Below: Why Tim Wolfe’s resignation from the University of Missouri is a warning for all universities (forced resignations of the President and Chancellor).
The author advises the universities: Listen to your customers. (and students)
Appended: Links to some other articles.
It’s more than Missouri and it’s more than not hearing.
Comment: WHAT’S BEHIND THE FORCED RESIGNATIONS?
I know my comment applies to many Universities.
Does it apply to Missouri? Isn’t Missouri about racism? . . . I read AP coverage, 2015-11-11 Online threats against blacks net arrest at Missouri campus. Administrators, Communications tried to block cameras. Don’t want people to see the protests and disarray at their University.
As I see it, the whole “Communications” thing is part of the reason these Administrators now have a huge problem. They think in terms of managing their “image”. They develop “strategies” to deal with “image”. Instead of actually addressing the problem.
The idea is that with the right communication strategy and glossy brochures, they can make people think they, or their institution – – everything is wonderful. “Come here! Invest here! We are the greatest! And we have the greatest sports team!”
With sufficient skill you can make people believe almost anything. These are offspring of Edward Bernays.
Their job is SALES. Which in today’s world, it is. However, among the people they delude with their
marketing propaganda (that’s what it is) are themselves.
The evidence shows repeated incidents and complaints. Papering over the things you don’t want to see or hear, or others to see or hear, does not work in the end.
“Communications” Departments come from the corporate world and mindset. The appended links, no surprise, show “corporatization” of the universities is a problem.
Corporatization of the university brings with it the characteristics of corporations. (Joel Bakan’s book and movie, The Corporation).
Minutes of a Meeting of Board of Governors. One topic is “Risk Management”. Under Risk Management is “Reputational Repair”. If it’s a question of reputation, it will go to “Communications”; a “plan” will emerge to polish up the image. Rouse loyalty and fervor through rah-rah for the sports team. (Communications Consultants are employed in significant numbers at universities.) Will the plan address the question: WHY is your reputation in disrepair?
The author of the following article identifies the problem as: the Universities aren’t listening. But there is a reason they don’t hear. And, as Leonard Cohen says “Everybody Knows . . .Everybody knows . . . “.
The Corporate and the Public Interest are in opposition to each other. See Thinkers of the Day on the Unholy Alliances between Government (public institutions) and Industry
If you are interested in what’s going on at universities, another short insight: 2015-03-17 The Minerva Initiative
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Why Tim Wolfe’s resignation from the University of Missouri
is a warning for all universities
The University of Missouri protesters have won. They’ve got their man (well, “men”, to be more accurate).
Yesterday, amid a wave of student campaigns against what protesters saw as a culture of racism at the institution, two of the Missouri system’s big wigs stepped down.
President of the Missouri system, Tim Wolfe, has gone. So too has R. Bowen Loftin, chancellor of its flagship institution at Columbia.
The protests were rooted in a series of alleged racial incidents on campus, set against the backdrop of the 2014 shooting of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by police in Ferguson.
Black students reported multiple racial slurs. They alleged that the university was not doing enough to recruit and retain black students, and its football players said they would boycott games until Wolfe was gone. A hunger striker promised to continue fasting until the change was made.
It is a sorry story, and one that brings home the importance of listening to your customers. Students are a university’s clients – its life blood. Without them, there is no university community; no buzz of scholarly activity; and – yes – no tuition fees.
For me, the key phrase came in Wolfe’s resignation speech. “We stopped listening to each other, we didn’t respond and react, we got frustrated with each other,” he said.
When a university (like any organisation) stops listening, it is playing a risky game.
In one incident at Missouri, members of an organisation called Concerned Student 1950 confronted Wolfe while he sat in a convertible during the homecoming parade.
The president did not get out of the car and speak with them. Had he done so, then perhaps this story might have ended very differently.
The thing is, there will always be controversies on university campuses. And so there should be. When students encounter persecution, marginalisation or discrimination, they should speak out about it.
When they see racism, or sexism, or homophobia they should fight it head on. If our brightest and best young scholars feel they cannot protest, cannot speak out, cannot confront these issues and be listened to, then what hope is there in other sectors of society?
Students have a fine tradition of protest, and long may today’s cohort honour it.
But universities and their leaders have a part to play too – and it’s a big one. Fail to listen and react to these concerns (as appears to have happened in the Missouri case) and you will alienate your most valuable asset. You cannot deny your students their voice.
As state investment in universities falls (as it has in the US), and more university funding comes from student fees (as in the UK), the student voice will become more and more powerful.
But this is not simply a financial issue. Had Missouri reacted more swiftly to the concerns when they were originally raised; had it been quicker to implement change; had it engaged with students on their terms in a timely manner; then it might not have found itself in such a helpless situation.
The message is clear. Listen to your customers. React to what they have to say. And never stop listening to your students – they know more about life on your campus than anyone else.
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1. (Copy & paste this link into your browser, if it doesn’t work from here: https://www.facebook.com/Resist-the-Corporatization-of-the-University-of-Michigan-171549219719032/
2. Noam Chomsky lectures on continued corporatization of universities https://www.michigandaily.com/news/noam-chomsky-speaks-corporatization-universities Video
To prevent increasing privatization, he said the United States should put greater emphasis on funding higher education. He added that many other countries, such as Germany and Mexico, offer free or heavily subsidized access to higher education.
3. http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2014/02/uic-on-strike UIC On Strike
February 19, 2014
The University of Illinois-Chicago faculty have gone on strike in protest of the corporatization of the university that threatens what faculty do–our ability to teach and research, the stability of our jobs, and the defense of the values of the liberal arts education
4. 2015-11-02 LISTEN: Enbridge & U of Calgary relationship challenges academic integrity
5. 2015-10-04 MBA program at University of Victoria is for Telus employees only. Telus-designed MBA. Ecological Economics.
6. 2005-08-05 But what’s happening in the forest? (Science under siege) & Successful Revolutions
7. 2009-11-04 EXTRAORDINARY, JK Rowling. Howard Woodhouse. Jane Jacobs. Universities & Values.
8. Paul Hamel, Profs allege donor influence
9. John Valleau Prof, Great Minds for Whose Future?
10. 2009-04-07 The University Wars: The Corporate Administration versus the Vocation of Learning, John McMurtry
11. 2015-11-04 Dean of the Edwards School of Business, U of Saskatchewan, Letter re Donor Relations
12. Resisting the Corporate University https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/09/graduate-workers-university-missouri-mizzou-scott-walker-wisconsin-unions-labor/
13. http://www.buzzfeed.com/mollyhensleyclancy/the-new-american-university-massive-online-and-corporate-bac#.ml4wDPPYb ….. University Ventures, an investment firm focused on higher education.
14. The New American University: Massive, Online, And Corporate-Backed
http://law.wayne.edu/alumni/news.php?id=8300 DETROIT (Mar. 7, 2012) — The Journal of Law in Society (JLS) will host a symposium, “Michigan In Transition: The Restructuring of Governance Through Privatization and Corporatization,” … This symposium explores some of the major issues surrounding the social and economic trajectory of Detroit and other cities in Michigan, including a transformation occurring throughout the state — the restructuring of governance through privatization and corporatization.