Tipsheet: Higher Ed 2015

Dick Jones Communications

April 2015 Tipsheet

USING CONTESTS FOR ADMISSIONS LEADS – Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vt., isn’t targeting more high school students by buying more names.  Instead, they are utilizing contests to deliver quality leads. The Beautiful Minds Challenge was born out of the idea that Marlboro students are interested in wrestling with complicated, abstract ideas.  Each year the prompt changes, for example this year the prompt was “create something out of destruction and share what you learn.”  This year dozens of responses came in throughout the US and around the world.  Marlboro will tell you that this type of challenge produces better leads than any list buying.  They have been running the program for three years and a total of 14 students have matriculated since then.  In total, BMC respondents account for 9% of the incoming class for fall 2015 and currently account for 20% of the deposits for Fall 2015. There are 12-13 students still pending for fall 2015.  Marlboro does invest heavily in the program.  The top ‘prize’, worth more than $150,000, is a full tuition scholarship at Marlboro.  And the top 25 individuals all get an expense-paid trip to the 2015 Beautiful Minds Symposium at Marlboro’s campus.  The scholarships and cash prizes alone are valued $350,000, not to mention what it costs to bring 25 students to campus for a long weekend.  CONTACT: Ariel Brooks, director of non-degree programs,, 802-451-7118 (office) 

SO LONG, ‘LECTURERS’: A NEW MODEL FOR NON-TENURED FACULTY – A new policy at the University of Denver will establish professional pathways and long-term contracts for valued, non-tenure-track faculty members. Like many colleges, DU employs a good number of full-time, non-tenured faculty with salary and benefits -- but no job security. The new DU system allows for non-tenure instructors to be hired on annual contracts for no longer than five years. After that time, they can either be released from duty or promoted to Assistant Teaching Professor, Assistant Clinical Professor or Assistant Professor of the Practice (for non-traditional academics) on a contract of up to three years.  The idea is to ensure faculty are fully vested in and committed to students and the university while providing job security to deserving appointed faculty members who aren’t in tenure-line positions.  About 200 hundred faculty members (currently known as “lecturers”) will be affected by the changes, which go into effect in the fall.  It could be a model for other colleges trying to figure out how to incorporate adjuncts into the faculty. CONTACT: Gregg Kvistad, provost and executive vice chancellor, at

CUT THE STICKER PRICE, REAP THE REWARDS – Back in 2012, Sewanee: The University of the South announced it was reducing its sticker price by 10 percent.  The price for 2010-11 had been $46,100. In 2011-12 it dropped to $41,500. Financial aid awards were adjusted accordingly. But as a result of the change, every family paid less—and some considerably less—than they had the year before.  The results of this move for Sewanee have been effective.  Campus visits have increased nearly 10 percent.  Applications have shown a steady increase; they are up more than 50 percent this year from 3000 to 4500.  Selectivity and yield have both improved.  Retention from freshman to sophomore year has averaged 90 percent.  Sewanee has also seen its discount rate fall by more than 5 percentage points – now under 40 percent.  “We have, in other words, challenged the ‘high tuition/high discount’ theory of pricing and we have suffered no harm (and perhaps have even done some good) in the admissions market place,” said John M. McCardell, Jr., vice chancellor of the University of the South.  CONTACT: Laurie Saxton,, 931-598-1286 (office)   

9TH GRADERS QUIT HIGH SCHOOL, START COLLEGE – This fall, Bard College at Simon's Rock, the nation's first early college, will establish the country's first 9th and 10th grade program that enables students to forego a high school diploma to earn their associate of arts degree in just four years.  Bard Academy at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, MA will welcome its first 9th-grade class in Fall 2015. Upon completing 10th grade, Academy students will begin full-time studies at Bard College at Simon's Rock, earning their AA after two years and, in the case of over half the college's students, their bachelor of arts degree after two more.  The Academy is modeled in part after the Bard High School Early Colleges (BHSEC), alternative public schools in New York City, Newark and Cleveland, where students complete both high school and associate of arts degree in four years.  “High school, for many students, just goes on to long,” says Ian Bickford, founding dean of Bard Academy. “Early college is great and radical, but if you’re saying students should start early, you’re also saying that high school should be shorter. For a lot of our students, high school is just something they’re trying to forget. It shouldn’t have to be that.” Academy students will share the same philosophy, facilities and personal attention they would at the college, but with dedicated dormitory space and closer supervision. Courses are designed and taught by the college faculty. “Who better to prepare you for college than your future college professors?,” Bickford says. CONTACT: (413) 644-4221 or

