The Next Normal: The Future of Higher Education with Dr. Stanton McNeely


In this episode of the Building Us podcast, co-hosts Erik Garcia, CFP®, and Dr. Matt Morris, LPC, LMFT interview Dr. Stanton F. McNeely III, Ed.D, President at the University of Holy Cross. Dr. Stanton talks about his thoughts on virtual teaching and the changes that have occurred at the University of Holy Cross due to Covid-19.

Episode Highlights:

  • Erik introduces Dr. Stanton McNeely. (1:08)
  • Stanton shares that they’re working through the dynamics of the pandemic which is a reduced occupancy on campus, continuing some things from a distance modality online, and they also have some focused instruction on-site as well. (2:31)
  • Stanton mentions that in today’s century, everyone can receive information in the palm of their hand, as much as on a desktop or a tablet. (4:20)
  • Stanton mentions that it’s significant that they’re present as much as they possibly can. (4:39)
  • Stanton shares his experiences from Hurricane Katrina, back in 2005. (5:38)
  • Stanton shares that the radical change of 2005 has been a good lesson of working with city officials, state and federal officials, as well as other education partners to lead a university through a dynamic change situation. (8:16)
  • How’s Stanton making decisions about suspending physical learning and moving to remote learning? (10:47)
  • Stanton mentions that his experience together with the other faculty and staff, on distance education allowed them to pivot as best as they could. (13:41)
  • Stanton thinks that having the ability to pivot and continue teaching and learning online, is the key. (14:13)
  • Stanton shares that the technology at the secondary level is more of a supplement to what’s important for a developing mind in terms of in-person learning. (14:33)
  • Stanton thinks that the individualized intention, close relations between faculty and staff, and the ability of college students to flip to distance helped. (15:49)
  • Stanton shares that some universities have more in-person instruction right now than others and well-intentioned to optimizing the balance of health and safety responsibility, with educational responsibility, as well. (18:46)
  • How does Stanton balance the financial needs of the university, the faculty, and staff? (19:02)
  • Stanton explains conservative financial planning. (20:59)
  • Stanton shares one of the transformations that occurred during the disruption in March and April was the opportunity that came with their counseling and training center. (22:43)
  • Stanton mentions that he views telemental health as an opportunity for the continued growth of the counseling programs and it’s going to help them financially as well. (23:48)
  • Matt shares that as a faculty member, it’s been interesting to watch his graduate students go through the learning process of learning to do counseling online. (25:22)
  • Matt thinks that there are classes and parts of classes that can be taught more effectively online. (27:19)
  • Erik shares that what strikes him is how significant it is to have a forward-thinking leadership that is open and willing to go outside of the box. (32:49)
  • Stanton shares that it’s essential that every student, faculty, and staff member in their community and their families feel that they’re doing the best to help them through this time. (39:45)
  • Stanton mentions that when he talks about health and safety, it includes financial safety for our students, knowing that they’re a family member, going through tough times. (41:37)
  • How would they do the next normal, or the next iteration of online education in a sustainable way? (49:01)
  • Stanton mentions that there’s no stopping point in learning, growth, development, and upward mobility. (52:09)
  • What would be Stanton’s message to people who may be listening about the overarching value of higher education in general, but Holy Cross in particular? (53:29)
  • Stanton shares that the biggest breaking cycle of poverty is higher education combined with work. (55:02)

Key Quotes:

  • “One of the trends in higher education that I was very mindful of coming into this role is what is the 21st-century difference of a religiously affiliated small institution of higher education in the United States.” – Dr. Stanton McNeely
  • “I’m not looking at the bottom line when I’m looking at these outcomes in terms of revenue and terms of enrollment, as indicators of doing the right thing as our mission calls us to do, which then gives us the capacity and resources to continuously improve the way we do it.” – Dr. Stanton McNeely
  • “Think about it, you know, we sometimes exist despite ourselves, but we are also the longest-lasting actors. If you look at it from a business perspective, if you want to compare us to other entities, if you use that term, the longest standing actors in this space in the community and organizational development.” – Dr. Stanton McNeely
  • “To our friends and supporters who are experiencing their own time, tough times to be relational, we’re all in this together. Let’s help lift each other and let’s help our students achieve their dreams.” – Dr. Stanton McNeely
  • “I do sincerely believe not only for the University of Holy Cross but for higher education in our world. We’re going to come out of this much stronger.” – Dr. Stanton McNeely

Resources Mentioned:

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