Cross-Campus Collaborations Improve Student Outcomes

AACRAO, College and University, Summer 2021

Challenges confronting higher education have led to outcomes-driven approaches such as performance-based funding, forced greater emphasis on student persistence and completion, and spurred campus-wide student success efforts. In examining ways to achieve integrated student success efforts across campus, this article explores issues related to structure and alignment, faculty versus student affairs culture, and risk points to address when implementing institution-wide strategies.

ATG Capstone

As I prepare to move, and button up chapters of our Vermont life and our time at UVM – with full confidence we will return often to visit our friends and “Vermont family” – I wanted to take the opportunity to write one final piece in the Across the Green series, a capstone to the series I started in 2013 as a new provost to regularly share thoughts, plans, and progress with the UVM academic community. The series continued after my six-year term with shorter ATG Brief essays on a broad range of higher education topics that I hoped might continue to be of interest to some of the regular readers of Across the Green over the years. I was always grateful for the feedback I received on these essays. In this final “capstone” essay, I have only two objectives: (1) to say thank you, and (2) to share my wishes for the UVM academic community I was so privileged to serve.

On Mentorship and Mentors

Structural Safety, January 2021

Little has been written about the value of professional mentorship in the field of civil engineering, yet most would argue its importance. New engineers, new faculty, and new professionals in nearly every field benefit disproportionately from effective, timely, and sustained mentoring. Their careers are launched on a positive trajectory, their careers develop, and they advance more quickly, they often find more professional satisfaction in their careers, and – not surprisingly – they often go on to become mentors in their own right. In this paper, the authors (both civil engineers and leaders, one in professional practice and one in academia) reflect on two important mentors they were fortunate enough to share. We wrote this paper for three purposes: (1) to highlight the importance of great mentors to one’s career, (2) to thank two individuals that had profound impacts on us both, and (3) to inspire others so seek out mentors, to commit to being a mentor, and to find as much joy in participating on both sides of the mentor–mentee relationship as we have found in our careers.

The Disciplinary Trench

Inside Higher Ed, August 2020

If you stay in the trench, you can’t see what’s in front of you, let alone what’s on the horizon. Reflecting upon years of discussion about American higher education, we’ve noticed that the very structures and principles that have made our model great are potentially holding us back. It’s time to ask ourselves: Are those principles and structures ones that we would design were we to start from scratch?

Specifically, does our current system of organizing our institutions as academic schools, colleges and departments still make sense? Have our organizational structures evolved as we have added — but rarely subtracted — new departments, programs and centers? Is a proliferation of departments good for students, faculty members, employers or the university?

Building Institutional Resilience into Colleges and Universities

Trusteeship magazine, Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities (AGB), July/August 2020

Higher education was hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the large numbers of students on campuses, the timing of the outbreak, and the financial challenges many institutions already faced. For colleges and universities to successfully emerge from the pandemic, they will need to make important decisions and changes. Institutions must be willing to invest in ensuring resilience.

Original (full length) essay can be found here.

Higher Education is Now Functioning with Much More Humanity: the new normal of teaching college classes

AdWeek, April 2020

The sudden shift to remote teaching and learning following the Covid-19 outbreak and global pandemic has been a remarkable experiment for students, faculty, instructional staff and colleges and universities at large. We are learning on the fly, from one another and through trial and error about how to teach online, how to communicate with students in and out of class and how to maintain continuity in a severely fractured academic year. While not perfect, we are now meeting our students where they live.

Original (full length) essay can be found here.

Leader, Listener, Liaison: How Presidents Can Foster Trust in Academic Communities

AGB Leadership & Governance Blog, 2020

The world is changing. Higher education must also change. Such words are now said so often they hardly seem provocative.  And, a quick read of the news quickly illustrates the necessity of change (or at least the implications for not doing so). An increasing number of colleges and universities are reorganizing, merging, or closing.