News & Events
News & Events
August 28, 2014
Fall Colloquium 2014
Charting Our New Course
Good morning! Welcome to the Fall Colloquium. It is gratifying to see so many joining us today for a very important kickoff to Ocean County College’s efforts at thinking anew and acting anew in our transforming initiative: Charting Our New Course.
Welcome especially to our distinguished guests:
As he assumed the Office of President of the United States, and the prospect of civil war was looming, Abraham Lincoln offered this charge to his new administration:
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.”
Lincoln’s words could not be more propitious for the issues we at OCC face, and all of higher education face, as we contemplate the vast challenges before us.
Let me, now, briefly put into the context of our 2014 Colloquium theme and articulate why, for practically all institutions of higher education, the dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present, and why OCC is primed to be a transformational role model in thinking anew and acting anew.
Another icon of the American spirit of achievement and self-reliance, Mark Twain, opined: “To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”
As we contemplate our prospects for success in Charting Our New Course, it would appear that our chances are excellent!
We have an abundance of both going for us … but, in that, we are far from alone.
Seriously, now, we can justify our past and present successes, which are substantial, and even frame-breaking in a few instances. Any objective viewer of the video shown this morning will catch glimpses of this quality – OCC has long adhered to the highest academic standards, now being attested to on huge banners adorning our buildings and mall monoliths proclaiming the achievements and pride of our graduates.
So, we can justifiably be confident and aspirational about the future, an indispensable attitude for those intrepid souls who would ‘go where no man has gone before’ (apologies to the cast of Star Trek). My stint as Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, which was my cameo role in the Foundation Gala video produced by the ‘mad genius’ Ralph Bertini, will not be reprised, I assure you!
While we are mentioning ‘The Great Bertini,’ what did you think of the short video of our College campus and programs that Ralph orchestrated? We hope it will set an affirmative tone to today’s deliberations and remind us all of the uniqueness and special qualities that have always defined Ocean County College.
The 1965 song you heard by band The Who, titled ‘Magic Bus’, which I cited in my 2007 Colloquium speech, still resonates today as a reminder of Jim Collins’ admonition in his seminal book, Good to Great to “get the right people on the bus”. It has to do with creating a positive culture of self-discipline and of fully committed people intent on making the organization better than good - making it great.
Now, as to ignorance! That we are charting a new course and ‘traveling hopefully’ to an aspirational future as a new kind of community college, constitutes an open admission that we all share in a lack of knowledge, information, and familiarity with the unknown. But that should not be assumed to be a bad thing!
We are devoting our Colloquial cogitations today to our strategies for both enhancing what we have and who we are today; to recharging and transforming our legacy programs to be more resilient to the sweeping challenges of ‘the stormy present’ and to anticipating where and how we can find a new model that will enable us to thrive and flourish as we discover the facts of the future.
There is an old saying that goes, “We don’t know where we are going, but we are making good time!”
And, some of you, no doubt skeptical of this transformational initiative, may be quietly muttering, “I knew it, I knew it!” And yet, our task today is to begin supplanting the fog of unawareness (e.g., ignorance) with the enlightening aura of strategy, analysis, forecasts, information and a clearer familiarity with the means by which we are seeking to better manage change, all the whilst in the midst of the disruption of the ‘stormy present’.
William Shakespeare wrote, “We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
In an essay by Michael Barber, Katelyn Donnelly, and Saad Rizvi titled, “An Avalanche is Coming: Higher Education and the Revolution Ahead,” the authors cite a leading British railway engineer in 1825 who declared that ‘the idea of a passenger train travelling at over 30 miles per hour was preposterous. Five years later, it happened.’
“An Avalanche is Coming,” makes a highly persuasive case that dramatic change in higher education “is likely and that while some incumbents will thrive, either because of their overwhelming strength in the market or because of their strategic insight or good fortune, others will suffer and some will go under.”
Our simple thesis is that these forecasts of a shattering of the glass vessel that is the organizational model of the present day university will force all or nearly all universities to adapt … to get on the bus or be left at the station, as the sweeping forces of technological change and alteration of our expectations grow more powerful
It has happened, after all, to newspapers, to banks, to manufacturers, to retailers, to broadcasters, to almost every kind of enterprise in the world. My recent visit to a conference in Brazil attended by 800 university presidents focused like a laser on this one theme: how can we remain viable when so many disruptive forces are at work tearing at the fabric of our traditional organizational tapestry?