A SECRET MENU OF ACADEMIC OFFERINGS– The folks at York College of Pennsylvania have launched a scholarship that is a ‘club card’ of sorts, offering extended perks and opportunities for those who hold the scholarship. The scholarship is not designed to impact the price of attendance to York, but instead to provide enhanced educational experiences that are not available to the entire student body.  Benefits include exclusive study abroad and study away opportunities, summer research jobs with faculty or community partners and a housing stipend.   “This program will give you the kind of education you would have built if you were in charge. Hands on, purposeful, with the chance to play with learning, not just have it poured on you,” said Dominic DelliCarpini, dean of Academic Affairs. CONTACT: Dominic DelliCarpini, or 717-815-1231 (office).

A PROCESS TO VALUES – Those in business school typically learn about running regressions and the how-tos of business.  Senior Associate Dean of the Master of Science in Accountancy program at Wake Forest University School of Business wanted to figure out a process that made sense for helping accounting students think about their values and principles before their internships.  One of the readings that Wilkerson makes his class read is Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What's Right, by Mary Gentile.  After the students read the text and complete their internship, they are responsible for developing a case study that describes how their ethics or values were challenged.  All of the case studies that Wilkerson uses in his class are real cases from other accounting students.  CONTACT: Jack Wilkerson,, 336-758-4410 (office)

MESSIAH COLLEGE TAKES CONDUCTING CLASSES ONLINE – Colleges and universities are finding novel ways to make on-site offerings available for students online. Messiah’s master’s of music conducting program is mostly online and uses VoiceThread, a video technology often used by premier athletes, to show side-by-side review of students’ hand movements when conducting.  The program is available for wind, band and choral conducting.  To date, there are about 100 students enrolled in the program.  CONTACT: Rob Pepper, or 717-766-2511

WHEN STUDY ABROAD DOESN’T GO FAR ENOUGH – “For students who want to work in the world, study abroad doesn’t always push you enough,” says John Singleton, director of international services at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. TCU’s Global Academy offers a more holistic approach, bringing faculty, students and communities together to ”explore global realities.” Students are selected through a rigorous application process by NGOs and other agencies in the Republic of Panama. Assembled into interdisciplinary teams, the students conduct field and project work for organizations like The Wetlands International, Voices Vitales and the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (CATHALAC). Because it’s project-based – and students are “hired” by NGOs to accomplish specific goals – the experience is no longer “just about the student,” Singleton says. CONTACT: Singleton at

FIND YOUR PASSION, FIND YOUR PATH -- When Rich Grant, director of experiential learning at Roanoke College in Virginia, gives one of his frequent talks to college-bound teens and their families, he reminds them that two million college seniors will graduate this year and compete for the same jobs. He asks them, “What’s going to set you apart?” Roanoke’s Pathways Program no longer just sends students off to an internship, study abroad trip or service learning experience and ask them to maybe write a paper when they return, says Grant.  Preparation and reflection are now a much bigger part of the process. Students begin their study abroad, research project, internship or service-learning experience only after thoughtful planning, are guided through a process of reflection during the experience and then are required to showcase their experience to a wider audience at its conclusion.  About a quarter of Roanoke College students (500 or so) have taken part in the program, which also provides financial support (up to $500) for students and a stipend for faculty supervisors.  CONTACT:  Grant at or (540) 375-2430.

GIVING VOICE TO ISSUES  -- Marlboro College is launching a new class, entitle “Speech Matters” that aims to teach students how to thoroughly investigate a subject but also give a voice to those issues.  Participants in the program are recent high school graduates and college students who are preparing for future roles as influential news commentators, journalists, YouTubers, talk radio commentators, documentarians and bloggers—those who go beyond reporting on issues and add a human element that makes the stories compelling, nuanced and humane. This year, the program focuses around the issue of addiction. Students will be building a professional portfolio of media content while learning about addiction through coursework in politics, writing and American studies. The course will feature guest speakers ranging from influencers in government to members of the media, as well as documentarians, musicians and people who struggle with addiction themselves. It also includes a trip to New York City, where students will discuss policy reform and meet with user/activists, and a trip to Washington, where students will attend a national addiction conference and meet with speechwriters and policymakers. The student's work will aim to bring human concerns back into the national debate about drugs, drug reform and addiction, and the best work will be submitted to editorial contacts at the Huffington Post, NPR affiliates and other media outlets. Students leave the program with an online portfolio of work that showcases their ability to reframe a political conversation into a human one.  CONTACT: Meg Mott at


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