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Editorial: Presidential search is crucial to Bradley’s future

With Bradley University president Gary Roberts announcing his plan to retire next May, Bradley will launch a search for its 12th president this summer. This search is an important and influential one for Bradley’s long-term future.

The next president will have a long list of responsibilities. The biggest task will be solving the enrollment issues Bradley encountered last fall.

In the fall of 2018, Bradley had an enrollment shortfall of 243 students from budgeted numbers. The shortfall was represented in nearly every group of students including freshmen, sophomores, upperclassmen and on-campus graduate students. The only group that exceeded budgeted number was the online graduate students

The lack of tuition dollars from those students will result in an operating deficit of around $5 million for the fiscal year that ended May 31, 2019. When the shortfall was announced, Roberts said there was not going to be immediate changes to the staff, but Bradley needed to change the way it does business.

“Bradley needs the faculty and staff to get on board with the notion that we have to do things differently,” Roberts told The Scout in October.

Roberts cited the many adjustments that need to take place as a reason for his departure.

“I believe that many of the changes that need to occur at Bradley will take several years to implement fully, and having a president who can provide continuity of leadership throughout that transitional period will be a big plus for the university,” Roberts said.

Roberts is right that the landscape of higher education is changing, and Bradley needs to make massive changes just to keep up and stay competitive. The changes that need to be made will take time to implement. With this, Bradley needs a president that will commit a lengthy tenure to the school. 

This president will hold Bradley’s future in their hands and will need to have an immediate impact on the financial situation.

In order to have a president that will be successful in this high pressure capacity, it is important the search committee hires a candidate that has a background in solving enrollment problems and turning a school profitable. Experience is key because the next president will need to act quickly.

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