Marathon Strategies

Higher Ed Beware: Winter Is Coming and You’re Going To Lose If You Don’t Prepare

By: Phil Singer, Founder & CEO of Marathon Strategies

From William F. Buckley’s “God and Men at Yale” to Donald Trump’s threats to punish universities for “radical left indoctrination,” colleges and universities have spent decades as targets for conservative lawmakers and activists who accuse schools of liberal biases and intolerance for right-of-center viewpoints among other grievances.

Our nation’s institutions of higher learning have fended off these attacks for years, but that’s changing. To quote Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), whose questioning during a recent congressional hearing on antisemitism on campuses partly fueled the resignations of the presidents of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania – “[a] reckoning is coming to higher education.”

This reckoning is a fundamental shift in how higher education is treated in the public square. Rising tuition and debt loads, wariness about “wokeism” and DEI programs, questions about academic integrity, and a growing political divide along education lines are leading to unprecedented scrutiny.

If schools have any hope of withstanding this onslaught, they must revamp how they communicate. They cannot take refuge in the “ivory tower,” but instead must learn how to effectively articulate and defend their positions to critics both on campus and off.  What they are doing now is not working.

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