The Curran Consulting Group (CCG) understands the pressure on higher educational institutions to increase ROI on a college education. We take the time to appreciate your unique culture, and partner with you to produce holistic, integrated solutions that add measurable value to your college of university.
CCG addresses key institutional challenges in all areas of academic administration. Recent assignments have included the following:
Higher Education Consulting
Strategic Opportunity Assessment (SOA) and External Review
Strategic Opportunity Assessments are the Curran Consulting Group’s most frequently requested service. SOA’s are a type of in-depth external review that uses a reverse engineering approach. Our first goal is to discover what you envision as a successful outcome. Then, working backwards, we identify the obstacles blocking that success, the school-specific opportunities that we can leverage, and the actions required—both short and long-term—to meet your goals. Typically, we spend between 3 and 8 days on campus, interviewing key stakeholders. A month after producing a comprehensive report, we plan a follow up visit to ensure you have the support you need for implementation of the recommendations.
Sample scenario: University A was experiencing significant pressure from senior leadership and alumni to improve career outcomes and provide more relevant services to students in all majors. The director had resigned, and there was a sense that the office had lost momentum. The Curran Consulting Group (CCG) conducted an in-depth Strategic Opportunity Assessment, determined the roadblocks to achieving the University’s vision for careers, and identified how they could take advantage of institutional strengths. After multiple conversations with clients, CCG submitted a report that highlighted opportunities for quick wins, determined the cost of achieving goals, and developed a short and long-term plan of action. University A was so pleased with the CCG’s work that they hired CCG to do two additional assignments.
The Curran Consulting Group provides strategic planning and performs data analysis in all areas of academic administration.
Sample scenario: College B’s international programs and services were costly and provided little strategic advantage to the College. CCG performed a cost benefit analysis and employed business process mapping to identify how the college could best utilize institutional funds while improving student outcomes. CCG assessed current international partnerships to identify their financial and educational impact, and conducted a financial and operations audit onsite at a flagship semester-long study abroad site in Europe. Recommendations were made that reduced costs by over $1 million a year.
When colleges and universities are engaged in a Strategic Opportunity Assessment, they often discover the need for benchmark data from peer and aspirant schools. The Curran Consulting Group possesses extensive experience in academic institutional benchmarking.
Sample scenario: An academic department at College C was perceived to have fallen behind its peers in providing an essential student service. The Curran Consulting Group was asked to design a survey to discover best practices; develop appropriate questions; ensure an excellent response rate from chosen peer schools; gather and interpret data; compare external data to internal data; graphically present findings; and, make recommendations for action based on the analysis.
Institutional Viability and Turnaround
The Curran Consulting Group helps colleges and universities design a holistic approach to enhancing their institutional value proposition. In particular, we are known for providing effective solutions that help college and university leaders address and resolve a deteriorating financial situation.
Sample scenario: University D had experienced several years of declining enrollment and retention. As a tuition-driven institution, it was in danger of not being able to repay multi-million dollar loans. CCG was hired by a Bond Insurance company to make recommendations about changes that would allow the university to not only survive, but thrive. Working in collaboration with a firm of financial turnaround specialists, CCG provided a strategic analysis of how the university could increase revenue, decrease costs, and better serve students. The holistic approach involved admissions, retention, career services, student affairs, human resource planning, development, and auxiliary services. The university is back on track, and no longer in danger of default.
Higher Ed Career Transformation
The Curran Consulting Group has deep experience in creating university programs that help students transition to their careers successfully. We are leaders in designing state-of-the-art career transformation initiatives across the country; we collaborate closely with university leaders to craft mission-driven solutions for each respective institution.
Sample scenario: Following a college-wide strategic planning initiative involving hundreds of faculty and staff, College E—a liberal arts institution–decided to make excellent career outcomes the cornerstone of its new strategic plan. Until that time, careers had received little attention. The college engaged CCG as career subject matter experts to identify how it could reach ambitious goals that would make the college a nationwide leader in preparing students to transition from college to career. Working closely with the President and Provost, CCG prepared a detailed strategic plan highlighting priorities, timelines and resources required. It also engaged in a marketing plan that promoted the new career initiative. CCG was subsequently hired to help guide the implementation, and also to lead the (successful) search for a new leader of the career initiative. Metrics for success have now been established. And, through a reallocation of administrative personnel, resources have been found to more than double the budget for this strategic initiative.
Curran Consulting Group clients often request additional assistance with searches in the areas where we have been involved. Our in-depth understanding of the benefits, challenges and culture of a particular college or university provide us with the inside knowledge that is essential to identifying “fit”, and recruiting an excellent hire.
Sample scenario: University F had hired the Curran Consulting Group to perform a Strategic Opportunity Assessment of their Career Center. The Center had been without a leader for a period of time, and its reputation had suffered. CCG was able to identify the impact the right candidate could have in this position, understand the motivations of potential candidates, and define the job in a way that would attract them to apply. With CCG’s assistance, the college was successful in hiring one of the top professionals in the nation.
Strategic Opportunity Assessments and Search assignments often identify situations where an individual’s performance can be substantially enhanced with the assistance of professional coaching. Sheila Curran’s extensive experience in coaching individuals working in senior academic positions is evident in the results the Curran Consulting Group is able to achieve with coaching clients.
Sample scenario: College G hired an associate dean to run a new center. The new hire possessed all the institution’s desired characteristics and transferable skills, but had limited subject matter expertise in some of the areas for which she was responsible. She also inherited some staff members who were reluctant to embrace change and different performance expectations. To enable the dean to make an immediate impact and avoid errors in judgment or action, Sheila Curran coached her both in person and virtually for several months. This partnership enabled the associate dean to make a significant impact within a very short period of time.