Assessing the Conundrum

A year ago, the theme for the April 2020 issue of Lawlor Focus was “Make a Calculated Pivot.” As we reminded members of the higher education community then, “Everyone associated with colleges and universities today is facing a marketplace situation that is a catalyst for creating innovative and relevant solutions that are wanted and needed despite so many uncomfortable circumstances. Change is the new reality, and it is time for all colleges and universities to pivot—and take calculated risks.”

Fast forward to April 2021 and no doubt, plenty of colleges and universities are assessing the existing conundrum. For many institutions, COVID and economic disruption were definitely catalysts for facilitating new ways to accomplish goals and objectives while also motivating more “collective support” within the entire campus community. The sharing of time, talent, and treasure fostered more positive interaction among so many members of a campus community—although for many, it was too often online and accompanied by constant uncertainty. No matter what, the past year has prompted the recognition that even in our digitally remote world, the human interaction component is such an important value proposition for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends.

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So many campus communities are still perplexed, full of lingering doubt. Not so much about questions regarding enrollment, retention, fundraising, and managing expenses and generating revenues, since most colleges and universities have authentically pivoted with more efficient, relevant, and edupreneurial solutions. Rather, the uncertainty is related to the longing for more human interaction among all members of the campus community and finding ways to reduce the multi-dimensional stress that lingers in the minds and hearts of so many. The good news is that with increased recognition of the value of getting the vaccine and enhancing on-site environments, there is now a genuine belief that we will all soon be coming together. The 2020 showers will bring 2021 flowers!


Seeking Alternatives to College

Only 54% of parents most want their child to attend a four-year college after high school, versus other alternatives. (Gallup via The 74 Million)

May 1 Less Meaningful

NACAC released its “College Openings Update” early in response to demand from institutions that were interested in being on it. (Higher Ed Dive)

Words Matter

Brennan Bernard argues the way we frame our dialogue around access to higher education can have harmful consequences. (Forbes)