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Lafalum

Something to chew on.

In an article in Philly.com the context of which is that giving to higher education is up last year. Lehigh took in about 44 million, and Lafayette took in 19 million. Here's my point. In the last 50 years Lehigh has increased its population, added a robust graduate program and is now able to absorb the fixed expenses burdening higher education while our BOT has restricted growth and tried to remain a small college. That model is proving hard to maintain.

Isn't it time to rethink that model that this BOT ( many BOT members have been in place for 20 years) has constructed? I believe it's time for a real strategic plan that takes all factors involved in higher education today and our own aspiration ( a top engineering program, diverse learning opportunities, a robust student life offering). We need new ideas which means new leadership from a tired BOT.

Think about the major struggles in the last ten years. The BOT resisted athletic scholarships which has proven to bring in not only better athletes but better students. There has been a war, supported by a reactionary group on the BOT against Greek life. Instead of trying to make it better like Lehigh has done, elimination was their goal. We now have Greek life with higher GPA's than the student population, we have more demand for membership than space, while social life is stagnant. We reduced academic requirements to 4 courses a semester from 5, ten years ago, reducing the opportunity to experience diverse learning opportunities.

We have strong, dedicated alumni with many talented and successful people willing to direct their energy and money to advance the school. It is time to rethink our strategy. That may take new leadership.
ed65

Bravo Lafalum.  I have advocated a complete remake of the BoT for many years  Rothkopf and Weiss wanted sycophants on the Board, and that for the most part was what they got.  Dissenters often resigned and we are left with a docile, well-fed group of non-stregic thinkers.  While I dislike giving LU credit for anything, they have gone exactly in the direction that I would have liked.  The concept that LC must remain "small" is a complete lack of regard for the reality of higher education today (as Lafalum points out).  At 5,000+ students LU still can say that it is "small" compared to most state universities.  LC is also "smaller" than most of the Ivies undergrad schools as well.  I never understood that.  

I truly strategic BoT would be pushing Alison to grow the size of the college as a top priority.  I once asked Weiss (when he was still speaking to me!) "How can we increase the size of the school and maintain the quality reputation?"  He shot back immediately with that annoying weak voice "Why should we?"  Somehat taken aback I said "Because we have a lot offer!"  He had no answer, needless to say.
carney2

I was taken to task for this when I first mentioned it a few months ago, but here goes again.  

I was told by people in high places that expansion is on the agenda and should be coming, BUT there is a fear of going too far because of the overall public backlash against the kind of price tags that a Lafayette is charging.  Expect a little, but probably not enough to make much difference.

I know, I know, you will counter this with the record application statistics and similar data.   I'm just telling you what I got in a face to face with an impeccable source.
Lafalum

Actually, Carney, I am not surprised which illustrates my point. We need leadership and this BOT and past administrations did not rise to the challenge.
I presume your source is an official of some sort or knows an official and is an answer that demonstrates the lack vision that infest the place. We need a change…starting with BOT leadership at the top that understands the problems  and is not living in a 40 year old universe.
ed65

I've heard similar stories as Carney about the expansion.  Move up to 2,700-2,800 maybe, though I'm not sure my sources are as impeccable as Carney's.  While I would applaud the above increase, it certainly would not be a bold step.  We still would be the smallest school in the PL, I believe.

What the price tag has to do with anything beats me.  All the other schools in the league (other than the service academys) are expensive as well.  So are the Ivies. But using cost as a reason for not expanding is typically cautious, myopic, head in the sand thinking that I would expect from the current Board.  Most of them are living on a different planet from me.
flyfisher

I don't know lafayette like you guys but there are some obvious observations.

The alienation of past alumni over Greek issues, athletic cutbacks and other items are hurting because so many of those alumni are in their prime earning years and they choose not to donate in the years when they afford it. Baby boomers and just a little younger. I have gotten to know several alumni away from campus with those exact comments. Never understood why you would want to alienate Greek life and the alumni. Greeks typically form a stronger bond with their school, they typically do well financially, and they tend to donate to the school that they have so much pride.

There was a great program on 60 minutes about the relationship between athletic success and overall financial giving to the school. And not just athletic money but academic money. Schools found that the pride alumni get from athletic success was a direct correlation to donations. Most schools found most of their money came in in late fall, just after football season. While school like Duke gets most of their academic money after basketball season.

