Ideas, insights and inspirations.

Welcome to your new adventure. You may have been invited into this presidency as a change agent or a strategic visionary. Either way, get ready to liberate new growth for your college by focusing on the 3 R’s of prosperity: Revenue, Reputation and Rankings. These three currents flow under the sixteen best practices for managing and running a successful college, gleaned from working closely with more than twenty college presidents and reading more than a dozen books written by them: 1. Winning Strategy: Winning, not playing and optimizing, is what successful college presidents focus on. To create an inflection point, they sometimes deepen their competitive advantages and at other times disrupt and challenge the status quo. College presidents lead strategic planning based on thorough, objective assessment of institutional strengths and weaknesses in the context of societal shifts. They involve board members, faculty, alumni and corporate partners in their strategic planning process. To enact change, presidents must be keen observers, strong persuaders … Continue reading

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This post was informed by our agency experience with clients and partially inspired by my reading of Jim Langley of Langley Innovations’ books on fundraising. College presidents, vice presidents for advancement, and board members form the trifecta for envisioning, executing and consummating a successful capital or comprehensive campaign. College presidents play these 10 crucial roles: Visioning The Visionary: Knows the fundraising goal and is able to articulate the transformative impact that the funds will have on the institution, those it serves and society at large. The Strategist: Leads strategic planning based on thorough, objective assessment of institutional strengths and weaknesses in the context of societal shifts. Involves board members, faculty, alumni and corporate partners in their strategic planning process. Recruiting The Listener: Acts as the chief listening officer, infusing stakeholder views into the evolving campaign dialogue. The Matchmaker: Helps identify faculty and staff champions for each campaign priority. Involves different board members at all levels based on their talents and passions. … Continue reading

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As a newly selected college president, you may view your pending move in traditional terms — relocating to a new city, occupying a new office or executive residence and joining a new campus culture. You’re also inheriting a .edu web address that can help accelerate or impede your best laid presidential plans. Here’s a field guide for new or aspiring presidents that’s designed to help you read between the lines — code and content — and better understand the power and perils of your new .edu. Revenue Your college or university website should have one unquestioned priority — generating reliable and repeatable revenue. KPI: Is the website converting right-fit enrollment prospects, engaging alumni, attracting strategic partners and inspiring donors? Quick Check: How quickly does the site experience connect diverse enrollment audiences with the academic program, admissions and financial aid essentials? Can prospective full-time undergraduates, doctoral students, international applicants and non-traditional military prospects all easily find their lane? Are calls to … Continue reading

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In the era of declining college applications, how does a college gain an outsized share of a shrinking market? Here are 10 strategies that visionary college presidents and their teams are continually deploying to fortify and turnaround their institutions: 1. Invest in Branding. Babson has positioned itself as THE college for entrepreneurship, American University as THE supplier of “wonks” to the political and governmental establishment, Drexel as THE university that mandates coop experience, and so on. Investing in a strong brand can lift a college from obscurity to national prominence. 2. Focus. Palo Alto University offers psychology degrees only, Wheelock College offers child development programs only, Florida Polytechnic is the sunshine state’s STEM university, and Thunderbird School of Management specializes in International business only. Inch-wide, mile deep. 3. Offer guarantees. Whether it is a graduate-in-four-years guarantee (e.g. Randolph-Macon College), a job guarantee (e.g. Capitol Technology University) or a tuition lock (e.g. William Woods University grad and online programs), parents and … Continue reading

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