October 6, 2012 at 11:29pm
St. Louis — Working in close collaboration with the staff and administration of Washington University in St. Louis, Cohl & Co., in partnership with Povaddo, LLC, developed the strategy, naming, case statement, voice, and executive creative direction for “Leading Together,” the University’s $2.2 billion capital campaign.
In announcing the campaign at a 1000-person reception in St. Louis, the University states:
Leading Together is the outgrowth of a comprehensive strategic planning process to identify the greatest opportunities to enhance the university’s contributions to society. As part of this process, each school and several units developed plans that reflect a clear vision for the next decade. These priorities will significantly and positively impact the St. Louis region, the nation and the world, according to Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, who is celebrating his 17th anniversary as the university’s 14th chancellor today.
The goal of Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University is to raise a minimum of $2.2 billion in funding toward priorities included in the strategic plan.
“Through education, we are fostering the development of men and women who will contribute to some of society’s most complex challenges,” Wrighton says. “Through research, we create new knowledge and turn it into action to benefit the society we serve. We have the additional responsibility to nurture interdisciplinary work and collaborative efforts that accelerate the pace of progress in discovery and application of knowledge. Through our work, we are discovering new treatments for devastating diseases, from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer.
“We are improving public health and pioneering new sources of affordable, sustainable energy. We are developing strategies to create economic prosperity that will benefit St. Louis and communities everywhere. And, we are preparing talented students to become effective leaders in every area of society.”
Leading the public phase of the campaign will be Andrew C. Taylor, a Washington University trustee and chairman and chief executive officer of St. Louis-based Enterprise Holdings. Taylor, along with his father, Jack C. Taylor, a university emeritus trustee; and his sister, Jo Ann Taylor Kindle, president of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, have been longtime supporters of Washington University.
Trustees John F. McDonnell, retired chairman of the board of McDonnell Douglas Corp., and Sam Fox, former U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and founder and retired chairman and CEO of Harbour Group, Ltd., guided the university through the campaign’s initial leadership phase, which raised more than $1 billion.
“Over the past century and a half, our alumni, parents and friends have made an extraordinary difference for Washington University,” says Taylor. “In countless ways, they have contributed the time, talent and financial resources that made us a world-renowned university. Together with our alumni and friends, the faculty, staff and students of Washington University possess the creativity, drive and spirit to meet the challenges facing us today and in the decades to come.”
Washington University’s leadership in medicine, social work, and undergraduate education is recognized worldwide, and the university is a global leader in liberal arts education. Recent decades have seen enormous progress in the strength and quality of other programs, such as engineering, law, the John M. Olin School of Business, and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.
“Washington University has an endless quest for excellence and continually builds its impact through education and research,” Wrighton says. “This campaign is a united effort by the university community to provide a strong foundation for the future. With the support of our alumni, parents, friends, corporations and foundations, we can build upon the great accomplishments of recent decades and contribute even more significantly to our communities, our nation and the world. ”
February 2, 2012 at 6:09pm
RANKINGS? SHMANKINGS! They Matter—But, Cheating is Crazy (and Unnecessary)!
CLAREMONT, CA — It happens all time. A good school tries to improve its fortunes by “Moving up in The Rankings.” Hurriedly, they “re-brand” in hopes of catching the attention of more “top-scoring” applicants, in order to improve their “selectivity” score. They might spend lavishly on alumni gatherings and annual fund pleas in an attempt to increase their “Alumni giving percentage.” They host luxurious conferences or at least send out some highly polished targeted literature to their academic peers, the presidents and provosts who annually rate the “academic reputation” of their competition in US News & World Report. They consider ways to track down students who transferred away to see if they graduated, in order to improve their six-year graduate rates . They work the numbers zealously trying to reduce (at least on paper) their percentage of classes with more than 50 students, while seeking out new and improved ways to increase their percentage of classes with less than 20 students (wink-wink). And, when all else fails, the most frightened of the bunch juice the numbers any which way they can. And sometimes, the numbers juicers-get caught.
