Monday, December 11, 2006

 

Respect Mah Diversitah!

One of my favorite people from my grad school days sent me a heads-up about the T.H. Benton piece in the Chronicle about diversity. It's an annoying piece, encapsulating much of the whininess that sends us more thoughtful white guys away from the topic altogether. (Bitch, Ph.D. Asked a while back why there isn't more thoughtful male-authored sex writing. While my style doesn't really lend itself -- “boinking ensued” doesn't quite cut it – I'd venture a guess that the reason is similar. The dominant discourses – conservatism and porn, respectively – are so entrenched that it's hard not to either replicate them or spend all your time differentiating yourself from them, which just comes off as narcissistic and, well, whiny.)

I did a piece on diversity back when I was a wet-behind-the-ears blogger, which at least wasn't as whiny as Benton's. I wouldn't write it that way now, but there it is.

Benton makes some valid points: yes, the costs of diversity initiatives are often borne by people other than those pushing for them. Yes, some very privileged sorts use 'race, class, and gender' to avoid actual thought, and yes, sometimes the theoretical moves are stale and predictable. It's even true that race is not a simple proxy for class, and that chambers of commerce issue routine calls for greater diversity in the business community. (Although I've never, not once, heard one “talking about changing the paradigm of white hegemonic domination.” Has Benton ever been to a chamber of commerce meeting? I've been to lots, and they don't talk that way. They talk about 'inclusion,' and 'changing demographics,' and 'reflecting the community.' 'Hegemonic domination,' not so much.)

I'll take it farther. I'm a little creeped out by the concept of a “diversity officer,” and I have been on job interviews on which I've been asked about my “commitment to diversity.” The former strikes me as self-evident refutation of diversity as oppositional, and the latter as a loyalty oath. Not a big fan of loyalty oaths, even if I'm already loyal. My loyalty is by choice, thank you very much.

All of that said, I'd hate to see us lose sight of the real benefits of diversity.

Proprietary U, for all of its flaws, achieved a real diversity in its faculty and administration almost entirely without even trying. In my deaning days there, I don't think there were any two managers there of the same religion. The faculty was tremendously diverse (except for an unusually high concentration of Unitarians, for whatever reason), whether you looked at race, gender, age, politics, style of dress, teaching philosophy, or just personality.

Looking back, I think the critical variable there was turnover. The place did a great deal of hiring in the late 1990's, so the new hires tended to reflect the folks on the market at that time. People also left or got fired fairly frequently. The net result of all that turnover was that no one group was able to entrench itself for very long. Since you couldn't take for granted that everybody shared the same cultural background, work conversations, more often than not, were actually about work.

I suspect that one of the reasons that hiring for diversity in traditional higher ed is as contentious as it is is that the turnover rate is so low. When there isn't much hiring generally, every hire 'earmarked' for a diversity line is a line lost to someone else. Worse, when new hires happen once a decade or more in a given department, it's nearly impossible for the newbies to effect meaningful change in the departments. That's a real loss. When a newbie is appended to a department that has been together for decades, most commonly one of two things happens: either the newbie doesn't 'fit' and gets flak for it, or the newbie learns to keep her head down. Neither is good.

In my stint guest-blogging for Bitch a while back, I did a post called “Spot the Glass Ceiling” in which I simply listed my work hours for the previous two weeks. A disturbing number of commenters missed the point completely, and some actually took me to task for using words in unusual ways. (Heaven forbid we should try to say something new!) The point was to show that something ostensibly neutral – work hours – can reflect expectations about the life situation of the employee. A single parent could not do this job. This job is not unique that way. Therefore, over time, we should expect this job and jobs like it to be filled be certain kinds of people and not others. It will look like self-selection, and there will be some truth in that. But the self-selection will reflect jobs constructed on the assumption that the worker has a wife to watch the kids.

A really productive approach to diversity, I'd hope, would take as a starting point the idea that we shouldn't just find different-colored pegs for pre-existing holes; we should re-shape the holes. Jobs are becoming more time- and effort- consuming. The theory, back in the day, was that they'd have to become less so as more women entered the workforce. Jobs used to be built on the 'primary breadwinner' model. Now they're built on the 'isolated monad' model. There's a sense in which this is progress, but there's a very real sense in which it's madness. If diversified hiring pushes us to reshape jobs to fit actual human beings, that would be a contribution worth any amount of annoying literary criticism.

