College presidents are leading their institutions at a pivotal moment in higher education. Unprecedented amounts of data, the rise of online education and a heightened focus on student outcomes are together pressuring them to develop innovative approaches to get students to complete college and land a good job.
Our regular President Speaks column gives college leaders the opportunity to highlight the issues facing their institutions and show how they're stepping up to the challenge — from strengthening student supports to reforming remedial education.
Below, we round up some of our most popular posts from the series in recent months. Are you interested in contributing to the President Speaks column? Let us know.
The digital age has opened the gates to unprecedented levels of information, but Maryville University of St. Louis President Mark Lombardi argues that colleges have not fundamentally changed how they teach students.
"As colleges and universities, it's time to recognize that we are no longer keepers of knowledge," he writes. "We must serve instead as agile facilitators of knowledge, evolving and adapting to the new reality of how information flows through the world." Read more.
From 2013 to 2016, colleges cut more than 600 foreign-language programs, according to the Modern Language Association. This is unwise, as such programs are critical to successfully navigating today's interconnected world, contends Michael McRobbie, president of Indiana University.
"Ours remains a major — if not 'scandalous' — foreign language deficit at a time when markets are rapidly becoming more global, when interdependencies among countries are becoming greater and when our national security challenges are becoming grander and more complex," he writes. Read more.
University of California, Merced opened in the San Joaquin Valley in 2005 with a goal of improving access to the state's public university system. But building such a college from the ground up hasn't been easy, explains Chancellor Dorothy Leland. (Leland plans to step down in August after eight years in the role.)
"[A]s we have banded together to overcome challenges and to build this great university, a culture has developed," she writes. "I believe this culture is a big reason why our students are successful. They feel supported on all sides, and this enables them to do their best work." Read more.
Women seeking to advance in higher ed can face gender bias and sexual harassment that, ultimately, deters them from continuing in the field, writes Carolyn Stefanco, president of The College of Saint Rose, in Albany, New York.
"What enabled me to persist," she writes, "and to eventually rise through the ranks of higher education administration, was a fierce commitment to lead change so that others who have been denied access, opportunity and advancement could realize their potential." Read more.
A growing body of research has shown that remedial courses are not effective and may even cause students to use up their federal aid or drop out of college altogether. That's why a movement is underway to find "better ways to work with under-prepared students," write two executives at the City University of New York (CUNY).
At CUNY, that's taken the form of "smarter, more appropriate" course placements using multiple measures to assess college readiness. The system also offers co-requisite courses, in which students take credit-bearing classes along with mandatory additional supports, they write. Read more.