Smart Leadership for Higher Education in Difficult Times
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Smart Leadership for Higher Education in Difficult Times

Edited by David W. Breneman and Paul J. Yakoboski

As the US economy emerges from the severest recession in a generation, large questions regarding its long-term ramifications for higher education remain unanswered. In fact, the harshest effects of the economic downturn are likely ahead as campus leadership focuses on enrollment, affordability and fundraising. This volume of essays examines the challenges and opportunities for advancing higher education’s core missions of education, research and service in a resource-constrained environment.
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Chapter 13: Ten Potential Lessons from Investor-owned Higher Education

Gregory M St. L. O’Brien, Craig Swenson and Geoffrey Bannister


Gregory M. St. L. O’Brien, Craig Swenson, and Geoffrey Bannister1 The theme of the 2009 Higher Education Leadership Conference was appropriately Smart Leadership in Difficult Times. Through the several panels we are seeking new models for our enterprise to survive and to thrive in unprecedented times. Unlike earlier downturns in higher education, particularly in state supported higher education, the challenges faced by colleges and universities today are unlike those ever encountered in the twentieth century. In many ways the “perfect storm” of difficulties is being  encountered by our universities and colleges: state appropriations and available state resources are in sharp decline as state budgets plummet; investment portfolios are fractions of what they were merely 24 months ago; donors and benefactors have been shocked and frightened about their own financial security by these downturns and both new and planned gifts are necessarily put on hold or cancelled entirely. Even available federal support was briefly paralyzed by the financial uncertainties during the financial crisis of 2008 and has not recovered its responsiveness as new alternative forms of aid are being considered in a deadlocked Congress. Nevertheless, students continue to find ways to attend college and graduate schools to enhance their skills and credentials to prepare for an increasingly competitive and challenging job market and slower economy. One of the sectors that have seen constant and dramatic growth in the past decade, even in these very draconian times is the investor-owned (or forprofit) sector of higher education. These institutions derive their resources and...

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