Diversity is best when it happens without a diversity officer making it happen. That requires both a consistent stream of opportunities, and jobs shaped around the realities of how people actually live. Most of higher ed now features neither. I suspect that if we take care of those, over time, we'll be able to have some much less whiny conversations about the problems that remain.

Comments:
Reshaping the holes seems nice, but do you think the job of dean can be replaced by two half-deans?
Among my collegues are several who work a 3- or 4-day week; but I've never seen a boss of e medium or big firm doing it. So there will be some form of glass ceiling, I think.
 
Actually, I think DD is referring to jobs that require lots of night work (in his case, evening receptions and other functions) in addition to a full-time day schedule.

My work is also episodic this way. On any given day, I could probably get off work at 1 PM to do some sort of family thing. But there are also multi-week stretches where I work, away from home, 80 hours or more per week. That's not easy if you're married (as I am), it's harder if you have kids, and it's nearly impossible if you're a single parent. ("Mommy will be home in December. Here's six weeks of packed lunches, and don't forget to put the dog out.")

I'm not complaining (and I bet DD isn't either), since I like what I do. However, fewer and fewer full-time jobs these days are the sort of 9-5, 5-day-week jobs that are easy to plan around. As DD said, those jobs also assumed a partner who would be covering the home front. The current job market assumes you are 25 and single.
 
Might I suggest that one look at these jobs differently? The military has for years made it quite clear that regardless of your marital or family status, you are expected to perform, and be willing to be gone for long periods of time. A single parent is expected, no actually is required to have a family plan that designates who will be responsible for your child(ren) and that plan is to be signed off by the people listed.

The men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan (and still in Bosnia, etc...) leave husbands, wives, and children behind. And in today's military, many of them leave children behind, to be cared for by extended family, or ex-wives, or ex-husbands.

Raising a family has always been an extended family responsibility. The 40 hour work week is a rather new phenomenon, and at times, this anonymous reader thinks it is (and has always been) more myth, than reality.
 
From the Benton essay:
---
So I am driving to work in my '98 Cherokee and in front of me is a gleaming, late-model BMW that must have cost more than I make in a year. The driver is a golden-coifed woman in sunglasses yakking on a cell phone. The rear window has a sticker: "Good neighbors come in all colors."

I get the message that driver is trying to convey: "You in that old car behind me. I am morally superior to you because I celebrate diversity, and, therefore, my wealth is deserved, as is your poverty."
---

I'm sorry--why again is the woman's sticker all about him? Or is the whole reason he's uncomfortable with diversity as a goal that it isn't all about him?
 
Another thing to keep in mind is competition. Not just within the US but globally. I understand and share the desire to have more time to spend with family. But stockholders demand returns that can only be met by the most productive firms. I’m very willing to bet that you can find lots and lots of highly trained Indian or Chinese engineers and scientists that will give up quality time for an improved standard of living for their family. Allowances will be made by employers for all stars, people that can’t really be replaced, or who can’t be replaced easily. But most of us will never be those people.

Also, I believe in the meritocracy. I believe that (in general) the job should go to the person best able to do it. I’m not fanatical about it. If there is more than one ‘best’ candidate than by all means, select for diversity. If being diverse will in itself add value or make you better able to do the job that’s fine also. I recognize that is specific times and places we need to correct past wrongs. But damnit, why can’t I get the promotion because I’m willing to work harder?!?
 
Another refreshing post, Dean Dad! I would love to see people reshaping holes.

Recently, I've been reading
Unbending Gender
by Joan Williams, which has some excellent points on that subject.

Implicit in hiring decisions (and, indeed, the entire structuring of market work in general) is a framework which strongly assumes that any caretaking will be delegated. Either the ideal worker has a wife at home who can take care of the kids (Williams does an admirable job explaining the ways the norm of parental care is leveraged against women whose husbands agree to stay home, it is still generally expected, however, in the structure of jobs - listen to Dr. B's lamentations about the lack of changing and breastfeeding areas.), or daycare or extended family can fill that gap.

Unfortunately, this disadvantages just about everyone, workaholics included.

