Higher Ed Consulting Case Studies
“[You have] a deep and unique understanding of the key issues facing educational organizations today.” Dr. Bernard J. Luskin, Chancellor, Ventura County Community College District; Former Executive Vice President, Fielding Graduate University
Overcoming Accreditation and Governance Issues.
A mid-sized Christian university was placed on probation two times in succession by its accreditor due to a lack of board independence, operational integrity, and culture issues. We conducted an assessment of the issues and began advising the institution on how to work with the accreditor, including appealing the probation ruling. We simultaneously undertook a number of initiatives designed to strengthen board governance, including diversity and skills, as well as improving institutional culture and leadership. The result: the board became more independent, and made significant changes to its operating and recruiting processes; the university’s culture turned around to where faculty, employees, and students feel it’s a great place to go to work and school, and the Special Visiting Team awarded the institutions six commendations and one recommendation, that being “keep doing what you are doing.” Bottom line: the accreditor removed the probation sanction 1 year earlier than expected, and total enrollment grew 6% in the COVID era.
Growing Revenues by Increasing Faculty Engagement.
A small private university was losing revenue due to less than optimum student persistence and retention rates, and the CEO tasked us to explore new ways to improve faculty engagement. We recruited 4 team leaders and 19 task force members representing full- and part-time faculty from all colleges and departments, and in 3 weeks we issued a 71-page report with 50+ recommendations on how to improve faculty engagement and support. Most recommendations were implemented within 1 year, resulting in a 10% improvement in student persistence and retention, greater faculty engagement, and $4 million in new revenues.
Growing Revenue by Improving Course Offerings.
A large online teaching university was struggling with developing meaningful practical programs for its Ph.D. students. After assessing the learning readiness of the students and the change readiness of the institution, we designed a new capstone course that received rave reviews from students and faculty and increased concentration enrollment by 25%.
Improving Student Learning and Quality of Instruction.
The general management and business courses in the MBA program were in need of a redesign, as it was difficult for both faculty and students to understand what was required to meet course learning outcomes (CLOs). We scheduled an online workshop for faculty, and jointly revised the structure of the courses so that they had clearer instructions and detailed key learnings which aligned with the CLOs, and rubrics against which learning would be assessed. Additionally, we developed and agreed to use a template for feedback that mirrored the rubrics, thus making it easier for faculty to give detailed feedback that students understood.
This format was showcased to WASC during the university’s most recent EER visit, and students’ performance has improved as measured against rubrics and end-of-course evaluations.
Improving Revenue Opportunities While Reducing Risk.
A large flagship university in the Middle East responsible for implementing policies and strategies for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia desired to increase its capacity to deliver successful projects, as its bandwidth was stretched to the breaking point and was putting the University at risk. We assessed the situation and ascertained that training was the appropriate remedy, and then developed and delivered two training courses attended by 60+ government officials and faculty which resulted in greater revenue opportunities and reduced risk for the University and the Kingdom.
Improving Academic Excellence.
A university’s MBA program was in need of updating, as it was losing students and was no longer “state of the art.” We suggested and then facilitated the first-ever MBA retreat for full-time faculty which resulted in developing a more rigorous, better-focused program that met AACSB guidelines. The changes were implemented, and the university’s MBA program was ranked #15 of over 1600 online MBA programs by Graduate Programs Fall 2014 Online MBA Rankings.
Increasing Revenues through New Program Development.
A university wanted to expand its program offerings as it was losing market share and students. Using marketing research and competitive intelligence, we decided among multiple potential new program options and worked with multiple departments to combine existing courses with newly developed courses to create a program that uniquely targets our key student target markets. The program received WASC approval 4 months earlier than anticipated, enabling it to begin 6 months early (because the internal programmatic issues were dealt with as part of the development). The program is on track to become the largest Master-level program at that university.
Improving Faculty and Student Retention through Improving Organizational Alignment and Attunement.
During a recent reorganization, faculty members were assigned new administrative roles without having duties and responsibilities well defined. We worked with department chairs to develop detailed processes and procedures for the new positions, including ways to provide more personalized “service” to students. This resulted in improved student persistence and improved morale and retention rates among faculty.
Reducing Costs while Improving Academic Performance and Teacher Engagement.
A large urban school district was not performing at the level of excellence which was demanded by its Board, the State, and district parents. We assessed and made specific recommendations for a new organization structure and communications strategies that resulted in improved coherence in instruction; communications among stakeholder groups; faculty accountability; teacher and staff morale; union relations; and student test scores; with potential savings of $500 million per year.
Program Evaluation and Building Community Partnerships and Collaboration.
Students were having difficulty finding projects for a capstone course that required a practicum. We assessed current programs, and developed partnerships with local businesses, governments, and nonprofits in the local area that gave students new practicum and potential follow-on employment opportunities.