For seemingly august institutions such as Claremont McKenna College, the taint of “faking it” can last a very long time—especially when the public definition of a college, aside from their “ranking,” was fuzzy at best. Indeed, a cursory look at cmc.edu reveals very little about the college beyond announcements for its upcoming commencement exercises in May (some five months away); a link to its generic, somewhat convoluted capital campaign; a large announcement for its summer session (which begins a bit too early for the many high school students who are looking to improve their admissions chances an elite school next fall); a Twitter feed featuring an alumnus’ interview with President Obama; a Washington Post op-ed featuring Professor Jack Pitney on “Why Gingrich would lose in a debate with Obama,” and a Post interview/live discussion with Professor Minxin Pei on “Five Myths About China’s Power.”
Unfortunately for Claremont McKenna College, there is little communication to the outside world, particularly prospective students—and their parents and counselors—about what makes the college different, interesting, or relevant to their lives. Indeed, Claremont McKenna’s “Why CMC Portal” is a mish-mash of non sequiturs, whereby the college explains:
Why the Why CMC?…. While we offer loads of information about applying and visiting, and do a pretty good job of promoting student and academic life and achievements with freshly posted news stories, we knew we needed something more. We needed something that addressed The Question–– the Why CMC question. So we’ve done it, and may we say, Welcome to a new portal! [sic]
We created Why.CMC.edu as a catch-all—a one-stop shop for updates from around the College, for student perspectives in blogs, for updates and messages from Facebook and Twitter, for links to relevant videos and pictures, and even for information about our college rankings. [sic]
As you may know, CMC was founded as a college that joined the liberal arts world with the real world. So instead of just talking about how great we are, why not show you, here, why CMC is consistently recognized as one of the best colleges in the United States? [sic]
A big head’s up to higher ed communicators: “Portal” is a term that is about as relevant to the iPhone/Android generation as “Dial-up.” And, if you plan to “show… how great [you] are,” you’d better create some kind of an overarching, linear narrative to “show” parents and counselors—who are, most likely, the most deeply critical eyes in your admissions audience —”who you are; why you’re different; and why anyone should care” in a clear, compelling way. Otherwise, unless your institution is exceptionally well-known, extremely unique and globally famous for it—and/or 100-percent of your early admits are legacies 0.01-percenters—you risk being in a position of fighting for every applicant. And, when all else fails, potentially juicing up the numbers.
Regrettably, on the surface, Claremont McKenna’s 17-percent acceptance rate would place it as more “selective” than US News & World Report’s #1 liberal arts college, Williams—and in a dead heat with #2 Amherst, #3 Swarthmore, #4 Pomona, and #5 Middlebury. But, given that Claremont McKenna defrauded USNWR in reporting its SAT scores, we have no way of knowing, in this moment, whether its acceptance numbers are false, as well.
The saddest part of this story is that without falsifying its SAT data Claremont McKenna would have—most likely—remained in the top ten.
In fact, if Claremont McKenna really wanted to move up into the “Top Five,” all it really needed to do was market itself a little better to prospective students, their parents and counselors; build a stronger, more direct case to the presidents, provosts, and deans of admissions, whose surveyed opinions determine each institution’s “undergraduate academic reputation;” and—most importantly—it should have booked a solid $200-400 million dollar gift from multibillionaire Henry Kravis, one of the college’s most important alumni, to lift its endowment much closer to its academic peers. Yes, all of this might be a challenge, but living down the “elite liberal arts college that cheats” reputation will be a far more costly effort today, than even the most comprehensive strategic planning/communications/identity/re-branding exercise, would have cost two years ago.
Alas, the implications of this case will transcend the institution, as the Claremont McKenna debacle further inflames those who decry the whole idea of rankings, renewing calls for an expansion of boycotts against US News & World Report, while re-awakening the forces who refute the validity of the SAT, as well.
Indeed, it is easy in to academia dismiss the US News & World Report’s annual rankings of “America’s Best Colleges” as a trite commercialization of higher education—arguing with great validity that the pseudo-scientific methodology used by USNWR is seriously flawed.
Unfortunately, a large body of research shows that the rankings do matter. Ronald G. Ehrenberg of Cornell’s Higher Education Research Institute (CHERI), and James W. Monks of the University of Richmond, have consistently demonstrated that USNWR’s rankings “do matter”—in a great variety of ways.
