Jan. 15, 2023 — EduAlliance presents: Higher Ed Without Borders featuring Dr. Stefanie Niles, president, Cottey College

January 15, 2023: Don’t miss the second in this 4-part Higher Ed Without Borders series starring Dr. Stefanie Niles, president of Cottey College.

Hosts Dean Hoke of Edu Alliance and Tom Davisson explain why this series is important: Tom and I are graduates of small colleges and served as trustees of our alma maters. We understand that smaller colleges and universities offer quality personalized education, the classes have a lower student/teacher ratio, and the small college experience builds a community that will benefit them for a lifetime.

Tom: During this series, we will talk with four Small College Presidents across the United States about their institutions; what makes them unique and important to their communities. Also, we will discuss their challenges and their views for the future.

Joining us today is Dr. Stefanie Niles, president of Cottey College. Based in Nevada, Missouri, with an enrollment of approximately 350 students, the College is an independent, liberal arts and sciences women’s college in Nevada, Missouri. Since 1884, it has offered young women the opportunity to learn and grow into leaders, role models, and confident individuals. She is a national leader in her field, and she has been a successful, strategic, and innovative leader at multiple outstanding liberal arts institutions. Dr. Niles came to Cottey from Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, where she served as the Vice President for Enrollment and Communications. In 2018-19, Dr. Niles served as the president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. In 2017, Dr. Niles received a Fulbright International Education Administrators (IEA) award and participated in a cross-cultural exchange examining the higher education systems in France and Belgium. Dr. Niles holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, a Master of Science degree in education from Indiana University, and a doctor of education degree in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.  


Tom: Dr. Niles, Let’s start off by speaking about Cottey College. Can you give our audience a brief history of your institution’s origins, students, and programs?

Dean: In 1927, the founder of the school, Virginia Alice Cottey, bequeathed the college to an organization titled the P.E.O. Sisterhood, making it the only nonsectarian college owned and supported by women. Tell us about the P.E.O. and this unique relationship in today’s world.

Tom: I believe there are less than 100 private four-year liberal arts colleges with less than 500 students in the United States, and I imagine even fewer that are all women. Some people argue that small colleges are not sustainable and should close. What, in your opinion, is why schools like Cottey are important to society?

Dean: In preparing for our conversation today, I learned that besides having international students from over 20 countries, your students at an early stage in their college career get to travel to another country with classmates and faculty for no tuition fee, and the airfare and hotel are covered. That’s quite a commitment. Why does Cottey believe this is so important to the student?

Tom:  For a college with less than 500 students, you have quite an intercollegiate athletic program. Tell us about the program and the students who participate.

Dean: Dr. Niles, this is a series of questions I’ve asked many of our guests. First, what attracted you to a career in higher education? Second, did you have mentors, and how did they help you; finally, what lessons did you learn from them about being a leader of an organization?

Stay tuned for part 3 coming February 1! Learn more at edualliancegroup.com.

About the hosts

Dean Hoke is a Managing Partner of Edu Alliance Group in the United States and Co-Founder of Edu Alliance Ltd. in the United Arab Emirates. Dean has decades of progressively responsible and visionary leadership roles in higher education, communications & online learning. He has led numerous initiatives that have created innovation & positive change in the higher education & non-profit sector. Dean is a member of the Board of the American Association of University Administrators, the Franklin University School of Education Advisory Board, and a member of NAFSA.

Dean began his career in 1975 with Bellarmine University working in a variety of roles, including Admissions and External Relations. In 1983 he entered the broadcasting field, serving as a senior executive for Public Broadcasting System stations and a cable network. In 1998 he co-founded The Connected Learning Network, a full-service online learning company. In 2009 accepted an invitation to move to the United Arab Emirates serving in senior positions at Higher Colleges of Technology & Khalifa University before co-founding Edu Alliance in 2014.

He participates in numerous advisory & consulting projects in international education, branding, business intelligence, and online learning. He is an active speaker and writer in the field of international higher education and distance learning. Dean has presented and written on the field of leadership, higher education, and distance learning in the United States, Turkey, Spain, Lebanon, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.  Mr. Hoke has a B.A. from Urbana University, an M.S. from the University of Louisville, and a Certificate in Executive Management from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. Dean currently resides in Bloomington, Indiana. You are encouraged to connect on LinkedIn

Tom Davisson served 30 years as Executive VP and COO with Sullivan University System in Kentucky. Before joining Sullivan, Tom was President of DeVry University DuPage and Area President of all Chicago area Campuses of DeVry. He has had P & L responsibilities both with DeVry and Sullivan, institutions of over 8,000 students. Tom led their team at Sullivan University from a two-year institution to a regionally accredited doctoral-granting university. In addition to adding baccalaureate and masters level programming, Tom also led the university in adding a doctor of Pharmacy and Ph.D. in Management. He also led the institutions’ online development, growing to over 3,000 students taking online classes each term.

Mr. Davisson is one of the leading experts in higher education institutions, bridging the gap between education and the workforce. He has written White Papers for Governor in two states and worked on the Manpower Planning Task Force for the Governor of a third state. Tom also testified before the US Congress on Workforce legislation. In addition, he has served on and chaired visiting committees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in the Southeast US and in 5 other countries. He retired from the Board of Trustees of the University of Rio Grande in Ohio in the summer of 2019 and has been named Trustee Emeritus from their Board.

Tom has more than 47 years of experience in senior higher education administration experience. He also serves on numerous non-profit boards. He has a bachelor’s Degree from the University of Rio Grande in Ohio, a Master’s from National Louis University, and a Certificate in the Executive MBA Program from the University of Chicago.

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