Twitter Chat: Should colleges be run more like businesses?


Rio Salado Community College, in Arizona’s Maricopa Community College district, has implemented a variety of innovations to become more entrepreneurial in response to funding cuts. The result? A graduation rate four times that of similar schools, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that only 59 percent of students who enrolled at four-year degree granting institutions in 2006, completed their degrees within six years. Those who do graduate struggle to find work and to repay student loans, and according to a a Gallup/Lumina Foundation poll, just 11 percent of business leaders feel that today’s graduates have the skills needed to fill job openings.

Few doubt that higher education must adapt to meet the changing needs of students and society. Is Rio Salado’s more business-like approach the answer?

We asked you in a Twitter chat Thursday. Rio Salado’s vice president of academic affairs, Dr. Jennifer McGrath (@RioSaladoOnline) weighed in, along with Jon Marcus (@hechingerreport), who recently wrote an article on the effectiveness of Rio Salado’s many innovations for the Hechinger Report. We also heard from David Attis (@DavidAttis), the senior director of academic research at the Education Advisory Board — a company that provides consulting services to higher education institutions, and from Michael Roth (@mroth78), president of Wesleyan University. Read a full transcript of the chat below.