Why is the concept of Student-Ready College so important?
Having a college degree reduces the risk of being unemployed and increases socioeconomic mobility. The student population is becoming more diverse with students attending college from different backgrounds and cultures at much higher rate than in the past. Many students attending college are non-traditional learners, having joined the workforce after high school instead of going directly to college. These students struggle to stay in college and graduate. It is essential for colleges to adapt student services, business operations, and academic programs to be responsive to the specific needs of all students so they are successful. In the past, colleges expected students to come to college prepared to be successful. For many lower-income students or non-traditional students, they are not prepared and look to the college to help them develop the academic and social skills they need to be successful in the real world. Student-ready colleges do this by focusing on the individual to prepare them to succeed in college and to be active participants in society once they graduate.
Who needs to be involved for this transition to happen?
The motivation for transitioning to a student-ready college needs to be clearly articulated so everyone understands their role and how they are contributing to the process. The transition to a student-ready college should be inclusive and include everyone working on a college campus. Letting faculty and staff have a voice at the table during the transition is an excellent motivator. If they are able to contribute their ideas to the transition, they are more likely to buy into the transition and work to make the transition successful. This is a great example of what shared governance should look like.
It is also important for students to have role models that they can relate to. Using faculty and staff to connect with students is a great way to develop leadership skills and for students to feel connected. One way this could be done is by connecting first-generation students enrolled in college with faculty and staff that were also first-generation students. The faculty and staff can serve as role models for these students and help them navigate the college process. Empowering staff to engage with students is a way for the entire campus community to be actively engaged and supportive of the transition. Everyone is working towards a common goal of serving students.
Students should also be part of the discussion and give insight on how to move the transition forward. Having a voice at the table will go a long way to getting buy in on the process from the students and make them active participants in the process.
Who will benefit from this concept and why?
This is a situation where everyone benefits. Students benefit from a campus community that is engaged and actively working to help the students succeed academically and socially. The administration, faculty, and staff are working together to use their experiences to serve students. On many college campuses, staff do not feel connected to the student experience. Actively engaging staff in educating students makes them feel like they are active participants in the campus community and will increase productivity and morale. Faculty will engage in students differently in a student-ready college and focus on student success. Faculty will need to know who their students are, what their background or culture is, and understand their socio-economic status to understand how each student learns to be effective teachers. Students will have more empathetic instructors and be treated as an individual instead of lumped into a group.
What is the benefit to the institution for doing this?
A student-ready campus creates an inclusive campus community. This is one of the biggest benefits of this concept. All employees across every level of teaching and service feel part of the transition process and are focused on student success. Faculty will become better teachers and connect more with their students. Students will have a nurturing environment in which to learn. Students will all be treated as capable learners and will be encouraged and supported as they develop the social and academic skills they need to be successful contributing members of society.
McNair, T. B., Albertine, S. L., Cooper, M. A., McDonald, N. L., & Major, T. (2016). Becoming a student-ready college: A new culture of leadership for student success. Jossey-Bass.
Global learning is part of international education associated with study abroad but now includes other interactions with people from diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds and activities that analyze and address complex global problems. The activities can occur on and off-campus, globally through internships, capstones, study abroad, and locally through community-based experiences based on a global problem or issue or experiences in-country within a culturally different community from students' own culture.
Each higher education institution uses global learning to enhance students' intercultural knowledge, skills, and attitudes to communicate and act appropriately with people from other cultures. This includes understanding, respecting, and accepting different cultures and their impact on society. Students develop a global perspective through their knowledge and experiences to look at global and cultural situations from all perspectives and understand the local and global impact of their decisions.
The Global Learning VALUE Rubric was developed by a group of faculty experts from colleges and universities in the United States through the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). The rubric provides clear, essential criteria for each learning outcome and performance level that require progressively higher levels of knowledge and skills. The rubric is not used for grading and is intended only for evaluating and discussing student learning on a programmatic level across a student's entire college career. The rubric may not be the best way to assess a specific experience, course, or assignment because it is designed to be used over a long period of time. The rubric provides a basic framework for evidence of student learning so it can be shared by universities across through country and used for specific campuses, disciplines, and courses.
The Global Perspective Inventory (GPI) is a web-based tool developed at Iowa State University to assess global learning experiences and perspectives. The GPI provides a holistic approach to learning and growing by focusing on three dimensions of global learning:
The Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IES) is a tool used to assess the degree to which students possess competencies critical to interacting successfully with people from different cultural backgrounds. The IES focuses on three dimensions of intercultural effectiveness that are combined to produce an Overall Intercultural Effectiveness Score. The three dimensions are:
This helps overcome students' resistance to learning because they see how they are progressing. IES also helps instructors assess students' abilities to understand what they need to do to move their learning forward. Students can also create a personal development plan based on the initial IES results and work on it for the semester.
Assessment that involves some student self-reflection is emerging as a trend.
This includes developing ePortfolios focused on enhancing student self-reflection and creating surveys specific to a course or program that combine context in the discipline and cultural knowledge. These tools can be used in conjunction with IES, GPI, or VALUE Rubric. Customized surveys will not have benchmarks outside of the program or course context, making it difficult to draw statistical inferences. Institutions that used student self-reflection and ePortfolios describe lower levels of student effort than expected.
