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Higher education leaders gather to discuss the future

August 28, 2014



Conversation among presidentsIt effectively was a summit of college and university presidents and administrators from throughout Kansas and Missouri. The 15th annual Ingram’s Higher Education Industry Outlook assembly drew 21 top administrators of Kansas and Missouri higher education July 29 to Avila University’s Thornhill Gallery for an afternoon of conversation that celebrated the diversity of each institution but also studied the common issues and challenges each and every institution face.

Avila President Ron Slepitza, Ph.D., CSJA, chaired the assembly. Also attending was S. Marie Joan Harris, CSJ, Ph.D., Avila provost and vice president for academic affairs.

During the assembly, it was agreed that institutions in today’s world had to work harder to maintain distinctiveness and autonomy in an environment that increasingly demanded uniformity, but also agreed that they maintained enough freedom to remain economically viable and true to their missions.

S Marie HarrisThose missions do, however, have challenges in a world where the costs of education continue rising while Americans’ spending power decreases. Harris said keeping the opportunity for education available was a concern, as well as helping those students take advantage of new delivery systems.

“Their future is not the future that we faced,” she said in a story that ran in Ingram’s after the assembly.

Slepitza spoke of one of Avila’s greatest assets being its diversity, which ranges among traditional and non-traditional students. That rich diversity of experiences “adds to the conversation and helps students see the connections between what they need to be doing, what they desire to do and what’s expected of them in the work force,” he said in the Ingram’s article.

When it comes to involvement in education by the federal government, Slepitza said it always comes with a trade-off – the more money institutions receive from the government, the more oversight there is.

“I you’re going to change the system, make sure you are changing it for the right reasons,” he said.

The roundtable discussion was followed by a reception honoring the 2014 Ingram’sIcons of Education, which included Avila’s own S. Marie. AU

 

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About Avila University
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.