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  • President Reflects on University Transformation in new President to President book

October 11, 2018

Chapter 2 ‘From Risk to Reinvention and Revival: Return on Athletics’ of the new book, President to President, has been released. Authored by Dr. John P. Marsden, President of Midway University, this is part of a 10-chapter book based around the 2018-19 theme, “Ten Challenges Facing Higher Education: Shaping the Student Experience.”

In the chapter, Marsden laid out the risk that the university was facing when he arrived:

“Midway University was an at-risk institution in 2013. The institution faced financial challenges, including expenses that exceeded revenues, declining enrollments, and cash flow shortages.”

He then goes on to talk about the main steps the institution put in place to move in the right direction:

“Midway University methodically put its financial house in order by reducing expenses, increasing revenue through expanding graduate programs and international partnerships, collecting unpaid tuition, and finalizing an agreement to refinance all debt. The Women’s College posed a larger problem to solve.”

“By 2016, it was time to reinvent Midway University once again. Although there are many positive outcomes associated with attending a women’s college, the Midway University Trustees unanimously and boldly approved full coeducation for financial reasons…”

Marsden also outlines how athletics have been used to help sustain the university’s enrollment and increase revenue:

“Due to high interest in sports teams, athletics can fuel enrollment. In spring 2016, Midway University sponsored eight athletic teams for 92 women. Following coeducation and the launch of additional teams, the number of students participating in athletics surged to 260 in fall 2016 and 340 in fall 2017. By fall 2018, Midway University sponsored 20 athletic teams, and the number of student athletes exceeded 400. Such growth yields tuition if discounting is controlled. The increase in revenue from athletics made it possible for Midway University to offer raises to employees in 2018 for the first time in five years.”

“I am pleased to share the risks we faced and the steps we took to reinvent ourselves, particularly if it helps other institutions,” said Marsden. “Midway has always been an institution that has changed to remain relevant and viable to those it serves. We have undergone many changes at an accelerated rate over the last several years to stabilize the institution and establish a foundation for ongoing strategic growth.”

To read and download the entire chapter, visit the President2President website.

About President to President
President to President is a higher education-focused thought leadership series written by university presidents for university presidents. The 2018-2019 edition of President to President, titled “Ten Challenges Facing Higher Education: Shaping the Student Experience,” focuses on how colleges and universities are addressing myriad challenges and explores how these factor into the student experience-both now and into the future.

Each chapter of President to President is authored by a notable thought leader whose institution is at the forefront of innovative philosophies and practices that give their institution competitive advantage. Frequently published higher education authors Scott D. Miller, Ph.D., and Marylouise Fennell, Ed.D., serve as editors for this series. Each month, one chapter will be distributed and promoted electronically, as well as posted on At the end of the series, the foreword and chapters will be published into a thought-provoking collection on the topic and made available as a reference resource.