Wednesday evening, we brought together the Presidents of USC and Pitzer College, along with the Chancellors of UCLA and the state Community College system. It was a great chance to put these four leaders in a room together to talk about the biggest challenges facing their institutions.
One of the jobs of a college CEO is to put a positive face on unpleasant trends, such as fast-rising tuition, bidding wars over “star” professors, and large cutbacks in funding for public institutions. As expected, we heard some of that, but I was impressed that the panelists consistently acknowledged that the current model was going to have to change.
One of the biggest areas of concern is over teaching methodology itself. Does it still make sense to teach introductory students by placing hundreds of them in a large lecture hall so that they can listen to the dot below? Now that lecturers are competing with electronic devices, probably not. Looking even bigger picture, is the physical campus going to downsize, as the need for traditional classrooms declines?