Should a University be Operated Like a Business?

DR. TIMOTHY MESCON WAS DEAN OF THE MICHAEL J. COLES COLLEGE OF BUSINESS AT KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY BEFORE HE BECAME PRESIDENT OF COLUMBUS STATE UNIVERSITY

A retired Columbus State University professor had an interesting observation about why he believes CSU President Tim Mescon clashed with the school’s established faculty.  He said he thinks it is a case of a business administration educator becoming a university president and thinking he could run it like a business. He said, “It’s not a business.”

Yes, it takes a lot of money to operate a university, and it costs a lot of money to go to one.  But there is a key business element missing.  Universities don’t operate for a monetary profit.   The bottom line at a university is educating people, getting them ready to earn a decent living,  and providing a broad intellectual background that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

It appears to me that most businesses are basically not concerned with an employee’s independent thinking when it comes to company policy.  Being a “team member” is what counts, but who would want a college professor who wasn’t an independent thinker?  University students are supposed to be exposed to all sorts of philosophies and ideas, and the best teachers, some believe, are the ones who provoke students to question just about all concepts, philosophies, and ideas, and not to accept what they are told just because some authority figure tells it.  In other words,  they are encouraged to think for themselves.  Unfortunately, not all teachers are good teachers, and some don’t encourage individual thinking. If you want to get a good grade, you had better give the impression that you think the way they do.  Let’s hope they are in the minority.

Business management techniques are no doubt helpful in the financial concerns of a university,  but on the academic side,  it’s a different ball game.  That doesn’t mean a business administration specialist can’t adapt and be a good university president.  Which, according to what he says,  is Dr. Mescon’s goal.

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