top of page
  • Dr. Jay K. Box

Should we reinvent the community college business model?

Should we reinvent the community college business model?

According to Dr. Christopher Shults, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Planning at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, the answer is a resounding yes.

In his 2020 book, Reinventing the Community College Business Model, Designing Colleges for Organizational Success, Shults lays out a plan for how community colleges can move from a survival mode of financial stability based on a perilous model of continuous enrollment growth and ever-increasing tuition rates to a thriving mode for financial growth based on an educational ROI model for students, parents, and the community—a principle Shults calls “maximizing social impact.”

Shults’ reimagined community college business model (CCBM) is centered around four pillars —the student value proposition; key resources; delivery of the product; and the profit formula —with the most important pilar being the student value proposition.

So what is the student value proposition? Shults says that community colleges do not serve a homogenous student population. Thus the SVP will be different for each student population served, and, therefore, the CCBM does not have one operational definition. But it instead has one core guideline: a college must understand who its students are — their unique needs, problems, and expectations — and design educational programs and services to meet their expectations.

To better determine what the SVP is for its diverse student population, Shults says that a college must “engage internal and external stakeholders, and especially the students, in a conversation about the value proposition.”

In other words, in a time of limited resources, both for the student and the college, the SVP must demonstrate that there is a true return on investment.

How HEI can help!

Higher Education Innovation is all about return on investment. Our research-based company has a team of successful and passionate professionals dedicated to affordably assisting colleges in making the critical pivots essential to move an institution from survive to thrive.

One of the ways the HEI team does this is by providing an annual conference specifically designed for community college and liberal arts university presidents. At the 2021 fall conference, you will be able to hear from four distinguished keynote speakers and choose from eight breakout sessions where the best in entrepreneurial thinking and innovative best practices will be shared.

You will even be able to hear the full story on the Student Value Proposition and the new Community College Business Model in a presentation by Shults and the Borough of Manhattan Community College president, Dr. Anthony Munroe, as they walk you through how BMCC has started the journey of implementing the model. You won’t want to miss this presentation!

About the conference

The 2021 HEI Presidents Conference, “Disruption Through Entrepreneuring: Radical Transformation of Higher Education in a Just-in-Time World,” will be held Oct. 11-13 in Kentucky.

The conference will be co-hosted by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and Midway University. Both are located in towns in Woodford County: Versailles (home of the KCTCS) and Midway (home of Midway University). Located just 15 minutes from Lexington, Kentucky’s Blue Grass Airport, and in the heart of the nation’s equine and bourbon industry, these two Woodford County towns have much to offer conference attendees.

Please visit our conference website:, to check out our full conference agenda, including the list of speakers and descriptions of their presentations. There is also information about optional tours and activities that your spouse can participate in while you are attending the conference. Registration is now open!

In closing, if you get a chance, pick up Dr. Christopher Shults’ book Reinventing the Community College Business Model: Designing Colleges for Organizational Change, which is now available from Rowman & Littlefield ( I highly recommend it

Dr. Jay Box is the Chief Leadership Innovation Officer (CLIO) for HEI and the former President of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

173 views0 comments


Dr. Jay Box
bottom of page