Timothy Cloyd’s success with the Odyssey program and Hendrix was highlighted in an article from the May/June 2009 issue of Arts and Science. Here’s an excerpt.
Rather than simply continuing to pare operations and budgets, however, Hendrix’s president and board of trustees decided to act boldly. Market research determined how to strengthen the college’s market position, focusing on the potential impact of elevating various pedagogies and emphases that already were rooted, if serendipitously, in the educational experiences of many students at Hendrix. The research findings were dramatic: among the options the college was considering, several strategic initiatives built around the core concept of an intensively hands-on approach to the liberal arts would position them to draw significantly larger numbers of applicants and matriculating students. Further, the college’s strengthened appeal would improve “price elasticity,” enabling it to increase its cost of attendance substantially. Struck by the magnitude of the challenge to the institution, yet emboldened by the market research and by college leaders’ support for the push toward innovation across the curriculum and student life, the board, faculty, and administration acted quickly. The resulting Odyssey program codified an approach to engaged learning in the liberal arts built around a cohesive experiential pedagogy: all students would complete several qualifying hands-on learning experiences appropriate to their interests and fields of study. the program soon took hold in areas including classroom activity, independent projects, internships, research, and service. financial support was provided for student- and faculty-initiated experiences. the college raised its price by $5,000, but also offered increased financial aid to recognize student accomplishments related to Odyssey’s objectives. and new leadership in enrollment management re-engineered its communications and recruitment efforts. “It’s very difficult to turn around an institution that has overreacted and allowed itself to be pushed into deep retrenchment mode,” says Hendrix President J. Timothy Cloyd. “People should act boldly in a crisis. The academy is not always bold, but there is opportunity for those who are willing to be bold.” Not only did Odyssey put real teeth in Hendrix’s commitment to engaged liberal learning, the boldness of the plan also inspired supporters to step up with major gifts to seed the effort. Within two years, enrollment of qualified new students was up by more than 40 percent, and the college experienced a sharp uptick in net revenue. In fact, enrollment quickly exceeded the board’s 30-percent growth objective.
You can read the rest of the article on the Arts and Science website here.