Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Threat No. 8—Limited Reputation

Top Threats to Higher Ed in 2019

Threat No. 8 — Limited Reputation

The first seven threats to higher education applied to the entire sector, especially private, residential institutions. Limited reputation is especially vexing for Susquehanna.

Following the announcement of my appointment as president of Susquehanna, well-wishers at the meetings of many of the organizations with whom I worked in the Midwest, would say something to the effect of, “Congratulations to Jonathan on being named president at—How do you say the name of your new university?”

An alumnus recently said to me, “Susquehanna is the biggest little university in the world. No matter where I go, if I have on fan wear, someone will know SU, and say ‘What a great school.’” 

Last week, that happened to me on a ship in the middle of the Mediterranean, but I also regularly encounter people in Harrisburg (45 miles from campus) who have no idea where we are much less have an opinion about us.

A few years ago, I was at a conference of college and university leaders. A presenter asked the assembly, “How many of you refer to your institution as a ‘hidden gem.’” All eight hundred attendees raised their hands.

Each of us believes we are under-recognized and over-meritorious. In our case it’s true.
  •  Susquehanna is among the top 10% of colleges and universities for financial return on investment (Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2019).
  • Susquehanna is 1st in Pennsylvania and 11th in the U.S. for study abroad (Open Doors 2019, Institute for International Education).
  • Susquehanna is among the top 40 national liberal-arts institutions for our contribution to the public good through promotion of social mobility, research, and service (Washington Monthly, 2018).
  • Susquehanna is one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges (Princeton Review Guide to 399 Green Colleges, 2018).
  • Susquehanna is 20th in the nation for the best residential summer programs for high school students (Value Colleges, 2018).
  • Susquehanna was named the ninth most economically diverse student body in the U.S. (New York Times, 2014).
  • Susquehanna is a member of the Annapolis Group, the leading 130 private liberal arts colleges in the nation.
  • The Sigmund Weis School of Business is among the top 5% of business programs world-wide and one of only ten U.S. undergraduate-only programs to have earned AACSB accreditation.
These are just of few of the lights under our bushel.

My New Year’s resolution is to “Burn the Bushel.”

Two years ago, we started including a bragging page in Currents, the University’s biennial magazine. Some of the items above came from it.

We need to mobilize our alumni, families, and friends to boast about these highlights. We need to lift the reputation of the University to the level of its merit. Most importantly, we need to be sure that every student who would benefit from a Susquehanna education knows about us and makes an informed decision.

My charge to you is to share these bragging points, and many others, along with your own stories about what Susquehanna means to you. Do this until your friends are exhausted. Then do it some more. Comment on social media stories about SU; better yet, repost them; and best, post your own.

Happy New Year to you all!



This Blog Has Moved