Bennett Re-Engineering Committee Makes Commendable Progress in First Month

GREENSBORO, N.C. 5/16/2019–The Bennett College Board of Trustees established the Bennett Re-Engineering Committee (BRC) to help catapult Bennett College from its current state to a sustainable brand and business model.  The Committee is charged with developing a set of strategy recommendations to achieve this aim.  The BRC is comprised of visionary and strategic leaders from a diverse set of industries, including higher education, business, government, financial, marketing, public relations, and change management. Together, the group has coalesced to deliver a road map for change. The members are committed to producing strategy recommendations that form the foundation for Bennett’s ability to embrace new opportunities.

The BRC held its first meeting on April 18th, 2019 on the campus of Bennett College. The meeting focused on an assessment of the current state of the College. President Phyllis Dawkins and members of Bennett’s senior leadership team provided overviews on the state of academics, finance and operations, student support and services, and leadership and governance.  Trustees Senator Gladys Robinson (Board Chair) and Andrea Harris (Governance Committee Chair) presented information on the board and overall governance. Meeting discussion topics also included accreditation, most and least popular academic programs, fundraising accomplishments, assets, communications, recruitment, and enrollment. BRC members expressed the need for a true sense of urgency. At the conclusion of the meeting, Yvonne Johnson, BRC co-chair, stressed the importance of keeping Bennett College alive and thriving. Co-chair Tom Ross emphasized that the BRC needs to figure out a plan that is unique to Bennett and impressed upon participants that it will take courage and effort to provide effective recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

Committee members recognize the importance of capturing the voices of key stakeholders including students, parents, alumna, faculty, staff, donors and others.  This qualitative data along with quantitative data on trends and the current state of Bennett compared with other institutions will drive the quality of the Committee’s work.  Thus, the BRC tasked its facilitation team with conducting stakeholder surveys and high-impact focus groups over the next two months. As of May 10th, the BRC collected approximately 500 completed stakeholder surveys and received contact information from over 40 people willing to participate in focus groups. BRC members are synthesizing vital data provided by Bennett College administrators, in multiple domains including students, faculty, and staff demographics, academic and financial statistics, and other areas.

Most recently, the BRC formed four subcommittees to deliver assessments and offer early recommendations for transformation to the full Committee on June 7, 2019. The subcommittees are: (1) Strategic Communications, (2) Academics and Student Support Services, (3) Administration and Finance, and (4) Visionary Leadership and Governance. The subcommittees are working under a rigorous timetable.  Given the efforts of the subcommittees and the full BRC, we anticipate the submission of final deliverables by October 2019. That said, the BRC has made clear that it is committed to continuing its efforts beyond that date, if necessary, in order to deliver to the Trustees recommendations that clearly reposition Bennett College for success.