It's also an example of a place where the -isms are generally expressed in differing impacts, rather than differing opportunities. Yes, overt discrimination still exists and is a huge problem, but the issue at hand is one that one sees much more when one looks at the implications of the framework one is working within.

Single parents, people with widely distributed families, people who live in communities where they might not have access to good daycare and require two incomes to survive - in short, people whose support systems are more fragile (and who don't have the income to offset that fragility) - are disadvantaged, and drop out of the system more readily. The result is easily illustrated in Dean Dad's repeated discussions of adjunct status - it's not always the best people, it's the people best able to survive in ridiculous situations.

That, anonymous, is part of the argument why you shouldn't be privileged simply because you are able to work longer. The "meritocracy" you speak of often privileges quantity over quality.

This isn't universally true, and may not apply to you, in your position, in your specific line of work, but is generally true.

That's why the people who can work the 90+ hour weeks can get ahead, while the people who have children, lives, hobbies, other interests, etc., can't. The people who can work shorter hours may be more productive, or better workers, but they are disadvantaged because they don't have the resources to do the sheer amount of work that others with more structural support do.

(To this, Williams proposes a system under which "overall output" is replaced by an understanding of "productivity per unit time." If someone can get all of their grading done and still be home by dinner, they should be counted as just as productive as someone who got all their grading done over the agonizing course of an insane workweek. Yes, I realize that's not the best example, but it's the first that leapt to mind.)

Anything that helps to remedy the fallout from stupid structural issues (daycare on location! flextime! productivity per unit time measurement! reasonable scheduling!) will promote diversity. Nobody need say one word about race, or class, or gender (although an especially well-executed program would look at which groups are being the most under-served, and tailor structural changes to meet the needs of those who are least able to bear the issues. Race, class, gender, and cultural norms of all sorts all play their parts in those things, and whatever overt discrimination might exist will certainly need to be addressed).
 
No disrespect intended to the military, but it's a hugely inappropriate model for civilian life. It's a specific model for a specific purpose. To take it as a guide to life would be horribly wrong.

That said, the point about extended family is a good one. TW's parents, who are retired, live near us, and it makes a world of difference.

The globalization argument strikes me as missing the point. Productivity is the key to successful competition. Productivity is much more a function of innovation than of perspiration. After all, anybody can work long. Innovation comes when there's enough slack in the system to have time to think.

Dicty got it right -- I love most of what I do, but there are times when it's really hard on my family. It would be even harder if TW didn't stay home. (Back when we both worked and TB was little, it was tense beyond belief.) A single parent of young kids, no matter how talented and/or determined, simply couldn't do this. And that's a loss to higher education. Too quick a move to 'meritocracy' shortchanges everybody, since an awful lot of very talented people are shut out of competition in the first place due to the kinds of social choices we didn't even know we were making.
 
I agree that productivity isn't just a measure of hours worked and that it falls off as you work more and more hours. But it doesn't fall off so quickly that a 40 hour week accomplishes as much as a 50 or 60 hour week. Most employers of creative people (scientists, analysis’s, writers, etc.) do compensate based on the quality of the output. So the better employee gets promoted and paid more. It's not as easy to quantify that as it is hours worked. But let's assume that everyone in my groups is capable of about the same quality of work.
So If I work an extra hour or two a day compared to the guy next to me I'm going to produce more. (Assuming I stop writing this comment and get back to work).

I will say that incentives (merit based pay) are tricky and that it's a constant challenge for a manager to reward the better produces.

The next point is creativity. I don't agree that innovation is more inspiration than perspiration. Don't get me wrong, it takes a good idea. you have to be creative. But after you've had your idea you have to do all the work to realize. It's the difference between saying wouldn't it be nice to replace the horse and a building a car. Also, in industry a lot off work is team based. Officially or unofficially we don't operate in a vacuum. If the guy next to me wants to share his job with someone else they both need to have all the same information. Otherwise it'll slow everyone else down. We all see this during the holiday when lots of people take vacation. I've known people to job share, they were valuable enough to the company that their boss allowed it. They each worked 3 days a week but they got half pay. So from an hours worked it was sort of a pay cut. It was necessary compromise though. (they we're salary employees so OT rules didn't apply)

Magniloquence
That's why the people who can work the 90+ hour weeks can get ahead, while the people who have children, lives, hobbies, other interests, etc., can't. The people who can work shorter hours may be more productive, or better workers, but they are disadvantaged because they don't have the resources to do the sheer amount of work that others with more structural support do.

