No question, numerous changes have occurred for all colleges and universities over the past decades, but in many ways the process for dealing with changes and responding accordingly has not changed. In fact, back in April 2001 Admissions Marketing Report published a feature story about us noting that Lawlor positioned itself as a Change Agent. It was pointed out that if the firm is to be successful helping a client institution achieve its marketing and branding challenges, then one of the firm’s biggest responsibilities is to help facilitate change.
Of course, back then many schools and individuals were supposedly constrained by institutional traditions that believed (and often, correctly) the process of making any changes would get in the way of getting things done efficiently. People were more content with the status quo then, but today failing to proactively change can impact not only enrollment, but for many institutions, survival. And facilitating such change does indeed require much discussion and discernment before deciding what to do.
AGB’s Trusteeship magazine just featured an interview with one of the original founders of Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik, with a title that captures the tension of contemplation and change: “To Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable.” Asked how higher education governing boards and their institutions can help address the declining public perceptions of higher education’s value, Jaschik emphasized the importance of creating an environment within the entire campus community that is completely transparent and focuses on the reality of the marketplace and the challenges each college or university is facing. As we frequently mention, it does take the entire village to make proactive change, even if there is not complete agreement. People support what they help create, and actions speak louder than words.