Each of us have that time when you can daydream. For me, it’s when I swim. Today, for some reason, I got it in my head that it would be great if you had nothing but money; to Peggy’s disappointment, I’m thinking of the possibility of having nothing but money to build a university. Let’s call it If I Had Nothing But Money University (IIHNBMU). That’s too long — and if I really had nothing but money I would name it High Impact University (HIU—hi you).
At HIU, our vision would be built around a vision that a rising tide lifts all boats, and one of the most effect ways we can raise the tide is through education. And if I had nothing but money, the vision would be global.
The mission of HIU would highlight being a leader in offering new and unique methods of providing access to the promise of education. This would be a mission that was shared across the university, and would be a significant factor in the promotion and tenure process. If I had nothing but money, I would create endowed chairs throughout the colleges dedicated to this mission.
One of the first positions that I would hire is Vice President for Assessment. This position is key in determining if we are really doing what we say we are doing. A major priority and measure of success at HIU will be student completion and student outcomes. St. Olaf of Minnesota captures this concept quite well in their publication “Where will a St. Olaf education lead?” (http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/306d13a7#/306d13a7/1) In addition, this position would lead the effort to ensure that HIU can demonstrate learning outcomes which far exceed any standards set by accrediting bodies.
My next hire would be the Vice President for Curriculum Innovation. If you think about traditional curriculum positions like this, their role turns out to be mostly one of reviewing curriculum, ensuring that there isn’t duplication, assuring academic quality, etc. This is an extremely important role and priority and might fall under another vice president, but it’s not what I’m thinking for this VP position. I don’t know of any institution that has a VP for Curriculum Innovation. In many ways we leave the curriculum innovation to the faculty (and I would hope that would continue), but we know that innovation and transformation are the result of a disciplined, intentional, continuous improvement process (see Shaeffer’s Forays– http://shaeffersforays.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/innovation-deficit/).
I would task this VP to meet with content leaders on the campus as well as our ultimate customers — that is those companies, non-profits, etc. where our alumni are employed — to understand emerging educational needs and to find that sweet spot between content areas to meet these needs. Complex problems are most often multidisciplinary problems and require individuals with multidisciplinary skills and knowledge. HIU would establish not a curriculum committee but a curriculum innovation committee.
To maximize the reach and impact of HIU we would utilize multiple mechanisms for offering programming. To lead that effort I would hire a VP for Instructional Innovation (I wish I could come up with something more bleeding edge in terms of a title, because I expect this person to establish a menu of ways that our students could access programming as well as demonstrate competency). HIU would lead the way in helping our students navigate and package experiences towards degree completion. And by the way, it may not be degree completion; HIU would provide credit, certificate, and noncredit programming.
HIU would establish partnerships with other higher education institutions and learning centers where we would leverage the programming offered by our partners as well as our own faculty talent. These centers would allow us to use a range of delivery mechanisms addressing the variety of needs of our students. For example, these centers would offer the opportunity to offer hybrid courses where most of the instruction would be online intermixed with some face-to-face instruction. All faculty at HIU would be experts in using multiple delivery mechanisms and would be expected to travel to various sites for face-to-face courses.
Using multiple mechanisms would also mean that HIU would offer content asynchronously, and content would be developed in stackable modules. HIU would provide opportunities for students to demonstrate competencies, including using prior learning assessment. With these multiple opportunities for demonstrating competency, the time to graduation would be shorter and the cost would be reduced for the student.
HIU must have state of the art student success centers that will use action analytics to enhance the success of the learner and the ultimate goal of completion. Action analytics means “using longitudinal data analysis, predictive modeling, and dynamic analysis of current student progress to enhance the practice of strategic enrollment management and retention” (http://lindabaer.efoliomn.com/Uploads/SettingaNationalAgendaforActionAnalytics101509.pdf. Action analytics also allows for early invention with students who may not complete as well as critical information for faculty about their students’ learning and possible modifications they can make to improve student learning and retention.
Finally, I would establish a Vice President for Transparency. This person would be responsible for assuring that decision making is transparent not only for our faculty and staff but also to our students and to the general public.
(As an aside, you can see that I used a lot of “I’s” — assuming I got the job as President of HIU.)
As I write this I can see so many more things that could be addressed with HIU, but like all good things, the swim comes to an end. It’s always a good idea to take time to brainstorm what would I do…if I had nothing but money.