Ehrenberg and Monks argue that any significant fall in these rankings reduces the number of applications colleges receive, pushes acceptance rates higher, drops admissions yield rate, and lowers the average SAT scores of admitted student—as the “most competitive” applicants flock to the highest ranked schools. This often creates downward spiral in reputation as, according to Ehrenberg and Monks:
The factor that receives the largest weight in the USNWR rankings is the survey of higher education administrators. Hence an improvement (or decline) in an institution’s rank may lead to future movements in its rank in the same direction because administrators are increasingly aware of how other institutions fare in the rankings. The heightened awareness, and perhaps even animosity, among higher education administrators concerning their institutions’ relative positions in the USNWR rankings appears to be warranted, as changes in rank have a significant influence on the applications and enrollment decisions of students and the pricing behavior of the institutions.
Cornell Economist and author of “The Winner Take All Society,” Robert Frank, not only concurs with Ehrenberg and Monks, he posits that rankings matter now more than ever because “the economic reward for elite educational credentials has jumped sharply in recent decades.” In his seminal 2000 CHERI article, “Higher Education: The Ultimate Winner-Take-All Market?” Frank argues:
Behind this jump lies the spread and intensification of what Philip Cook and I have called “winner-take-all markets.” These are markets in which small differences in performance (or even small differences in the credentials used to predict performance) translate into extremely large differences in reward. Such markets have long been familiar in entertainment and sports. The best soprano may be only marginally better than the second-best, but in a world in which most people listen to music on compact discs [MP3s], there is little need for the second-best. In such a world, the best soprano may earn a seven-figure annual salary while the second-best struggles to get by.
In the decade since Frank first started gaining attention for his argument, the evidence has continued to mount that our society is divided into “winners” and “everyone else.” With only “the top one-percent” making any real financial gains in the past decade, it’s fairly easy to claim: “To the victor goes all the spoils.”
However unfortunate it may be, the US News rankings matter more and more each year. Thus, it is incumbent upon US News & World Report to reflect on their part in this mess—and consider, as a start: 1) ways in which they can improve on the quality of data they collect; 2) how they can more accurately measure the “academic quality” of each institution they rank; 3) which methodologies they can employ to more precisely gauge the impact of each institution’s pedagogical approach on student outcomes; 4) new measurements to help understand the linkage between each institution and the long-term success of its students and alumni; 5) a means to divine both the median earnings of alumni who attend graduate and/or professional school, and the median earnings of those who don’t, at meaningful points in their careers, such as ten, twenty, thirty, and/or forty years past their undergraduate graduation; and, 6) how to measure, beyond earnings, the percentage of alumni who assume leadership positions in business, academia, the military, and public life.
America’s colleges and universities deserve better. If the US News & World Report can’t rethink the “outcomes” extending from their own fallible system of ranking America’s undergraduate colleges, universities, graduate programs, and professional schools—perhaps, America’s colleges and universities need to form or find an organization that can.
Washington Monthly has taken a stab at raising the rankings bar by ”[rating] schools based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: “Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).” Unfortunately, as well-meaning as Washington Monthly’s socially conscious alternative to USNWR might be, to prospective students (and their parents) driven, in large part, by the increasingly high cost of American higher education, the “public good” produced by an institution might be less important than the ROI ultimately received by its students and alumni. To that end, we can certainly do better.
August 16, 2010 at 2:40am
NEW YORK – These are the best of times and the worst of times for higher education. On one hand, enrollments are soaring and annual giving is up at the most elite colleges and universities. On the other hand, hobbled state budgets, increasing financial aid and health care costs, ravaged endowments and bloated academic bureaucracies are driving tuition into the stratosphere at many state-supported and tuition-dependent private institutions –– leaving fewer and fewer families are able to shoulder the costs with any real certainty.
Writing in the New York Times, Columbia University Professor Mark C. Taylor smartly argues that we need need to change fast –– or risk an educational crisis as devastating to our nation as the Wall Street debacle.
[C]olleges and universities, as well as students and their parents, are facing an unprecedented financial crisis. What we’ve seen with California’s distinguished state university system — huge cutbacks in spending and a 32 percent rise in tuition — is likely to become the norm at public and private colleges. Government support is being slashed, endowments and charitable giving are down, debts are piling up, expenses are rising and some schools are selling their product for two-thirds of what it costs to produce it. You don’t need an M.B.A. to know this situation is unsustainable.
