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21st Century Challenges Facing Higher Education – with Brian Mitchell

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21st Century Challenges Facing Higher Education – with Brian Mitchell

There is no doubt that institutions of higher learning face a number of challenges, not the least of which is an unsustainable financial model. Tuition, fees, room and board no longer pay the bills—despite sticker prices as high as $72K a year! So, how do colleges and universities design innovative solutions and continue to thrive in the 21st century?

Brian Mitchell is the founder and president of Academic Innovators, a consultancy that helps colleges and universities learn to adapt and evolve in the ever-changing world of higher education. Brian served as president of Bucknell University (2004-2010) and Washington & Jefferson College (1998-2004), and he spent seven years leading the Association for Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP). Brian is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and Academe, and he is the co-author of How to Run a College: A Practical Guide for Trustees, Faculty, Administrators, and Policymakers.

Today, Brian joins me and COCM’s CMO Alton Irwin to discuss his ‘unintentional career’ in higher education, from history professor to AICUP lobbyist to president of Bucknell. He explains the value of a liberal arts education in training students to speak, write, use technology, apply quantitative methods and work in a collaborative setting. Brian addresses his interest in the transfer population and the challenges faced by colleges in the 21st century, describing how those pursuits led him to found Academic Innovators. He also shares the themes of his book, offering insight around the unsustainable financial model currently employed by university systems and the importance of a differentiated mission. Listen in to understand what’s next for Brian and learn about his vision for the future of higher education!

Topics Covered

  • Brian’s path to an ‘unintentional career’ in higher education
  • Why Brian credits his college experience for teaching him to think
  • Brian’s experience in the lobbying division of the AICUP
  • Brian’s service as the president of two universities
  • The interests that led Brian to found Academic Innovators
  • The role of the liberal arts in educating citizens
  • The three inflection points that caused major shifts in higher ed
  • Why the current financial model of university systems is unsustainable
  • The number of colleges and universities that merge/close every year
  • Brian’s aim for How to Run a College to be practical AND inspirational
  • Brian’s take on governance as the weak link in university systems
  • Brian’s insight around the importance of having a differentiated mission
  • Why strategic relationships may have more impact than new programs
  • Brian’s next steps in terms of writing and speaking on higher education

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Leigh Anne is the Director of Creative and Brand Marketing at COCM. In her role, she supports the development and implementation of the annual corporate marketing plan. She is responsible for overall brand strategy, content marketing, social media, video production, COCM’s website, marketing materials design and production, as well as serving as our liaison for COCM's sponsorships.