Field of Science

How not to run a university - like a business

The very latest example of trying to improve a college by running it more like a business is playing out at Mt. St. Mary's college, a nice enough Catholic school, but with many of the same troubles as many small liberal arts colleges. At the very beginning of TPP's academic career he was offered a job at one such college. The Dean made a single low-ball salary offer, which TPP turned down without ever being asked what salary would be acceptable. Then the Dean explained away the failure to hire TPP, the person the other faculty wanted, by telling them the salary negotiations failed, negotiations which never took place. No regrets about that job at all. At Mt. St. Mary's the new president wanted to game the system of counting enrollment by getting at risk students to quit before an official count took place so that the retention rate would look better. That such an action is educationally unethical is obvious, but the new president has a business background so it might not occur to him that their college is obligated to try to educate any student that they accept. Colleges get presidents like this because trustees or their equivalent are appointed with a directive to run the college more like a business. A couple of tenured faculty who either directly or indirectly criticized the president's approach got fired.  Now this tells TPP several things. A business-type president doesn't give a damn about tenure, and when it comes to faculty, they are employees, nothing more, so their disloyalty must be dealt with, no matter that the primary reason for tenure is so that faculty can speak up to power. It further demonstrates that there is no shared governance at this institution, which always undermines the academic enterprise, the all important student-faculty interaction that leads to education. The fired faculty members have been offered reinstatement as an act of mercy! So like a business to try to improve retention without trying to improve the actual education of the students. Hey, Mt. St. Mary's trustees, check your priorities.  Stories like this will not help your college's reputation or your bottom line.

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