Athletics should never rule the roost. The tail can't wag the dog but athletic success directly leads to increases in donations. There has to be accountability in athletics as well as some balance. It's ok to win.

On a smaller scale, I see they are building another building on campus. Forgive me for not being able to name the location but is close to the student center building and just behind the original building on campus. I understand it is going to be for the Psychology dept. Really? What am I not understanding?

My point is if the college is going to grow I think we need bed space. Less than 3000 kids is on the small side.
Franks Tanks

flyfisher wrote:
I don't know lafayette like you guys but there are some obvious observations.

The alienation of past alumni over Greek issues, athletic cutbacks and other items are hurting because so many of those alumni are in their prime earning years and they choose not to donate in the years when they afford it. Baby boomers and just a little younger. I have gotten to know several alumni away from campus with those exact comments. Never understood why you would want to alienate Greek life and the alumni. Greeks typically form a stronger bond with their school, they typically do well financially, and they tend to donate to the school that they have so much pride.

There was a great program on 60 minutes about the relationship between athletic success and overall financial giving to the school. And not just athletic money but academic money. Schools found that the pride alumni get from athletic success was a direct correlation to donations. Most schools found most of their money came in in late fall, just after football season. While school like Duke gets most of their academic money after basketball season.

Athletics should never rule the roost. The tail can't wag the dog but athletic success directly leads to increases in donations. There has to be accountability in athletics as well as some balance. It's ok to win.

On a smaller scale, I see they are building another building on campus. Forgive me for not being able to name the location but is close to the student center building and just behind the original building on campus. I understand it is going to be for the Psychology dept. Really? What am I not understanding?

My point is if the college is going to grow I think we need bed space. Less than 3000 kids is on the small side.


We aren't necessarily in immediate need of more dorm space, we just need to relax the rules for kids living off campus.  Watson Courts is way overdue for the wrecking ball, and we would have an excellent site there to build additional on campus housing when needed.
ed65

Franks Tanks' comments on the Watson Courts and off campus housing are exactly the type of thinking we need to deal with the "there is no more room" issue.  Bed space is what is necessary to increase the size of the school.  Let's hope some of the BoT ostriches read this board, and apply creative thinking to LC's need for expansion.

I'm like Lafalum in just hating the "small liberal arts" moniker that some faculty an BoT members insist on attaching to LC.  Hell, at 5,000 undergrads, we are still a small school!
ed65

flyfisher wrote:
I don't know lafayette like you guys but there are some obvious observations.

The alienation of past alumni over Greek issues, athletic cutbacks and other items are hurting because so many of those alumni are in their prime earning years and they choose not to donate in the years when they afford it. Baby boomers and just a little younger. I have gotten to know several alumni away from campus with those exact comments. Never understood why you would want to alienate Greek life and the alumni. Greeks typically form a stronger bond with their school, they typically do well financially, and they tend to donate to the school that they have so much pride.

There was a great program on 60 minutes about the relationship between athletic success and overall financial giving to the school. And not just athletic money but academic money. Schools found that the pride alumni get from athletic success was a direct correlation to donations. Most schools found most of their money came in in late fall, just after football season. While school like Duke gets most of their academic money after basketball season.

Athletics should never rule the roost. The tail can't wag the dog but athletic success directly leads to increases in donations. There has to be accountability in athletics as well as some balance. It's ok to win.

On a smaller scale, I see they are building another building on campus. Forgive me for not being able to name the location but is close to the student center building and just behind the original building on campus. I understand it is going to be for the Psychology dept. Really? What am I not understanding?

My point is if the college is going to grow I think we need bed space. Less than 3000 kids is on the small side.


Spot on, fly.  If the college development office can't leverage the football win over LU and PL Championship, there is something wrong.  I think they should have sent the pics of Drew Reed holding the trophy to every alum, and asked for a donation right then and there.  Beathing LU in football unites all alums after all.

