Collegis Education appointed Jamie Cowie president and chief executive officer in January 2017. Cowie became executive chairman of the Collegis Board of Directors in 2015 and had been serving as interim CEO of Collegis since summer 2016. Especially since January, Cowie has been hands-on, getting to know employees and actively participating in partner-facing events such as the Collegis Enrollment Growth Summit, a special conference for colleges and universities.
Below, Cowie answers a few questions about what drew him to Collegis and the higher ed industry.
How did you get involved with Collegis Education?
My involvement with Collegis is somewhat by chance. After nearly three decades working in private equity, I started a process to plan the next stage of my career. As part of my research I decided to meet with Bob King Sr., vice chairman of Collegis Education, to learn about Collegis and the opportunity to serve higher education institutions. What I found was a great group of people committed to the mission of higher ed and a business proposition that is truly compelling.
What is your experience with higher education?
Education has always been a part of my life. I have had the benefit of attending some great institutions that have prepared me for life. Further, my career has been one of lifelong learning – starting as a staffer in the U.S. Senate, working on Wall Street, learning the skills of private investing, and now participating in the corporate world. At each stage of my career, I have been fortunate to learn new things and work with terrific people. This appreciation of lifelong learning, either in the classroom or the workforce, has been invaluable to me.
Additionally, I serve as a trustee emeritus with Colby College and also as a life trustee and chair of the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Science.
What do you see happening in higher education today?
Everywhere I look I see change. From top to bottom, the higher education community is experiencing dramatic evolution from new techniques designed to attract and retain students, to different and innovative methods of teaching. These changes are precisely why working in higher ed is so interesting. My personal satisfaction comes from working with institutions and dedicated professionals to help them manage these challenging times.
You have a background in finance and with start-up companies. What can colleges and universities learn from finance or other industries that have been through disruption?
Learn to look around the corner. Recognize that change is inevitable and embrace the opportunities that come from change. Finally, always remember who the customer is. All of us in higher education live to serve our students, regardless of the type of institution. With those basic principles in mind, success will inevitably come!
Watch this space for more from Cowie as the year unfolds.