Rio Salado College, known for its strong online learning program, has been named one of eight highly productive institutions of higher education in the nation by McKinsey & Company, a nationally known management consulting firm.
In its new report, “Winning by Degrees: The Strategies of Highly Productive Higher Education Institutions,” McKinsey describes Rio Salado as “the community college with the largest online enrollments in the nation. U.S. higher education needs a new generation of such innovation at scale.”
“We’re delighted that McKinsey & Co. has recognized the accomplishments of Rio Salado College,” said Maricopa Community Colleges Chancellor Rufus Glasper. “They’re saying that other institutions should replicate what Rio Salado has done – to provide scale that will allow more Americans to work toward a college degree.”
The McKinsey report describes the organization's research into higher education, which concluded that achieving a goal of 1 million more postsecondary degrees requires a “structural shift” in education. McKinsey said that not only will American education need to emphasize both access and college completion, but colleges and universities must become more productive, by an average of 23%.
The report praised Rio Salado’s practice of leveraging technology to become more cost-effective by substituting full-time with part-time faculty, the attitude of Rio Salado administrators, who encourage innovation, and a decision made by the State of Arizona when Rio Salado was created that allowed the college to operate across the state, serving students across many communities.
“The board of the Maricopa Community College system allows Rio Salado to operate across counties,” the report continued, “while other brick-and-mortar institutions have predefined service areas.”
“This report is recognition that Rio Salado’s educational innovations are working,” said Dr. Chris Bustamante, president of Rio Salado College. “We continue to look for additional ways to be more productive and effective in our work and to effect more certificate and degree completion.”
Overall, the McKinsey report recommends that colleges and universities reduce nonproductive, or excess credits taken by students; redesign their instruction, including use of innovative delivery systems such as online learning; ensure that core support and services are more efficient; and optimize non-core services and other operations.