A Response to Declining Enrollments and Reduced State Support

Posted by Mark Keleher on Jun 16, 2017 3:30:00 PM

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"We are a public college, and our bottom line is not profit," described the President of a Community College that serves over 15,000 students.  Nonetheless, he said, "The primary reason our institution engaged with Gray was financial.  When looking at our our budget, declining enrollment, and reduced state support, we identified a need to really right-size what we were spending our money on and the programs we offer."

For the college, Gray combined a workshop with a multi-dimensional view of programs that included:  student demand, employer needs, competition, and fit with the college's strategy.  Gray provided this data for the college's current portfolio of 70 programs and for 1,600 other IPEDs programs.  Gray facilitated a program portfolio strategy workshop for the over 25 members of the senior team, including faculty and administrators.  In the workshop, they identified programs to stop, but also identified current programs to grow and new programs the school could launch.


"We were provided with convincing tools that allowed us to broadly engage our faculty and staff in a constructive project that is helping us better manage our budget and strategically implement new programs."

A Community College President serving 15,000 students



Academic Program Assessment and Decision-Making

"What Gray aggregates is both wider and deeper (than other options).  Gray's Program Evaluation System (PES) taps into additional resources that relate to job profiling and down to not just the state or regional level, but down to the zip code level, down to the actual job markets in the cities and towns we are servicing.  This level of detail is extremely helpful when we assess whether to phase out a program or choices we made to add programs.... Balancing the budget does not mean cutting programs, it also means adding programs that could be financially significant."

Gray provided data, systems, and facilitation to help the college evaluate over 1,500 academic programs.  "What I liked about the two-day workshop that we held.... we had a lot of faculty there, a lot of people who, without the right tools and without the right facilitation could have fallen into arguing with one another and getting highly defensive about the decisions that were being made.  After reviewing and working with the data that was put in front of people–while anybody can argue with data a little bit, it came from so many different perspectives, more than one source, more than one way of looking at things, that even if you disagreed with one or two of the data points, it was hard to disagree with all of them."


Our Entire Faculty Reached a Consensus

"Clearly some of our staff did not like that their programs were being inactivated...  However, to a person, the faculty who were involved determined, 'Yeah, those are the programs that need to be inactivated.'  There was no disagreement around it from the people who were at the two-day workshop – there really wasn't any disagreement.  And, the same is true for the programs that we chose to launch....  I think the structure of the two-day workshop really helped people have confidence in the process."

The President elaborated on a few of the results of the engagement with Gray, "we have implemented some program inactivations in eight different program areas:  six certificates and two degrees...  We are also running searches for three additional faculty positions to launch or enhance existing programs.  And, we are making some changes to our distance education, class sizes, and how we offer supplemental services associated with our program portfolio." 

Why Gray Associates?

The President described why Gray would be his choice for higher education consulting, "we did not use consulting services with your competition.  We never had a workshop with them.  It was not a partnership the way this has been.  It just wasn't.  It was a database service.  You could produce a couple of pages of a report that would probably get at about a third of the data Gray Associates allowed us to get at."


"I have already recommended Gray to a number of other college colleagues."

A Community College President serving 15,000 students


Topics: Higher Education