#UWdtl – Coping with Institutional Changes

Higher education institutions are undergoing extreme pressures internally and externally, having to address changes to their online and distance education programs that are needed to ensure future growth and development. This panel will explore approaches in organizational change within three different institutions to help participants consider various frameworks on how change may affect their units and institutions. Ray Schroeder will discuss the “Strategic Compass” approach to envisioning future directions of the online program, Rovy Branon will explore how online learning is shaping the new “60-year curriculum” at his institution, and Jason Rhode will share his institution’s experience reimagining distance learning support as a result of a recent institution-wide program prioritization process.


  • What are the biggest changes at our institutions today? Answer: What isn’t changing right now in higher ed?
  • In Seattle with Microsoft, Amazon, etc. wealth has poured into the city as well as population growth. Yet, our pressure is serving more people with tremendous growth while at the same time with ensuring helping society with affordable education opportunities.
  • At NIU and across the state, facing political and funding as a state institution. Public perception of the state not following through with budget for providing funds for student need. Financial aid was an outside pressure generated by the state that created perceptions of public education. We are in the midst of massive change in terms of how higher education delivers product and how we are viewed. As institutions how can we start rethinking our degrees and our relationships with students to ensure students are not only successful at our universities but also after graduation that they can find a job and begin their career.
  • What is the most pressing need and how are we responding? Enrollments is a concern in the Midwest. State funding is unstable and unsecure. Dropping birth rates are limiting the number of high school graduates and traditional students. There has also been drops in international student enrollment.
  • Corporate often takes a position of “no degree no problem” as they are looking for specific skill sets.
  • Strategic plans can be a challenge too if it sits on a shelf – yet even with deadlines and timelines – things change too rapidly. Rather, shall we look at a compass model and focus on our strengths and what direction are we focusing on heading?
  • The 60 year curriculum… This is a term that is being established, is putting personalization into the needs of the students vs a 2 year and 4 year degree. It includes informal life long learning, certificates, non-credit pathways, and unique approaches to traditional degrees.
  • A “Compass Process” is strategic planning, but a time table is more flexible to allow for timeliness and this offers agility and being responsive to needs. “We are committed to a pathway not a program.”
  • Once you have your strategic direction and compass or trajectory, you then need to operationalize the plan. Program prioritization and the alignment of decision making includes budget, increase efficiencies, quality, and then to advance the culture of data informed decision making. A comprehensive review of academic programs as well as campus support services enables insight as to how quality measures are included, benchmarking against other institutions. Targeted work to enhance, sustain, or change services… is everything critical or are there opportunities to create new synergies through complex conversations. Say, looking at “advising” in new ways. We affirm this is important, how can we streamline and make it even more effective to drive institutional change.
  • Message is how can we move forward and how can we strengthen our institutions.
  • Tips from Panel:
  • Know yourself, be agile, be nimble, be flexible, include a wide array of perspectives.

    Embrace the uncomfortable, when it’s outside the norm, there is uneasiness but you will grow as a result.

    Bring your influence and help the institution to move forward and be a catalyst to move the change along.

    External focus is so important, but so difficult to do. But still do it… it’s not just about use its about what is happening outside of our institutions. It’s important to take a step back and look at ourselves from an external lens.

    Stay true to your educational mission also. Keep your distinctiveness.


    One thought on “#UWdtl – Coping with Institutional Changes

    1. Pingback: GVSU Faculty and Staff Present at the 34th Annual Distance Teaching and Learning Conference | eLearning and Emerging Technologies @GVSU

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