With unemployment soaring, higher education has never been more important to society or more widely desired. But the collapse of our public education system and the skyrocketing cost of private education threaten to make college unaffordable for millions of young people. If recent trends continue, four years at a top-tier school will cost $330,000 in 2020, $525,000 in 2028 and $785,000 in 2035.
Yet most faculty and administrators refuse to acknowledge this crisis. Consider what is taking place here in New York City. Rather than learning to live within their means, Columbia University, where I teach, and New York University are engaged in a fierce competition to expand as widely and quickly as possible. Last spring, N.Y.U. announced plans to increase its physical plant by 40 percent over the next 20 years; this summer Columbia secured approval for its $6.3 billion expansion in Upper Manhattan. N.Y.U. is also opening a new campus in Abu Dhabi this fall.
The financial arrangements for these projects remain obscure, but it is clear that they will not be completed without increasing the universities’ already significant and perhaps unsustainable levels of debt. Last year Columbia reported $1.4 billion in outstanding debt against a $5.89 billion endowment. N.Y.U. had a staggering $2.22 billion debt with a relatively modest $2.2 billion endowment — one that had shrunk by more than 11 percent over the previous fiscal year. For universities, as for banks, the question is not only the value of current and projected assets but also the availability of liquidity so they can pay off interim debt obligations during a time of financial instability.
There is a similarity between the debt crisis on Wall Street and what threatens higher education. Just as investors borrowed more and increased their leverage in volatile markets, many colleges and universities are borrowing more and betting on an expanding market in higher education at the precise moment their product is becoming affordable for fewer people.
Taylor’s cogent opine nicely edifies the case studies of Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line, whereby Berkeley’s David L. Kirp illustrates the challenges and opportunities presently by industrialization and commercialization of higher education.
Taylor’s deep concern over the increased use of debt as a method for massive physical expansion, combined with the endemic lack of inter-institutional cooperation and efficiency, is particularly incisive.
The competition between Columbia and N.Y.U. is an example of what educational institutions should not be doing. Universities should be looking for new ways to provide high-quality education to more students at a lower price. In today’s world, it no longer makes sense for every school to cover every subject.
For example, it is absurd for Columbia and N.Y.U. to be have competing philosophy departments at a time when there are few jobs for philosophy academics. Instead, they could cooperate by forming a joint graduate and undergraduate program, which would reduce costs by requiring fewer faculty members and a more modest physical presence, while at the same time increasing course choices for students. And in our wired world, universities on opposite sides of the globe could find similar ways to collaborate.
Indeed, Taylor’s many of observations are spot-on. America’s system of higher education is among the last of our great “industries” to remain utterly fragmented on a local, regional, and national scale. Unlike the aerospace, airline, aluminum, automobile, banking, defense, electronics, insurance, mining, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, publishing, recycling, retail, shipping, software, steel, telecommunications, and textile industries, higher education remains financially inefficient, unconsolidated and primarily domestic in its markets and production.
How will America’s non-profit colleges and universities survive and thrive a coming drive for consolidation and efficiency? If higher education follows a course similar to any of the above industries, the strongest players would likely become relatively stable, highly-efficient, global conglomerates. The weakest institutions will disappear. Thousands of jobs will be lost to consolidation, outsourcing, and service reductions. Smaller, landlocked, rural enterprises, particularly in Middle America, will suffer the most. Well-off consumers (students) will find a great array of appealing choices, while the financially-strapped will be forced to do more with less, and to do so less-efficiently.
Professor Taylor is correct. However, we would argue that American higher education stands at the an even greater precipice than Taylor is willing to discuss, as American colleges and universities face one of its greatest Solomonic challenges in decades. Yes, Columbia and New York University could, hypothetically, share smaller academic departments. But, at what cost? The inconvenience and inefficiency shifted to a sophomore forced to either commute between the West Village and Morningside Heights in order sit shoulder-to-shoulder with 500 other students or to watch the thrice-weekly lectures on an iPad at their neighborhood Starbucks? What of the cost to the graduate students who find even fewer openings at exponentially lower salaries, as entire colleges and universities merge non-STEM programs in order to lower costs? Will the production of knowledge suffer, as ever-fewer bright minds opt for academic careers in the wake of such industry drives to efficiency?
