BALTIMORE – Teaching entrepreneurship has become one way for colleges to help local economies. Creating degree programs focused on the acquisition of business-savvy skills without a unifying theme, however, is often a difficult sell with both professors and students. Without creating new degrees, one community college has achieved success in the classroom and spawned many a student-run business in its area by encouraging faculty to embed entrepreneurship into their traditional curriculum.
In theory, it sounded like an interesting partnership. American University’s Kogod School of Business wanted to team up with the university's School of International Service, building a graduate degree program that would cater to idealistic students who might not otherwise be drawn to the business school.
In an age where every penny counts, some universities are pulling out all the stops to collect parking ticket debts. Colleges are deploying a full arsenal of weapons, including the use of high-tech equipment to scan parking lots for violators, and the enlistment of collection agencies to hunt down deadbeats.
In a state known for horse racing, it's fair to say lawmakers have pressed the University of Louisville to gallop into a brighter research future. That encouragement began more than a decade ago, when Kentucky's "bucks for brains" program started matching private dollars given to universities in support of research and faculty recruitment.
When investment returns were going gangbusters years ago, most colleges paid little attention to whether they’d have quick access to cash if a severe economic downturn occurred. The pitfalls of that oversight are now clearer than ever, and a major rating agency is asking colleges to produce ever-more detailed reports about their “liquidity” positions.
Signs of the economic downturn are evident many places you turn in higher education these days: in the exploding demand for student financial aid, the imposition of faculty and staff furloughs, and an upturn in the number of nonprofit colleges being transformed into for-profit institutions.
It’s no secret that for-profit institutions lavishly outspend their public counterparts in marketing. Just look out for their billboards along busy roadways, commercials airing on cable television, or prominent ads on popular websites.
This tends to cause general consternation among community college leaders, many of whom believe their institutions could just as easily serve students looking elsewhere for career advancement or retraining. So why – amid ever-increasing advertising blitzes by for-profit institutions – are some community colleges slashing their marketing budgets?
Maybe punishing every evil company is less practical than supporting corporations that seek to do good. Rather than divest from tobacco companies or those that engage in ethically dubious business in Sudan, Dickinson and Middlebury colleges are trying to steer investment dollars toward companies and managed funds with strong environmental and social records.
Like so many small private colleges, Dana College, a small Lutheran institution on the outskirts of Omaha, has long been precariously close to its death.
“I’ve worried about the college as long as I’ve known the college,” says Myrvin Christopherson, a 1961 alumnus who was Dana’s president from 1986 until 2005. During those 19 years, not only did he weather several years of budget deficits and a fire that destroyed the college’s Old Main, but he also increased the college’s endowment from $1 million to more than 10 times that. “It was always able to pull through.”