Improving college readiness, delivering high-quality academic programs through state-of-the-art instruction, ensuring more students complete college, and optimizing the use of scarce resources are all outcomes that higher education institutions have individually voiced as the biggest priorities for their work. We stand united in the quest to expand access, ensure completion, and guarantee success, and yet we struggle with how to get ourselves there. How can our large, intricate, and complicated organizations transform themselves into nimble, responsive, and focused institutions? How do we realign ourselves around outcomes, broaden what we hold ourselves accountable for, and begin working toward achieving collective impact outside our current silos? The answer is deceivingly simple: change.
We need leaders who understand the science of change, systems that are change-oriented and more adaptive, a culture of data-driven decision making across entities, and a renewed commitment to working together across sectors to scale up change, embracing an ethos of continuous improvement not as a punitive measure, but as the only way forward. By improving our ability to change, we improve our ability to impact.
Understanding large-scale change in other sectors, such as healthcare, business, and the social sector, can help inform us of what collective impact looks like and how to get there. A deeper look at the mechanics of change enables us to build the habits of mind to consistently look at our actions through the lens of improvement. And finally, we must look critically at our own collegiate structures to begin building pathways towards collective impact.
We know the path forward is daunting and massive change can seem insurmountable, but we know one thing for sure: it won’t come from making a few bold changes at the top, but from lighting the fire within all of us—across higher ed, k-12, business, government, philanthropy, and communities—to change the way we think, plan, and do everything.
Conference Email: SUNYCON2014@suny.edu
Conference Phone: 212.364.5869