The Changing Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities

Monday, April 9, 7:30-9 p.m.

During the past several years the higher education sector has experienced dramatic change, both in terms of basic economic assumptions and the strategic environment in which colleges and universities operate. Precipitated in large part by the economic downturn in the fall of 2008, these changes transcend finances, and they are likely to endure well beyond the eventual recovery in the capital markets and the overall economy. Such an environment imposes significant challenges for all institutions, but so too does it provide the opportunity for increased organizational effectiveness and improved service to our shared educational mission. Continue reading

Economics and Affordability

Tuesday, April 10, 9-10:30 a.m.

There is widespread recognition that the economic model of escalating tuition and ever-increasing philanthropic support for innovation, improved quality, and mission expansion is not sustainable as the cost of college becomes increasingly out of reach for the American middle class.  College pricing, financial aid, and budgetary management are undergoing significant transformation, and the resulting impact on mission remains unclear. These issues are among the most vexing and of greatest concern as we seek to realize our core mission in the coming years. Bold and original thinking, along with better communication on these issues will be essential. Continue reading

Technology and Mission

Tuesday, April 10, 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

As the rate of technological progress continues to increase exponentially, colleges and universities are attempting to keep pace, learning how to harness or coordinate these sweeping changes to advance educational objectives. Incremental improvement is not going to be satisfactory or sustainable in an environment that has created new kinds of learners who possess dramatically more advanced technological sophistication than their teachers and administrative leaders.  The future is here and it is very different from the past as technology changes not only the delivery of education itself but the very way we think and make judgments, and, perhaps, the nature and form of education itself.
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Changing Boundaries

Tuesday, April 10, 2-3:30 p.m.

For both educational and economic reasons, liberal arts colleges have worked hard to enrich their intellectual communities and extend them beyond traditional boundaries. Recent initiatives to advance global learning include innovative approaches to study abroad, service learning, and institutional partnerships. Equally, changing demographics in this country have placed new pressures on small private colleges to broaden outreach and educational access beyond traditional areas.  As vital participants in national and global learning networks, liberal arts colleges are reinventing themselves as they reformulate institutional missions and traditional approaches.
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Tuesday, April 10, 3:45-5 p.m.

In the face of a rapidly shifting operating environment we must reflect carefully on the ways in which we organize, govern, and operate our institutions. Are there features of our governance structures that inhibit creativity and refreshed thinking about liberal arts education and scholarship? If so, can we offer incentives to change these structures? What are the conditions for a more effective and encouraging governance environment? During a time in which transparency and accountability are standard requirements of governance, how does a board and administration ensure the meeting of these standards? The roles of the faculty, the board, and the administration are all changing, but it will be essential to maintain a commitment to shared governance even as we identify new ways of achieving visionary leadership and efficient decision making.
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Keynote Address

Tuesday, April 10, 8-9:30 p.m.

William G. Bowen
President Emeritus, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
President Emeritus, Princeton University

William G. Bowen, president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation from 1988 to 2006, was president of Princeton University from 1972 to 1988, where he also served as professor of economics and public affairs. A graduate of Denison University (A.B. 1955) and Princeton University (Ph.D. 1958), he joined the Princeton faculty in 1958, specializing in labor economics, and served as provost there from 1967 to 1972. [more] Continue reading

Distinctively American? Creating a New Narrative for Residential Liberal Arts Colleges

Wednesday, April 11, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

How can residential liberal arts colleges adapt and effectively articulate their unique contributions in the midst of the challenges and opportunities facing higher education? As American institutions, how do these colleges imagine a new social contract with this country and the world? This session will examine challenges to this distinctively American approach to education and ask how liberal arts colleges, with their unique residential communities, can do more to develop individuals; manifest diverse, inclusive, and engaged community; and build new models of democratic communities in the world.
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Changes in Knowledge: Teaching, Learning, and Research

Wednesday, April 11, 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Difficult economic times always raise questions about the place of instrumental learning both within the curriculum itself and, more generally, as a component of the overall college. Changes in the paradigm of knowledge raise questions about the model of liberal arts learning. How best do we communicate about the enduring value of a liberal education? Is it a changing concept? We hope to explore the real tradeoffs we all must make between the development of an educational model that prepares graduates for life versus one that prepares them for careers. Since we all must do both, we would be well served to make sure that our thinking reflects deeply-help educational values and contemporary societal needs. Can we imagine a renewed, expanded, and perhaps transformed contribution from the liberal arts in the global educational environment?
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The Small Residential College

Wednesday, April 11, 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

What is the case to be made for the small college in the global environment? What does and doesn’t work educationally about the small private college in the current context? Is the residential component of a liberal arts education no longer necessary or no longer affordable? Residential liberal arts colleges have long been the “ideal” or “leadership institutions” for undergraduate education in America. Have such trends of democratization of education, technology, and trend to vocationalism weakened this role of liberal arts colleges? Are there new roles for our colleges to play in the global educational marketplace?
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