissions professionals increased flexibility, creativity and efficiency in their recruitment communications and the way student inquiries are generated.

A friend recently told me that she had deactivated her Facebook account because of security concerns. Just last month we heard that some Facebook applications, such as the extremely (yet inexplicably) popular Farmville game, were causing identifying information to be sent to advertisers without the users' consent.

Despite the money, time and good intentions thrown their way, most college and university marketing efforts are littered with flawed assumptions, missed opportunities, process inefficiencies, me-too work and disappointing results. The ripple effects spread to recruiting, fundraising, alumni engagement, pricing pressure, and even retention and institutional reputation.

Prospective college students and their parents use a much different barometer today to select a university. Yes, the value of education is important. But increasingly, so is the square-footage of a student's room, quality of cafeteria food and lobby decor. It's no coincidence that university student centers and residence hall common areas share the same color palettes found in the latest Teen Vogue and have the same kind of finishes you'd expect to see in three-star and above hotels and upscale apartments and homes.

Over the past few decades, colleges and universities have engaged in a kind of facilities arms race to build new, state-of-the-art dormitories, dining halls, classrooms, athletic complexes, and fine arts centers. Higher ed institutions face enormous competitive pressures to build buildings that rival what's on their peers' campuses. For many, cutting-edge means new.