What Change Management Means for Higher Ed

In the dynamic world of higher education, institutions are often at the crossroads of innovation and tradition. Technology leaders in these institutions face new challenges with information security, privacy, digital experiences and more. However, only 13% of colleges and universities are actively addressing these challenges. For the majority, entrenched processes, outdated systems, and institutional muscle memory clash against the need for digital transformation.

Change management serves as the bridge—providing people support to ensure transformations are smooth, effective and beneficial.

Here’s how your higher education ecosystem stands to benefit from robust change management practices:

  • Enhanced Communication: Clear channels of communication ensure that everyone is on the same page, reducing confusion and resistance.
  • Structured Approach: A systematic approach ensures that changes are not just implemented but are also monitored and optimized for long-term success.
  • Stakeholder Buy-in: Engaging all stakeholders ensures that changes are not just top-down but are collaborative and inclusive.
  • Reduced Disruption: Effective change management minimizes disruptions, ensuring that the institution continues to function smoothly during transitions.

In essence, change management is the compass that guides higher education institutions through the maze of transformation, ensuring that they not only navigate change but also harness it for growth and excellence using established change management practices.

Higher Ed Challenges to Change Management

Change management in higher education is about more than just introducing new systems or processes. This is evident in the top change management challenges highlighted by enterprise stakeholders:

Biggest Challenges to Change Management

Graph: Higher Education Challenges To Change Management

It's about building change capability and ensuring that these changes are embraced and integrated seamlessly into the institution's fabric. It's about leveraging research-backed strategies to ensure that transitions are not just implemented but are also effective and sustainable.

To achieve the desired returns on digital transformation and change management investment, you need a team that’s done it all before.

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Prosci Executive Instructors Know What Change Means for Higher Ed

Our Executive Instructors are a powerhouse of expertise, equipped with a unique blend of academic insight and practical change management experience. They have been at the forefront of key initiatives in some of the most prestigious institutions in higher education:

  • Leveraging strategic planning and leadership development to guide universities through transformative processes.
  • Working across a variety of key leadership roles in traditional academic settings, from executive programming to operations and financials.
  • Publishing research on pivotal topics such as student debt and the success of non-traditional students.
  • Overseeing operations in major online educational institutions to understand traditional and modern educational paradigms.
With a deep contextual understanding of the challenges facing these institutions, our higher education specialists are ready to help you take that next step.

Meet Prosci's Higher Education Experts

I love to improve leaders’ and teams’ effectiveness by developing their change management knowledge and skillset.
Christine Chen (1)
Christine Chin
Former Dir. of Executive Programming
Colorado State University
I help teams intentionally navigate the people side of change while honoring the leadership and project management elements.
Meredith Curley (1)
Meredith Curley
Former Provost
University of Phoenix
I aim to build relationships with teams to translate organizational goals into results.
Evelyn Williams
Former Organizational Change Manager
University of Washington
My goal is to help you leverage your change management toolbox to prepare your people to successfully adopt desired changes!
Timothy Slottow
Timothy Slottow
Former Organizational change strategist
Former Executive VP and CFO

Why Higher Ed is Embracing Change Management  

The landscape of higher education has always been in flux, but the pace and nature of change have accelerated in recent years. Institutions now realize the need for a more holistic approach to managing these transitions.



Former State: 


Historically, higher education institutions primarily leaned on project management to navigate change. This approach, while effective in managing the technical aspects of change, it often overlooked the human element.

The result? Resistance, confusion, and a lack of buy-in from key stakeholders.

Future State: 


Recognizing these challenges, institutions are now integrating change management into their strategies.

This approach not only addresses the technical side of change but also the people side, ensuring that everyone from faculty and staff to students is on board and equipped to adapt. 

The question is: How do you get from the former to the future?

Nearly a quarter of all surveyed stakeholders cite a structured process as the greatest contributor to change management success. Only active and visible executive-level sponsorship received more support at 30%.

small-3-phase-process-with-plain-language-questions (1)-1

With Prosci’s 3-Phase Process to change management, you get a structured, repeatable process, active executive engagement, and a number of other benefits.

Change Success Starts Here

According to our research, when institutions deploy Prosci change management practices, they can improve the likelihood of meeting their objectives by a staggering 7X.

