Like most campus leaders, David Steele-Figueredo, the 14th president of Woodbury University, spends a significant chunk of time thinking about the current challenges that face colleges and universities. But unlike other college presidents, Steele-Figueredo approaches his institution’s challenges from both an industry and higher ed perspective.
Before he was appointed president in 2015, Steele-Figueredo served as the president of Chevron Latin America and the chief executive of Kids 2020 Foundation. He also boasts a career as a campus administrator. He has served as a business dean at three universities: San Jose State University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Florida Institute of Technology.
When he recently analyzed his position’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, Steele-Figueredo identified four major concerns about the future of higher ed that keep him up at night. He shared a brief rundown of each concern in an article for Education Dive.
Concern 1: Student privacy. Cybersecurity and student data protection top Steele-Figueredo’s list of technology concerns. Universities that don’t strengthen their IT defenses may face potential lawsuits or regulatory oversight down the line, he writes. And for institutions with an international student population, he argues that complying with the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is especially critical.
Concern 2: Market share. Most universities are fighting for market share, writes Steele-Figueredo. As total college enrollment declines across the United States, some colleges have faced mergers and foreclosure. Although most institutional shake-ups have occurred in the Midwest and Northeast, no state is immune, he argues.
Concern 3: Student experience. Steele-Figueredo views his students as customers, which means their on-campus experience is critical to their customer satisfaction. According to Steele-Figueredo, addressing student loan debt and financing more scholarships for underserved students are crucial to improve student satisfaction. He adds that collaborating with faculty to incorporate professional development opportunities into coursework is another piece of the student engagement puzzle.
Concern 4: Environment. Campus safety around school shootings and natural disasters (wildfires, earthquakes) is a major concern for higher ed leaders, writes Steele-Figueredo. But many administrators are also worried about higher ed’s changing legal and regulatory environment, he adds. For Steele-Figueredo, the national debates around immigration and the value of diversity in admissions are two points of concern. These shifting policies may affect international student recruitment and the admissions process, he adds (Steele-Figueredo, Education Dive, 8/10; VoyageLA Staff, VoyageLA, 11/13/2017).