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IGNITED 2024 sneak peek: Reckoning with relevance and reinvigorating leadership

December 6, 2023, By Colin Koproske, Managing Director, Research Development

This year’s IGNITED event will bring together presidents, provosts, chief business officers, and heads of strategy to focus on the biggest threats and opportunities facing the higher education sector and the challenge of overcoming structural resistance to change on campus.

Join us at EAB’s offices in Washington, D.C. this March for a series of in-depth conversations with peers, up-to-the-minute research analysis from EAB, and interactive workshop sessions to help translate our latest findings into action for your team. Read on for a sneak peek of the IGNITED agenda.

Reckoning with Relevance: EAB’s 2023 State of the Sector

Colleges and universities must confront declining public confidence in the economic and social value of higher education as the pace of change in the sector continues to accelerate. During the first day of IGNITED, our latest analysis of the state of higher education will include the following topics:

Anticipating declines in college readiness along all dimensions

Despite increases in high school graduation rates, surveys and test scores indicate alarming levels of learning delays and mental health challenges among Gen Z and Gen Alpha cohorts. A growing population of higher ed “nonconsumers” cite being mentally unprepared for college as a top reason for discontinuing their education. What will the “student-ready college” need to look like to attract and support incoming classes?

Understanding perceived and actual ROI trends

Are today’s students (and parents) becoming sophisticated ‘value-for-money’ credential shoppers? When “just tell our story better” no longer cuts it as a strategy for colleges and universities, where must higher ed reconsider its core value propositions and narrative?

Doing less with less

As federal relief funds evaporate and the demographic cliff approaches, hope for rising enrollment and tuition revenue tides appears unrealistic. How are growing numbers of financially threatened institutions grappling with the need to strategically downsize? What will the rising dependency ratios resulting from an aging Baby Boomer generation and declining birth rates mean for higher ed subsidies?

Embracing the future of “intentional hybridity”

Students, faculty, and staff increasingly demand flexible or even entirely remote arrangements. How can higher ed reclaim and sustain the “power of place” while remaining competitive in a hybrid world?

Confronting the promise and perils of Artificial Intelligence

What will it mean for the future of learning and work, and how should we leverage these new tools in the near term?

Shared Governance 2.0: Reinvigorating Leadership and Institutional Agility in the Post-Pandemic Era

College and university leaders often struggle with the cultural, structural, and financial dimensions of change within a traditional academic setting. When every stakeholder has a say in shared governance, but feels powerless to enact new ideas, challenges feel more intractable and opportunities more distant. On day two of IGNITED we’ll share our latest research on governance and change management, which will include consideration of the following:

Confronting higher ed’s “Tragedy of the Commons”

Organizational silos (both disciplinary and administrative) and an often adversarial relationship between faculty and administration frequently lead to dysfunction, with shared governance as a conceptual bulwark against decisions that place the priorities of the institution above the needs of individual units. How can we create formal and informal spaces for campus-wide collaboration without requiring an external catalyst (such as the COVID-19 crisis)? Is an “All hands on deck” organizational culture possible and sustainable?

Clarifying roles and responsibilities across campus

Whether it’s an over-involved board or an increasingly active collective of part-time faculty and staff, administrators are under tremendous pressure from all sides. How can we leverage decision-making frameworks to formalize the specific roles of each group of stakeholders? Can we achieve both shared ownership of institutional goals and a clear sense of accountability for results?

Deploying committees effectively (and selectively)

Committees are ubiquitous and yet bemoaned in higher education, burdening participants with ‘side of desk’ work, slowing or stopping progress on key initiatives. However, they epitomize the commitment to deliberation and debate that many hold sacred in the academic enterprise. How can we structure working groups, task forces, and initiatives to ensure decisions and progress are made?

Grappling with burnout and initiative fatigue

In a post-pandemic environment in which executive turnover is accelerating, new initiatives are bound to confront both a lack of trust and a lack of bandwidth among campus employees. How can leaders reinvigorate faculty and staff around institutional priorities and reclaim a sense of shared purpose?

Colin Koproske

Managing Director, Research Development

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