This bugs me. I feel bad for someone who’s circumstances preclude them for spending as much time as they want to working. But I don't think lives, hobbies, and other interests count. You're a single parent (or have to care for an ill relative etc) and don't have the time to get additional education, or seek out additional projects at work than I want to find a way to help you. You can't stay late to finish a project because you want to see the latest movie? I have not pity. Either we're late on the deadline or someone else does the work. If someone else does the work they should get the credit and rewards that come with it.

I see a HUGE difference between having to care for a child and wanting to pursue outside interests. If I really want to be a black belt in karate, or a little legue coach why should I get the same compensation at work as you do? You really like your job and enjoy what you do. So you do more. You work longer and you seek out new opportunities and responsibilities. You should get the better raise and promotion.


As an aside, I think a child care system that facilitates more women to entering the workforce is great idea for all the obvious reasons.


Sorry for the long comment.
 
About 5 years ago my mother got to work at the hospital and was told by a passing RN that "another one of those mushroom people just got here." My mom's a pathologist so she usually doesn't get involved with acute cases - by the time people get to her they're either in pieces or dead. She asked for more info and it turned out that a trio of young men had decided to collect some "shrooms" to help with their weekend's entertainment. What those gentlemen didn't know was that there's a mushroom of the same genus that looks like the hallucinogenic kind but that does nothing for you except destroy your liver. My mother asked the nurse, "Well - did you give them the antidote for Amanita poisoning?" The nurse said, "What antidote?" What followed was a quick call to the NIH where a mushroom poisoning expert stuck a sample of the antidote on a plane for the West Coast and shortly thereafter, the young man received it and his liver was saved.

This was not something my mother learned in med school but rather something she had heard about at her monthly meetings with the local Wild Mushroom Collecting Society who's motto was "There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters but there are no old bold mushroom hunters."

Outside interests, continuing education and family are key to creativity and general sanity. In this case they saved a life (or a liver if you really want to be precise.) People have to have a balance of time on and off and good employers limit workload in such a way that they don't burn out their employees. I'm most familiar with the family friendly work practices of HP where a Division was headed up by two women who did a job share that allowed them to work 3 days a week (they overlapped on Wednesday). With creativity, jobs can be structured so that we can get the most out of our talented people and I would argue that it is worth the effort to do this.

If you keep your nose to the grindstone for too long, pretty soon, all you see is the grindstone.
 
I'm not talking about a flat restructuring, Anonymous. That would be silly.

I honestly don't have time to summarize William's book for you, though I'm sorely tempted. My point is that hours aren't everything, and neither is work. If you can go home early but still get the project done, then you should be able to do so. And if taking time off to see the latest movie is what you need to do to preserve your mental health, then you should be able to do that, too.
 
Cool story.
My point wasn't that there's nothing better than work. My point was that people who do more/better work should get more/better rewards. I agree about work life balance etc. I just don't think that the mushroom club is deserving of the same consideration as single parent hood. Nor do I think that employers should be expected to make the same sort of accommodations for outside interests as for racial diversity.
 
I guess what I would ask is what is diversity? Does the color of your skin or your gender imbue you with the some diverse quality that is to be desired or is it something else. I would say gender and race get tangled up with diversity because they are easy to assess but I think what we are really seeking when we talk about diversity is a diversity of backgrounds, interests, experiences, approaches and points of view. We assume that people of the same gender or same race would have similar experiences but that’s partly true and partly wildly and horribly wrong.

At the end of the day, I would agree that people who are single parents should receive more consideration than fanatic mushroom collectors but that, in some ways, is beside the point. Creating jobs such that they are all consuming and impossible for single parents to do also effectively eliminates the possibility of being a fanatic mushroom collector. It eliminates the possibility of being a fanatic anything. And the fall back position which boils down to hand-waving "that's just how this job is" does nothing to solve the problem. There are ways to fix this - job-sharing is one, increasing access to high-quality, low cost daycare is another. The more we accept as necessary the effort to develop more family-friendly work practices, the more inclusive we will be.
 
