Field of Science

How to run a university – the pseudobusiness model

Our great public university says it is a “student-centered” institution.  Wonderful!  No arguments from TPP.  It also promotes the idea of shared governance where students, faculty, and administrators cooperate and collaborate to decide on various policies, but when it comes to the fiscal side of things, somehow this sharing comes up short.  The Provost seems to want to run things based on the corporate model.  Now actually TPP is willing to give this a try, at least if they really mean what they say when they say a business model.  But here’s an example of how it really goes.  A whole bunch of lab classroom stools all break at about the same time; apparently 12 years is their useful life expectancy due to a design flaw (who knew?), and they were all bought at the same time, so where do you get the money for stools?  There’s no money in the dept budget and the need could not have been anticipated, and recently even well justified needs go unfunded.  So you ask your dean, who also has no resources, so they turn to the provost.  The provost says that this instructional infrastructure is the responsibility of the dept.  Now you would expect a student-centered institution to want students to have a seat in a classroom, but apparently only academic departments are student-centered enough to care.  So what’s the problem?  Why can’t this be solved in a business- like manner?  BECAUSE THE FREAKIN’ PROVOST HAS ALL THE TUITION MONEY!  Yes, in a real business model the academic unit that earns the credit hours should get the tuition money.  Then we could decide which services the department needs and wants to pay for.  Custodians? Sure. Grounds maintenance? Why not?  Administrators could submit their reason for existing, and we academics could decide if we want an assistant to the vice provost.  Provost?  Let us think about that one awhile.  So our university is being run on a phony baloney business model where the person with all the fiscal resources turns around and tells you everything is your responsibility but they withhold the resources you earned and need to take responsibility.  So whose fault is it if students find themselves standing up?  Perhaps we need a peasant revolt because something around here is revolting.   

1 comment:

Professor Zero said...

OK, this is quite interesting. I am of course trained to accept the problem you describe as the order of things since the university is a centralized state and not a federation. I wish I knew more about economies of different empires, so I could say something germane and astute.

In a corporation, though, are not some parts of it big income generators that do not see all of the fruits of their labor?