The landscape of higher education has experienced major changes, but it is set to undergo a sweeping transformation in the years ahead. A smaller Gen. Z cohort, combined with increased talent demands in the industry bring both threats and opportunities for academic instruction. Who will survive, and how will they thrive? In this week’s episode, we tackle two compelling opportunities: how marketing professionals should evaluate the role of higher education in their career ladder, and how schools should borrow from the B2B playbook to competitively market themselves for the future. Take a listen with our esteemed guest, Chad Mezera, Assistant Dean of Online Programs for the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. Chad literally “wrote the playbook” on online education, and has turned WVU’s higher education programs into award-winning, innovative online degrees.
Ruth Stevens: What do you think marketing education is going to look like tomorrow?
Chad Mezera: I think the opportunity here is really understanding your audience
and what they need. One of the things that has differentiated our approach is that
we've been able to maintain high practitioner focus. With all of our programs,
both at the graduate undergraduate level, but particularly at the graduate level,
there's a dedication to keeping pace with what's happening in the industry. In
the last 15 years, the industry has changed dramatically and education, at its
core, needs to keep up with where the market is and with where employers are. Early
on in in my higher education career, I had a disagreement with a mentor of mine
about how education should be approached and what the value proposition is for
the students. He was vehement that we don't do training in higher education and
that we focus on global thinking and the critical thinking and let the employers
do the training. And, maybe 20 years ago, that was a much more relevant approach,
but I think now there's a shift and education has to serve a need that isn't just
about how people think and their ability to do critical thinking, but also how
they're able to do that work within a particular career. From the perspective of
where marketing education is going, I see a lot of successful programs that are
trying to find the right balance between the higher education philosophy and the
needs of today's employers.