Julie and I carefully monitor trends in higher education media coverage, and we continue to be impressed with the way in which college and university leaders use their bully pulpits to address not only institutional and sector challenges but also issues of deep societal concern — in their own strong and authentic voices.
I’ve overseen three university presidential transitions, and now in our consulting roles Julie and I have advised several in-house teams as they plan for a new president or chancellor.
It’s an important time in the life of an institution, and strategic communications planning is critical – both to ensure a smooth transition and to create a solid foundation for a new leader’s future direction. The most effective communications efforts happen with careful pre-planning and coordination among several college units. When this works well, everyone comes together to craft strategies that celebrate the legacy of where the institution has been, and excitement about the next chapter.
After facilitating quite a few in-house planning sessions with colleagues and clients, I offer some guideposts for making the most of leadership transition:
PRG has a particular interest in helping college, university and nonprofit leaders to articulate their vision effectively and find their individual “voice.” So we were delighted to see this piece by Bret Stephens of the New York Times offering tips for aspiring op-ed writers.
Lisa and I follow media coverage of higher education closely and publish a wide range of leadership op-eds in The Scan, our free daily and weekly newsletter. (You can sign up here.) We’ve observed an explosion of channels where academic leaders, administrators and faculty members can share their expert opinions on a wide range of topics.
The University of Oregon’s new president, Michael Schill, is in an unprecedented leadership position: accepting what he calls a “jaw-dropping $500 million gift” from Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny. He has done so with vision and grace. Continue reading
William Bowen and Michael McPherson’s recent essay in Vox is a feisty and frank challenge to the negative hype about higher ed that seems so prevalent today.
“Commentators, politicians and journalists have thrown themselves—and, in turn, the public—into a state of persistent panic about the future of higher education with scary talk about spiraling student-load debt, worthless degrees, and reckless spending by colleges. But the doomsday is overblown.”
This piece is not just well considered and well written, it is one of the clearest explanations I have yet seen about some of the real challenges facing higher education versus the sensationalized and sometimes inaccurate public dialogue often fueled by media and politicians. Continue reading