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Located in downtown Leesburg, Florida, Beacon College—the nation’s first accredited four-year-degree-granting institution for students with learning disabilities—has brought a century-old train station back to life as a student center. Students can socialize or workout in the 3,400-square-foot space.

CHALLENGE

Beacon College’s enrollment grew from 185 students in 2013 to more than 220 last year to 285 this year. The institution anticipates a total of 500 students in the next few years.

It would be difficult to work in higher education and not be aware of the numerous completion initiatives that are underway nationally, all focused on increasing the number of Americans with a college credential.

The voices that usually chime in to share scalable best practices include presidents, provosts, student affairs professionals and faculty. Rarely do my peers in advancement share how we are removing attainment barriers, but the creative thinking and work of fundraising offices are fueling new gains across campuses.

There are some 4,140 colleges and universities in America. If each spends an average of $50,000 per year in presenting speakers and lecturers--this becomes an annual investment which exceeds $200 million. In the campus public speaker marketplace, the majority of presenters receive fees and compensation of about $10,000 per engagement. Some receive $25,000+ and some earn $3,000-$5,000.

Thirty years ago, we knew that larger institutions would consume smaller, more fragile schools - pure mergers as they came to be known. Yet, during the early higher ed merger mania era, many found that consolidations of venerable institutions offered a creative and more equitable non-merger alternative – read as, Azusa Pacific University, Birmingham-Southern College, Carnegie Mellon University, Carson-Newman University, Case Western Reserve University, Clark Atlanta University, University of Detroit Mercy, and William and Hobart Smith Colleges.

James Scannell is president and Jennifer Wick is vice president of Scannell & Kurz, a higher education enrollment consulting division of Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

Student retention, persistence, success and graduation remain top-of-mind issues for higher ed leaders amidst the advent of the College Scorecard, the push toward 60 percent of high school graduates earning college degrees by 2020, and families’ familiar concerns about return on investment.

The editors of UB magazine proudly present the 2016 Readers’ Choice Top Products, chosen from hundreds of nominations. This annual award programs alerts higher ed administrators and staff to the best products their peers use to achieve excellence at institutions throughout the country.

You—the nation’s higher ed leaders—submitted testimonials throughout 2015. Our editorial board carefully narrowed the list based on the quality and quantity of these testimonies.

Janet Dudley-Eshbach is president of Salisbury University in Maryland.

On a cold evening in December 2014, over 400 students, faculty and staff gathered quietly on the central plaza of Salisbury University’s Maryland campus. Chalked on the pavers were the silhouettes of 24 bodies.

As victim names were read, students proceeded to lie down within the outlines and observe several minutes of silence, remembering black men shot by white police officers. Somber remarks were followed by a quiet march of remembrance.

Kinesiology students from Cal State, Fullerton traveled to Greece for a summer study trip focused on philosophy and the Olympics. Student Justin Carrido snapped this group selfie at the Acropolis.

White students accounted for three-quarters of the nearly 300,000 students who studied abroad last school year. But a group of minority-serving colleges and universities is striving to alter that statistic.

Carine Feyten, the chancellor and president of Texas Woman's University, says security will become a recruitment issue for students and their families.

Carine Feyten

Chancellor and president, Texas Woman's University

Topic: Safety and security

Michael R. Nelson, a professor of internet studies at Georgetown University and former White House staffer, will deliver at keynote speech at UBTech 2016 in Las Vegas.

Michael R. Nelson, a professor of internet studies at Georgetown University, says innovation is about much more than just a good idea. It requires finding new ways to combine existing ideas, products and services into something that people will want. At the heart of that process is collaboration.

The U.S. experienced a decrease in million-dollar donations in 2014. (Click to enlarge)

At least 1,831 gifts of $1 million or more—a total of $24.5 billion—were given to charity across eight international regions in 2014, with higher education remaining the top recipient.

Yet it’s a decrease from 2013, when 1,995 donations worth $26.3 billion were reported.

Nearly two-thirds of higher ed readers surveyed expected a major renovation project to be launched or completed in 2016.

Picture it: Faculty no longer get their own offices and libraries have vanished. Dorm rooms come standard with private bathrooms and maid service, and terrazzo tile has replaced carpeting as the new standard flooring across college campuses. Sound ludicrous? Maybe not.

Brent Betit helped found Landmark College, the world's first college for students with learning disabilities.

The spaces we create for people with learning disabilities can support success or guarantee failure.

Three decades ago, I led a team in designing an entire college campus specifically for students with learning disabilities.

Most colleges and universities will continue to face financial hurdles, and although there is much crossover, certain issues will be more or less of a concern based on the size of the university and its student population. One thing is true across the board: Student expectations are changing.

Most campus leaders surveyed by UB expect tech spending to increase or stay the same.

Today’s rapidly evolving technology has higher education on the move, literally and figuratively. Mobile devices are powering a shift to more learning on the go while other tech advancements enable big changes in how colleges deliver academic programs and grant credentials.

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