Project Description

Cultural transformation for both students and faculty.

Everest College Phoenix


Everest College Phoenix and The Pacific Institute® (TPI) initially joined forces to bring Intelligent Heart concepts to the college’s Phoenix, Mesa and online students. The partnership reached a deeper level with profound strategic impact when Intelligent Heart became the core of cultural transformation.

Provost Thomas Waite joined Everest College Phoenix (ECP) in December 2012 and created the Comprehensive Retention Initiative to transform academics, the classroom and the culture. He created a bold plan to streamline academic leadership across campuses and modalities, transform the classroom and the student experience through academic technology, and infuse the culture with Intelligent Heart principles. He recruited academic leaders Stuart Vanorny as Chief Design Officer, and Mary Nisbet as Dean of Academic Affairs, with whom he had worked for over a decade, to take the plan from strategy to implementation.

Within 60 days of his arrival at the college, ECP Academic Affairs was fully reorganized to integrate ground campus and online academic leadership into a cohesive team. Within six months, The Pacific Institute experts were engaged; the Strategies for Success course was on Stuart Vanorny’s instructional design drawing board with TPI’s Thought Patterns for a Successful Career® text as the foundation; and Mary Nisbet launched development of the New Faculty Assessment course that established Intelligent Heart principles as foundational to teaching excellence.

The redesigned Strategies for Success course launched in October 2013 with impressive results: 22% improvement in student success (A/B/C), 4.5% increase in retention (28 more students completed the course), and 7.8% improvement in attendance.

Intelligent Heart had a proven track record and strategic momentum. ECP’s next step: the path from training and curriculum to cultural transformation.


The success of TPI concepts in the classroom lead the ECP Academic Affairs team to a simple conclusion: as the perfect reflection of ECP values, Intelligent Heart principles must be woven into the fabric of the institution. ECP leadership and the Board of Directors agreed.

However, transforming a culture is not for the faint of heart. Accountability is at the center of the question: are institutional leaders ready to require individual accountability for standards that reflect the culture? For ECP leadership, the answer was a resounding yes. ECP Academic Affairs partnered with TPI to do the tough work to define and implement Intelligent Heart accountability strategies for staff and faculty across campuses and modalities.

Without accountability, Intelligent Heart becomes just another training program, a “flavor of the month” among other training efforts. Training was an important step – all staff and faculty participated in mandatory virtual and face-to-face Thought Patterns for High Performance® training by the TPI experts – but ECP leaders recognized that establishing personal accountability for behaviors that demonstrate Intelligent Heart was the single most important step to operationalizing the strategy. The faculty and staff also completed the Life-Styles Inventory (LSI) to identify beliefs, values, behaviors and assumptions about themselves.

The college’s Intelligent Heart cultural transformation lives and dies on these pivotal Principles of Accountability:
  • In keeping with the mission and values, Intelligent Heart is delivered through demonstrable behaviors.
  • Leaders define the behaviors, integrate them into the performance evaluation process, and hold each team member accountable.
  • Staff and faculty who are Intelligent Heart stars are recognized and elevated.
  • Those unable to do so are coached to success or encouraged to find a future with another institution.
With real accountability, Intelligent Heart drives transformation that changes the workplace and the lives of staff, faculty and students.


The ECP/TPI collaboration produced these Intelligent Heart strategies for cultural transformation:

  • Classroom integration through the Strategies for Success course.
  • Mandatory Intelligent Heart training across campuses and modalities, with over 900 staff and faculty trained in the first year.
  • Intelligent Heart interview questions for staff and faculty positions.
  • Intelligent Heart behaviors required of all staff and faculty, incorporated into job descriptions and performance evaluations.
  • Behavioral expectations defined
  • 10% of faculty dismissed
  • Star performers elevated

Cultural transformation does not happen overnight. The Jet Ski turns on a dime, but the ship turns slowly. The Everest College Phoenix ship is turning slowly but surely, with Intelligent Heart as its compass.