Today’s competitive job market and constant technological advancements have higher education leaders searching for a balance between innovation and an affordable education.
Wisconsin’s private colleges and universities annually educate about 55,000 students from across the country and around the world. Each president has goals for his or her institution centered around a core mission, but all share a common objective – to provide the best possible educational experience.
WisconsinBiz asked these leaders about their vision and educational priorities for the next five years.
Mary Meehan, Alverno College
While more students are completing high school, the percentage attending college is declining. If unchecked, this trend will be a national disaster. Forty-nine of the top 50 highest-paid jobs in the USA require a college degree. We are not meeting the demand for qualified professionals.
Alverno is committed to ensuring that students receive access to a quality education. Our vision is to continue to keep our tuition as low as possible and to work tirelessly to reduce or remove the sometimes substantial barriers students face.
Our state and country need to address the larger, systemic issues that create barriers to college access. Sufficient and reliable state and federal student aid, simplified processes and early support at the high school and middle school levels are essential to eliminating college attainment gaps.
Alverno College recently elected Dr. Andrea Lee, IHM, as its eighth president, effective for the 2016–2017 academic year.
Scott Bierman, Beloit College
Our next five years, like the previous 170, will be dedicated to delivering a high-quality liberal arts experience to our students. Our highest priority is to do this while requiring all students to put that time-tested education into rigorous practice within our community, their chosen fields, the laboratory and around the world.
In addition to this work, our campus and community, students and neighbors, will be engaged in the work of becoming an ever-more inclusive, supportive and anti-racist institution. Also essential will be the college’s ongoing work to more fully engage its alumni in preparing the next generation of Beloit College graduates to lead, as our mission states, “lives of purposeful consequence.”
James Loftus, Cardinal Stritch University
The educational priority at Cardinal Stritch University is to continue to build on a long history of success helping students. Indeed, our mission is to help students to find theirs. Our academic identity is grounded in interdisciplinary, engaged learning, innovative and professional education in the context of our Franciscan values of community, showing compassion, reverencing creation and making peace.
Douglas Hastad, Carroll University
We recognize the growing need for first-rate health care professionals and will continue to systematically grow our niche in the allied health sciences. Strategic initiatives to support these efforts include building a new, $24 million science center – the first of three phases – opening this fall.
As Waukesha’s only four-year campus, we’re well-positioned to better serve the complex workforce demands of the region, and we plan to continue sustained growth at the graduate level.
Gregory Woodward, Carthage College
The history of higher education in America has wavered between two equally valuable ideals. Liberal education in the humanities and arts is at one end of the continuum, while a degree specifically directed to prepare young people for careers sits at the other end.
What is the right path for today and for the next decade of higher education? Broadly educated graduates who have acquired a professional skillset grounded in a liberal education will have the best lives and make the best citizens.
Patrick Ferry, Concordia University
The highest educational priority for the next five years must be to expand access to higher education. Access alone, however, is not enough. We believe that an academically rigorous, values-rich, ethical education from a faith-based perspective will best contribute to the nation’s future. We prioritize access, success, affordability and attainment for a diverse student population. The key to achieving strong outcomes in these areas will require universities to place an unambiguous, vigorous priority on student success above all else.
Scott Flanagan, Edgewood College
The approach Edgewood College is taking can be summed up in one word: deep. Edgewood College has deep roots in the greater Madison community, in our Dominican Catholic identity and in the foundation of the liberal arts. These culminate in the promise to help students connect learning, beliefs and action.
It is our challenge and opportunity to continue to improve the quality of life of our local community, state, nation and world by helping to address the pressing needs our society faces today and tomorrow.
Dan Eck, Lakeland College
Higher education is in the midst of significant change. Lakeland College is well-positioned to navigate the new realities of today’s higher education marketplace through our ability to serve an increasingly diverse student population, and to leverage technology and collaborations with businesses.
A 2012 Lumina Foundation report says Wisconsin must increase college success for three fast-growing groups: working adults, low-income and first-generation students, and students of color. These are all groups that Lakeland has been serving well for decades.
“To serve our students, we have to understand the needs of the businesses that drive our state’s economy. Lakeland is surrounded by world-class companies that provide opportunities for well-educated, motivated people to start or continue building satisfying professional careers right here.
Mark Burstein, Lawrence University
I envision greater emphasis on interdisciplinary connections that provide the skills and knowledge that are essential for successful employment, leadership and citizenship.
Our goal is to further enhance the education Lawrence provides by deepening our academic offerings and enabling students to confront core issues relevant in today’s world.
Michael Lovell, Marquette University
When speaking with the region’s corporate executives, topic number one is the talent pipeline. Where, they ask, are all of our future employees? Filling the pipeline, I believe, is our most important issue.
