All Stories

Kate Colbert ?95 Kate Colbert ’95 It’s perhaps not surprising to learn that an English major might one day publish a highly anticipated book, but it’s altogether unique when she chooses higher education as her book’s subject…and invites her undergrad alma mater’s president to contribute to the book. But that’s precisely what Carthage alumna Kate Colbert ’95 has done.

This past fall, she published her second book, “Commencement: The Beginning of a New Era in Higher Education,” in which she and co-author Joe Sallustio share insights from more than 100 college and university presidents (including Carthage’s President John Swallow) about the changes taking place in higher ed today and the future of postsecondary education in the United States and beyond.

“When I teamed up with Joe Sallustio to research and write “Commencement,” Joe had already interviewed 100+ presidents we might feature in the book, but I wanted to ensure we brought Carthage into the conversation,” Ms. Colbert says.

“I have long admired President Swallow’s sharp wit and compassionate leadership. During his interview, President Swallow shared powerful insights that dovetailed beautifully with the other presidents featured in the book. His stories and perspectives are instructional and inspirational to higher ed communities across the country. He wants to do right for the students, the employees, and the alumni community. He challenges us to do more and do better as higher education evolves.”

How Ms. Colbert ended up writing a book about higher education does not come as too much of a surprise. She remarks on how her first love was higher ed, which has always been her “happy place.”

?Commencement: The Beginning of a New Era in Higher Education? After transferring to Carthage in her junior year as a first-generation college student, Ms. Colbert studied poetry, short stories, and creative essays. She laughs as she recalls a professor wheeling in a TV cart and playing a video (on a VHS tape!) about what one can do with an English degree.

Combining her liberal arts degree from Carthage with two graduate degrees (one in literature and writing and another in business management), Ms. Colbert has since spent over 20 years developing college and university brand stories, including overseeing enrollment marketing, internal communications, public relations, and alumni relations at two Chicago-area graduate schools. In 2018, she wrote her first bestselling book, “Think Like a Marketer: How a Shift in Mindset Can Change Everything for Your Business.”

“My relationship with Carthage has become even more meaningful in the past 10 years,” Ms. Colbert says. As a member of the President’s Leadership Council, she contributes to the College community through her philanthropic giving, advocacy, and volunteer engagement, such as participating in scholarship interviews for incoming first-year students.

In 2019, Ms. Colbert created an annually funded scholarship at Carthage, the Kate Colbert Excellence in Communication Scholarship, which is awarded each year to a student pursuing a degree in communication, English, marketing, business, or a related field of study.

“Commencement,” though, has been a new milestone for Ms. Colbert. “I love higher education. This book is the best way to give back to an industry that I believe in,” she says.

“’Commencement’ is both a love letter to higher education and a devil’s advocate. Indeed, the biggest mistake we can make in higher ed is to continue to operate for the era in which we were founded, instead of the era in which we exist now. This is a different moment in time, with different students and different workforce needs. And it’s time for exciting changes that start right here, with our colleges and universities.”