Entrepreneurial Spirit Meets Higher Education

Lynn University president Kevin M. Ross is reimagining college through innovation and technology, giving new meaning to the words "trailblazer" and "pioneer" in higher education.

Leading a student population of approximately 3,000 in Boca Raton, Florida, this 43-year-old attributes Lynn’s agile flexibility to its small size, merit-based structure and intellectually fearless people. Under Ross’ leadership, the institution recently achieved recognition by U.S. News & World Report as one of the most innovative colleges in the nation, among other accolades. Redefining the standards of a university, Ross is effectively setting the bar higher than previously thought possible.

The 15-Year Plan

In 2005, Ross (then Lynn Chief Operating Officer) worked with George Keller, an American scholar of higher education and renowned academic advisor, to develop Lynn 2020. This 15-year plan was designed to elevate Lynn’s recognition to one of the most innovative, international and individualized small universities in America by capitalizing on its youth, location and close-knit faculty and student body. Since then, Ross has drawn upon his own entrepreneurial spirit and passion for innovation and higher education to see the vision become reality.

Success. Accelerated

In less than 10 years, Ross and his dedicated faculty and administration successfully completed more than 90 percent of the aggressive Lynn 2020 vision, and he’s ready to realize the remainder shortly. But success to Ross and Lynn represents more than the completion of the plan; the ultimate success of their students is at the core of every goal, every decision, and every pathway chosen. With student needs continually evolving, Lynn launched a three-year bachelor’s degree program, boasting a graduation rate consistently over 80 percent.

Lynn also implemented a “3+1” degree program, combining both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree into an attainable four-year plan. In addition, Lynn facilitates student success and learning with improved classroom facilities, enhanced accommodations and refined student services.

State-of-the-Art Infrastructure & Technology

While actively pursuing the university’s vision, Ross effectively elevated the university to national recognition by securing Lynn as host of the final 2012 Presidential Debate. In preparation of the event, Ross implemented major technological infrastructure improvements, which were needed for the global broadcast.

The renovations were the first of many, setting the stage for Lynn to swiftly embrace and implement innovative ideas and technologies. Although not part of the original Lynn 2020 plan, hosting the debate was a tremendous win for both the university and the local economy.

Tablet-Based Learning

Today, Lynn boasts one of the most extensive tablet-based learning initiatives in all of American higher education. Its iPadR initiative uses AppleR technology to deliver the university’s nationally praised “Dialogues” core curriculum, which uses faculty-produced e-books tailored for the courses’ and students’ needs.

By doing this, Lynn faculty, Ross and the iPad initiative have enhanced the student performance and ultimately reduced the cost of course materials by up to 90 percent. Additionally, a fundamental tenet of Lynn’s core curriculum, the dialogical approach teaching based on a conversation between ideas also is fostered through the incorporation of tablets, allowing students to easily learn essential job skills while seamlessly collaborating with instructors and classmates.

An Apple Distinguished School

Lynn earned honors as an Apple Distinguished SchoolT, a designation given by Apple to only a select few schools, due in large part to not only Ross’ leadership and commitment to innovation but also the dedication of the entire institution embracing technology and collaborating to make it successful.

Lynn’s learning environment works well with the Apple ecosystem, which focuses on collaborative learning and flipping the classroom. Ross and Lynn have effectively created a 21st-century learning experience for its students, recognized by CIO Magazine as one of the top 100 most innovative organizations in the world in its CIO 100 list.

The iLynn Program

Lynn degrees are consistently ranked on the U.S. News and World Report’s list of “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs” in the country. For the fall semester of 2015, Lynn took the highly acclaimed traditional online programs a step further by introducing the iLynn Program.

This new, innovative approach to higher education enables students with the ability to earn a degree at their own pace through iPad-powered curriculum and the freedom to attend classes online, on campus or both.iLynn offers accelerated terms, so students can earn their degree in a fraction of the time, while receiving a private university education at a state school cost.

The Innovation Continues.

A modern answer to a decades-old dilemma facing students entering the workforce, degree unbundling allows for universities to work with other education outlets and corporations to offer students knowledge and experience outside the scope of a traditional university catalogue. Educators and employers alike find this better prepares students, much like internships, with workforce knowledge that translates immediately to real-world experience for post-graduation employment.

Realizing the emerging need for unbundling, Ross and Lynn faculty have been diligently searching for unique opportunities that best suit their student base. Most recently, Ross entered Lynn into an academic collaboration with General Assembly (GA)-an aggressive, cutting-edge school focused on digital technology, business and design. This endeavor provides Lynn students the ability to gain experience in real world technology application, while earning credits, and GA students the opportunity to earn Lynn credits toward a bachelor’s degree in addition to the GA certifications. This accreditation collaboration is the first of its kind within the higher education landscape, although the unbundling of degrees has been taking place for some time now.

About Lynn University

Lynn University is an independent college based in Boca Raton, Florida. U.S. News & World Report recognizes the university as one of the nation’s most innovative colleges and consistently ranks it among the top five most international schools, given its approximately 3,000 students from almost 100 countries. Lynn’s Dialogues curriculum and award-winning iPad program help its graduates gain the intellectual flexibility and global experience to fulfill their potential in an ever-changing world.

About the Author
Amanda Washington is the communication director for Fletcher Rowley, Inc.