There are several barriers or challenges to creating and implementing innovative assessments for student global learning. Faculty can be resistant to any assessment, whether it's innovative or something that's been used extensively. Faculty and staff may not understand the purpose of the assessment. Defining and clearly stating the learning outcomes is essential, so faculty understand what is being assessed. Faculty may not know how to design an effective assessment plan or understand the different assessment methods and align those methods to the learning outcome. There may also be little confidence from faculty in the new assessment tool. Faculty also need to understand how to use the assessment data in the right way.
Students must be culturally competent to be culturally responsive. Each dimension of the IES includes additional dimensions that assess intercultural competence. For example, the IES Continuous Learning dimension includes self-awareness and exploration. Self-awareness measures the level of students' awareness of their values, strengths, weaknesses, how they interact with others, their behavioral bias, and how they impact other people. Exploration assesses student's openness to cultures with ideas, values, norms, situations, and behaviors that are different from their own. It also assesses a student's desire to learn new things through new experiences and learn from their mistakes and adjust their behaviors.
The VALUE Rubric assesses student's ability to understand their local, national, and global responsibility to society and to understand and examine global challenges through respectful collaboration with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Association of American Colleges & Universities. (n.d.) Global learning VALUE
Hundley, S. and Kahn, S. (2019). Trends in assessment: Ideas, opportunities, and issues for
higher education. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
Iowa State University. (2015–2019). Global perspective
Kozai Group. (2012). Research studies that employed the intercultural effectiveness
Kozai Group. (2017). The intercultural effectiveness scale.
Kozai Group. (2018, October 29). Using the IES with Donna Evans [Video].
Accreditation standards are the biggest reason for increased assessment for graduate and professional programs. Regional accreditation includes assessments for all programs, including graduate and professional, but the primary focus has been on undergraduate programs. Disciplinary accreditation is more focused on assessment for graduate and professional programs, and the emphasis on outcomes assessment varies depending on the accrediting organization.
Graduate and professional programs use a variety of assessment frameworks and methods unique to each discipline. The assessments are not standardized across disciplines, and there are no minimum competencies or learning outcomes expected of graduate and professional students. There is also a lack of communication about the achievement of basic competencies for each program or profession. These factors make it very difficult to develop interprofessional competencies between programs.
Public scrutiny of higher education has increased because of the rise in student debt and the decline in employment outcomes due to the economy. New assessment methods will need to be used to justify the value of a graduate or professional degree.
In addition to the focus on accountability, health professions have a growing concern to measure entrustable professional activities (EPAs). EPAs are tasks that a trainee can perform once they attain adequate knowledge and competency so that trainees can carry out the tasks without supervision. EPAs include knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students progressively achieve. Many medical, dental, and pharmacy programs are using EPAs to assess learning outcomes. While EPAs are not currently part of the required accreditation standards, they will likely be required in the future as part of the accreditation process.
Medical, pharmacy, and dental education were some of the first programs that required specific standards and benchmarks to be met for accreditation purposes. Current assessment methods for these professional programs also include competency assessment beyond accreditation to include problem-based learning to assess critical thinking. Gleason et al. (2013) used the VALUE rubric to assess a doctor of pharmacy program. The study found this rubric to effectively assess student growth and achievement in critical thinking and problem-solving.
Graduate and professional programs can become more culturally responsive by integrating real-world experiences that involve people from different cultures and backgrounds into their curriculum and assessment process. For example, understanding different cultures and communicating with patients from different backgrounds and cultures is essential for anyone in a medical profession. The assessment process should include students’ ability to understand other cultures and backgrounds, recognize and address any inherent personal bias, and communicate with diverse populations. As described in the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (2016), establishing core competencies for interprofessional collaboration creates a taxonomy that health profession schools can share to guide curriculum development.
Association of American Colleges & Universities. (n.d.) Global learning VALUE
Gleason, B. L., Gaebelein, C. J., Grice, G. R., Crannage, A. J., Weck, M. A., Hurd, P., Walter, B., & Duncan, W. (2013). Assessment of students' critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities across a 6-year doctor of pharmacy program. (Links to an external site.) American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 77(8), 166.
Hundley, S. and Kahn, S. (2019). Trends in assessment: Ideas, opportunities, and issues for
higher education. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
Interprofessional Education Collaborative. (2016). Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: 2016 update (PDF). (Links to an external site.)Washington, DC: Interprofessional Education Collaborative.
Guidelines For the Assessment Process
Establish goals – Goals are the outcomes or objectives we expect students to be able to do when they complete a course or program. Program goals are what we expect students to learn from all the courses within the program. Goals can also be called learning outcomes. In the Capstone course I teach the goal is for each student to be able to create a comprehensive communications plan based on their client’s needs. The plan needs to include specific components that have been taught throughout the master’s program.
