Taking Charge — Episode 8

The reception and dinner for Board of Trustees was held at the River’s Edge an upscale venue on the Hudson River on the eastern side of the Beresford property.

“Welcome to everyone – trustees and guests,” Marie opens, after having clinked a spoon of a water glass to gain attention.

“Welcome to Beresford Village.  Most Board members know everything I am about to say.  For new members of the Board, however, let me briefly explain the various organizations you will hear about at tomorrow’s meeting.

“Beresford Village encompasses all the real estate holdings of the Beresford Institute of Technology, including the campus, which is about 10% of the one square mile property.

“Beresford Development Corporation operates Beresford Village and is developing the Residences condominiums and the BIT Research Park.  The BIT Foundation owns 51% of the Corporation.

“This set of organizations is enabling the financial transformation of BIT, as you will learn about in detail tomorrow.”

“Could you briefly whet the appetites of our new Board members by explaining what you mean by financial transformation?” asks the chair of the Board.

“By securing new streams of revenue and significantly improving organizational efficiency, both highly technology enabled, we have cut the prices of a BIT undergrad degree by two thirds.  This has led to substantial increases in student applications.”

“What about research?” another asks.

“We have focused on research in four areas – People, Energy, Security, and Water.  You will hear a lot more about the water initiative tomorrow in conjunction with our river cruise.”

“So funding is up?”

“We have 23 companies in the Research Park that now employ over 400 people, half of them graduate students at BIT.  These companies pay students’ tuitions and fairly nice salaries.

“As planned, BIT’s research funding is sharply down because the growth in these four thrusts is happening in these companies and we have curtailed investments in any other areas.”

“Why is this a positive outcome?”

“We have shed a money-losing business while retaining the benefits of that business.  We will explain in detail tomorrow why this is a great outcome.”

“Is there any other downside to all this?” a new Board member asks.

“While educational outcomes are soaring, many educational institutions are in “crisis,” Marie responds.

“What are the implications?” asks another new Board member.

“They have to adapt or fail.  They have to move most undergraduate courses to online offerings.  Most professional graduate degrees were already online, but only the best ones are prospering,” Marie adds.

“Faculty employment must be suffering,” another Board member notes.

“Yes, the dwindling number of academic positions available is undermining demand for PhD degrees, with the possible exception of foreign students seeking an avenue to immigrate.  However, I expect that source to continue to slowly decline.”

“Is the transformation of higher education in fact the destruction of higher education?” a Board member’s spouse challenges.

“If it is destruction, it is creative destruction.  Beresford is thriving.  We are doing an excellent job for our students and our community.  Our faculty and staff are fewer in number but much less at risk.  They are excited, as am I. We hope you are too.”

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