There is no shortage of people who are forecasting the demise of some colleges and universities over the next few years. For example, in a blog article I wrote earlier this year, I reviewed The College Stress Test, a book written by Bob Zemsky, Susan Shaman, and Susan Campbell Baldridge. Based on their pre-COVID-19 analysis of institutional enrollment and financial data submitted to the Department of Education’s Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS), they predicted that 10 percent of all colleges and universities are in danger of closing over the next few years.
In 1997, Forbes Magazine published an article titled "Seeing things as they really are," which was an interview about the future with legendary management professor Dr. Peter F. Drucker. When asked about the future of higher education, Drucker said, "Thirty years from now, the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won't survive. It's as large a change as when we first got the printed book. The college won't survive as a residential institution. Today's buildings are hopelessly unsuited and totally unneeded." Given that his prediction was for 30 years in the future, Dr. Drucker has six more years for something similar to it to occur.
Potable water is a requirement for life, yet in many towns and cities across the United States, municipal water poses human health risk either from source water or water infrastructure. As a society, we need household-scale water testing to understand the extent to which the health of the local population is at risk. In an effort to help our students understand the quality of their local drinking water, we have established the Water Testing and Awareness Project (Water TAP).
Times Higher Education (THE) published an article about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the assessment of learning in colleges and universities. Steve Masters, Education 4.0 Lead at Jisc (formerly the Joint Information Systems Committee), stated, “Universities’ first challenge was to get remote working up and running and get learning out there during this ‘triage’ period, but there’s a disconnect between what we need to do for students moving forward and what’s happening now.” Masters believes that as universities prepare for the possibility of teaching online in the fall, online assessment will need to be on the agenda.
With all of the news about the college athletic conferences (Ivy League and Patriot League) cancelling the fall sports schedule or limiting it to conference opponents only (Pac-12 and Big 10), I remembered a USA Today article I read this spring that discussed the financial impact to colleges if the football season was cancelled.
When the first college campuses in the state of Washington closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought the actions to be reasonable and short term because of the proximity to Seattle, the early coronavirus hotspot in the U.S. As more college campuses closed for the remainder of the spring semester and athletic teams’ seasons were cancelled, I thought the actions to be reasonable. Those measures were designed to keep a socially active age group from spreading the coronavirus on campus and in their college towns and cities.
In Monday’s Inside Higher Ed, regular contributor Joshua Kim calls out the online publication’s editors for allowing the publication of an op-ed titled “Generals Die in Bed,” written by Jeff Kolnick, a professor of history at Southwest Minnesota State University. Dr. Kim, Director of Online Programs and Strategy at Dartmouth’s Center for the Advancement of Learning (and co-author of Learning Innovation and the Future of Higher Education, which I recently reviewed), states that he does not disagree with Dr. Kolnick’s concerns about the health risks of face-to-face instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a matter of fact, Dr. Kim shares the same concerns.
The month of July triggers many memories. When I was younger, the month kicked off with the Fourth of July holiday festivities of picnics and fireworks, all of which were fascinating to me, my siblings, cousins, and friends. July 4 was also my grandfather’s birthday, an occasion that we were fortunate to celebrate with him through his 95th.
With cases of the coronavirus on the rise around the U.S., colleges leaders that made the early call to go online for the fall appear more prescient every day as we get closer to the anticipated start date. While the safety of students, faculty, and staff has to be at the forefront of any decision to return to campus, there are some who have asked if the decision to return has been driven primarily by financial considerations.