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|Mercyhurst dean looks to intelligence to improve higher ed|
|Posted on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 9:08 AM|
ERIE, Pa. -- National security and law enforcement agencies gather intelligence to combat threats.
The business and finance industries use intelligence to compete.
It's time for higher education to do the same, one Mercyhurst University professor said.
James Breckenridge, an associate professor of intelligence studies and dean of the Tom Ridge School of Intelligence Studies and Information Science, believes that many of the current challenges facing higher education can be addressed in the same way other industries meet obstacles: through the gathering and analysis of intelligence.
How to do that will be the focus of the university's Global Intelligence Forum, "Intelligence-Informed Decision-Making to Build a More Secure Future," in Dungarvan, Ireland, today through Wednesday.
"Admission guides go out and recruit students. Advancement (employees) go out and raise money. Coaches go out to find athletes for their programs," Breckenridge said. "They compete with other people for those same sorts of things: dollars, students, athletes. To the degree Mercyhurst is going to be successful or not depends on whether those activities are successful, too.
"How does a coach decide on what athletes to recruit? How does an admissions person decide on which student to get? How does an alumni guy decide who to raise money from? And, in the end, how do we know we are, in fact, recruiting the right people, finding the right athletes, raising the types of money we need? All that is intelligence work," he said.
Colleges and universities can and should use intelligence to assess "threats" like the increasing availability of online degrees, students postponing their education, students entering the workforce, and the rising cost of education, Breckenridge said.
"Higher ed doesn't have any ability to collect (intelligence) from a variety of sources, put together a single picture about opportunities and threats, and make a decision about what to do next," he said.
It's an issue colleges and universities haven't had to struggle with before. Faced with more choices and rising costs, parents and students are doing their research and being more selective.
"The competition (for students) wasn't as intense" in years past, Breckenridge said. "The technology that is now disrupting every aspect of our lives was not present. The customer didn't have the choices that they do now and, finally, to the degree that colleges and universities are affordable, they are less so, which means the customer is making a far more informed choice about what the options are because they have to. They can't afford it otherwise."
Among the scheduled speakers at the biennial forum is Andrew Roth, a former Mercyhurst dean and president emeritus of Notre Dame College who is researching the impact of intelligence on institutional decision-making.
For more on the forum, including agenda and speakers, visit www.globalintelligenceforum.com.
goerie.com, July 12, 2015