That conference, incidentally, yielded several new partnership opportunities we will be exploring in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain and the United Kingdom.
But, back to our theme.
C.S. Lewis wrote: “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
Our simple thesis is to ‘be hatched’ as soon as possible!
A Harvard Magazine article by Craig Lambert, titled “Disruptive Genius,” noted that MIT professor Clayton Christensen began thinking about the phenomenon of business model disruption when he observed that the then-reigning explanation for the 1980’s failure of Digital Equipment Corporation, makers of mini computers … what was then conventionally referred to as the ‘Stupid Manager’ hypothesis … “didn’t make sense, because every company that made mini computers, every one of them, died in unison! It wasn’t just Digital, but Data General, Prime, Wang, Honeywell.”
What put them out of business? The innovators of the personal computer: Bill Gates and Microsoft, Intel, IBM, and Apple.
“Christenson’s doctoral thesis became the seminal 1997 book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” In 2011, The Economist named it one of the six most important business books ever written.” Christensen’s basic notion is that “the disruptor is competing not against other suppliers, but against ‘non consumption.’ The innovations make it so affordable and simple that normal people can do what only the rich and very skilled could do before.”
Just contemplate for a moment all the towering companies that no longer exist or make the same things that once made them household names: Xerox, Kodak, Polaroid, American Telephone and Telegraph, Newberry’s, Woolworth’s, and Montgomery Ward.
And, consider all those who are still in business, but which have evolved or morphed into a vastly different form: IBM, Hewlett Packard, General Electric, 3M, Pearson Publishing, and an old-line traditional department store, Dayton Hudson, which reinvented itself and is now Target Corporation, operating some 1,100 stores in North America.
How do those that have sustained their business while reinventing themselves explain their ability to do what many others, now gone, have not? They have had the foresight to embrace disruptive innovations that allow the parent company to regenerate in a new form serving a new clientele.
Why did these companies adapt while others did not? Why?
It has a great deal to do with vision, strategy, leadership, and understanding the direction of major shifts in technology and performance and innovations that fill gaps in the existing patterns of consumption.
Look at the smart phone. It’s phenomenal growth in popularity was a product of the genius of Steve Jobs and Apple who foresaw that wedding microchip technology with wireless communications could nearly eliminate the once leading technology tools, the personal computer and plain old telephone service.
There was no existing market for the IPhone and no research that told Jobs this was what consumers wanted. Consumers didn’t have any idea what a smart phone was! But, Steve Jobs said of Apple Computer in the days when he came back to save the company, “Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future.”
Apple was nearly defunct at the time.
Could it be that right now we at Ocean County College are experiencing one of those moments?
Like the innovators and disruptors at Apple, or those at Disney or Facebook or Google or Amazon, our task is to dream and imagine and explore and innovate in our world … because who is to say Walt Disney was wrong when he said, “If you can dream it, you can do it?”
Who is to say the towering titans of higher education, the leading universities whose business model is like that described by Norman Davies, esteemed and controversial British historian who, in 2012, explained the phenomenon this way in the Financial Times: “Historical change is like an avalanche! The starting point is a snow-covered mountainside that looks solid. All changes take place under the surface and are rather invisible. But something is coming. What is impossible, is to say when.”
The authors of “An Avalanche is Coming” point out that ‘right now, nothing looks more solid, more like a snow covered mountainside, than the traditional university.
So, what’s going on under the surface that could loosen the landslide and crush even the mightiest of universities as it falls? Let’s tick them off quickly:
The global economy is changing and transforming how things work. Knowledge has become ubiquitous, no longer owned by the universities, creating what Tom Friedman has called the ‘flat world.’
Three states, Florida, Nevada and California, have already made driverless cars legal. The demand for adaptive, collaborative, well educated, confident people (those Tom Friedman calls ‘creative creators’) has increased dramatically.
Meanwhile, college and university tuition and fees have skyrocketed leaving many unable to afford the cost of attendance.
Major universities, with few exceptions, are under extreme financial stress. They have not been willing to change the basic model prevalent for 1,400 years even in the face of obvious and unrelenting pressures to modernize and adapt.
