Mary Marcy discusses her influential new book, The Small College Imperative: Models for Sustainable Futures (Stylus, 2020) which lays out five different models that small colleges and universities can use to succeed in today’s highly competitive marketplace. This begins with the “Traditional” liberal arts model that is increasingly limited to the most highly selective and well-endowed colleges. Most tuition-dependent institutions have made the move toward a more “Integrated” Model that retains a liberal arts core, but has added pre-professional and graduate programs. This model is perhaps best exemplified by the 25 members of the New American Colleges & Universities (NACU). “The Distinctive Model” adopted by institutions like Agnes Scott and Furman, and implemented with great success by Marcy at Dominican University, builds off the literature on High-Impact Practices to create a common set of experiences for all undergraduates. The models that entail the greatest transformation are “Growth” and “Distributed” that entail substantial expansion beyond the liberal arts core to include satellite campuses and online offerings. In the Distributed model, exemplified by institutions like Southern New Hampshire University, the original campus is no longer central to the strategy.
David Finegold is the president of Chatham University.