Interview With The Author: Dr. Geoffrey Cox

Senior Associate Dean for Finance and Administration, Graduate School of Education
Stanford University


1) Your book is aptly titled for these COVID-19 times. In particular, how will the resilience of American higher education help it to prevail through this pandemic?

I have certainly been thinking a lot about this in recent weeks.  The thesis of the book is that higher education has been very effective in creating new ways of working to respond to the changing needs of society.  Colleges and universities are good mimics; they adapt new business models, new technologies, and new organizational structures in order to pursue new educational missions.  I think we are seeing evidence of this during the COVID-19 challenge in the way institutions are pivoting to online teaching and re-thinking the nature of campus life.  Contrary to the usual image of higher education, we are flexible when we need to be.


2) What is one of the most important takeaways from your book for Registry interim leaders who will start their assignment this fall?  

I always think it is important to remember that today’s inviolable traditions are yesterday’s radical innovations. Colleges and universities look very static and unchanging on the surface, but they are always changing and flexing.  Leaders need to remind institutional stakeholders that survival has always depended on adaptability, not resistance to change.


3) Since the book’s publication, have you altered your view toward any of the main themes presented in your book? 

One chapter in the book argues that most of the talk of “disrupting” higher education is misguided, but I was thinking of the kind of disruption that comes from new competitors.  Clearly the COVID-19 challenge is entirely different, and it is possible that it will trigger a perfect storm of challenges in terms of economics, demographics, international mobility, the nature of work, the use of technology, etc.  The need for innovation may be more urgent than I anticipated when I wrote the book


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