Publications & Products
President's Perspective: Advancing Through Adversity
President's Perspective: Advancing Through Adversity

How is your institution preparing for the disruptions on the horizon?

By Sue Cunningham

Daniel Peck

Disruption. We've all heard about the seismic changes affecting multiple business sectors, and education is no exception. At their spring 2016 meetings, CASE Commission members discussed how we might turn disruptions into opportunities.

The challenges are many. On the economic front, our colleagues in Europe are facing financial turbulence around student recruitment, research funding, and academic staff and student mobility caused by "Brexit"—the U.K.'s recent decision to leave the European Union. In the U.S., more than 30 states have reduced higher education funding in the past five years. Student loan debt is also a problem: Total U.S. student debt climbed from $350 billion in 2004 to $1.3 trillion today—and continues to grow more than $2,700 every second, according to StartClass, an education data site. In England, the government expects the value of outstanding loans to reach more than £100 billion in 2018.

Student activists are also creating new pressures. In 2014, students in Australia protested a plan to deregulate university fees. As chronicled in the July/August Currents, students around the world have challenged institutions to address systemic racism on campus and to stop honoring historical figures who supported racist policies.

Legislative matters are also bringing new disruptions. U.S. lawmakers have proposed taxing the endowments of educational institutions, while in the U.K., the "Etherington Report" is determining regulations that would hamper fundraising efforts in schools and universities.

Sadly, campuses continue to contend with violence and security concerns. Institutions and students have endured bomb threats, sexual assaults, shootings, and murder, including, earlier in 2016, the shooting at Bacha Khan University in Pakistan, which killed 22 people.

Some disruptors surface from within. Controversial leadership changes have led to challenging public relations scenarios, and media scrutiny of institutional spending and lax oversight has hastened the departure of numerous leaders.

For those who work in advancement, these disruptive forces can change where and how institutions market themselves, raise private funds, practice alumni relations, and communicate with students and alumni. How might your communications efforts prevent or mitigate a campus protest? What sort of relationship have you built with alumni, who can be allies or adversaries during a crisis?

With all of this change, though, comes an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of the professions that advance education around the globe. I invite you to share your successes. The CASE Library collects sample materials on these topics and welcomes your contributions. Together we will learn new ways to inspire, challenge, and equip advancement professionals to champion the success of their institutions.

About the Author Sue Cunningham Sue Cunningham

Sue Cunningham is the president of CASE. Follow her on Twitter at @CunninghamCASE.




Add a Comment

You must be logged in to comment . Your name and institution will show with your comment.