Martin Bean, President of the Open University in the UK, has likened attending class at a traditional university today to taking an international airplane flight. You wait in line endlessly to get admitted. When you enter the room they tell you where to sit in rows that all face front, to not leave your seat, to put your trust in the fellow in charge up front about whom you know little or nothing, and before things take off they tell you to turn off all your electronic devices!
For millennial students who never knew a time when they did not have a laptop, IPad or IPhone, this hardly seems like a grand adventure!
Between 1979 and 2007, median household income in the US declined from $54,000 to $49,000 while undergraduate tuition and fees at public universities increased 42%, after adjusting for inflation. Total student debt increased 51% between 2008 and 2012. Total student loan debt now exceeds one trillion dollars.
Colleges have not been responsive to market-driven supply and demand forces. High quality rankings remain linked to low student faculty ratios.
Measured in lifetime earnings, the value of a college degree fell nearly 15%, from 2000 and 2012, despite an increase in cost to attain a degree of 72%.
The value of a degree in the job market has declined. While the brand value of a degree is still high at the initial job application, more and more it has become merely a filter to define which applications make it to the interview stage.
And yet … almost uniformly, universities have resisted reform, cost containment, productivity enhancements, and new technology adoptions for content delivery – all the while as information – content –has become ubiquitous. The authors of “An Avalanche is Coming” from which these data derive, argue that as content becomes more and more freely available, the power of the academy as the repository of knowledge, and of the faculty, the principal managers of its dissemination, is further and further reduced.
Charting Our New Course is Ocean County College’s answer to the question, ‘what is to be done’. As you participate in two, or more, of the strategy/action team deliberations this morning, you will have an opportunity to learn more about our emerging strategies and to influence those strategies.
First, we address our organizational approach, dividing our reinvention, renewal and transformation efforts into two principal and vastly differing initiatives, which we have ‘elegantly’ named ‘Track A and Track B’!
The goal for our legacy programs and operations in Track A – what has heretofore been called Academic Affairs for 50 years – is to invigorate and update and make more flexible and responsive those that are successful and, looking out into the future, have good prospects for attracting students and operating at a ‘profit’ (which in public accounting is called a ‘surplus’). And to develop many new certificate and associate degree programs that are directly responsive to the needs of our various stakeholders, building them with laddering opportunities so students ultimately can achieve a bachelor’s degree.
The goal for our new Track B efforts will be to further develop and expand our online learning and enterprise initiatives.
While disruptive innovation is welcome in either arena, we anticipate that the Track B efforts will ultimately be the most disruptive and transformational. More on that in a moment …
We are adopting a small number of fundamental strategies: partnering, building a comprehensive culture for innovation and growth that directly touches every aspect of the college and every person who works or learns here, collaborating both internally and externally to build and deliver programs and services, cultivating and energizing a system of shared leadership that pervades the institution, placing clear responsibility on the President and Board to deliver resources and leadership to implement the strategies developed, expanding operations to national markets and to appropriate international markets, and in every program increasing quality, lowering the cost of delivery, and increasing student numbers … exponentially.
We have been engaged in this transformational initiative now for about eight months. The Project Management Team (now the newly constituted President’s Leadership Team) has coordinated the development of the entire effort with very able management by Jeff Harmon and Sabrina Mathues. The PMT has adopted a guiding set of operating values that will guide it (and the President’s Leadership Team) going forward.
The Guiding Coalition is responsible for monitoring progress and achievements for the strategy/action teams and will be a permanent fixture assisting the President and Board in assessing the overall progress of the transformation effort. The Guiding Coalition has a well-defined role and mission which is ultimately advisory but critical to the success of the entire transformation effort.
We have one overarching general strategy and seven additional strategy/action teams of 7 to 10 members each with representatives from all areas of the college. They are assisted by additional volunteers who form Advisory Groups for each team.
You can read the titles assigned to each team here, but to gain a real understanding of each of these initiatives and how deeply each will change and improve the college, you need to join in the deliberations.
Please consult the Colloquium Program to select the breakout sessions that most interest you.
Now, before I conclude, let me try to offer a couple of observations about where all this is headed. To start, let’s remember that when Steve Jobs returned to resume the CEO role at Apple after he had been fired and the firm had declined to a near-comatose state, the desktop and laptop personal computer had already become a primary tool in business and education. What he did initially was to devise the notion of an ecology of products that would interact seamlessly, were of the highest quality, were easy to use, and offered high quality graphics. But, while the Macintosh computers were a critical part of the early transformation of Apple, no one had a crystal clear vision of what would emerge in the ensuing years with the development of the IPod for music (a premium, high-margin upgrade to the Sony Walkman) and most certainly not a vision for the IPhone smartphone or the IPad tablet. Apple essentially made significant improvements and high quality enhancements to already available product designs that Apple reengineered and made a part of the ecology and mystique that Apple became. They were not first nor did they invent entirely new products.
