4. Can the white paper help? New programs? Revenue growth possibilities?

  1. Can the White Paper help us to think about this: Are there other ideas for programs, collaborations with other colleges, etc. that can help us ensure that we remain true to our mission and values while we do this restructuring work?
    1. Are there new programs, majors, collaborations, etc. — noted in the White Paper or not — that folks would like to work on developing? Short term? Medium and long term?
    2. Where do we reasonably see revenue growth possibilities in the next year? The next 2-3 years?

Author: Dan Ryan

I'm currently an Academic Program Director at MinervaProject.com. I've been a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. I'm driven by the desire to figure out how to teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

3 thoughts on “4. Can the white paper help? New programs? Revenue growth possibilities?”

  1. The “degree completion” section points at something interesting but is perhaps more narrow and less developed than it might be. Simply moving courses to evenings likely generates one revenue stream while diminishing another. When the business model is “hire an adjunct to teach an evening class” we are engaging in the worst kind of higher education exploitation – charge students the price a good liberal arts college can afford to charge but deliver the product with much less expensive labor.

    Instead, I think the working concept could be “pedagogical reusability.” One way to imagine it would be offering a course or parts of courses in both a “matinee” and “evening show” and maybe a “weekend” version too. We might focus on what parts of our teaching can be (re-)deployed efficiently to multiple audiences and build the infrastructure that would allow it to be cost effective and easy enough to be an attractive option for faculty. That infrastructure might involve revenue sharing and creative teaching credit regimes, space management, marketing, teaching assistance, etc.

    A working mission statement: create structures, policies, and tools that let me teach more students better easier.

  2. There are some interesting ideas in the white paper, but I'm not persuaded it addresses the bottom-line issue, which is enrollment (and retention). It is not clear that a lot of new majors will lead to increased enrollment, and having started a new grad program and run it for 10 years, I would venture to say that some of the estimates for new students (and therefore revenues) are unrealistically high. We need to figure out why students are not attracted to Mills and what we can do to make the college more attractive. In line with this, I do think that offering more part-time and evening programs could help us grow–particularly in grad programs, but potentially also at the undergrad level. I would add to that some online components, not entire programs, but enough that we are able to meet students' need for greater flexibility. We have been talking about the need for evening classes in the MPP program for years now; the problem is it would take additional resources to offer an evening program *and* be able to serve the current group of daytime students (not all students want evening classes). We've had a hard time figuring out how to make the transition smoothly and hang onto the students we've got.

    Some of the suggestions for new programs are intriguing, but I worry that we need to strengthen the programs we've got before spreading ourselves a lot thinner. In terms of interdisciplinary majors, they're a nice idea and they may be appealing to students (we need to find out, somehow), but again, having run one, I know that the coordination/collaboration issues are significant. In Public Policy we have been in the position of having to suddenly cover courses that had been another department's offerings when those other departments suddenly decided to drop something. Advising strikes me as another major challenge if an interdisciplinary major really is not owned by one program.

    Centers can be very meaningful for student activity and recruitment–witness the Center for Socially Responsible Business at the GSB–but they can also be a waste of resources (and they take more to run than the white paper suggests). I would recommend looking at successful models like the CSRB and CUSP (I'm less familiar with it) and figuring out what the key features are that make them do what we want them to do. We have been thinking about some kind of Center on/for Women and Politics/Policy for some time now, and I think we've got some great ideas, but there needs to be some support for this to succeed in attracting students, raising the profile of the college and the program, and engaging leaders in the community with our work.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: