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Short Videos Present Key Ideas on Economic Challenges Facing Liberal Arts Colleges

Short Videos Present Key Ideas on Economic Challenges Facing Liberal Arts Colleges February 6, 2015
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“We pick up the paper every day and there’s something about higher ed,” said Jill Tiefenthaler, President of Colorado College and an economist who is a leading scholar on the economics of higher education.

“I’m going to argue today that most of that is anxiety that’s being driven by what’s happening in our public [colleges and universities] in the United States,” she continued. “But we tend to be the poster child because of our sticker prices.”

Tiefenthaler’s remarks open one of four short videos that distill ideas developed in presentations she and three other administrative leaders gave at faculty seminars sponsored by ACM’s Institute on College Futures (ICF).

The videos, which are posted on the ACM website, feature Beloit College President Scott Bierman, Lake Forest College Provost and Dean of the Faculty Michael Orr, and David Wheaton, Vice President for Administration and Finance at Macalester College, along with Tiefenthaler. There are also links to videos of the full-length presentations the speakers gave at the seminars, from which excerpts were selected to create the five- to six-minute short videos.

The talks by Tiefenthaler (The Economics of Higher Education) and Bierman (The Tuition Driven School’s Dilemma) examine aspects of the national debate about affordability and access, factors that have led to tuition increases across the liberal arts sector, and the competitive world of tuition dependent colleges.

Orr and Wheaton explore the basic financial model that is typical of ACM institutions in their sessions on College Finances 101 and Financial Challenges for the Future.

Michael OrrMichael Orr

College Finances 101

The three-day ICF seminars bring together faculty from ACM colleges for presentations and discussions designed to provide a “big picture” view of the economics and finances of higher education — particularly the liberal arts college sector — and to gather and develop language, analysis, and resources that participants can share with colleagues at their home institutions.

“We have several goals in creating these videos,” said Brian Williams, ACM Vice President and Director of Faculty Development and Grant Programs. “First, we want to highlight the work of the ACM related to these institutes and to make the resources from the seminars accessible to a wide audience. More broadly, we want to shed light on some of the current economic challenges facing liberal arts colleges and enable faculty at ACM and other colleges to engage in charting the course forward for their institutions.”

The seminars, each drawing about 60 faculty from across the consortium, have been held the past two summers in Chicago and plans are underway to hold two more seminars in 2015 and 2016. Seminar participants are nominated by their colleges’ presidents and academic deans and include faculty engaged in the budget and planning processes on their campuses.

ICF participants have addressed faculty meetings and governance committees and have met with presidents, academic deans, and other administrative leaders on their campuses to disseminate the information from the seminars.

The ICF initiative is generously supported by a $250,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Timely support for creating the short videos was provided by the Teagle Foundation.


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