Hearts and Minds in the Higher Ed Marketplace

February is often associated with the passion of our hearts and the fulfillment that comes with engaging in such meaningful work as serving higher education. Yet there is a bit more heartache these days.

We were recently listening to an established thought leader, and he referenced the state of things today for higher education: cognitive chaos. A bit of a mind-blowing comment, but in many ways an authentic representation of reality for most colleges and universities. Many associated with higher education have been accustomed to using an analytical process that is heavily shaped by prestigious assessment and that thinks more about the way things were done in the past, versus applying their critical thinking skills to discussing, discerning, and doing things in a manner that is more relevant to the reality of today.

Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Life is about solving problems, so the reality of today’s higher education marketplace conditions should not be a surprise. Yes, the scale of the problems and challenges facing higher education leaders today can be exasperating, but a frozen preoccupation with concern and consternation stifles viable solutions. And as more and more higher education leaders, community members, and others have concluded, it is time to change, evolve, and bring greater satisfaction to our hearts and minds.

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Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind addressed the coming of “The Conceptual Age” and the need to forge engaging new approaches, which would help enhance traditions of excellence and access. Chronicle reporter Scott Carlson recently wrote about having the institutional “ability to pivot” and do things with “versatility.” And as we have shared with so many boards, higher education leadership groups, and campus communities, it is a necessity to learn more about what others think—and know—about the investment value of what your college or university really delivers. Colleges and universities cannot be everything to everyone, but they must have a shared understanding about what they are great at and share their passion with others. Passion persuades.


Stress Test

Crunching the numbers on finances, retention, and rankings could predict how doomed particular colleges are. (Source: Chronicle)

8-Year Decline

Every higher ed institutional sector, including private nonprofits, experienced enrollment declines this fall. (Source: Clearinghouse)

Remaining Relevant

Colleges should better connect their academic offerings to the rapidly changing world of work, argues Jeffrey Selingo. (Source: Chronicle)