College/Strategic Partner to design for Poverty-Free Future

By William Smith
Dallas College with CampusWorks taps unmatched expertise to drive transformation, think differently, and embrace the possibilities created by change...

Doing what’s best for clients is what motivates CampusWorks. 

Since 1999, the firm has delivered unmatched leadership expertise to colleges and universities of all shapes and sizes to increase institutional effectiveness and enhance the student experience. Its relentless drive to solve deep, systemic challenges and create the conditions required for lasting change has earned CampusWorks a reputation for being bold – something that made Dallas College take notice during its search for a strategic partner. 

When college leadership set the audacious goal of eradicating poverty in the region, Chief Innovation Officer Tim Marshall knew significant transformation was on the horizon. Overtime that came into focus: seven individually accredited institutions would need to be consolidated, groundwork for the adoption of a single enterprise technology platform established, and a shared vision of the ideal student experience created. As it embarked on this journey, Dallas College knew that having an independent perspective at the helm would be key to its long-term success. Having found a unique synergy with CampusWorks, the firm was engaged. “There’s a reason why they’re called CampusWorks,” Tim Marshall, Chief Innovation Officer for the College, reports, “the name is very appropriate.” 

“Our ambition was to uplift the community, which is different from the aims of a lot of other colleges,” continues Marshall. Attentively digging in, CampusWorks set about aligning the College’s people, processes, information, and technology in preparation for the future, but Chief Executive Officer and Board Chair Liz Murphy confirms her team’s work went deeper, “while we used our standard methodologies, we had the blessing of the chancellor and leadership team to really push the organization to think completely differently about how they would operate as a single institution.” Exploring beyond stated needs and desired outcomes CampusWorks’ student-centric approach was critical to helping faculty and staff identify and embrace the possibilities created by change. 

One such possibility was creating the nation’s first career connected learner network. “We coined the term ‘enroll in a job’, because that’s what students really need and want,” says Marshall. “Our mission and our vision, our goals and objectives, are all about moving students into jobs. When CampusWorks came in and created cross-functional teams to investigate the new environment, discussions became less about functions as opposed to how it enabled interesting approaches to the students.” 

With that network in place, Dallas College is helping students connect learning to living wages and sustainable careers - moving the College one step closer to reaching its goal of ending systemic poverty in the region. “Colleges and universities have a profound ability to make real change,” says Murphy. The CampusWorks CEO believes Dallas College has set the bar high, but she reports seeing an uptick in the number of institutions setting similarly ambitious goals. She says her team routinely advises clients to “begin with the end in mind” and to have “a really clear sense of the impact they want to make”. 

Murphy encourages today’s higher education leaders to think about the ripple-effect they wish to have because it’s not about “where your pebble drops, but where the ripple goes when it reaches the shore – what is it that you’re changing in the world?”

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