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Thriving Colleges Confer at SNC

Colleges and universities that are truly thriving in today’s changing landscapes are the ones that are constantly looking ahead, industry experts agree. Such institutions are always thinking about how they can adapt with the most agility to whatever comes next in the rapidly changing landscape of higher education. So St. Norbert found itself in good company as it played host to the Thriving Institute, a May 21-23 conference sponsored by Credo and the Association of Catholic Colleges & Universities.

Emma Jones of Credo says: “The higher-ed landscape is not a static thing. Demographics and technology are really changing the way that we need to serve students and the way that the students coming into our institutions are learning.” Other pressures shaping the landscape include issues of cost and affordability, diversity and social justice, regulatory changes, and ideological shifts in emphasis on outcomes and career readiness.

Jones points out that institutions can’t reach a point of health and then simply stop. “The institutions that are truly thriving are the ones that are thinking about how they can be most agile and adaptive to whatever comes next,” she says.

Ron Slepitza, president of Avila University, found the deep dive into adaptive learning and design thinking offered at Thriving powerful, as his own college moves toward a new strategic plan. It would be equally helpful, he said, in navigating the “white waters” of the constant change in his industry, in learning, and in the world in which Avila’s students, alumni and business partners live and work: “I believe these seven Catholic colleges and universities, with their distinct charisms, have an opportunity to share with each other, partner when possible, and commit to work together collaboratively to build our institutions, and the important missions we have and people we serve.”

The seven schools who joined the conversation left with an expanded tool kit for effective teamwork and leadership focused on adaptive change.

Here and thriving
On campus for this year’s Thriving Institute were the leadership teams of

  • Avila University
  • College of St. Benedict
  • Dominican University
  • Edgewood College
  • Lewis University
  • St. Norbert College
  • University of St. Francis

Guest speaker Tom Flynn, president of Alvernia University, commented: “It was a delight both to join seven fellow presidents whom I respect and also to return to St. Norbert after 20 years. The campus looks terrific, and you are fortunate to have a great president in Brian. The Thriving Institute is well named, as schools like St. Norbert will continue to innovate and take steps to ensure long-term sustained success.”

July 1, 2019