We want to hear-and share-more efficiency success stories. If your administrative department has used new business processes and/or technology to become more efficient, saving resources such as time and money while also providing excellent service to students or your other constituents, tell us about it.
With comprehensive fees for a residential liberal arts education reaching or surpassing $50,000 per year, more and more people are asking the question: Is it really worth that much money to educate anybody, anywhere, at any time? Are the minds of ambitious, intellectually driven young people worth it?
As a successful wood-cut artist, Sheila Pitt taught at the University of Arizona for roughly 20 years when tragedy struck. In February of 2008, the experienced horsewoman became a quadriplegic after breaking her neck in a riding accident.
But her physical condition didn't stop her from doing what she loved best: teaching and creating art. The university provided her with two assistants - one to help her demonstrate art techniques in the classroom and another to work in her home studio so she could continue researching art techniques, producing art, and exhibiting her work.
It is no secret. Most state budgets are in terrible shape. Estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities are that budget gaps for all states, combining fiscal years 2010 and 2011, will total approximately $375 billion. These budget woes have already begun to affect states' spending on higher education. Leading up to the 2009-2010 academic year, many states were considering or implementing plans to cut financial aid to college students. Some were in the news more than others.
When Gil Morales and his crew got the call about a loose dog, they sprung into action. An adult Webster University (Mo.) student had stopped by campus to buy a book with her dog, a rescue who had been abused by a previous owner, in tow. As her car door opened, the dog took off. "I think she called Public Safety, and they called us," says Morales, facilities operations manager. After a search and much to the distraught woman's relief, the dog was found safe, hiding under a car. The next day, she arrived at their office with a cake to show her appreciation.
"Women's Ways of Knowing," by Mary Field Belenky et al. (Basic Books, 1986, 1997), captured the challenges women face not just at home, but in classroom settings, and importantly, suggested how educators can help women develop their authentic voices if they emphasize connection over separation, and collaboration over debate.
Ask most campus constituents about driving and parking on campus and they'll probably have a horror story to tell. "People would drive around for hours and be in tears" because they couldn't find a parking spot, says Don Walter, parking department head at the University of Georgia, which has 388 buildings on its 615-acre main campus. A new system for distributing parking permits has led to a safer, happier, and healthier campus, he notes.
Health legislation having passed, it's difficult to ascertain its specific effects. Winners could include college students. But this can only occur if universities act to fulfill their fiduciary obligations and avoid suspect school health plan practices benefiting the school over the student.
The information in the Public Agenda's latest report "Squeeze Play 2010: Continues Public Anxiety on Cost, Harsher Judgments on How Colleges Are Run" should really cause a shiver to run down the collective backbones of college presidents and administrators. That is assuming they have a backbone. A topic for another discussion I am sure.
Virginia Tech. Columbine. Northern Illinois University. Today, the names of these schools are recognized across the country for the wrong reasons. They are now headlines seared into the national conscience like the names of early battles in a war that academic board-members and senior administrators have never been trained to address. The harsh reality is that - in one form or another - targeted violence is now happening with rising frequency in our schools (as well as our workplaces, public locations and private residences) every single day.
To be or not to be? A college on the East Coast uses "The Place to Be!" as its tagline. And why not? Everyone has to be somewhere. But unless the school wishes to target modern-day Hamlets who haven't decided whether to be or not, it has zero impact.
Another popular tagline is "Start Here, Go Anywhere." It's too popular, in fact. Dozens of schools use that same slogan or a close derivation. When an institution's tagline is so generic as to be interchangeable among schools, it's a sure sign that coherent strategy has "gone elsewhere."
Several years ago, there were two secretaries at Jacksonville State University (Ala.) who worked in different departments. Neither got along with their boss. Their supervisors wanted to fire them but couldn't—as nothing was wrong with their job performance. The problem was simple: They just didn't like each other.