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Redesigning Higher Education

A Small New England Public University Changes Higher Education

Donald L. Birx, Annette M. Holba and Patricia T. Bahr

Redesigning Higher Education: A Small New England Public University Changes Higher Education tells the story of how Plymouth State University (New Hampshire), a small New England public university, is changing the face and future of higher education for the 21st century. This is the Plymouth Experiment. The authors highlight ongoing change and transformation at Plymouth State University during challenging demographic and financial times in higher education. With many institutions merging or closing across the nation, Plymouth State University’s fifteenth president brought a vision for organizational transformation grounded in holistic integration with student-centered decision-making. The transformation began with reorganizing twenty-four academic departments and three colleges into seven Integrated Clusters of discipline-based communities. Redesigning Higher Education uses a storytelling narrative approach to provide a practical application of the radical changes meant to transform the higher education experience.

Donald L. Birx is the president of Plymouth State University. Prior to Plymouth, he was the Chancellor at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College; Interim Vice Provost/President for Research at New Mexico State University; and Vice Chancellor /President for Research at the University of Houston.

Annette M. Holba recieved a PhD in Rhetoric from Duquesne University in 2005. She has two master’s degrees, one in Liberal Studies (Rutgers University 1998) and one in Personal and Organizational Wellness (Plymouth State University 2019). She currently teaches in Communication, Organizational Wellness, and Educational Leadership.

Patricia T. Bahr is Executive Assistant to the President at Plymouth State University. She has a B.S. in Chemistry and a M.S. in Toxicology. Prior to coming to Plymouth, she conducted research at Sloan-Kettering and in the pharmaceutical industry.