Gather information – Gathering information that provides evidence of how well students are achieving the established goals of the course includes reviewing students’ assignments and talking to the students about what worked for them and what didn’t in the course. I review my students’ final communication plans to determine if they understand each component and have applied the component to their clients’ needs. This review tells me what areas students understand and the areas where they need additional support and instruction.
Taking action – Actions can be taken to improve students’ learning based on the information gathered on the achievement of course and program goals. This can include gathering additional information, changing curriculum or other aspects of the program. It can also include changing policies, funding, and planning that support learning, and faculty development. In my Capstone course, action resulting from the information gathering step includes creating a mini bootcamp for each component of the communications plan at the beginning of the course to refresh what students have already learned.
4. Assessment is a natural, scholarly act (Walford, 2010). As academics, we look for evidence to support our claims and assumptions. The data collection we are doing for our dissertation will provide evidence of what we’ve learned about our dissertation topic. My topic is the impact of COVID-19 on the college admissions process for first-generation students. My data will provide evidence that supports what I’ve learned about that impact. Assessment happens naturally as we determine what students’ work tells us about what they are learning. Assessment also provides evidence to all stakeholders that students are actually learning. These stakeholders include educators, parents, students, and administrators.
Walvoord, B. E. (2010). Assessment clear and simple: A practical guide for institutions, departments, and general education. John Wiley & Sons.
Hundley, S. and Kahn, S. (2019). Trends in assessment: Ideas, opportunities, and issues for higher education. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
This paper will explore the impact of COVID-19 on higher education finances. COVID-19 is a deadly health crisis that continues to spread across the globe. As a precaution, in Spring 2020, many higher education institutions sent students home and moved their courses online or moved to a hybrid of online and in-person learning to limit the number of students on campus (Hodges et al., 2020).
The pandemic's impact was felt by everyone globally, and the number of cases and deaths continue to rise due to new variants. The number of reported cases of COVID-19 and its variants worldwide was 34 million as of August 1, 2021 (CDC Data Tracker).
Many institutions of higher education expect this disruption in learning to impact college admissions drastically. Colleges and universities anticipate a substantial decline in enrollment. Over 80 percent of university presidents surveyed by the Chronicle of Higher Education. (Friga, 2020, April 3) expect a decrease in enrollments for new and returning students. These enrollment declines could impact the finances of higher education.
Higher education institutions need to understand how the pandemic impacts their finances to plan for necessary changes to policies or processes. My institution's finances were deeply affected when the campus closed in March 2020 and students were sent home. Without the revenue from room and board, the administration made severe budget cuts to stay operational. It is imperative to determine how profound and if the effect is widespread or specific to public or private institutions. The variants in COVID-19 continue to grow despite the availability of a vaccine. As universities across the country begin to open their campuses for Fall 2021, over 625 institutions require at least some students and employees to be vaccinated before returning to campus (Thomason & O'Leary, 2021).
State appropriations have been a significant source of income for public colleges and universities. State funds have a more limited impact on private institutions. Each state determines its appropriations for higher education (Barr & McClellan, 2018).
Between 1971-72 and 2019-2020, the average cost of tuition and fees in inflation-adjusted dollars has more than tripled (DePietro, A., 2020). Yet, the net tuition has been declining over the past decade due to lower enrollments, increased tuition discounting, and more inadequate state funding due to rising costs for healthcare and a decline in tax revenues. Fewer international students enroll in higher education in the United States, and these students typically pay full tuition (Friga, P., 2021).
The number of graduating high school students is predicted to peak at 3.93 million in 2025. Projections show a steady, moderate decline for the next 12 years due to the low birthrate during the Great Recession (Seltzer, R., 2020). These numbers could change due to the pandemic. Some research has shown that the pandemic's most significant effect has been on middle school students who will be entering the college admissions process in 2025. This effect could substantially impact low-income students and students of color (Seltzer R., 2020).
Tuition & Fees
A study by Collins et al. (2021) used a literature review and existing data from the U.S. Department of Education to discuss issues related to institutions of higher education (IHEs) stability and fiscal health during the pandemic. The authors determine tuition and fees provide the most revenue for proprietary IHEs that receive funds from the United States Department of Education (ED) covered by Title IV, and two significant sources of revenue for public and nonprofit IHEs. Student enrollment drives tuition and fee revenue. Many IHEs lowered tuition and fees during the pandemic when they pivoted to virtual instruction due to pressure from students and parents. This reduction in tuition revenue will negatively impact higher education finances, even if enrollment stays the same or increases (Collins, et al., 2021).
According to the National Student Clearinghouse (NCS), postsecondary enrollment for Spring 2021 dropped by 3.5 percent, seven times more than the decline for 2020. The decline in undergraduate students was 4.9 percent, but graduate enrollment increased by 4.6 percent. The most significant decline of 5 percent was among traditional college-age students. Enrollment of students 25 years of age and older increased by 2 to 3 percent. Male students saw a more significant decline in enrollment than female students (National Student Clearinghouse (NCS), 2021). This data indicates declining enrollment will continue to be a problem for IHEs.
