I have been talking about higher education getting flattened for several years. My use of the word “flattened” comes from Tom Friedman’s book The World is Flat and is defined as “When the impact of the Internet and globalization render and industry unrecognizable, and in many cases, obsolete.”  We can now add Sweet Briar College as the latest example of a college getting flattened.

There has been considerable media attention paid to the announcement last week that Sweet Briar College is closing.  Many people questioned if this was the only option given Sweet Briar’s had $84 million in its endowment. Others said the closing was not a surprise. You can count me in the latter group. As Peter Drucker said almost 20 years ago:

Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won’t survive. … Such totally uncontrollable expenditures, without any visible improvement in either the content or the quality of education, means that the system is rapidly becoming untenable.

Higher education must adapt to the realities of the 21st century. We need to become more focused, more efficient, and provide better value.  Sweet Briar is not the first college to be flattened. They won’t be the last.

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