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You might call it the 100-bed dash. Yet Warren Wilson College's spring 2003 student housing construction project went off with a flame, not a bang.

Stewart Brand, author, futurist, and original publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, once proclaimed, "Information wants to be free." Plagiarists, software pirates, file-sharers, and others have claimed the phrase as justification for their actions. If someone posts a document, they reason, it becomes fair game to take and use it.

Until recently, the words "web conferencing" conjured up the image of small-framed and jerky video that was akin to bad cartoon animation. Voices would speak, but there would be no movement on screen. Video would often freeze. Viewers would have to draw on stores of patience as they helplessly waited for the picture and sound to adjust to each other.

It is all about being known. And while we may occasionally squabble over nomenclature (Is it brand? Image? Reputation?), we all believe, at our core, that it is better to be known than not. When the right people are aware of you and value and support the position you hold, life is better.

Five years ago, a technology professional couldn't turn around in a crowded room without bumping into a vendor selling a hot new technology called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Each year brought the same promises of how VoIP would revolutionize the delivery of phone service, replacing expensive and cumbersome traditional phone service delivered by the "Baby Bells" with a cheap alternative.

There's a concept that some big retail purveyors have mastered in spades: Making people feel as if they are sitting in someone's house, all the while holding store-bought cups of coffee, books, or paninis. Even as the world grows more complicated, so the thinking goes, a big couch, custom-ordered food, and a crackling fireplace can help keep us centered.

Seeking the advice of an executive coach is becoming increasingly common in educational institutions across America. After all, professional athletes have coaches, so why shouldn't university administrators?

Too often, however, coaches are called in even though an administrator's poor performance is well beyond redemption. The intervention is thus set up for failure, right from the start. The likely result is that the institution loses not only the administrator but also the time and resources invested in the coaching engagement.

From application frustrations to test score worries, high school students and parents have a lot on their minds these days. As do Admissions offices, of course, in their quest to do ever better for their institutions. Here's a look at some of the current concerns and trends, as well as a glimpse at what college administrators should focus on in the coming year.

Families Are Asking ...

Just five years ago, University of Minnesota students had to visit four different buildings on campus just to register for classes. In fact, completing any administrative transaction--from requesting a transcript to paying a parking ticket--required a commute, as the university handled most of its student services in different buildings.