Whitlock Contributes Essay to ARAMARK's "Presidential Perspectives" Series

­Eastern Kentucky University President Doug Whitlock is among 11 higher education administrators selected to contribute an essay to ARAMARK’s seventh annual “Presidential Perspectives” series.

This year’s edition is a collection of 10 thought-provoking chapter essays tied to the theme “Responding to the Commoditization of Higher Education,” examining the changing perceptions of higher education and the struggle among higher learning institutions to differentiate their offerings while competing in a market that presents higher education degrees as items to be purchased.

Whitlock’s essay is entitled “The Commoditization of Higher Education: Reflections on How We Got to Where We Are.”

“The higher education-as-a-commodity mentality is increasingly omnipresent, with advertising saturating virtually every medium of our daily existence, permeating the Internet, social media outlets, and especially college campuses,” explained Dr. Muriel A. Howard, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and author of the forward for the series. “Among the promises sent to prospective students is a guarantee that they can finish college in four years or less and when they graduate they will be gainfully employed.” 

The first chapter essay of the series, entitled “Against the Windmills: The Commoditization of Higher Education,” and authored by F. Javier Cevallos, president of Kutztown University, asserts that while many factors have impacted higher education, including a reliance on increased technology and dwindling state and federal resources, institutions must adapt to fit students’ needs in order remain viable and differentiate their academic offerings.  

“The great challenge is to find what makes us different, and how we can market our uniqueness,” Cevallos explained. “At least for the foreseeable future, there will always be a role for our traditional universities. High school graduates will continue to attend our campuses, live in our residence halls, participate in campus life, and more importantly, open their minds to the benefits of a college education. But the number of traditional students will continue to dwindle, as more students will transition from community colleges, return to school after serving in the military, or just decide to enroll on a part time basis. And both traditional and non-traditional students will look at us and expect that we will adapt to their needs, not the other way around.”

Additional topical essays featured in the Presidential Perspectives series focus on the commoditization of higher education and include developing and defining value propositions, implementing niche marketing, maintaining differentiation in a changing market and more.

“The commoditization of higher education impacts all higher education institutions and may significantly affect the way in which colleges and universities attract students,” said  Dr. Scott D. Miller, president of Bethany College, who along with Marylouise Fennell, senior counsel for the Council of Independent Colleges and past president of Carlow University, serve as executive editors of Presidential Perspectives. “This thoughtful leadership series aims to address the strategies being employed in higher education to counteract fundamental changes in the academic environment.”

In addition to Whitlock, Howard and Cevallos, contributors to this year’s series include:

·         Andrew P. Roth, Notre Dame College

·         James Barker, Clemson University

·         Wilson G. Bradshaw, Florida Gulf Coast University

·         Michael MacDowell, Misericordia University

·         Jake B. Schrum, Southwestern University

·         Dana Gibson, Sam Houston State University

·         Eric Gilbertson, Saginaw Valley State University

·         Brian Noland, East Tennessee State University

Beginning in September, one chapter essay of Presidential Perspectives will be released each month, with the series culminating in June 2013.  Whitlock’s essay is set for March 2013. Current and past chapters can be viewed online at www.presidentialperspectives.orgor by visiting www.aramarkhighered.com.

ARAMARK Higher Education provides dining, facility, conference center, and stadium and arena services for more than 600 colleges and universities throughout North America. 

Published on August 27, 2012