What kind of strategies could help DeVry improve in performance?
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This recent comment takes me back to the day years ago that we solemnly watched the “DeVry Institute of Technology” sign come down off our campus building to be replaced by the “DeVry University” moniker. At that time many of us discussed how this portentous change in the signage was boldly emblematic of the plan and vision for chasing waterfalls while abandoning, rather than leveraging and extending, our leading position in the hands-on tech training niche. That switched-out sign on the building, along with shocking back-hall chats with some admissions reps about reduced application standards, were harbingers of the horrors to come. The rest is history as we know it. Looking ahead, though, it’s encouraging to see the open-minded humility and eclectic exploration of options by new senior leadership as we try to find our way back. Not to reveal performance details in this public forum, but we sure seem to be doing pretty well these days across multiple measures, and especially in comparison to the struggling enrollment declines of many private non-profit and community colleges. Dare I to hope.
And to all the handwringing about Dahn’s intermittent, interloping commentary here, simply ignore it, just as you would a single scathing end-of-course survey by a student angry about his final grade. To those of us on the inside who understand the full and nuanced picture of DVU, and recognize it’s legion of highly successful graduates over the years, Dahn’s limited viewpoint is not well informed, adds no value in this forum, and at times is but a feeble attempt to stir the p-t among those of us in the know. It’s just sad, but his are the naive postings of an outsider. Let’s be bigger and rise above responding to that sort of baiting.
The strategy question is about competitive advantage.
Depends on how you define the market but it’s up against Grand Canyon and SNHU now as well as a lot of state schools with online programs. Those aren’t for-profit but they dominate the national television messaging. Those claim legitimacy beyond what DVU is able to offer. DVU Sells as a slightly better UoP these days, when we were once clearly regarded as better. My advice, since the customer market is shrinking anyway for higher ed overall and for-profit in particular, is to go back to a focus on actual quality outcomes. Have an enrollment threshold and quality exit testing. Focus on the kinds of programs that our students could succeed at. With ITT gone, we can own Networking—and we are a CISCO academy. We need to sell on that.
Liberal Arts degrees were a miserable failure for us but we are good at programming and project management. We have PMI. If anything we should minimize Liberal Arts since our students tend to resent those classes for not understanding the overall purpose of college. They will need math and writing but we could encourage those to take those at a local
Community college—outsource what’s not a core function in order to create efficiencies and better customer experience. We should stay away from Adobe jobs because those lead to freelancing careers, and offer stronger electronics but hands-on. If DeVry meant anything in the long run, it used to be electronics training. Need to make the ghost of Uncle Herman proud, though possibly rebranding back to DeForest would certainly help with reinventing the place.
So overall, stronger niche technical programs that can’t be replicated at community colleges or the online four years. “Product Differentiation” strategy, and move away from “Thoughput”. You’re welcome, and for the record this has nothing to do with layoffs excepts possibly trying to prevent them in the long run.
It depends on what you mean by "performance" If you mean simply increasing revenue they could double down on what they are doing now. If you mean improve outcomes and reputation, it would take a fundamental overhaul of admission policy and a much more hawkish and honest view on ability to benefit.