Why STEM Can Future-Proof Private Universities Against the Enrollment Cliff

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, President of Augustana University

Love the episode? Leave a review on your favorite podcast platform!


Higher education is facing an enrollment cliff. Or, as Augustana University President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin puts it, a "consumption cliff." Not only are there fewer students for universities to recruit, there are also fewer students even considering enrolling in post-secondary education.

In this episode, we discuss some of the ways private universities can hedge against these upcoming challenges. STEM education - when integrated into a traditional liberal arts model - can play a vital role in attracting students to a university.

Listen to hear:

  • Why universities who don't embrace STEM may be closing their doors in the next 5 years
  • How to incorporate STEM without losing the liberal arts core
  • Why tuition shouldn't stop families from considering a private university - and what universities should do to dispel these myths
  • How higher education leaders can empower the innovators on their teams to discover ways to integrate STEM into strategic planning
  • The importance of "finding a third way"

3 Big Takeaways from this episode:

  1. Liberal arts universities should integrate STEM fields into their programs: We shouldn't stop teaching liberal arts, but we should find ways to incorporate STEM concepts, practices and technologies into a liberal arts core to provide a well-rounded education and meet the demands of the job market. Hear how Augustana University is doing just this in their STEM Scholars program, through healthcare education and more.
  2. Offer the vitamins of education, not just the calories: To thrive in this new era of higher education, universities have to offer more than just four-year degree programs. Learners are looking for certificates, bootcamps, micro-credentials and other short-term programs that will support their lifelong learning efforts.
  3. STEM is everywhere; empower your staff to think outside the traditional academic box and innovate higher education: The STEM world moves quickly, and the strictures of academia don't always enable universities to pivot at the same pace. But university leaders can empower the entrepreneurial thinkers on their staff to embed STEM themes into existing programs. Hear how Augustana's music programs have done just this.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

You might also be interested in these episodes:

Connect with Augustana University:

FacebookInstagram  | YouTube | LinkedIn  |  X


What our listeners are saying

I needed this podcast back when I was in High School!

Such great content that deserves more attention at all level of education. I wish I heard some of these episodes when I was navigating my own career path. Incredible guests, with incredible messages to share. Keep up the great work!


I find Matt's approach to be very compelling. He brings both perspectives, industry AND education. He doesn't hold back on what he thinks is important...

The #1 podcast in TechEd

This podcast is a great resource to keep up with all the exciting changes in the world of manufacturing and technology. Get key insight from industry leaders from the Midwest and around the globe that you won’t find anywhere else. A must listen for anyone interested in how technology is changing the way businesses operate.

Inspiring topics featuring inspiring leaders

I’ve listened to most of your weekly podcasts and enjoy listening to the stories and conversations that feature business and education leaders from Wisconsin. Kudos to you for creating a platform that presents ideas and success stories that are important to Career and Technical Education teachers and leaders.

Best Career and TechEd Podcast

There are a lot of education podcasts out there. This is the only one that really focuses on bringing together voices from inside AND outside education and focuses specifically on STEM and Career/Tech Ed. This is a great podcast for anyone in education and also for anyone who employs STEM or skilled-trades talent in their workforce.

Filling in Gaps

This show spotlights a large and growing aspect of education that doesn’t get enough attention. Practical and technical education is a field growing exponentially. This podcast Highlights many of the facets of this diverse field.

The pulse of Industry 4.0

This podcast has its fingers on the pulse of Industry 4.0, and Matt K. is a phenomenal guide, traversing the complexities of manufacturing and education in one forum. A+ work all around!

New and Exciting Content With Every Episode

I really enjoy listening to this podcast when I'm driving or have a free moment. Each episode brings a new guest with a fresh and exciting perspective of both education and the workforce!

Fantastic Topics on the Future of Industry

These podcasts are the best for learning about current and future technology. The stories are great. We need more of these interviews.