My wife did not go the game with me due to recent knee surgery.  Instead she watched it at Farinon with a large group of students.  She just marvelled at their enthusiasm and the cheering for each TD.  I suggested she should have filmed it on her phone.  At the game, it looked like most of the students stood for the entire game (as I did).  I really dig that kind of enthusiasm.
Lafalum

This is so obvious I do not understand the myopia by the BOT, serial administrators and many faculty. Perhaps, its the cloistered environment, or the lack of transparency or maybe there is some hidden agenda I don't understand.

On Feb 10 president Byerly sent to the campus an outline of what was discussed at the last BOT meeting. At the top of the discussion was shared governance. It's clear the faculty who have no other stake than their job and working environment want a larger voice in the direction of the college. There is a faculty committee to make recommendations on the size of the school. Is that the most competent to group to make fiscal and market judgements?

I was interested to read that the budget which was presented at the meeting was sent back to "reevaluate" initiatives to bring it into balance. What will be sacrificed and what is the criteria? I read that Case Tire and the ensuing project that will cost the college, net of contributions, 10 millions dollars is moving ahead! We have seen an 8 million dollar landscape project, a 1 million dollar and counting purchase and remediation of a gas station to name a few large expenditures that have returned nothing to the school. I note in the new budget there is a rise in aid ( so what's the point of raising tuition). There is also an increase in fees to pay for the additional aid.

Fixed costs ( fuel, salaries, health care, IT expense, security, administrative salaries) continue to rise. I do note and bravo to the BOT, they are hiring a Chief Investment Officer. I hope that means the one million plus fees we are paying to our current "manager of managers," will go away.

We currently have an administrative staff which is twice the size of our faculty. That staff could support a school twice the size. An increase in faculty to support a larger student population could be supported by the additional tuition and if structured correctly could cover much of our fixed expenses ( the 500 or so student athletes and their teams could benefit because those numbers would not increase). Additional housing could be obtained through bonding supported by room rents or we could outsource it like we did the Cattell Street residences. It only takes the will to do it.

At the beginning of the decade we were told that the sweet spot in higher education is 3-5k in population. That study by noted authority George Dehne was spot on and we ignored it!!
RichH

I hope Byerly injects some forward momemtum for you. The spectre of Gettysburg does give one a cautionary story. Must admit ,I dont understand the rationale for recent construction. Guess bldgs are nice but what do they actually add to LC and do they set any basis for the possibility of at least some minimal expansion. Doubt that LC is at the grow or die stage, but withering is a distinct possibility. A slide that no one, least of all us over here, want. I hope someone listens
Franks Tanks

RichH wrote:
I hope Byerly injects some forward momemtum for you. The spectre of Gettysburg does give one a cautionary story. Must admit ,I dont understand the rationale for recent construction. Guess bldgs are nice but what do they actually add to LC and do they set any basis for the possibility of at least some minimal expansion. Doubt that LC is at the grow or die stage, but withering is a distinct possibility. A slide that no one, least of all us over here, want. I hope someone listens


In your dreams Rich!

LC is strong. We will have record apps this year (althoug rather pointless if it doesn't result in a stronger class/yield).  An endowment that is among the top in the country on a per student basis.  Gettysburg isn't going anywhere either.  It is schools like Albright, Moravian and the like that maybe in trouble with their limited repuation and ability to raise funds.  We have issues, but we get so burned up over them because they are all self inflicted.  The new building is the Oschle Hal for Global Education (or something).  It will house Anthro, Sociology and maybe the International affairs people.  The Anthro and Sociology department was the worst academic space on campus in the basement of a dorm/dining hall. I can't say it is the absolute best use of funds, but it will be a tremendous academic building.
Lafalum

I never liked the endowment per student number because like most industries higher education is all about covering fixed costs which are the same for a school of 2400 as it is for 5000.  For example if we REDUCED the school population to 1000 that endowment per student number would look great but could we operate and provide quality resources to our students??

We have a good school that could be great and there is still time, as Franks pointed, out to move us forward. Enlightened and brave leadership is what is needed. I  look forward to that emerging!!
RichH

FT
Not dreaming of LC failing, my point was merely that I wish it were more proactive in preparing for future.
ed65

RichH wrote:
FT
Not dreaming of LC failing, my point was merely that I wish it were more proactive in preparing for future.


As you might imagine, Rich, a lot of us on the Easton side agree with you.

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