Higher Education and Research
The field of education has seen sweeping changes in structure, delivery, and approach over the past several decades. These changes arise from sharp demographic declines in cohorts of traditional students, pressures on the financial model and on issues of access and affordability, public concern about the value of traditional modes of education in a rapidly changing world, and the increasing relevance of online educational systems—all made more intense and urgent in light of recent events. Yet these changes also present great opportunities to reinvent traditional models of teaching, learning, and research.
With our origins as a research center inside the University of Pennsylvania, we bring a deeply informed perspective and decades of experience with the complex world of education across its ecology. We have consulted to leaders for a wide range of educational institutions nationwide for over 30 years, and regularly teach and collaborate with universities.
Given this decades-long history with education and broad relationships, we also understand that education and research extends well beyond the halls of traditional institutions. Through research centers and institutes devoted to discovery, and service organizations dedicated to support the education sector and its practitioners, our clients work to advance knowledge production and dissemination to the public as a whole.
Colleges and Universities
Colleges and universities face unprecedented challenges that demand strategy and speed—strategy so that institutions can use limited resources in ways that drive greater impact and speed so that they can act before opportunities disappear. But moving strategically and quickly is not easy in a world where divergence and autonomy are valued, and the decision-making process is itself as important as the outcome.
We understand higher education leadership and organizational structures, as well as the principles and inherent tension of shared governance. We appreciate the various entities at play across a campus and how critical it is to engage each of them authentically. Ultimately, our work with academic leaders guides them to create forums and structures that support collaboration and constructive dialogue across departments, schools, and campuses and among faculty, senior leadership, and boards.
Organizations dedicated to advancing research and science in their domains of expertise, whether theoretical or applied, play a critical role in society, and operate in a complex set of relationships and interdependencies. They balance the interests of home institutions, sponsors and funders, college and university partners, government agencies, and the broader public as they shape their strategy and operations. CFAR has extensive experience working with research centers, think tanks, and institutes to help them navigate this complex landscape, set their strategy in relation to the larger ecology of their industry/focus domain, strengthen collaborative relationships, and design governance systems that can help them succeed and better serve larger societal goals.
Professional and industry associations, consortia, and other organizations occupy a critical role in the education sector, shaping policy, fostering collaboration, and acting as hub for information-sharing. These organizations exist within complex, multi-stakeholder environments and operate through a variety of business models—membership-funded, grant-supported, revenue-dependent—and through a variety of governance structures to support their leadership and constituent organizations. CFAR has consulted to a variety of these organizations, working on strategy, board-leadership relationships, and collaboration across organizations. We help organizations accelerate their impact and strengthen their capabilities in the service of their missions.
Chris discusses the valuable lesson of a “halftime” for organizations that are 2 to 3 years through their five-year strategic plan. Chris offers 6 ways organizations can use a “strategic plan halftime” to their advantage.
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