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Articles: Alumni Relations

Just back from campus info visits, with children having us in tow, we gained a fresh perspective on what today's aspiring college students like best to learn, where they want to live, and how they want to engage in the global higher learning experience. What we learned from the campus tours during spring break is that the fastest growing student co-curricular interests include Model UN debates, semester and summer study abroad programs, and international field practicums in the rain forest and the arctic, and exposure -- indeed, immersion in foreign languages and cultures.

Transfer used to be what happened when students realized too late that they picked a college or university that wasn't right for them. It wasn't until recently that the valuable market of transfer students has started being studied and really tapped into.

"For a while, transfers were kind of looked at as extra," says Bonita C. Jacobs, executive director of The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students at the University of North Texas. Admissions offices began realizing they'd be left behind if they didn't start recruiting transfers.

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.

In 1999, the North Dakota University System coordinated a roundtable discussion inviting its board of directors, K-12 administrators, employers, and others to address their expectations of the university.

"It was a landmark event in North Dakota's higher ed history," explains Michel Hillman, vice chancellor of academic and student affairs at NDUS in Bismarck, which has 11 campuses. "What was recommended was a consistent set of accountability measures."

College graduates are used to hearing from their alma maters with requests about donations and to cheer on the school athletic teams. But lately, alumni from a growing number of institutions are hearing the sounds of alumni offices retooling themselves to offer an unprecedented array of services and programs.

In America, we lavish attention on our most talented fellow citizens—star athletes, film and television celebrities, brilliant scholars and scientists, and sometimes even college presidents—but we also insist that our celebrities not act like self-styled royalty. When members of America's elite are aloof and ignore the public's welfare—as many titans of Wall Street did, first ruining the economy, then paying themselves bonuses—Americans insist on retribution.

In our current economic environment, critical funding for an array of essential entities and institutions has dried up, leaving a momentous gap between budget needs and realities. Universities are certainly no exception to this phenomenon. Even Harvard is feeling the pinch. The university had reported a 30 percent decline in its endowment for the fiscal year ending June 2009.

So the question presents itself: What can universities do to throw out a larger net and create a new class and type of donor? The short answer: sacred spaces.

The economic crisis has dominated the headlines since September 2008 and taken its toll on individuals and institutions alike. Few have been immune to the effects of a volatile stock market, low interest rates, rising unemployment, tight credit markets, and plunging real estate values.

Many colleges and universities are confronting even more complex challenges than usual. Indeed, the timing, intensity, and consequences of some of the most serious challenges qualify them as outright crises.

Managing multiple difficult events such as salary freezes, budget cuts, job reductions, enrollment declines, and rising discount rates can seem overwhelming to even the most experienced among us. Can there be any doubt for higher education leaders that it truly is "lonely at the top" these days?


THAT HEADLINE ISN’T A RIDDLE. Maybe a better question is, should there be guidelines as to what the word “college” means?

The global war on terror has had a direct or indirect impact on countless servicemen and women and their families. Thousands of our finest soldiers have made very significant sacrifices in their service to our country.