Dec 10, 2019

What We’ve Learned About Trust


Trust is a diminishing asset in America. This is not a political statement – it is both a cultural observation and generational fact. We are experiencing a generational degradation and disillusionment of trust in this country. And, I suspect it will have reverberation for years in many industries.

Consumers – and, especially Millennials and Gen Z’s – have large trust issues. And, they should. These two generations specifically have witnessed the first-hand collapse of many long-standing assumptions in American culture. They saw terrorism on American soil, the collapse of the mortgage lending industry, the downfall of retirement and investment accounts, the school shooting epidemic, crisis in the Catholic church, as well as many others too countless to name. It only makes sense that they have trust issues.

The American academy, or the school or college, has historically been an oasis of trust. It has been part of the DNA of education. It has been seen as a place in American life that can be trusted to serve public interest, advance knowledge and research, and provide each generation an opportunity to advance further than those before it. Trust has historically been on the side of the academy.

I believe that trust is the greatest asset any school or college can cultivate today. It is more important than a mighty endowment, large application pools and waitlists, or national television contracts. I am convinced that the future will favor organizations that cultivate and engender trust among their students, parents, faculty, staff, and supporters. Trust is badly needed in our culture and my guess is that it will continue to grow in value in the future.

Some questions to ponder.

  • How is your school or college cultivating trust?

  • How do you demonstrate trust through communication, processes, and policies?

  • How does your school manage breaches of trust and what does the response tell others about your organization?

  • When trust in communication and sharing is so highly valued among new consumer groups, does your school or college demonstrate the transparency they need?

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