A study by Kim et al. (2020) used data sets from a student survey completed in April 2020 to determine the impact of COVID-19 on college enrollment. The authors conclude that students' ability to succeed in a remote-learning environment differs significantly by income levels. Over 60 percent of students from lower-income households report not getting the necessary equipment for remote learning. Almost 35 percent of students from low-income families do not have reliable internet access. Over 55 percent say their home environment does not support remote learning.
International student enrollment in higher education is declining. There is an expectation that a significant number of students attending an out-of-state institution will transfer to in-state or nearby public institutions due to the economic impact of the pandemic on their family's finances (DePietro, 2020).
Koch (2020) compares the short-term impacts of the pandemic on higher education to the impact Hurricane Katrina had on college enrollment using data from 33 public institutions inside the disaster areas of those regions. Enrollment decreased across all public institutions and was still under the pre-hurricane levels in 2008-2009, despite an immediate increase in state appropriations. Research universities fared better than other institutions because they relied significantly more on grant funding, not tuition or state appropriations (Koch, 2020).
Blankenberg et al. (2020) use Gaus's ecological approach to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on higher education. This approach identifies catastrophic events as change agents that force systems to react to achieve a new equilibrium. Because of COVID-19, higher education had to shift from traditional delivery to distance instruction. The switch to online learning is also a mitigating factor of COVID-19. Some institutions already use online education but will need to expand and adjust what they already do. For other institutions, they will need to adapt at a larger capacity. Large-scale studies of community college students have shown that students with lower GPAs, males, and African American students suffer steep declines in fully online courses. Enrollment declines could escalate these inequities, especially for students of lower socioeconomic status. The study concludes that universities need to be prepared to deliver additional services for online learning to address the potential adverse outcomes.
Hands (2020) looks at the impact of the abrupt transition to online education for FGCS due to COVID-19, focusing on the students' cultural assets instead of a deficit lens. The six cultural assets are reflexivity, optimism, academic resilience, goal-orientation, civic-mindedness, and proactivity. The author discusses issues confronting FGCS, including the digital divide where there is no access to reliable internet or a computer. The article uses the concept of community cultural wealth (CCW) as its theoretical frame of reference for giving structure to how educators and libraries can draw on FGCS assets during times of transition. Suggestions for librarians include building alliances with trusted staff and advisors to educate staff within FGCS' networks on library resources; partnering with faculty to create assignments using transparent assignment design; creating opportunities where students can reflect on how their research process has changed due to sudden online-only access; and working with FGCS to share with their peers' tips and tricks based on their post-transition library, research and online experiences.
State revenue has declined during the pandemic, according to Collins et al., (2021). State appropriations for higher education were significantly less after the recession of 2008, indicating that the economic slowdown can negatively impact state funding for public IHEs for years. Current funding for higher education in ten states is lower than the funding in 2010, according to a new survey of state higher-education agencies conducted by New America and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (Nguyen et al., 2020). There are 32 states that have yet to increase higher education funding to the pre-recession levels of 2008. Depressed economic activity and increased costs due to the pandemic have affected state funding for public higher education. The level of impact on state funding for higher education varies widely between states. Some states have not seen a significant change in higher education funding. Other states have had made deep cuts to their upcoming budget or are waiting for another federal stimulus package before finalizing the state budget. The information in the survey will change as new state revenue numbers are determined and if an additional federal stimulus package is approved (Nguyen et al., 2020).
In contrast, federal revenue for IHEs increased during the pandemic. The CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, provided $36 billion in emergency federal revenue to IHEs and students (Collins et al., 2021). However, the amount of additional federal funds allocated in the CARES Act is significantly less than what is needed to meet the financial needs of higher education institutions. For example, the University of Arizona received $16.7 million in federal money not earmarked for students but has sustained a loss of $66 million in revenue due to the pandemic (Miller, 2020).
Implications for Policy and Practice
The impact of COVID-19 on higher education finances is ongoing, and the total effect is not yet clearly defined. The new Delta variants and return to mask mandates and possibly other safety precautions could cause continue economic distress. State revenue is down due to the pandemic and will most likely result in lower state appropriations for higher education. Some states' funding for higher education has not recovered from the 2008 recession. Public universities will be most impacted by decreases in state funding and need to determine other revenue streams.
Enrollment is the number one driver of tuition dollars, and it has decreased during the pandemic and may continue to decline. Getting back to pre-COVID enrollment may take years. The low birthrate from the recession of 2008 will lower the number of high school graduates beginning in 2026, resulting in lower enrollments in higher education. Middle school students seem to be more affected by the pandemic, and these are students who will be part of the college admissions process beginning in 2025.
Many institutions discounted tuition and fees during the pandemic resulting in less revenue due to the pivot to online learning. Room and board and other auxiliary income were eliminated when campuses closed and institutions sent students home.
The transition to online learning impacted students' ability to succeed academically. The financial impact of the pandemic on families and the issues with online learning may force some students to transfer from out-of-state institutions to state institutions closer to home.
Federal funding increased during the pandemic, but not enough to offset the costs institutions incurred. There may be another federal stimulus package for higher education, but there is no guarantee.
