A disturbing prediction

Student Services Building

Futurist Thomas Frey has a disturbing prediction: more than 50 percent of traditional colleges will collapse by 2030.

He cites high overhead costs, quality of education, pricing, the job market for positions requiring a degree, and the inconvenience of time and location in a digital age among the factors that will lead to the demise of the college or university as we know it.

Most institutions, he says, will experience declining enrollment and revenues.

He asks: “How many colleges that experience a 10% decline in enrollment/revenue per year, will still be around after 5 years?” And he wonders how long legislators will be willing to invest in underperforming public institutions.

Finally, he asks: “How many colleges or universities will have the ability to reinvent themselves as this is occurring?”

Food for thought

Whether or not we agree with his look into the future, Frey gives us food for thought at SIU — just as it should for every college and university around the world. He forces us to ask some dramatic, difficult questions.

Will we be one of those institutions that risks fading away, or will we reinvent ourselves to meet the demands and needs of future students? Will we reject change, putting our heads in the sand and ignoring what’s happening in the world around us, or will we embrace it with a progressive plan for the future? Will we stagnate and die, or will we adapt and thrive?

I vote for adapting and thriving by leveraging the values and inherent strengths of SIUC. How about you?

Author: Carlo Montemagno

Carlo Montemagno is chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Learn more about him at chancellor.siu.edu.