1st Edition

The Small College Imperative Models for Sustainable Futures

By Mary B. Marcy Copyright 2020
    166 Pages
    by Routledge

    166 Pages
    by Routledge

    With costs rising, traditional college student populations shrinking, and pundits predicting that huge numbers of colleges will close in the next few decades, small colleges cannot afford to pretend that business-as-usual can sustain them. This book offers five emerging models for how small colleges can hope to survive and thrive in these very challenging times: Traditional; Integrative; Distinctive Program; Expansion, and Distributed. In addition to offering practical guidance for colleges trying to decide which model is for them, the book includes brief institutional profiles of colleges pursuing each model. The book also addresses the evolving role of consortia and partnerships as an avenue to provide additional innovative ways to manage cost and develop new opportunities and programs while maintaining fidelity to mission and strategic vision.

    Foreword Acknowledgments 1. The Shifting Landscape 2. From Survival to Sustainability 3. Five Emerging Models of Small Colleges and Universities 4. Understanding the Traditional Model 5. Understanding the Integrated Model 6. Understanding the Distinctive Program Model 7. Understanding the Expansion Model 8. Understanding the Distributed University Model 9. Choosing a Path 10. Going it Alone? The Evolving Role of Consortia and Partnerships Epilogue References About the Author Index


    Mary B. Marcy is President of Dominican University of California. The ninth President of Dominican University of California, serving since 2011, Mary B. Marcy’s nationally recognized research focuses on small college innovation and transformation. As demographic, financial and policy shifts make the future especially unpredictable for small colleges across the country, Marcy has published and presented extensively on issues of leadership and strategy in higher education.At Dominican, Marcy has established innovative programs and partnerships to position students for success in the 21st century. Guided by her leadership, Dominican has developed a comprehensive framework for student learning and success known as The Dominican Experience. This signature program has led to dramatic increases in both graduation and retention rates at a time when the percentage of Dominican University students identifying as ethnically diverse has increased by nearly 30 percent.Prior to joining Dominican, Marcy served as provost of Bard College at Simon’s Rock and vice president of Bard College. Born and raised in western Nebraska, Marcy received her Bachelor of Arts with honors from the University of Nebraska. She earned her doctorate and master's degrees in politics from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

    “Mary Marcy’s Small College Imperative is an urgent reminder that the all too familiar status quo approach in no longer viable, and offers a timely blueprint for institutional transformation: five basic business and educational models for small colleges; institutional examples under each model; and risk evaluations for each. Higher education’s challenging “new normal” environment calls for decision making at a pace heretofore unknown within the academy. Consequently her Imperative is a clarion call for an immediate and rigorous analysis of sustainable institutional mission, market and outcome expectations.”

    Doug Orr, AGB Senior Fellow and Consultant, and President Emeritus

    Warren Wilson College

    “If there is a more astute analysis of the state of small colleges and universities in the U.S., or a savvier articulation of how to adapt and lead in this complex environment, I am unaware of it. Marcy forthrightly describes the key challenges facing small colleges, provides an accessible and comprehensive framework for categorizing strategies for innovation, and utilizes case studies that showcase different paths forward, thereby avoiding being pejorative and suggesting a panacea or silver bullet solution for every institution. This book is essential reading for academic leaders, board members, and students aspiring to leadership positions in higher education.”

    Cathy A. Trower, President, Trower & Trower, Inc., and former research director at Harvard Graduate School of Education

    “Anyone interested in the future of small private institutions—presidents, faculty, board members, administrators, and others—will find much value in The Small College Imperative by Mary Marcy. The thoughtful overview of the environment in which these colleges function is coupled with clear descriptions of five emerging models for small institutions. Marcy’s imperative—that fundamental change is necessary for survival and mission delivery—is spot-on and offered in compelling terms and with thoughtful guidance. The book provides readers with a clear-eyed look at challenging trends as well as reasons to hope for a healthy future for small institutions.”

    Susan Whealler Johnston, President and CEO

    National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)

    “Mary Marcy offers a compelling narrative, detailing the ways in which small independent colleges and universities make significant contributions to the diversity and richness of American higher education. In the process, she outlines five models for addressing the rapidly changing landscape of higher education, while issuing an invitation to presidents and boards to lead change. The result is a comprehensive roadmap which charts the path toward a sustainable future for independent higher education and responds to an increasingly skeptical public.”

    Lynn Pasquerella, President

    Association of American Colleges & Universities

    “Over the years I’ve worked with college and university leaders, I’ve seen many shift from confidence to apprehension about their institution’s future. For them, Mary Marcy’s book is a must-read. Identifying a taxonomy of approaches that small private colleges and universities are adopting to respond to challenges in the current higher education environment, Marcy offers examples of each approach and suggests how institutions might consider which is best for them. Her book should be used to stimulate and inform conversations among trustees, administrators, and faculty about how they might move their institution from ‘survival to sustainability.’”

    Judith McLaughlin, Faculty Director, Higher Education Program, and Educational Chair, Harvard Seminar for New Presidents

    Harvard Graduate School of Education

    “Mary Marcy's book is an essential read for everyone who cares about the future of small colleges. Such institutions are woven into the fabric of the United States, yet a demographic shift across the country threatens their future. Most of the conventional wisdom is that small colleges are on the brink of closure. But Marcy provides a different, hopeful, and inspiring outlook. This book is the blueprint for how these institutions can reinvent themselves for a future where they both survive and prosper.”

    Jeffrey Selingo, author of the New York Times bestsellers, College (Un)Bound and There Is Life After College