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Carol Christ, former president of Smith College, discusses the landscape of higher education

Carol Christ, president of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, from 2002 to 2013, gave a presentation on campus this February titled "The Future of Higher Education: Questions for Whitman College." A liberal arts and sciences institution, Smith is one of the Seven Sisters colleges in western Massachusetts. As president, Christ was instrumental in leading strategic planning processes for the college.

According to Christ, higher education institutions are currently facing their biggest period of change since the 1960s, due in large part to the economic climate and the boom in information technology.

In her presentation, Christ discussed trends such as accreditation, federal regulations surrounding financial aid, globalization of post-secondary education and an increased scrutiny of career outcomes for graduates of liberal arts institutions. She used a tool called "scenario planning" to challenge her audience to consider how globalization, the unbundling of college education, changes in the financial landscape and cloud-based technology might affect the operations and ethos of colleges like Whitman.

Prior to becoming president at Smith, Christ was executive vice chancellor at University of California, Berkeley - the highest-ranking administrative position held by a woman at that institution. Christ received her Ph.D. from Yale University, and is currently director of Berkeley's Center for Studies in Higher Education and emerita professor of English at Smith College. 

View the entire presentation above.

Published on Feb 5, 2015
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