The first step would be to develop a new funding model for higher education. In Holland, Michigan, the President of Hope College suggests moving to fully fund tuition through the school's endowment (Burns, 2021). This new model is based on philanthropy and asking graduates to give back to the school. Hope College is a Christian school, and generosity and giving are part of its culture. The new model will pay for 22 students' tuition this fall at the cost of $806,300. The benefit of free education allowed the college to recruit and attract students from geographic regions it does not draw from (Burns, 2021).
The second step would be to ensure each state determines the amount of state funding for higher education and continues to drive equity in access to higher education. A report on equitable funding and financing in the COVID era suggests that state funding for higher education should be determined by each state and based on the impact on low-income students and students of color (Lumina Foundation, 2020). This funding model will ensure equity in college admissions if cuts are made. The report suggests several policies and practices to guide states in this process:
Research should be conducted on how higher education institutions successfully increased enrollment and revenue during the 2008 recession. Knowing what worked in the past may help institutions recover economically from the pandemic.
Research should also be conducted on how the pandemic affected students' access to higher education. Understanding the barriers and challenges underserved, low-income students faced during the pandemic will give higher education institutions the information they need to change policies, programs, and procedures to serve these students better and ensure equity to the admissions process.
Research should continue to be conducted on institutions that are implementing new budget models that are not based on increased state funding. This research will provide best practices for other universities to determine what might work for them.
Barr, M.J., & McLellan, G.S. (2018). Budgets and financial management in higher education (3rd
Burns, H. (2021, July 19). Private college president thinks higher ed's business model is
broken – and he has a proposal to fix it. The Business Journals.
CDC COVID Data Tracker. (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2021, from
Collins, B., Fountain J.H., Dortch, C. (2021). The covid-19
pandemic and institutions of higher education: Contemporary issues.
(CRS Report No. R46666, Version 2). Congressional Research Service. https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/R46666.html
Hodges, D., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020). The difference between
emergency remote teaching and online learning. EDUCAUSE Review. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teachingand-online-learning
Lumina Foundation (2020, November 10). Higher ed policy in the COVID era: Equitable
funding and financing. https://www.luminafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/equity-funding-and-financing.pdf
Maxim, R., & Muro, M. (2021, July 29). Supporting distressed communities by
strengthening regional public universities: A federal policy proposal. Brookings.
Miller, B. (2020, May 11). A better formula for higher education's federal coronavirus
spending. Center for American Progress.
National Student Clearing House Current Term Enrollment Estimates. (2021, June 10).
Nguyen, S., Fishman, R., Weeden, D., & Harnisch, T. (2021). The impact of COVID-19
on state higher education budgets: a tracker of responses from state higher
education systems and agencies. New America. https://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/reports/state-budget-cuts
Seltzer, R., (2020, December 15). More high school graduates through 2025, but pool
still shrinks afterward. Inside Higher Education.
Thomason, A., & O'Leary, B. (2021, July 30). Here's a list of colleges that require
students or employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19. The Chronicle of
The performance-based funding (PBF) model ties state funding for higher education to measurable outputs to create incentives for colleges to improve degree completion. Each state using the PBF model design their unique policy and implementation process. This study examines whether minority-serving institutions (MSIs) experience changes in state funding levels due to PBF. MSIs traditionally serve students of color, students who attended inequitable K-12 school systems, and students that come from families facing generations of labor market discrimination. The history of inequity in funding for MSIs has impacted their ability to provide services to students of color. As a result, state and federal efforts that support MSIs have been put in place to increase equity and access to higher education for students of color. Research shows that the degree completion rate of MSIs and non-MSI institutions are very similar.
The study uses a quantitative methodology to create a data set of 4-year public institutions from 2005 through 2015, identifying and coding 114 MSIs by the U.S. Department of Education's 2014-2015 College Scorecard designations. Several key findings of the research include the following:
I was surprised that there is not a specific design for PBF. For the PBF model to work for MSIs, it needs to be implemented in the same way across all states for all institutions. Otherwise, there is potential for MSIs to be negatively impacted, and the inequity in access to higher education will continue to grow. PBF also incentivizes institutions to admit more students and marginally qualified students to be rewarded. Increasing enrollment can impact the success of these students because the necessary infrastructure to support them may not be in place. More students of any kind mean more services. Institutions need to ensure they have programs in place for these students to be successful and to graduate. This need for programs is especially true for MSIs. These students need equal access to higher education and additional support once they are admitted making their transition more manageable and for them to be successful.
Hillman, N. & Corral, Daniel. (2018). The equity implications of paying for performance in higher education. American Behavioral Scientist, 61 (14), 1757-1772.
Most boards of trustees of higher education institutions use shared governance as the cornerstone of their work. However, shared governance can be challenging to put into practice because the stakeholders may not understand what shared governance means or what their role is in the process. Faculty and trustees have unique perspectives on shared governance and are often not on the same page (Bahls, 2014; J.M. Fohr, personal communication, May 28, 2020). Some trustees may have served on other boards that held a very different view of shared governance from their current board affiliation. Many trustees do not have any formal higher education administration experience. Faculty may not understand how shared governance was designed to work at their institution. All stakeholders must understand the specific meaning of shared governance and their role in the process for the board to be successful.
