Posted Jan. 9 - Every year, presidents of independent colleges and universities gather early in January to talk together about the state of higher education and compare notes about leading their individual institutions. This year, I come home to Manchester proud and optimistic.
The institutions that gathered were diverse. This year there were breakfast sessions for schools with enrollments of 600 or fewer and discussions of the responsibilities of those with endowments exceeding $1 billion. As different as we were, the things that keep up at night were strikingly similar: students and families unable to pay for college, questions about the sustainability of doing even more with even less year after year, a widely held perception that a college education is no longer a good investment and attacks on the fundamental value of the liberal arts.
I am proud to claim who we are and the work we are doing in the face of these challenges. For decades, we have served many students who were the first in their families to go to college and who sacrificed to pay for their educations. We have educated all of our students broadly, infusing our curriculum with the liberal arts and preparing our graduates to be lifelong learners. Both remain true today. It makes balancing our budget a challenge, but enriches our students and the world.
I am optimistic as well. The world needs more Manchester graduates. We graduate persons of ability and conviction, individuals with skills and values that can take on the seemingly intractable problems we face today. And equally good news: The world wants more Manchester graduates. Employers find our new graduates well prepared and eager to contribute on day one and tell us they are excited to hire them.
Proud and optimistic: a great way to start the new year!