As we look toward the future for Bethune-Cookman, we face new challenges as our traditional sources of revenue decline and we look for new ways to address the needs of our students and meet the University's mission.
An Interview with Dr. Rhyant B-CU Board Member
Dr. Lee Rhyant is a member of B-CU's Board of Trustees. During his career he worked for GM, Rolls Royce Aerospace, private equity investment firms, and Lockheed Martin, helping these
organizations change and restructure to meet the realities of the market, the economy and their customers.
In a recent interview, Dr. Rhyant talked about the changes companies have faced over the last 20 years and how they parallel the challenges that B-CU faces today.
What Universities Can Learn From Organizations
"For the last 20 years companies have been going through the type of change universities are now facing," Dr. Rhyant said. He points out that companies who successfully change are stronger and better weather economic fluctuations. They are also less vulnerable, offer a better product at a lower cost and they understand what their customers want. But there are also companies that could not adapt and they have gone out of business.
For universities, Dr. Rhyant believes they must learn to be flexible enough to meet future challenges -- whether they are from students, parents, the government or the economy -- and thrive. "The economy is fragile, but we have to accept that. It's the reality. For a university to
thrive, they need a robust plan that meets the realities of the economy and its customers (students/parents/employees). Universities must position themselves to survive and thrive in both economic ups and downs."
What This Means for B-CU
Just as there are often clear signs that businesses must change, Dr. Rhyant believes there are clear signs that academia must change:
- Universities are dependent on government funding and the government's budgets are decreasing.
- There is more scrutiny from government, as well as private donors, on how funds are given, used and repaid.
- There is lower-cost competition as junior colleges now offer four-year degrees.
He also points out that people today are more careful with their education dollar. Students and families want to pay less for education. "People are willing to pay a premium for a small university like B-CU. However, the amount of that premium is now less," Dr. Rhyant said. To attract students, he believes B-CU needs to offer a consistent educational product and it needs to be customized to the marketplace for private students. Dr. Rhyant believes that, with changes, B-CU will be well positioned for the future. "B-CU is the optimum size to deal with the current challenges to academia and come out strong…even grow." To do that, B-CU needs to use its talent to create a plan that stands the challenges of the next three to five years. That means creating the right positive educational experience for students at the right cost.