Professor Taylor ought to consider these questions with greater intensity. While we might generally favor efficiency as a primary means to control costs, America’s endless march toward efficiency has cost millions of jobs, and destroyed countless lives and communities in the process. Perhaps we ought to consider efficiencies outside of the academic part of the endeavor and look towards the consolidation of other areas, particularly the financial, administrative, security, food service, and health care functions. At the same time, like great multinational corporations, colleges and universities need to build products which reflect consumer needs and demands. We ought to consider an expansion of part-time programs, summer programs, bachelors to masters and even doctorate programs in order to fill the needs of students concerned by cost and an ever-receding job market.
Yes, higher education needs to work smarter. But, “working smarter,” in this case, means work much smarter, not just more efficiently. America cannot afford a groundswell of academic bankruptcies — and neither can our world.
New York – Unlike California, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin, New York’s state university system lacks one of the major drivers for state support, an elite, top-ranked flagship Division I campus.
In The Accidental Giant Peter Applebome nicely describes myriad challenges confronting the nation’s largest public university system.
First, SUNY represents an amorphous “brand,” one not only lacking in prestige, but also the sense of place, which so often helps to define prestigious universities.
In a brand-name culture, SUNY is an awfully hard brand to define, especially when it’s still often thought of as an upstate phenomenon in a state whose center of gravity is south in New York City and its suburbs.
But another reason that SUNY has struggled to forge an identity is because that was the idea from the start. New York was the last of the populous states to form a university system. SUNY was not founded until 1948 and over the strenuous objections of the state’s powerful private colleges and universities. And it began with the stipulation that it would only “supplement” the private institutions and not compete with them. State legislators established an unfriendly board of regents and imposed the nation’s strictest regulations on what the university could do. An informal prohibition on raising private funds meant that New York’s state universities for decades grew without the endowments that supported campuses elsewhere. No wonder that a study in 1960 called SUNY a “limping and apologetic enterprise.”
Virtually alone in the country, there was (and still is) no flagship institution, no Madison, Berkeley or Austin to provide a network of loyal supporters for years to come, no beloved Buckeyes, Huskies or Gators to create a common wellspring of good will.
State and SUNY leaders repeatedly debate its mission, including the question of whether it could be seen as a great university system without its own Berkeley or the University of Virginia.
Still, not many of the moments has been more challenging than this one.
Since 2000, SUNY has had five interim, acting or full chancellors. It faces a budget meltdown with no bottom in sight, having lost $634 million in state support over the past three years. Those cuts come amid steadily growing demand for its services. Enrollment has increased by 25,000 over the past year, and even the downstate suburbanites who are most receptive to the appeal of private universities are taking long looks at the state’s public ones as well.
It’s true that on college message boards and in admissions buzz, SUNY doesn’t get much love. “Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio all have excellent state flagships and are close to the northeastern private colleges. Where did NY go wrong?” wrote one posting in March on the Web site College Confidential.
From there, Applebome clearly illustrates the structural impediments confronting the system, including the warring “duchys Albany,” and a state budget under siege.
However, one wonders if Applebome might have done better to dig a little deeper and press harder on SUNY’s “strategic plan,” which sees the system’s mission as a primarily a driver for economic development, declaring with great confidence:
“The bottom line is that we are a major - if not the major - catalyst for New York’s economic recovery. We are New York’s economic lifeblood. And what we’re doing is being noticed. We are recognized around the world for our accomplishments. We’ve become a national model for change.”
Wall Street – and most New Yorkers – might be inclined to take issue with the notion that SUNY is New York’s “economic lifeblood.” While, universities can be engines for regional economic growth, all universities are not created equal. To create a North Carolina Research Triangle, it helps to have a Duke, a UNC Chapel Hill and an NC State. Silicon Valley began with Stanford, UC Berkeley, and the Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Perhaps, SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher ought to consider ways to develop several truly elite flagship universities, better leverage SUNY’s relationship with Cornell—and/or partner with private institutions such as Columbia, NYU, Rochester, RPI and Syracuse in making New York the “edu-nomic” powerhouse it has the potential become.