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Playing the Administration Game
University Business, May 2006

"This is not a game" is no longer a statement Lebanon Valley College (Pa.) leaders can use when discussing growing enrollment or construction projects. Last September, President Stephen C. MacDonald suggested that the college vice presidents develop a board game to help shareholders understand the variables involved in "standard strategic questions" about the school's future. "It turned out to be a relatively sophisticated exercise," MacDonald says. The "game" uses real endowment and debt figures, requires extra dorms when growing enrollment, and includes other real-world concerns in its rules. To date, 30 groups-about 250 people including students, faculty and administrators-have played. Using the game, the college has reached a "clear consensus to continue to grow full-time enrollment," he says, adding that the activity helps participants face real issues before the college, develop arguments to support their requests, and brings more groups into discussions. So far 15 other schools have asked for copies. "I'm glad to share it with them." He thinks it will be easy to adapt to other institutions. He is looking into securing intellectual property rights to the game-not to make money, but to ensure LVC gets the credit because developing the game was "teamwork at it's best." -Ann McClure

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