Operationalizing and Sustaining New Academic Programs

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Also in this series:
Is it Time to Launch that New Academic Program? The Art and Science of Answering that Question
Feasibility Checklist: The Science of Bringing New Academic Programs to Life
Financial Modeling for New Academic Programs

by Melissa Morriss-Olson, Bay Path University

Sustaining New Academic Programs: 5 Key Factors

Photo of Melissa Morriss-Olson

In my previous articles in this series, I outlined a blueprint for new academic program development and stressed the importance of a balanced approach. Understanding that it is impossible to capture all variables on the front end, the potential viability of a program is difficult to assess until that program is up and running. While having a discipline around new program development ensures that you will anticipate most of the important potential impact issues, maintaining a culture of flexibility and responsiveness once the program is launched is equally critical for the program’s success. As the great American novelist Thomas Berger once wrote, “The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.”  Indeed, cultivating a spirit of ‘question asking’ and ‘wide-eyed vigilance’ as a program is embedded within your organizational culture and context, while not easy, is nevertheless a foundational pre-requisite for long-term viability.

Over the past decade, we have successfully implemented and sustained more than twenty new graduate programs at Bay Path University.  Having learned a great deal through this process, I have found a handful of key factors that are important to keep in mind:

  1. Think long-term with up-front investments.
  2. Leverage untapped potential.
  3. Start small, invest conservatively on the front end, and build as you go.
  4. Maintain a spirit of adaptability.
  5. Develop "Kaizen" eyesight.

Let me provide more context for each of these considerations.


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