With everyone from students and families to state and local governments questioning the role of higher education, does higher education have a vision of its own? Daniel Seymour, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education asks whether, in a heated and divisive election year where candidates have proposed solutions to address student debt and demanded more accountability from colleges and universities, has higher education lost control of its own narrative? This lack of vision, as Seymour defines it, puts higher education at risk suggesting, “That if we can’t describe our future, others will be happy to do it for us — and to hold us accountable for achieving it.”
Seymour’s plea comes as a result of a study he conducted of 140 institutions. Where he found “a lack of appreciation for what a compelling shared vision can do for a college.” He decries what he sees as vision statements that are merely decorative or, “mere afterthoughts.” Seymour believes that what colleges and universities are lacking is the kind of aspirational visions that drive private businesses and political parties forward.
Seymour details what he describes as the responsibility institutions have to work through the process and identify a forward looking vision. Such an investment of time and effort should result in a shared vision- one that can act as a unifying or overarching theme for the entire institution as well as a cornerstone for marketing and promotion.
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