June 25, 2007

The Student Experience at Harvard and Sinclair

After recently posting “What’s Most Important? – The Student Experience,” in which I discussed High Point University’s unique approach to building student engagement, I’ve received intriguing questions from folks curious about what I see in the different sectors of higher ed: How does the importance of impacting student engagement vary from public schools to private schools, and from two-year–focused institutions to terminal degree institutions?

Pondering these questions, two campuses immediately came to mind to cite as examples of very different approaches higher ed institutions are taking to achieve similar outcomes in the provision of great student experiences: Harvard University and Sinclair Community College.

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June 07, 2007

"What's Most Important? - The Student Experience" by Tom Bell

Some 30+ years ago, while sitting in various smoke-filled board rooms for hours at a time some, I had no idea how campus discussions about the “Student Experience” would evolve during the ensuing three decades.

I recall my first effort at addressing the Student Experience.  During that specific campus meeting, the topic was food service, and I was being grilled as the new kid on campus.  In attendance were the school president, all the vice presidents, members of the College Council, the student newspaper editor and what seemed like a supporting cast of thousands. 

Students were tired of being served liver, mystery meat, boiled lamb shank, Old Medford fruit punch (if you went to camp in the ’60s, you drank this by the gallon to cover the taste of sulfur water from the well) and a plethora of other bizarre foods not fit for mass consumption.

Everyone in attendance agreed the food being served on campus was awful, and it was my job to get it fixed, cut staff, reduce cost of goods, and keep the students happy so they’d stay on campus and not transfer to another college.

That was my introduction to addressing the Student Experience.

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April 24, 2007

Tom Bell Reflects on BbWorld Commerce `07

The excitement surrounding this year’s BbWorld Commerce gathering in Carefree, Arizona has now been carried by the several hundred conference participants back to their home campuses.

We experienced perfect weather last week. And the resort in Carefree, located just northeast of Phoenix, provided us with spectacular views and hospitality while 300 or so of us met and shared what is happening on-campus and within Blackboard.

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September 22, 2006

Traveling with Tom Bell


One would think I would be tired of visiting campuses.  After thirty years in Higher Ed and six years with Blackboard I have visited dozens of campuses in the US, Canada and Europe.  Every time I visit a campus I see something new and exciting.  One of the things I have been noticing lately is the focus on the student experience through convenience and attention to the needs of the “Millennial Student.”

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