From the President
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.

Flexibility for 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.

Southwestern's 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 spectators.

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.

Best regards,

Dick Merriman

From the Alumni Director

Do 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 with you.

Southwestern College 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 I always welcome your contacts.

Pam Koehn