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Insightful, Witty, and Disappointing!
on December 25, 2008
"BMOC" offers several helpful suggestions for university leaders (also hospital administrators): 1)You shouldn't make everyone mad at you at the same time. 2)Your message should be uplifting rather than blatantly critical. 3)Avoid introducing more than one idea at a time. 4)Try to build a community constituency. 5)Improving the overall image of a place is important. 6)Maintaining perspective can be important.
He also openly admits to some frustrating weaknesses in university administration - eg. faculty ability to premptorily veto change (eg. schedules allowing faster graduation, hiring competent, but contrary scholars) - especially those in the arts and humanities; tenure; lack of an enforceable retirement age.
Trachtenberg, however, fails to face the biggest problem in America's colleges and universities - rapidly rising costs. He's aware of the opportunity to save money through increased class size, but weakly supports it. Research offers important contributions to both students and the world. However, Trachtenberg fails to mention that most is worthless - eg. how useful is the nth analysis of a literary work, hair-splitting analysis of factors affecting business success that pale in comparison to successful strategy, continual reinventing the wheel in public education while promising improvements that never materialize, etc.? Then there's increases in administration, decreases in teaching hours, shortening the school year, high dropout rates, and the approximately 50% of graduates unable to find jobs that require a college education.
Finally, there's the problem of erroneous content. Part of the problem involves the previously referenced worthless research. Similarly, higher educators promulgate an infinity of unfounded personal biases - eg. an Ivy-League professor telling new congressmen and senators on TV that the Smoot-Hawley tariffs signifanctly worsened the Great Depression. (Look at the data!)