A year ago when we published the March issue of Lawlor Focus, we headlined it with a phrase that’s often used this time of year: It is the season for March Madness. As we noted then, March Madness has become a metaphor on many other fronts for colleges and universities. Today we have increased inflation, a possible recession, financial strains, and in some places, polarization. And of course, it is yield season, with so many colleges and universities longing for those deposits and commitments.
In a recent article via the Higher Ed Dive Team, the opening paragraphs noted, “The last few years have been tumultuous for many U.S. colleges. Pressure to lower tuition, stagnating state funding and a shrinking pool of high school graduates has strained many institutions’ bottom lines and questioned their long-term viability. Those pressures have caused some to close. For many still in operation, the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact is adding a host of uncertainties to already tight operations.”
Last month, Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison noted some informative insights via his weekly newsletter. Titling his piece “Finding Our Footing,” he called out several things that we believe are particularly relevant to higher education: “The world has seen so much change over the last three years. As such, it wouldn’t be surprising to develop calluses, slowly shaped and formed. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s kind of a self-protection, especially in the workplace that’s morphing before our eyes. To move forward, we need to find our footing.” In addition, he recounted a conversation he had with a group and how the patterned information captured “this transitory moment—the magnitude of which no one would have predicted three years ago.”
No question, “finding our footing” will provide a foundation for future success.
Due to all of today’s circumstances, colleges and universities must rethink higher education. Identifying “what matters and what doesn’t matter” is a necessity. Taking on this process can foster innovation and creativity, and if it is done through active collaboration, it creates an atmosphere that is positively persistent—and will lead to continued success. Yes, we are continuing to live and work in a marketplace that presents a genuine conundrum for many, but having an edupreneurial mindset will help all of us continue to develop and implement viable solutions—and enjoy future success.