New Alumnus Dissertation Examines Positive Change for Small, Private, Tuition Dependent Colleges

Even before the COVID-19 Pandemic, higher education has been facing unprecedented threats to existing business models. Small, private colleges heavily dependent on tuition revenue are particularly at risk. PhD in Leadership and Change alumnus Dr. Michael Bills addresses this in his new dissertation entitled, Turning Around Small, Private, Tuition Dependent Colleges: How Boards of Trustees Impact Decline and Turnaround. This dissertation used comparative case study of three small, private colleges that successfully turned around to examine how their boards of trustees that oversaw and contributed to their decline became capable of overseeing and contributing to their turnaround.

Dr. Michael Bills has served as President of ConexED since 2015. ConexED is the leader in virtual student services in higher education. Dr. Bills is a leading authority in using technology and data science to improve student learning outcomes. From 2004 – 2014, Michael led a series of acquisitions of three underperforming businesses across a broad set of industries. As CEO, he led the turnarounds and negotiated and executed the sale of all three businesses — two to strategic buyers, and the other to private equity. Michael is a graduate of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, UT and has served on the Westminster College board of trustees since 2008. He currently serves as Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee and Vice Chair of the Governance committee. As a board member, Michael has been a passionate advocate for first generation and underrepresented minority students.