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The Six Rs of 21st Century Higher Education™

Supporting the Profession Student Leadership Programs
August 6, 2019 Liz Bapasola Liz Bapasola & Associates, LLC


Picture yourself in this situation. You are sitting in a quarterly board of trustees meeting as a vice president for student affairs (VPSA), and your president asks you a question about retention numbers. What she is really asking about is revenue generation. Then the chair of the board’s student affairs committee asks you a question about risk mitigation, but you know that recruitment is top of mind. Further, the board chair challenges you to share research on career readiness learning outcomes in the field of higher education, but he is most interested in return on investment (ROI) for your institution.

Sound vaguely familiar? Probably. Nearly any question, challenge, or concern raised by key higher education stakeholders, whether they be board members, senior administrators, faculty, elected officials, donors, parents, current students, or prospective students, probably has something to do with one or more of the following: recruitment, retention, research, revenue generation, risk mitigation, and ROI.

The 6 Rs of 21st Century Higher Education framework, developed by Anthony J. D’Angelo, founder of Collegiate Empowerment®, was first presented at The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Forum on Presidential Leadership in summer 2006. Since its introduction, the model has evolved into the 6 Rs presented in this article.

New student recruitment is one of the essential economic drivers that keeps college and university budgets afloat, while retention of students is critical to fulfilling the core mission of higher education institutions. Diversification of programs and services directly affects revenue generation and funding sources for higher education institutions, while colleges and universities are increasingly called on to provide a strong ROI for students and alumni. Risk mitigation has become a daily practice for VPSAs who play important roles in keeping students safe, and research now informs the work of VPSAs as scholar-practitioners. With each of the 6 Rs comes a high level of responsiveness and responsibility for VPSAs in their roles as higher education leaders and representatives of students.

The higher education enterprise does not have a singular focus, but a multilevel, multifaceted approach to building resources and investing in the next generation. As higher education settles into the information age, chaos and anxiety accompany these changing times. VPSAs, working together as individuals and as important components of organizations, can truly give back to their campuses and communities with clarity, confidence, capability, and commitment. In this article, six senior-level student affairs professionals share their thoughtful insights and recommendations on how student affairs divisions and institutions be can leaders in managing these key economic drivers.

Liz Bapasola is the founder and CEO of Liz Bapasola & Associates, LLC, specializing in executive coaching and business consulting in higher education.