The Greatest Opportunities in 2013 in Higher Education and Research

By: Laura A. Yaeger, Shandy S. Husmann, Peter J. Eschenbach, Rick Rohrbach, Joseph Taylor

Colleges and universities are learning to work faster, smarter, and more efficiently out of neccessity.  The issues that have impacted higher education in recent years – decreased financial support, tighter budgets, more competition for research funding, and successfully incorporating digital teaching tools into the classroom – will continue to be the dominant features of 2013.

This year will be one of continuing to adapt and making wise choices to position universities for success.

Six of Huron Education’s leaders sat down for conversations and offered their insights into what to expect in the year ahead in areas where some of the greatest opportunities lie.

Collaboration: The cost pressures affecting higher education are certainly not over. But hard times have a way of causing universities to consider opportunities they wouldn’t have before.

“The greatest opportunities for universities are the number of collaborative networks that are now available. New collaborations give universities options for expanding programs in a variety of innovative ways. We are seeing this in educational offerings and in research.” 
Laura Yaeger, Executive Vice President, Huron Education
>> Listen to the podcast with Laura Yaeger (4:04)

Education Innovation: Universities are asking themselves profound questions about how to best respond to technological innovations, such as MOOCs (massive open online courses) and the “flipped classroom.” It is key that they are comfortable with a strategy before plunging forward.

“Even revolutions take place in time, and over time. There is a lot of work to be done to shape the future of higher education, and no one is too late to this dance.” 
Edwin Eisendrath, Managing Director, Huron Education
>> Listen to the podcast with Edwin Eisendrath (6:49)

Enrollment Management: Universities are looking more critically than ever at many of their departments, but they are focusing in many cases on student recruiting, to determine if they are getting the right students and emphasizing the right programs.

“It used to be that universities had somewhat the luxury to be many things to many different constituency groups. But in these tough times where resources are constrained, universities need to be sharper, more focused, and have a smaller set of strategic priorities that are going to align.”
Shandy Husmann, Managing Director, Huron Education
>> Listen to the podcast with Shandy Husmann (6:17)

Technology Infrastructure: Universities are constantly faced with the dilemma of replacing aging information technology that may not be supported any longer by its manufacturer, or does not have the functionality that the university needs. In tough budget times, technology managers cannot afford to make a mistake.

“The challenge for a university or a hospital administrator is that they have to figure out, ‘what is it that I need to do that would have the most impact on my business?’ We spend a lot of time identifying just what are the business drivers, and verifying and validating that those business drivers are going to be met by a new or upgraded system.”
Peter Eschenbach, Managing Director, Huron Education
>> Listen to the podcast with Peter Eschenbach (4:50)

Research Administration: Universities and research hospitals are being forced by constrained federal funding and increased competition to think more deeply about their core strengths and how to leverage them.

“We think there are opportunities to look at research administration as a continuum rather than a series of discrete processes to be managed.   In doing so, you can optimize information systems, streamline processes, better leverage your staff and increase researcher satisfaction.”
Rick Rohrbach, Managing Director, Huron Education

“The encouraging thing is that senior leaders at many institutions are willing to take this on and some have already been able to make significant progress at transforming their research enterprises.”
Joe Taylor, Managing Director, Huron Education 
>> Listen to the podcast with Rick Rohrbach and Joe Taylor (5:31)

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