Correlation of Change Management Effectiveness With Meeting Project Objectives

Correlation of CM Effectiveness-web


More Than Just Communications 

Change isn’t just about introducing new systems or processes; it's about ensuring that changes resonate with your people. While communication is crucial, it's often insufficient. Prosci change management goes beyond just informing stakeholders.

We engage them, understanding their concerns, and providing the support they need to navigate the change.


Flexibility in Driving Project Success 

Change management offers strategic benefits tailored to the unique challenges of higher education. It's about understanding the nuances of each institution and the specific needs of its stakeholders and crafting a tailored approach that ensures success.

The Need for a Structured, Flexible Methodology 

Higher education institutions face a myriad of challenges, from evolving curriculums and technologies to shifting demographics and expectations. Change management provides a structured yet adaptable framework to address these challenges, ensuring that institutions not only navigate change but also harness it for growth and excellence.

In essence, change management is not just a discipline; it's a mindset, a commitment to ensuring that higher education institutions are agile, adaptable, and equipped to thrive in an ever-evolving landscape.

Prosci Methodology-400x400

Partnering for Change Success in Higher Education

In the realm of higher education, change is a constant. Universities and colleges are continually evolving, adapting to new technologies, methodologies and societal demands. But successful change isn't just about introducing new systems or processes; it's about ensuring that changes are embraced and woven seamlessly into your institution's fabric. This is where Prosci steps in.

How Prosci Drives Change for Top Universities:

Driving change is never easy, especially at universities where tradition and legacy are a point of pride. Prosci preserves prestige in higher education, separating culture from outdated processes. Our team gives you the tools to reach new levels of operational excellence.

Here’s How We Help Drive Change for Leaders in Higher Education

Texas AM

Texas A&M University (TAMU): Part of TAMU’s legacy was a 35-year-old payment system running in the face of business best practices. After selecting Workday as the solution, the leadership team needed help bringing people in line with the new system. With Prosci's guidance, 70% of key stakeholders completed readiness activities four months prior to launch.

Read the full TAMU success story.

UC San Diego

University of California, San Diego (UCSD): The top research institution wanted to drive substantial change with a large-scale tailored training initiative. Partnering with Prosci, UCSD successfully embedded change management language and practices throughout the campus to support their new strategic plan. Over 90% of participants reported that the training events prepared them with new tools and knowledge.

Read the full UCSD success story.

UVA (1)

University of Virginia (UVA): The centuries-old UVA partnered with Prosci for a unique approach to addressing change fatigue. They dispersed Prosci-trained change practitioners throughout their Academic Division and Medical Center. This strategy enhanced the university's capacity for change, ensuring that every department and unit was equipped to navigate transitions effectively.

Read the full UVA success story.

How Change Management Shows Up In Higher Ed

  • Large-Group Awareness-Building Training: Equip large groups with foundational knowledge of change management, ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
  • In-Depth Role-Based Change Management Training: Offer specialized training tailored to specific roles within the institution, ensuring that each stakeholder is equipped to drive change success.
  • Virtual, Instructor-Led and In-Person Discussion and Learning Opportunities: Foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptation, ensuring that stakeholders are always equipped to navigate new challenges.
  • Partnerships With Project Teams and New Change Managers: Provide hands-on support to ensure the successful implementation of change initiatives.
We support our client partners across all stages of the change lifecycle.
By combining project management and Prosci change management in our portfolio management framework, we’re able to streamline processes, reduce duplication, and equip project managers with the tools for success.
Stan Gunn
University Project Portfolio
Client Success Story: UC San Diego
UC San Diego
Through an innovative roll-out of training and awareness-building, the Staff Education and Development team were able to quickly embed change management language and practices across the campus.
Success Story: University of Virginia
UVA logo
Check out how UVA program leaders and change practioners are growing change capabilities and using the Prosci Methodology to deliver on program and project goals.
Change Success: Texas A&M University
Texas AM
Texas A&M selected Workday for the cloud-based human capital system. Prosci's ADKAR Model framework was used to prepare the community for change and adoption.

Higher Ed Change Management Solutions

Prosci has spent decades dissecting the science of change management. Our team has the knowledge, expertise and resources to drive institutional change for your organization:

Integrated Solutions

Expert guidance on implementing change management best practices tailored for higher education.
Change Success Training
Comprehensive training programs designed to equip teams with the skills and knowledge to drive change success.
Access to Prosci's proprietary tools and methodologies, ensuring that institutions have the resources they need to drive change.