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Reflections of Denison University President Adam Weinberg on Students, Parents, Institutions, and Pricing

on December 15, 2014 in Application Process, Selecting Your College
Denison University Observatory

Denison University Observatory

The new president of Denison University, Adam Weinberg, presented at this year’s IECA conference in Florida. His session, “Reflections of a New College President on Students, Parents, Institutions, and Pricing” provided food for thought with regard to the future of higher education. He cited the results of a recent study performed for Denison—college tours all sound the same, many colleges are saying the same things, and students are inundated (and ignore) emails. President Weinberg extolled the value of “How College Works,” a book by Daniel Chambliss and Christopher Takacs outlining what makes students successful in college. They note that relationships are critical as students benefit from bonds with faculty, friends, and clubs. First-year programs are also critical as too many students leave college early and would benefit from strong advising. Denison is taking these recommendations to heart and moving forward with strong programs to build relationships over content.

Financial issues are coming to the forefront more and more with families nationwide. At Denison, 97 percent of students receive some form of aid. President Weinberg noted that the financial model for college has to change, focusing on outcomes more. Denison participates in and strongly supports the National Survey of Student Engagement and posts Denison’s outcomes. Learning differences are also strongly supported at Denison; students are encouraged to disclose and will get the support they need.

President Weinberg has instituted many reforms including radically changing traditional career service centers, incorporating more career coaching from alums and academic advisors. I have seen an excellent example of this push at Wake Forest University, where Andy Chan has taken career services to a totally new level. Denison has instigated a large push for LinkedIn, connecting alums and current students. Diversity in residential living is important to building tolerance and an open-minded view of the world. Active learning, small classes, and research are a big focus at Denison.

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