An interesting read…especially considering what is coming this way in the next few months.
HE Lead Select President (PDF)
Now…I do understand what is said here, but what makes the author think that current leaders in higher education aren’t ready and well prepared and well versed in all of what is being said? We know the changes in higher ed…we live them every single day. We also understand accreditation, faculty shared governance, union contracts, community engagement, friend raising, cultivation of donors, budget management and strategic investments, partnerships, and PEOPLE (I could go on). After all this is a people business. We don’t make widgets and we don’t have production workers to boss around when the widgets don’t turn out as we would like.
Understanding budgeting, resource acquisition, efficiency, focus, communication, etc. is paramount, but what’s at risk when hiring new presidents who have no background or understanding of the purposes of higher education or anything public?
Maybe the loss of a public dialogue about what education is all about, especially higher education and its role as a regional steward? What if we lose the public sphere of higher education altogether? Where do we have a dialogue about issues such as:
A. ‘public’ as a place where we have a citizenship responsibility in a democracy to serve our neighbors and care about the welfare of others…all others;
B. poverty, wealth, social welfare, social justice, the consuming greed that can consume us;
C. a marketplace mentality that intrudes into everyday life;
D. the Trumps of the world who enthrall us with their incivility and bullying language that we are coaxed into believing ‘it’s just push back against political correctness run amuck.’
A colleague of mine back in 2005 said this: The U.S. is slowly disintegrating into a third world country with nukes.
What prevents his cynical prophecy from becoming reality?
Education in the broad, liberal sense. That requires presidents who understand that; who believe that; and who know how to live that while providing the leadership needed to not only financially sustain a campus community, but to invigorate those who invest their lives and careers in that community.