Crucial Higher Ed Issues: The Elevator Speech

TalkingEDUSmall.jpgIn a recent Inside Higher Ed blog post, Carl Strikwerda uses the proverbial elevator speech to succinctly describe what he sees as the six most crucial concerns facing higher education institutions today. While the premise is an old one, the choice of topics may be up for debate among some higher education administrators.

This impetus to encapsulate a host of concerns was brought about when Strikwerda was challenged recently by a board member, “why don’t you give me an elevator speech on the biggest challenges facing higher education? Skip the nuance. No laundry list. Just the top six. You have 120 seconds.”

The topics Strikwerda chose are:

  1. Raising graduation rates
  2. Setting high standards for our higher education institutions
  3. Improving the training of academic administrative leadership
  4. Fostering responsible board governance
  5. Meeting the expectations of Title IX, the Clery Act, VAWA, ADA, FERPA, etc
  6. Financing renovation

Strikwerda cover a lot of ground in the brief second between floors. Some of the highlights include:

Regarding raising higher education rates: “Low graduation rates mean we spend billions on students who quit and then more billions to recruit and teach more students who quit. Higher graduation rates would save us money, restore people’s dreams and help the United States compete.” When it comes to setting higher standards for higher education institutions, Strikwerda sites the “plethora of criteria” varying institutions face. As for improving the training of academic administrative leadership, Strikwerda has just two simple sentences, “We take smart academics who know virtually nothing about administration and put them in charge of multimillion-dollar operations with almost no preparation. We should be able to do better than learning by making mistakes.”

Do you agree or disagree? To read the complete post and weigh-in with your own six topics click here.

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