The first step in developing a successfully shared governance process is to make sure the board members, administrators, and faculty understand what shared governance is and their expectations for the process to work (Bahls, 2014). All stakeholders need to be on the same page for shared governance to occur. Defining what shared governance means should be part of every onboarding process for new board members. In addition, faculty and the institution's leadership need to have the same definition of shared governance as the board to work together successfully.
Trustees should understand the board and administration's different roles in shared governance (Association of Governing Boards and Colleges (ABG), n.d.). The different roles should be clearly defined to determine how the board, faculty, and administration can achieve a common goal. Each stakeholder has different perspectives that need to be respected and given consideration in the decision-making process. In a perfect world, the board provides fiduciary oversight for the institution, the president's primary responsibility is to manage the institution, and the faculty oversees academic programs. Unfortunately, this does not always happen and is usually a result of the stakeholders not understanding what shared governance means and their role in the process.
Colleges and universities that have a successful process for shared governance perform much better during times of extreme change than other institutions (Hass, 2020). Successful shared governance includes maintaining open lines of communication, consulting stakeholders with the appropriate expertise in the decision process, and being transparent in sharing information. The administration needs to be open and honest about the financial state of the institution. Diversity of thought and perspective also needs to be part of the process to ensure that all stakeholders feel their voices have been heard. This type of shared governance builds trust in the decision-making process and makes solutions more thoughtful, and the implementation process works faster (Bahls, 2014).
One of the ten habits of highly effective boards includes establishing a strong governance committee to ensure the board is effective (Legon, 2014). This committee is critical to board structure and accountability, especially for private institutions. Part of the committee's responsibilities should be to ensure the board recruits and appoints new trustees with an eye for experience and expertise to enhance the board's ability to perform. Higher education is changing rapidly due to the pandemic, and trustees must have the knowledge and expertise to address the critical issues facing higher education. This committee is an excellent tool to use to monitor and improve board performance.
The ABG also suggests that boards develop a renewed commitment to shared governance (ABG, n.d.). All stakeholders must be part of the governance process to establish a sense of teamwork and collaboration. Boards should consistently assess their performance by engaging all stakeholders for feedback. Soliciting feedback can be done through the governance committee previously mentioned and conducting surveys or workshops with the administration, faculty, and the board. This collaborative assessment will ensure that all stakeholders understand what shared governance is and their role in the process. The evaluation is also an opportunity for critical issues to be addressed and to build trust between all stakeholders. Faculty need to know their voices are being heard, and the administration and the board support them.
Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. (n.d.) Principles of trusteeship.
Bahls, Steven C. (2014). How to make shared governance work: Some best practices.
Hass, Marjorie. (2020, April 29). Colleges with healthy shared governance perform better in
crises than those with top-down decision making (opinion). Inside Higher Ed.
Legon, Richard D., (2014). The 10 habits of highly effective boards. Trusteeship 22(2),
Universities must determine how they will bring faculty, staff, and students back to campus safely in the Fall due to the pandemic. This post will make the case for a vaccine mandate for everyone returning to campus.
Analysis and Assumptions
In March 2020, many higher education institutions sent students home and moved their courses online or to a hybrid of online and in-person learning because of COVID-19 (Hodges et al., 2020). This disruption in learning drastically impacted college admissions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of October 2020, just over 60% of high school graduates from the class of 2020 were enrolled in colleges or universities. This is the smallest share of high school graduates enrolling in college since 2001 and down four and a half percent from 2019. The gender gap also widened in 2020 for college students. The enrollment of male students was 59%, the lowest rate since 1993. Women did not fare much better, with an enrollment rate of 66%, the lowest since 2006 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).
The coronavirus has had a devastating economic impact on families. The high cost of a college education combined with the loss of household income during the pandemic has forced students to postpone or altogether abandon college enrollment. The economic impact is much higher for students of color, with 60 percent of Black and 59 percent of Hispanic juniors and seniors in college reporting that Covid affected their ability to pay. Only 45 percent of white teenagers said Covid impacted their ability to pay (Dickler, 2021). Many students did not feel virtual classes were worth the tuition costs. This feeling was made clear through the numerous student surveys that the university conducted throughout the pandemic.
There is a precedent for requiring vaccinations for infectious diseases for college students. This institution already requires students to have the following vaccines: Tetanus Diptheria within the past ten years, MMR, Varicella, three doses of Hepatitis B, Meningococcal vaccine, and an annual influence vaccine. There is an online portal in place, making it easy for students to upload their immunization history. A recent survey of 1,000 undergraduate students finds that 71 percent believe colleges can require students to get the Covid vaccine before returning to campus. Private school students are more likely than public school students to say schools have this right (College Pulse, 2021). Students' social media posts confirm that most agree the university should require Covid vaccines for students returning to campus.
