In the book, Reinventing the University – Managing and Financing Higher Education, each of the 14 contributors emphasize that the successful university of the future will be the one which has the capacity to create new structural paradigms which will direct how it conducts business and how it delivers its educational product.
The newly structured enterprise will be both seamless and transparent in the systems and administrative structures used to deliver services to students.
This week’s message, similar to the one of last week, celebrates those innovative colleges and universities with dynamic leaders who are willing to initiate change in an attempt to make the college experience a better one for those who attend, who teach and who administer.
Over the course of my administrative career, I had the opportunity for a brief period of time, to manage both the enrollment management and alumni and fundraising departments for my university.
The reporting structure was unique and would not work in today’s environment but it did, for a time, reveal that hardened “functional silos” could become more flexible and transparent.
The lack of bureaucracy made it possible to respond quickly to enrollment demands and donor requests. There was a consistent and integrated marketing message from the time of a student’s application to the time after graduation. The internal and external messages were consistent, reinforcing the school’s image among its key constituencies. The systems from student enrollment to alumni involvement were both seamless and transparent.
Consider the similarities between the advancement and enrollment functions:
- Both are labor intensive and customer service directed
- Success for both functions is measured in concrete numbers.
- The image of the institution heavily influences the work of both departments
- Both are revenue driven
- Both departments require staff with good analytical, organizational and people-oriented skills
- Both are subject to the economic realities of the day.
I am not suggesting that this model would or could be adopted by other schools. But I am suggesting that changing administrative responsibilities and reporting structures should be considered.
In 1998, Spencer Johnson wrote, Who Moved My Cheese,The popular bestseller championed the need for change. The author stressed that change involves setting different rules, making the work environment uncertain and unpredictable. How much of what Mr. Johnson wrote 16 years ago would apply to many colleges and universities today?