Leading Transformative Change

Last November, I gave an invited plenary session at the Lilly International Conference on College Teaching on how we transformed Sierra Nevada College (SNC) to embrace active learning, undergraduate research, and the scholarship of teaching. In only a few years, SNC transformed from a culture of little engaged learning and low expectations of students to active learning, undergraduate research, student competitions and symposiums, flipped classrooms, and faculty scholarship on teaching. In short, we transformed SNC by focusing on student learning, and the resulting change in academic quality drove a doubling of undergraduate enrollment, a tripling of net undergraduate tuition revenue, increased retention, and financial sustainability. A turnaround of this magnitude is rare in any industry, especially in higher education. How did we do it?

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