Faculty and staff clearly articulated their concerns about safely reopening campus in the virtual town halls and open forums universities recently convened. The overwhelming majority felt the university should require vaccination against Covid for anyone working or learning on campus. A vaccine mandate is the only way to ensure the safety of everyone.
The availability of the vaccine is increasing, with all states currently offering the vaccine to everyone 16 years old and above. The expectation is that everyone over the age of 16 will have the opportunity to get a vaccine this summer. As of May 16, 2021, over 273 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States (CDC, 2021).
A Covid vaccine is a crucial tool for making the coming fall semester safe. Colleges and universities struggled to control outbreaks on campus before the vaccine. An average of 3,000 new covid cases per day was added to the nation's total due to colleges reopening between July and September 2020. The outbreaks were driven by off-campus events and crowded dorms and directly impacted increased covid cases in the surrounding community (Gajewski, 2021). Even with a mask mandate and required social distancing, we cannot control what our students do 24/7, on or off-campus. Requiring the vaccine for all faculty, staff, and students returning to campus will add to the herd immunity of the country and ensure the safety of our campus and community.
Moral and Legal Consequences
There is significant legal precedence for universities to mandate immunizations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Education have stated that higher education could require the COVID-19 vaccine for incoming students. The EEOC also made it clear that the vaccine is not considered a medical examination, which means it cannot be prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act (EEOC, 2021). According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, over 365 college campuses require the vaccine for incoming students and employees for the Fall. The list continues to grow each day. The major universities in our area including Georgetown University, Howard University, University of the District of Columbia, American University, and the University of Maryland system require returning students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated.
The federal government is leaving vaccine laws up to the states. An anti-vaccine movement will challenge the vaccine mandate just as they have in the past with new vaccines. Several states have already moved to block any vaccine mandate for colleges. All states currently require colleges to accommodate students who refuse a vaccine for medical reasons, and some allow exemptions for religious reasons (Dennon, 2021). Some students may try to take advantage of the religious exemption because no proof is required. This number may be smaller than usual due to the high number of students approving colleges mandating the vaccine. The American Council on Education issued a brief stating requiring covid vaccines for students will likely be upheld as the availability of the vaccine increases (Hess, 2021).
There may be logistical difficulties that prevent students from accessing a vaccine in their home state. Universities should leverage their ability to provide on-campus vaccination through their current testing site, medical school and hospital if they can. Covid testing is widely available to faculty, staff, and students already on campus at most universities. Adding a vaccine component would be easy to do using the existing testing sites. A portal already exists at most universities to upload Covid vaccination information making it easy for universities to determine who has been vaccinated and who has not. The registrar's office can check a student's vaccination status before allowing them to register for in-person classes.
The CDC is also incentivizing the public to get the vaccine by rescinding the mask mandate for vaccinated individuals. Universities could do the same by offering pre-registration for classes to vaccinated students or entering vaccinated faculty and staff in a raffle.
Without a vaccine mandate, it will be challenging for universities to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and the community. The increase in covid cases on college campuses in 2020 as colleges tried to reopen proves that students will not willingly follow the guidelines to social distance and wear a mask.
The university is also bound by the rules of their local jurisdiction. Many jurisdictions have lifted the COVID-19 restrictions or will do so in the next few weeks. The lifting of these restrictions will make it more challenging to manage the health and safety of our community without a vaccine mandate.
Universities should require students, faculty, and staff who are in person in the Fall to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before coming to campus. Any vaccine authorized for use in the United States will be accepted. Vaccines will be made available on-campus through the current or new Covid testing sites. Current students, faculty, and staff should upload their vaccination cards to the existing medical portal. Universities should grant limited exceptions for medical and religious reasons. These exceptions should be clearly articulated, so there is no confusion. Anyone with extenuating circumstances beyond their control that could cause a delay in vaccination should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Social distancing and mask mandates should continue to be required in addition to the vaccine mandate in large group settings. These settings should be clearly identified, and the information available to everyone on campus. Testing for Covid-19 of all faculty, staff, and students on campus should continue indefinitely. Virtual instruction should be made available to students who cannot get a vaccine due to medical issues. Faculty, staff, or student who continues to work and learn remotely will not be required to obtain a Covid vaccine.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, (2021, April 27). College enrollment and work activity of recent high
school and college graduates – 2020 [Press Release]. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/hsgec.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021, May 16). Vaccines for covid-19.
College Pulse. (2021, January 27). 7 in 10 students believe colleges can require COVID-19
Dennon, A., (2021, April 21). Can colleges make the covid-19 vaccine mandatory?
Dickler, J., (2021, April 16). 25% of students postponed college during Covid, some indefinitely.
Gajewski, M., (2021, January 13). College campuses are covid-19 superspreaders, study says.
Hess, A.J., (2021, April 12). Many colleges will require the Covid vaccine-here are some of the
challenges ahead. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/12/colleges-will-require-the-covid-vaccinethese-are-the-challenges-ahead.html
Hodges, D., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020). The difference between
emergency remote teaching and online learning. EDUCAUSE Review.
U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. (n.d.). Coronavirus and COVID-19.
