Friday Five: #GroundhogDay edition

@PunxsutawnyPhil has seen his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter.

Happy Groundhog Day, gentle reader. It is now official: Punxsutawny Phil has seen his shadow, which means six more weeks of winter. So stay warm, pour yourself a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and cozy up to a short list of list-like posts, all relevant to your higher ed interests. Continue reading “Friday Five: #GroundhogDay edition”


Friday Five: 2017’s best blog posts

It’s time for the annual look back at the year’s blog post and re-share the ones that gained the most interest.

Here are the top five, as judged by pageviews. Continue reading “Friday Five: 2017’s best blog posts”

The college presidency: A tough job, about to get tougher

Here’s what it takes to be a college president, according to a recent report by the Aspen Institute.

The late business management expert Peter Drucker is credited with saying that one of the four toughest jobs in the U.S. is that of the college president. (The other three tough jobs are church pastor, hospital CEO and president of the United States.) Whether Drucker ever actually made that claim is questionable, but, this blog post notwithstanding, the internet has taken this anecdote as gospel and run with it. Continue reading “The college presidency: A tough job, about to get tougher”

Can #highered move from hierarchical to networked?

JUN15_08_545754619_bFor many months now, I’ve been thinking a lot about the forces discussed in this great Harvard Business Review article about the need for organizations to shift from hierarchical to networked structures. And I’ve been wondering whether higher education, bound as it has been for centuries in a hierarchical structure, can make the shift to a networked one. Continue reading “Can #highered move from hierarchical to networked?”

Our #AMAHigherEd slide deck

Thanks to everyone who attended the presentation Charlie Melichar (@melicharlie) and I delivered on Tuesday at the American Marketing Association Higher Ed Marketing Symposium (#AMAHigherEd). And thanks for the follow-up questions and wonderful feedback. For those who missed it, or who want to reference any of the materials, our presentation slides from “Convergence: Marketers as Masters of the Mix” are below (and also on Slideshare). Unfortunately, the animated gifs don’t come through as they did in real time, but I hope it nevertheless provides some value to you.

It’s been a fun and invigorating conference, and I am thankful for the opportunity to present and to learn from so many smart and talented people. Unfortunately, I’ll miss the final day due to travel.

To all my comrades in higher ed marketing, old friends and new, who I had the chance to connect with these past few days, thanks for the insights, the conversations, the good food and drink, and the friendship. Keep doing amazing work.

I’ll have more to say about the conference in this week’s Friday Five. Until then, follow the conversation on Twitter via the #AMAHigherEd hashtag.

Corporate U? How about Military U?

I wonder what academics who feel uneasy about former business leaders taking the helm of colleges and universities think about the University of Texas’ decision to pick a Navy admiral as the sole finalist to lead that 15-campus system?

UT announced on Tuesday that Navy Adm. William McRaven, head of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command, is the sole finalist for the job of chancellor. This means that, barring any unusual occurrence, McRaven will assume the job in January 2015. According to the Washington Post coverage of the announcement, McRaven (UT class of 1977, journalism) beat out another non-academic — the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas — for the job.

Stepping into the role of college president or chancellor seems to be a good move for former CEOs and ex-politicians. Those appointments usually raise the eyebrows of faculty and staff, who fear that people from outside the academy don’t fully understand how higher education operates. Not surprisingly, some commenters on the Chronicle of Higher Education story about the McRaven announcement are skeptical.

According to the Chronicle, the UT board’s rationale for selecting a non-academic like McRaven has to do with his ability to manage large, complex organizations. Board chair Paul Foster says that he and his fellow regents believe campus presidents should have “extraordinary academic backgrounds and skills” but that the chancellor’s job was “more of a management and leadership role than a pure academic role.”

Under that rationale, the selection of a former CEO or ex-military leader may make sense. I’m not so sure about the selection of an ex-politician, though.

Say what you will about McRaven, he delivered one heck of a commencement speech at UT-Austin last spring.

Saturday Six: It’s like Friday Five, only a day later

April has been a crazy busy month. It always is. Still, I usually manage to sneak in at least one Friday Five during the cruelest month. But all of April’s Fridays have come and gone. So to atone for my oversight, I offer a tardy version of things that have caught my attention lately, with a bonus link.

  1. Education and the American middle class. You might have caught this New York Times Upshot post from earlier in the week about the decline of the American middle class. According to this report, median per capita income in the U.S. was $18,700 in 2010. Our neighbor to the north, Canada, caught up with the U.S., resulting in a two-way tie for first place. The author suggests that Canada has probably surpassed the U.S. in median per capita income by now, even though no research is available. Meanwhile, other nations are closing the gap. The first “three broad factors” contributing to this sluggish economic performance is  the fact that “educational attainment in the United States has risen far more slowly than in much of the industrialized world over the last three decades, making it harder for the American economy to maintain its share of highly skilled, well-paying jobs.” Perhaps this news could help higher ed marketers help rally people around support for higher education as an economic driver.
  2. What provosts think. Wonder what your provost is thinking? Inside Higher Ed‘s latest Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers may offer some insights. For one thing, they’re worried about budget (no surprise there). For another, they really, really don’t like President Obama’s proposed college rating system.
  3. Senior managers and SOSThe “shiny object syndrome” (SOS) hits us all at some point, but top-level leaders seem to be more susceptible than the rest of us, according to this piece by leadership dude Art Petty. “One of the value killers found inside many organizations,” he writes, “is the out of control pursuit of too many new initiatives. The resultant too few resources chasing too many projects, is a sure-fire way to create organizational stress as initiatives fall short, inefficiencies skyrocket and employees, stakeholders and customers grow perturbed.” His advice: A disciplined approach and “intelligent filtering” of all new initiatives — whether you’re part of the leadership team or farther down the ranks, where the work gets done.
  4. 7 tips to managing critics online. Solid guidance from Spin Sucks on dealing with critics in the social media sphere, via @ErinHennessy.
  5. Is your brand at the center? Deb Maue of mStoner discusses the importance of bridging the gap between brand promise and brand experience — and of developing a brand-centered strategic planning process.
  6. Print-and-save social media checklist. Nice cheat sheet for social media posting from HeroX, via Brendan Schneider.