The Future of Higher Education
Since COVID-19 led to massive shutdowns around the world last year, the looming cloud of uncertainty has only gotten heavier. Like many organizations, higher education institutions have radically changed. The big questions are: will colleges and universities get back to how we did business pre-pandemic? What is the future of higher education? What roles can people play to navigate through this crisis?
On October 30, 2020, J. Michael Gower, Executive Vice President - Chief Financial Officer & University Treasurer, Russell Moore, University of Colorado Boulder Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, joined Teibel Education President Howard Teibel in a webinar discussion where they focused on
how to be disruptors instead of waiting to be disrupted;
what a transformed finance and budget process look like; and
how to retain traditions while letting go of practices that no longer serve the institution.
A major consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic is the heightened distrust between faculty and administrators. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, some administrators feel like they are in survival mode, struggling to keep the institution afloat, while faculty are disconnected from economic realities.
“We were through two-thirds of the budget cycle when the pandemic hit. We had to redo a new budget,” Gower stated. However, he went on to say that a budget is not a major event. “Think of it as a continuum. Think beyond 12 months,” he elaborated. We don’t know how long we are going to be in this state – and it is terrifying, but we learn to live and manage this uncertainty.” This is the future of higher education and like everything else, it helps to be proactive rather than reactive.
On the subject of financial plans, Russell Moore stated that budgets are a reflection of values. “If you look at a budget, you should tell what our values are.” As the discussion ended, Gower and Moore encouraged openness, safe spaces for difficult conversations, and avoiding defensiveness in favor of transparency and honesty. Approaching these tough conversations with grace and compassion will ultimately lead to success, they concluded.