We must all redouble efforts to prepare area K-12 students for higher education. This must be addressed through a renewed approach that is supplemented by input from the corporations seeking future employees, philanthropic foundations that nurture Milwaukee-area activities and universities that previously waited for 18-year-olds to appear on their doorsteps completely prepared.
Universities such as Marquette already have initiatives underway. The challenge is to do more – because more is needed.
John Raymond, Sr., M.D., Medical College of Wisconsin
We aim to match faculty skills, talents and academic programs with current and projected workforce needs. In health care education, there should be more interprofessional and interdisciplinary patient care and teaching. We should focus on prevention, wellness, the patient experience and high-value, patient-centered care. Institutions should collaborate to create these opportunities rather than going it alone.
Jeff Morin, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD)
Educational attainment has always represented a pathway to improving one’s life and that of one’s family, and there are many Milwaukee families in need of that pathway. In the next five years, MIAD will focus on creating pathways for high school students interested in design-related fields by expanding programs to match the needs of Milwaukee’s growing creative industries.
We envision a deepening relationship with area high schools built on accessible, affordable programming tailored to harness the MIAD campus as one robust makerspace. We aim to catalyze our commitment to design thinking, which is woven into the majority of our academic programs. We are also committed to working with creative industries across the state to form pre-professional and professional experiences.
Dr. Matthew Panhans (Interim President), Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE)
At a time where college-bound students assess the cost/benefit of a college degree, it is important that MSOE continues to provide an exceptional value proposition by offering majors in demand while fostering the development of a broad skill set.
Our educational priorities will continue to focus on the needs of industry. Feedback from employers regarding teamwork, communication, integrity and understanding the global perspective guides the general education component of our curricula. MSOE graduates will continue to benefit from high placement rates while receiving an education that provides a lifetime of value in today’s technology-based world.
Eileen Schwalbach, Mount Mary University
I think it is vital that the academic programming offered by higher educational institutions is aligned with and responds to the current and future needs of the greater community. At Mount Mary, just as our academic programs are a response to emerging needs, our graduates are taught the skills to adaptively address these needs as well. We have infused a unique and creative thinking approach in curricular and co-curricular activities throughout the university. Since creativity and innovation are essential qualities in leadership, our goal is to nurture the kind of talent that can fuel the 21st century economic engine and solve the complex challenges of our time.
Michael Miller, Northland College
Our location in a progressive region on Lake Superior is our greatest asset. Northland College is located in a rural region of northern Wisconsin next to Lake Superior, the Apostle Islands, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and three tribal communities.
We are developing and enhancing programs that belong in this place, at this time, that provide the opportunity to tackle the toughest contemporary challenges through applied faculty-student research and innovation, and in partnership with community.
Our highest educational priority is to engage students with an integrated liberal arts understanding of the complexity of the world, fuel their critical thinking and build technical skills. This will equip them with professional and entrepreneurial capabilities to live that passion productively throughout their lifetime.
Zach Messitte, Ripon College
Making college affordable is the single most important issue in higher education. Colleges and universities must continue to find creative ways to make a four-year degree accessible to students of every economic background. To shift the way we collect revenue while maintaining high quality instruction, updating facilities and ensuring that co-curricular programs and amenities are excellent is not an easy task.
Second, we must always be thinking about how we can improve our academic programs. Today’s students want innovative experiences that broaden their horizons and teach them career skills. It’s on us to constantly innovate in how we work with our students to create rewarding college experiences.
Thomas Kunkel, Saint Norbert’s College
I believe the single biggest priority for higher education – especially for private colleges like ours – is affordability. How can we ensure that any student who qualifies to be here, and wants to be here, can be here regardless of his or her financial circumstances? That is a tall challenge and must be addressed in multiple ways.
A close second is making sure we remain relevant to 21st Century learners. We must take the best of the traditional baccalaureate experience and build on that foundation with the best of today’s innovative teaching techniques. We have to keep demonstrating the direct connection between a grounding in the liberal arts and humanities and success in contemporary careers.
Chris Domes, Silver Lake College of the Holy Family
To better prepare students for a 21st century work environment, Silver Lake College is poised to become America’s first Catholic higher education institution – and the first college in Wisconsin – to adopt the Work College model, starting in fall 2016. Work Colleges integrate work responsibilities – complete with supervisors and evaluations – with community service activities into every student’s education.
The model helps make college more affordable for students and, more importantly, helps prepare students for a 21st century work environment. It creates an opportunity while students are in school to build a robust resume using jobs on campus, as well as to leverage partnerships in the community for internships.
Daniel Johnson, Wisconsin Lutheran College
The highest educational priority for Wisconsin Lutheran College for the next five years is to continue to powerfully equip Christian servant-leaders to positively impact others in their communities, workplaces and families.
With more than 75 percent of WLC alumni remaining in the region and contributing to the fabric of our communities, Wisconsin Lutheran College will continue to grow enrollment, especially in the areas of greatest need such as health care, business and education.