What We Do

Academic Leadership Associates (ALA) offers advisory services for higher education institutions in the areas of strategic planning, academic and administrative affairs, student success, enrollment management, budgeting, crisis management and preparedness, and international affairs. ALA also offers strategic planning services tailored to the needs of non-profit organizations and other NGOs.

Our Services

  • Strategic Planning
    ALA works with each client to tailor planning methodologies that suit the needs and culture of that institution. Services include:
    • Analysis of institutional strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats;

    • Facilitation of planning discussions;

    • Advisement on the identification and articulation of strategic priorities;

    • Assistance with the conceptualization, structuring and drafting of planning documents;

    • Coordination of institutional communications with constituent groups throughout the planning process;

    • Creation of implementation and assessment strategies to ensure that planning priorities are fully realized.

    Strategic planning assistance includes access to deep archives of literature on trends in higher education and strategic initiatives undertaken by peer institutions.

  • Student Success
    ALA brings deep experience in student success initiatives leading to improved retention and completion. Senior Advisor J. Michael Thompson draws on decades of experience leading campus-wide student success efforts at both the strategic and tactical levels. ALA works with campus leaders, faculty and staff to implement technological interventions, advising and outreach strategies, and other points of student contact to ensure their efficacy. Areas of expertise for ALA include:
    • Development and utilization of data warehouse systems, ERP systems and specialized success systems to implement a comprehensive system of engagement;

    • Developing advising, early warning and referral systems as well as coaching professional advisors and faculty on effective use of these practices.

  • Enrollment Management
    Successful strategic enrollment management is critically important for all higher education institutions. ALA assists universities and colleges with all aspects of creating and implementing effective practices in the areas of:
    • Recruitment and admissions;

    • Financial aid;

    • Registrar;

    • Data management.

    Beyond our work in each of these areas, ALA assists clients as they integrate key activities to meet recruitment, retention and graduation goals.

  • International Partnerships and Opportunities
    ALA is especially committed to helping academic organizations make their work more international in an era of increasing globalization. Services include:
    • Forging partnerships and collaborations with peer institutions;

    • Creation and implementation of off-shore programs;

    • Incorporation of international students and perspectives into on-campus academic programs.

    The partners and senior advisors of Academic Leadership Associates bring a vast network of contacts with higher education institutions throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. These links, and deep experience in internationalizing curricula, assist clients seeking a richer array of connections between their institution and peers abroad. For example, one key area of ALA's work focuses on assisting institutions with identifying partners in other countries, making the necessary introductions, and facilitating partnership agreements between the parties.

  • Institutional Research
    ALA offers a range of research services to assess client’s current areas of strength and opportunities for use in strategic planning and implementation, or other targeted assessments. Research services include:
    • Design and implementation of research on all aspects of an institution, including curricula, educational effectiveness, academic staffing, research productivity, and resource allocation;

    • Analysis of the findings;

    • Recommendations to leadership for utilizing research findings in strategic decision-making.

    Research may be undertaken in support of strategic planning, or in conjunction with other institutional priorities.

  • Budgeting and Financial Analysis
    Designed to maximize revenue and fully realize spending efficiencies, analysis will enhance traditional financial planning and budgeting practices. ALA services focus on budgeting considerations unique to higher education including designing budgeting processes and documents that are tailored to provide academic leaders with information to make informed financial decisions. Specific services include:
    • Analyzing existing budgeting systems;

    • Designing and implementing new budgeting models;

    • Overhead cost allocation schemes.

    The partners and senior advisors of ALA bring extensive expertise in institutional finance and budgeting on all levels, from higher education systems, to institutional leadership, to accounting and finance practices on the school and departmental levels.

  • Strategic Leadership Planning
    ALA provides assessments of the efficacy of its clients’ managerial systems and practices to ensure that organizational structures and personnel meet institutions’ ambitions. In the way that master planning for campuses helps colleges and universities assess their current space needs and approach growth strategically, strategic leadership planning services help institutions map their organizational structure to strategic goals. Whether in concert with strategic planning or to facilitate the implementation of existing plans, this process focuses on ensuring that an institution’s leadership structure best meets its current and future needs.
  • Crisis Management Planning
    A broad range of potential crises threaten the physical security and reputations of colleges and universities. Although no specific crisis can be anticipated, effective preparation can quicken the pace of response and recovery and mitigate potential threats to an institution’s operations and reputation. ALA offers tailored:
    • Assessments of current preparedness;

    • Facilitation leading to the creation of crisis management protocols.

    Although widely pursued in Fortune 500 companies, these strategies are only just beginning to take hold in higher education. The partners and senior advisors of ALA have extensive experience in this area that may be tapped by clients.

  • Fundraising
    ALA’s extensive experience in fundraising ranges from institutional advancement strategies and high-level donor cultivation to assistance with creating and staffing new development efforts. Services include:
    • Fundraising strategy;

    • Counsel for senior leadership on donor cultivation and solicitation;

    • Assistance with assessing and improving fundraising practices;

    • Creation of new fundraising programs, including organizational structure, staffing, and training.

    ALA also has a network of fundraising professionals at all levels of management with expertise in each facet of donor identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship.