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Higher Education Must Innovate to Survive

Butler University President James Danko wrote last Wednesday in U.S. News that the American higher education industry must evolve to survive.

Danko said in order for higher education in America to survive, thrive and “recapture its earlier glory,” it must innovate and reinvent itself.

“Industries that do not recognize the need for transition—or that do not manage that transition with agility—are likely to fail,” he said.

He said higher education institutions are in a period of change, where accessibility and affordability are prioritized and status quo spending on curricular and extra-curricular activities is being reviewed.

“Universities are typically change resistant, but change is imperative to ensure that a college education remains relevant and desirable,” he wrote. “Let’s shed old constraints and step outside our comfort zones.”

With students demanding increased accountability amid growing concerns about student debt levels and post-graduation unemployment, Danko believes a wholesale change will yield positive results for the higher education industry.

“Those of us in university administration must finally embrace, deep within ourselves and within the bones of our institutions, the fact that business as usual in American higher education is over,” he wrote. “Our students should expect an education where they learn to take risks, develop an ability to adapt to change, and become the leaders we know they are. A college or university that can deliver this kind of education will endure and thrive.”