In the past year I have read a number of articles which have recounted
predictions made about the 20th century by commentators writing in 1899.
Almost all of the predictions seem rather silly from our perspective
of 100 years later. It is, indeed, very difficult to look into the crystal
ball and make accurate predictions about what the 21st century will
bring to higher education. But, at the risk of looking foolish to readers
in 2099, I will hazard a few guesses on the subject.
students will be the defining characteristic of higher education in
the 21st century. I believe a significant percentage of college students
will continue in the time-honored tradition of leaving home at 18 and
living on a college campus for four years. But it seems probable that
even these traditional college students will want a great deal more
flexibility in their approach to getting a degree. A student may live
in a residence hall at Southwestern College and receive a degree from
SC, but his or her transcript may reveal a number of courses completed
at other institutions, some of which were attended in person and many
of which were attended "on line."
A huge catalyst
for change in higher education will be the demand for flexible learning
opportunities by adult learners. Many return to college to complete
a degree begun elsewhere, or want a second degree that will assist in
a new career direction, or simply want to sharpen their skills in a
particular realm of knowledge by taking several courses. These students
will expect a strong "customer service" orientation from the colleges
with which they deal.
To respond to
students' demands for flexibility and "tailor made" academic programs,
higher education is likely to go through a very significant round of
restructuring and realignment. I imagine that many colleges will form
alliances or consortia to share faculty, facilities, and technology.
In Kansas, significant partnering between community colleges and four
year institutions is very likely, since partnerships will facilitate
opportunities for students to complete "seamless" academic programs
at two or more institutions. Partnerships between four-year colleges
are also very likely. Regions that are currently underserved by higher
education will, I think, have opportunities to create, with the help
of alliances of colleges and universities, facilities in which students
may complete a degree by taking courses from a number of colleges that
will provide courses face to face, or through interactive video technology,
or through Internet-based on-line instruction.
The colleges and
universities that will prosper in this new world will be those that
can manage change and can deal with the changes in information technology
that are driving the transformation of higher education. The key thing
in the next century, as in this, is focus. Institutions must have a
clear understanding of their core missions and special strengths. In
a period of rapid and transforming change, it is easy to make bad choices,
choices that divert an institution from its core competencies and values.
A good compass will be very important. Southwestern College will have
unique opportunities in the new century. The college's commitment to
integrative learning -learning that thinks and acts across traditional
disciplinary lines-will prove to be extremely valuable in the new century.
The 21st century will value people who can integrate knowledge from
a number of disciplines and realms of knowledge. It will value people
who can manage and analyze information. It will value people who can
work productively as members of problem solving teams. Boundaries are
out. Bridges are in. The ability to see connections among disparate
ideas, the ability to understand and work with people from other cultures,
the ability to use technology to overcome obstacles of distance and
time will all be richly rewarded in the new century. I believe Southwestern's
students will be uniquely well prepared to meet society's needs.
commitment to education that focuses on values and faith, and the college's
ability to produce graduates who are committed to leadership in the
service of others, will also be an important asset in the future. Our
society and our world can always use more decent human beings. The college
has produced an extraordinary number of graduates who have become leaders
in their communities, their schools, in government, in churches. Southwestern's
commitment to small classes and challenging learning environments will
be an important asset in the new century. Technology is exciting, and
can facilitate learning, but the magic of education will always be centered
on the encounter between an eager learner and a committed and talented
teacher. That human connection is indispensable. It is also at risk
in a future that will offer anonymous education at mega-universities
and on-line colleges. Southwestern is a college for "doers," not for
Well, that is
my effort to peer into the murky future. It's exciting to work in higher
education today, and it is a challenge and a privilege to try to provide
good leadership for a great college as it moves into the new millennium.
the Alumni Director
you know April 15 as 'tax day'? I do. It is also the anniversary date
of my becoming your Alumni Programs Director. This first year is one
for which I hold appreciation both in the opportunity to serve our beloved
Alma Mater and in the rich friendships I have renewed and built with
you, my fellow alumni. I'm looking forward to another growth year for
our Southwestern College and for more wonderful friendship building
is ours. President Dick Merriman gave us his Top Ten list in the previous
Southwesterner of things we can celebrate about Southwestern. Number
one is involving alumni and friends in the life of our college. We have,
through campus and off-campus events, personal visits and phone calls,
been creating the network of contacts that will help us identify and
recruit students, help students with internships and job placement,
provide advice to the academic programs of the college, and provide
advice to President Merriman about the future direction of the college.
The Class Agent program, Homecoming (save the date October 12-15, 2000),
Together Southwestern chapter building, and alumni events held across
the country are some of the ways we are networking.
We have been working
with alumni from our Professional Studies Centers and are understanding
the kinds of programming and involvement that meets their needs. The
"first ever" Southwestern College Professional Studies Alumni Reunion"
will be held in March in Wichita. This is Southwestern's degree completion
program with centers currently in Winfield and Wichita.
Recently we were
asked, "What's in a Name?" There are at least a couple of things I think
of. First, it's the title of the alumni-student recruitment brochure
that we received with President Merriman's prospective student referral
letter that has brought forth many excellent young people for Southwestern
admission. Thank you. Continue to refer bright and talented men and
women to our college. Second, it's a catch for me to tell you that I
have restored my maiden name Koehn. You may reach me at 316-221-8334,
1-800-846-1543 x334, or email@example.com. I always welcome your contacts.