Escaping the Academic Equality Quagmire

Posted by William F. Massy on Nov 24, 2020 11:01:48 AM

Escaping the Program Equality Quagmire

Stuck in the mud

Academic programs, and the courses that deliver their content, are not of equal importance.  The implications of this came home to me recently when, in a webinar on academic resourcing, a participant objected that provosts and deans should not “put their thumbs on the scale” by considering program importance when deciding admission targets and departmental budgets.  “All programs and courses are of equal importance,” the participant asserted. “Providing their quality is good, all should have equal access to funding.”

Topics: Programs, College Courses, Program Economics, Curricular Efficiency


Expect the Unexpected

Posted by Robert Gray Atkins on Oct 26, 2020 2:41:45 PM

Benchmarking Course Costs and Margins:

Gray Associates has begun developing benchmarks on revenue, direct instructional cost, and gross margin by academic program, course, and section. Our first cut at the data, for 100 to 400-level courses in small colleges had some surprising results. A word of caution, these are early results on a sample of schools. As the sample grows, the results may change.

Topics: Benchmarking


Revolution in AR

Posted by William F. Massy on Sep 22, 2020 1:17:53 PM

It’s Time for a Revolution in Academic Resourcing

The Best of Times...The Worst of Times — Carol McLeod Ministries | Find Joy  in Your Everyday Life

 

This new academic year is unlike any other.  Colleges and universities are coping with nasty deficits and cash flow problems, but the probable long-term disruptions are even more worrisome.  Never in my half-century of close involvement with academic resourcing have I seen such threats to the operating and financial sustainability of so many institutions.  As Charles Dickens said, it is the worst of times.

Topics: Programs, Academic Programs, Program Economics, Curricular Efficiency, Academic Resourcing


5 Destructive Myths about Innovation

Posted by Dr. Melissa Morriss-Olson on Aug 6, 2020 11:43:56 AM

Image of opened magic book with magic lights

Check out this insightful guest blog by Dr. Melissa Morriss-Olson, Distinguished Professor of Higher Ed Leadership, Founding Director, HELOS and CHELIP, Provost Emerita at Bay Path University and current host of the IngenioUs podcastTake a listen here https://ingeniousu.org

Creative thinking skills are more important than ever if we are to deal with the vast and complex array of challenges facing nearly all colleges and universities.  In my own research on successful college management practices, one of the most enduring characteristics of resilient institutions is an ‘innovative mindset'.  Especially when times are tough—like right now—the ability to anticipate, listen, and act quickly is often the thing that sets successful colleges apart.


How to Boost Student Engagement—Even Online

Posted by William F. Massy on Jul 29, 2020 12:56:47 PM

 

 
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The recent New York Times op-ed about how to make online courses more engaging got me thinking about course redesign generally, especially as it applies in the current COVID-driven environment. Readers may recall my blogs on pruning unneeded courses and rebalancing program portfolios. When done well, these actions can allow the institution to cut costs and boost revenues while minimizing the adverse impacts on student learning and faculty workloads. As noted in the “rebalancing” blog, they fall into the set of four such actions shown at the right. Course redesign is element 3 of this action set.

Topics: Program Economics, Curricular Efficiency, Online Courses


Introducing GrayData: Espresso

Posted by Robert Gray Atkins on Jul 9, 2020 3:18:03 PM

 

Short, strong, with the sweet aftertaste of a data-informed insight: that is GrayData: Espresso,GrayData Espresso Blogour new blog. It will focus on brief, bi-weekly, data-informed posts on trends in student demand and employer needs. Longer-form discussions of trends and insights will continue to be shared on our Gray Reports’ Monthly Webinar.

Topics: Employment Trends, Graydata, Demand Trends


Money Problems? Look to Your Academic Portfolios.

Posted by William F. Massy on Jun 17, 2020 12:53:20 PM

 

 

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What college or university doesn’t have money problems these days?  We’ve seen such problems before but this time they’re deeper and more acute.  In the “good old days,” such as the stagflation of the 1970s and the economic recessions of the 80s, 90s, and 2008, the solutions involved a grab-bag of common-sense actions based on relatively crude information. These include:  cutting fixed percentages of cost from administrative and support services, pressing upwards on class sizes and teaching loads, substituting adjunct for regular faculty wherever possible, and hacking away at small classes.  In today’s environment, however, the sufficiency of these actions seems doubtful because of the depth of the money problems and because the low-hanging fruit already has been depleted by years of belt-tightening.

Topics: Program Margin, Academic Programs, Curricular Efficiency, Programs Economics


How to Dislodge Course and Program Proliferation

Posted by William F. Massy on May 5, 2020 11:10:34 AM

Dislodging Events A Potential Curb on Course and Program Proliferation

Steve Probst’s recent blog on curricular efficiency reminded me how serious the course and Dense forestprogram proliferation problem has become for America’s colleges and universities. For example, my forthcoming book reports that:

“Many programs persist beyond what should have been their sell-by dates. In one dataset reported by Bob Zemsky, for example, a daunting 48 percent of programs turned out ten or fewer graduates per year and collectively accounted for only 7 percent of all degrees granted . Bob puts the matter succinctly: “We [colleges] give students what they want. Most colleges can’t afford to do so without understanding why they can’t.” This doesn’t mean all low-enrollment programs should go on trial, but campuses do need serious and well-informed conversations on the matter” (p. 6).

Topics: Curricular Efficiency, Programs Economics, Course Costs


Data in a Time of Quarantine

Posted by Robert Gray Atkins on Apr 22, 2020 10:07:50 AM

How To Gauge Shifts in Student Demand and Employment Caused by the Pandemic

Just as the novel coronavirus has disrupted our lives, it is changing the societal context for higher education. More specifically, the programs students want and whether they want to take them online or on-campus have undergone massive changes, as have job options for interns Close up of businesswoman holding graphs in handand graduates. Colleges need data on “what just happened” so they can correctly understand and respond to their new context.

Traditional data on higher education and employment won’t help much in the short term. IPEDS data on 2020 enrollment and completions will not be published until 2021 or 2022. The same is true for BLS data on employment by Standard Occupation Code.

Topics: Curricular Efficiency, Current Data, Student Demand, Data


Cutting Academic Cost: If You Must, Here's How

Posted by Robert Gray Atkins on Apr 14, 2020 11:32:01 AM

Cutting Academic Costs and Improving Curricular Efficiency
If You Must, Here’s How

COVID-19 will require deep cost cuts at many colleges, or they simply won’t survive. It is unpleasant, even disturbing work. But like all work, it can be done well or badly, quickly or slowly. Bad cuts unnecessarily damage the mission and people. Bad cuts drag on and undermine Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 11.19.29 AMmorale and confidence in leadership. They are usually the result of short-sighted thinking, incomplete or erroneous information and data, bad information, and lack of courage. Good cuts use sound data and robust, fast processes to create a leaner, financially sustainable, mission-centered institution. Here’s how.

Topics: Program Margin, Curricular Efficiency, Course Costs