When Sam Walton began operating his five and dime store in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962 (Walmart moved its headquarters to Bentonville, Arkansas, in 1971), he had a notion that if he could directly purchase from manufacturers, he could offer products for less – no middle man. But even he could not have imagined that Walmart would ultimately become the largest retailer in the world. He just wanted to get everyone on the bus headed forward together.
The same can be said of Bill Gates and others who have gone from the garage to the top ten richest in the world. The end point cannot be known because it is unknowable given the innumerable variables involved in such a progression.
I offer this bit of rumination to encourage all of us to not be discouraged if we cannot predict with certainty our ultimate outcome or success. As Mark Twain understood, that is unnecessary, and perhaps even beneficial, to the journey we have embarked upon.
Like Columbus, we may sail for India and end up discovering a new continent. But those who are ready to explore should keep in mind the counsel of Henry David Thoreau, who wrote: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Needless to say … you must have goals!
Now, lest you think that I have no idea where we are headed, I will share a few possibilities with you that are often in my dreams. Please do not be frightened. We are committed to go where we can go together, safely and profitably; so, should my dreams be tread upon and remain unrealized, yet we achieve greatness unanticipated, I will not cry.
My notion (today) of where we might make a mark on the world of higher education includes competing on quality, price, and convenience not only here at home in Ocean County, but throughout the 50 States and abroad. Our Pearson partnership ‘cloud’ delivery mode in a multi-channel variety of access-ways to instruction would be offered to very large numbers of students rivaling the scale of the University of Phoenix internationally and, ultimately with accreditation approval, here in the U.S. at the Baccalaureate and perhaps graduate levels. We would compete through volume-enabled low pricing that takes share from proprietary colleges and others unable to compete. We would offer exponentially faster time-to-completion options through adaptive start-and-end terms, competency-based instruction, and advanced standing credit for prior learning acquired via any means. We would become a world-wide prime deliverer of English language instruction, adaptive diagnostic and remediation of college readiness skills, and fast training certification programs that get people into jobs quickly. All of these programs would also be made available here on the OCC campus in face-to-face and computer-aided modes. And, we would become a major provider of training, certification and assessment of online faculty.
Should we have a real desire to brainstorm a truly disruptive achievement, I would have us develop a new set of tools and applications that at once enrich the learning experience through artificial intelligence mapping/big data predictive analytics and personalizing the connections among student, faculty, and content to make the learning experience as close to in-person authenticity as possible.
Oh, and when we are done with that, I would like us to invent learning materials and products that save time … allowing students to learn much, much faster, and for Ocean County College to award credentials in a fraction of the time we now spend.
Ok? I’ll be around if anyone wants to chat about these notions. No need to worry, I am not really dangerous … just having fun!
Mark Twain wrote, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
We will do that immediately after this presentation at 10:15 with the breakout sessions of the Strategy/Action Teams, as follows:
I. Team #2 – Organize for Resilience, and Team #4 - Develop a Profound Understanding of Stakeholder Needs
II. Team #3 – Strengthen Leadership at All Levels, and Team #5 – Create a Challenging, Supportive and Sustainable Work Environment
III. Team #6 – Leverage Collaboration, Partnerships, and Sharing, and Team #8 – Leverage Information and Results to Monitor Outcomes and Strategy Achievement
IV. Team#7 – Focus on Relentless, Continuous Improvement of Learning and Support Processes
These sessions will be repeated from 11:45 to 1:00, followed by a $1 lunch.
Now, please stay with me a moment while we review a few notable achievements of our college team:
Finance and Administration
Executive Vice President Sara Winchester reports the following:
Vice President Jianping Wang wants to share with you that:
These are just a few of the many exciting activities here at OCC, all of which are moving us forward and serving the needs of our community.
Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate your courteous attention today. Please remember the dictum of New Jerseyite Thomas Edison, who said, “There is a better way. Find it.”
Now let’s all go forth and think anew and act anew. Let’s get disruptive!