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Recognizing Innovation in Higher Education

Identifying some of the most influential innovators in the U.S.’s higher education system.

Recent forecasts of the U.S. higher education system warn of a bleak future.  While many of these predictions are perhaps a bit dramatic, many higher education institutions throughout the country are expected to struggle in the coming years.  With increasing student debt, decreased enrollment rates, and continued underfunding from federal and state governments, many colleges and universities will suffer through a rough transition.  However, amidst reports of doom and gloom, there are many academic visionaries who are embracing changes and finding ways to improve student outcomes, access, and affordability.  Here is a brief overview of some of the most influential innovators in the U.S.’s higher education system.

  • Southern New Hampshire University—College for America

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a nonprofit, online education provider that has experienced astronomical growth in the last couple of years.  Led by President Paul J. LeBlanc, SNHU is a groundbreaker in competency-based education.  Rather than students earning credits towards a degree by completing semester-long courses, SNHU students are assessed by completing tasks that show their mastery of a subject.  Students can choose how quickly they are assessed on a given subject, creating a quicker, more streamlined educational experience.  Annual tuition for SNHU is just $2,500, and the College for America program is the first competency-based plan approved by the U.S. Department of Education for federal financial aid.

  • High Point University

Located in North Carolina, High Point University (HPU) has recently undergone a major overhaul to revamp its facilities and attract students in a competitive market.  Under the leadership of President Nido Qubein, HPU has rolled out a new tuition model (approximately $31,000), that allows affluent parents to completely cover all their students’ needs.  Additionally, HPU’s fresh culture has attracted some of the top academic talent in the region, making the campus a hotbed for innovation and improvement.  Setting itself apart with a unique voice and bright future, HPU is growing its enrollment and earning both student and parent favor in a time of higher education hardship.

  • Straighterline

Straighterline is a company that offers students access to college courses for $99 a month, with course fees starting at $49 each.  While not technically a college or university, Straighterline preapproves students to transfer credits to over 50 institutions.  Offering online first- and second-year courses, the company allows students to complete much of their general education curriculum without having to pay tuition fees at a traditional college or university.  By offering approved classes that can be accessed easily and affordably, Straighterline is making college education possible for a larger population of students.

This is a look at some of the most influential innovators in the U.S.’s higher education system.  Looking for a consulting firm with experience working with salary, legal, and other human resources issues?  Then don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at McKnight Associates, Inc.  We are ready to offer you hands-on human resources consulting for colleges, universities, medical centers, and organizations of all sizes.