"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." - John F. Kennedy
Leadership plays a vital role in the development of every organization. It is an essential and crucial part of effective management. The administrative team must be highly effective, results-oriented, and collaborative. I am a transformational leader who inspires others to look beyond their self-interests for the institution's good. I am passionate about the power of higher education and try to instill that passion in my staff. My goal is to motivate and inspire my colleagues to be innovative and create change to help our students grow and be successful.
I lead by example and follow through on what I say I am going to do. I am the first person to take responsibility and act when something goes wrong and the first person to deliver accolades when something goes right. Making sure all employees have the tools and resources they need to be successful is a top priority. I develop relationships with my employees to understand them as individuals. One of my strengths is the ability to manage people with diverse personalities and work styles. I foster a highly inclusive and welcoming work environment. This allows me to use their strengths and address their weaknesses so that they can be successful. I always ask new hires what their professional goals are, and I try to help them develop the skills and expertise they need to meet those goals.
A good leader must also be adaptable and be an advocate for change. In my experience, making sure all stakeholders understand why change is needed is key to success. In 2017 I was tasked with restructuring the staff for our broadcast studio based on student feedback and industry research. I worked with human resources, instructional technology, and the office of technology services to determine what changes we needed to make. I also reached out to our alumni in media production to draw on their expertise. We eliminated three positions and created three new positions embedded in multimedia. I met with each faculty member to explain why these changes were needed and how the students would benefit from the changes. Those meetings helped the faculty become advocates for the changes.
My biggest strength is my reputation for getting things done. I am tenacious. When you give me a task, it will get done on time, done well, and within budget. I empower my staff to use their expertise and do their best work. I do this by emphasizing the impact our work has on our students. I believe in a student-centered learning environment that focuses on the needs of the students within the institution's mission.
I have acquired a vast knowledge base of higher education over the past 15 years. I am also a great proponent of continuing education for myself and my staff. I attend and present at conferences and workshops regularly to stay abreast of best practices and new trends in higher education.
The difference between ethical leaders that cast light and unethical leaders that cast shadows when faced with the same ethical challenges is based in how they handle the challenges of leadership. I have worked with both types of leaders and know their characteristics well.
Ethical leaders have a strong sense of right and wrong and have standards that guide their decisions. They make informed decisions and have a moral compass. Ethical leaders foster trust and are focused on the greater good of the community.
Unethical leaders have an inflated sense of self and are extremely insecure. They like to think they are the smartest person in the room. They are focused on their own agenda, not the greater good of the community. They abuse power, hoard privileges, and tend not to trust their followers. They fail to take responsibility for their actions, and their bad deeds go unpunished due to their power and influence.
I try to cast more light than shadows through leading by example and emphasizing the greater good of the community in my actions. I empower my team to do their jobs and encourage them to get out of their comfort zone. If they make a mistake, I meet with them and we discuss how we could do things differently in the future. This is how they learn and develop their skills.
I try to be as consistent as possible with each of my direct reports, knowing that there may be extenuating circumstances that need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. For example, our receptionist is a single mother with a child that has an ongoing medical condition. She cannot control when her child is sick and needs a doctor’s care. There have been occasions when she needs to take her child to a specialist and has run out of sick leave. Instead of docking her pay, I let her make up the extra time. This has taken a great burden off her shoulders and as a result she has become one of the hardest workers on our team. I have done the same when other employees have a similar situation caring for a family member or have special circumstances. My team knows that they can come to me and I will work with them on finding a solution that is consistent with what I have done for others. This instills a high level of trust and loyalty between us.
As Johnson (2018) states, there are leaders who have a battleground mentality of win at all costs. I worked in a private secondary school as an assistant athletic director in charge of administration. This included ensuring student athletes were academically eligible to participate in athletics by tracking their grades on a weekly basis. The Virginia High School League has strict requirements of a “D” average to be eligible. Because the school was known for strong academics, we required a “C” average for eligibility and each student athlete signed a form stating they understood the rules of eligibility at the beginning of each athletic season. The boys’ basketball team was in the state playoffs and one of the best athletes on the team was ineligible due to his weekly grade report. When I informed the athletic director and coach of the student’s ineligibility, they asked me to go back to the history teacher and request a grade change. I did not feel comfortable doing this and refused because it would violate the honor code that the students, faculty and staff signed at the beginning of each academic year. The next day I was told by the coach that the student had received a grade change after he spoke with the history teacher at the request of the athletic director. I requested a meeting with the headmaster to discuss the situation. During the course of that meeting, the history teacher was asked to join the conversation. She confirmed that the coach had asked her to change the grade and that she felt pressured to do so since this was the first time the team had made it to the state tournament. This is a good example of the coach trying to use moral justification for his unethical behavior. The headmaster overrode the grade change, suspended the coach for one game and a letter of reprimand was put in the athletic director’s personnel file. Ultimately, they both did not receive a contract for the next school year. This was a very difficult situation to be in, but I knew I made the right decision. It was not fair to the student athletes that maintained their eligibility. An interesting side note is the student athlete in question knew he was ineligible and took full responsibility and told his teammates he was the one that let them down. I like to think he followed my good example.