Bethany College President Leads National Thought Leaders’ Focus on Responding to Commoditization of Higher Education
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Dr. Scott D. Miller, president of Bethany College, will serve as co-executive editor of the seventh volume of “Presidential Perspectives,” a thought provoking leadership series authored by college and university presidents.
The series features a collection of chapters aimed at providing insight on the issues facing higher learning institutions nationwide. This 2012-13 series will examine the topic of “Responding to the Commoditization of Higher Education.”
Philadelphia-based Aramark Higher Education, a leader in providing professional services to colleges and universities across North America, has sponsored all seven volumes in the series.
“The higher education-as-a-commodity mentality is increasingly omnipresent, with advertising saturating virtually every medium of our daily existence, permeating the Internet, social media outlets, and especially college campuses,” said Dr. Muriel A. Howard, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and author of the series’ forward. “Among the promises sent to prospective students is a guarantee that they can finish college in four years or less and when they graduate they will be gainfully employed.”
Today’s colleges and universities, already impacted by a challenging financial environment, must promote their unique academic offerings to potential students who are seeking online degrees and accelerated programs as well as those students who are attending a community college before applying to a four-year institution.
The first chapter essay of the series, entitled Against the Windmills: The Commoditization of Higher Education,” and authored by Dr. F. Javier Cevallos, president of Kutztown University, asserts that while many factors have impacted higher education, including a reliance on increased technology and dwindling state and federal resources, institutions must adapt to fit students’ needs in order remain viable and differentiate their academic offerings.
“The great challenge is to find what makes us different, and how we can market our uniqueness. At least for the foreseeable future, there will always be a role for our traditional universities. High school graduates will continue to attend our campuses, live in our residence halls, participate in campus life, and more importantly, open their minds to the benefits of a college education,” explains Dr. Cevallos.
Additional topical essays featured in the “Presidential Perspectives” series focus on the commoditization of higher education and include developing and defining value propositions, implementing niche marketing, maintaining differentiation in a changing market and more.
“The commoditization of higher education impacts all higher education institutions and may significantly affect the way in which colleges and universities attract students,” said Dr. Miller, who along with Dr. Marylouise Fennell, senior counsel for the Council of Independent Colleges and past president of Carlow University, serves as executive editor. “This thoughtful leadership series aims to address the strategies being employed in higher education to counteract fundamental changes in the academic environment.”
Dr. Miller is President of the College and M.M. Cochran Professor of Leadership Studies at Bethany College in West Virginia. Now in his third college presidency, he has served as a CEO for nearly 22 years.
Dr. Fennell, RSM, a former president of Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, is senior counsel for the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and principal of Hyatt Fennell, a Higher Education Search Firm.
They have collaborated on nine books. Both serve as consultants to college presidents and boards.   They are regular columnists for College Planning and Management and Enrollment Manager.
Contributing thought leaders for this year’s “Presidential Perspectives” include:
  • Muriel A. Howard, American Association of State Colleges and Universities
  • F. Javier Cevallos, Kutztown University
  • Andrew P. Roth, Notre Dame College
  • James Barker, Clemson University
  • Wilson G. Bradshaw, Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Michael MacDowell, Misericordia University
  • Jake B.Schrum, Southwestern University
  • Doug Whitlock, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Dana Gibson, Sam Houston State University
  • Eric Gilbertson, Saginaw Valley State University
  • Brian Noland, East Tennessee State University
Beginning in September, one chapter essay of “Presidential Perspectives” will be released each month to an extensive international database of college leaders and friends, with the series culminating in June. Current and past chapters can be viewed online at or by visiting
At the conclusion of the electronic distribution, the entire volume will be published in book form.