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Could There Be a Silver Lining Amidst This Pandemic Chaos?

With the likelihood of most colleges and universities teaching the fall — and perhaps spring — semesters online, it’s clear that many educational institutions will improve over their improvised performances in the spring of 2020. There are many people, including me, who are writing about the financial distress due to room and board refunds and lower enrollments due to freshmen taking a gap year and international students choosing to not visit the U.S. for a potential online college experience. Based on my 18 years of experience in online higher education, I think there are opportunities for colleges and universities that survive financially.

Another Financial Warning Tool for Colleges and Universities

When I saw the headline for The Hechinger Report article, "Analysis: hundreds of colleges and universities show financial warning signs," I thought, “just what we need…another rating system.” To my surprise, authors Sarah Butrymowicz and Pete D’Amato did not develop a new early warning system evaluating the financial stability of colleges and universities. Instead, they utilized the methodology developed by Robert Zemsky, Susan Shaman, and Susan Campbell Baldridge and published in their recent book, The College Stress Test.

Disruption and the Bundled College Experience of COVID-19

This week, I moved one of my daughters from her off-campus apartment with an expiring lease to the apartment that she selected for this year. Next week, the same transition will occur with her sister, but at another university in another city. The plans were made and leases signed in January before anyone knew what havoc the pandemic would wreak on their campuses and college campuses nationwide.

Who Tracks the States’ Support for Higher Education?

In a year when the COVID-19 pandemic attracts much of the attention of the press, the press release about the State Higher Education Finance FY 2019 Report issued by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) on May 5, 2020, probably escaped the attention of many in the higher education sector. However, as states address the complexity of balancing the budget in a year when revenues and expenses have been disrupted, it’s worthwhile reviewing the report.

What Colleges and Universities Will Thrive, Survive, Struggle, or Perish?

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.

Will Zoom and COVID-19 Accelerate Drucker’s 1997 Prediction?

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.  

Citizen Science: The Water Testing and Awareness Project

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).

Adapt Now: The Coronavirus Will Be with Us for a While

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.