There are two separate issues here. One is an issue of equity. Fact is that there are several historically disadvantaged groups in this society, and at some point the advantaged need to figure out how to make recompense.

The second is representational, is there an advantage for students in having a diverse faculty and being part of a diverse student body. You need to separate the issues to arrive at solutions.
 
Quote Dean Dad:

"No disrespect intended to the military, but it's a hugely inappropriate model for civilian life. It's a specific model for a specific purpose. To take it as a guide to life would be horribly wrong."

Might I respectfully suggest that your exposure to the military life is somewhat limited, and thus you are perhaps not in a good position to make this statement. First, the comment was not presented to be the "guide to life" but rather as an example of how expectations for work can be structured. Okay, and presented with the intent to show that there are ways one can plan for one's family without whining.

But let's get to the bigger issue with your comment: What makes it "hugely inappropriate?" What in your experience of military life is inappropriate? I am not asking for what makes it "different." That would be a different question.
 
DD said that creativity was more "Productivity is much more a function of innovation than of perspiration." and Anon said "I don't agree that innovation is more inspiration than perspiration."

In fact, "productivity" has nothing to do with "innovation." *Efficiency* might, but not productivity. The best companies and scholars are both.

What makes China such an economic threat is that they now have BOTH productivity (cheaply producing VAST amounts of what others want) and innovation (making that crap more efficiently and soon, being the sole proprietors of the stuff that others want as they invent it and retain control).

BTW, are scholars in the humanities, as a rule, supposed to "innovate"? :-)

-Anony mouse
 
What makes the military hugely inappropriate as a model for civilian life?

It's a command model. It's not based on markets. It's not a democracy. It's incredibly expensive. It has no room for children. It has little room for senior citizens. The Bill of Rights does not apply. Ideally, it protects civilians' freedom, but it does so without protecting those freedoms internally.

I'm okay with all of that within the specific limits of a single institution. But that model, generalized to society as a whole, would come closer to the old Soviet model than anything I'd recognize as American, democratic, or even vaguely acceptable.
 
Hmm and your understanding of the military's command structure comes from your years of experience? The Bill of Rights doesn't apply--but the UCMJ does, and that provides many of the same protections as the Bill of Rights. Certainly "free speech" is limited, but the protections provided by the bill of rights (5th Amendment in particular) are there.

The point really is, you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. Because of your (apparently limited) experience with the military, you have carried your assumptions beyond simply saying that it MAY NOT apply, and rather made a sweeping generalization about the military.

The point of this anonymous poster's original comment was simply that work places that demand much of their employees can, if they so choose, encourage or even provide, the structure necessary to support the family of those employees. Your post, unless I grossly misread your intent, was trying to argue that we expect too much from our employees if they hope to have a family life, etc.

Perhaps I have mis-read you. Perhaps you spent 4, 8, or 20 years in military service, or perhaps "Dean Dad" was a military member and you grew up as a "military brat." And if that is the case, then I apologize for jumping to these conclusions about you. That doesn't change my point however, that your strident judgment about the military is, well... Strident.

Not quite the expectation I would have for someone who in this very post so arrogantly referred to himself as one of the "more thoughtful white guys."
 
um, I meant Dean Dad's Dad...
 
In a democracy, we allow everybody -- even those who aren't in the military -- to talk about the military.

The military is not democratic. If I'm wrong on that, I'd like to see proof, rather than anonymous ad hominem slurs.

The military doesn't let unhappy people just quit. Most workplaces do. In the private sector, there's no such thing as 'desertion.' The military can compel people to return to duty after they've left; private employers can't. You can speculate all you like about me -- either these points are true or they aren't, independently of my biography.
 
Hmmm... good points. And first, let me address that selecting a few "points" does not necessarily make for a resounding condemnation of the military by writing that to "take it as a guide to life would be horribly wrong."

But let's deal with the points. While each of your points can be dealt with individually, perhaps the biggest difference between civilian life and military life is that for each of the "points" you bring up, the military member can go to jail while a civilian can go to civil court.

** "The military is not democratic. "Well, neither is the University, the Community College, or Apple Computer. Most "businesses" (and the workplace was the focus of this discussion) are not democracies. Most bureaucracies are not democracies. *Governments* are.

And of course, good military leaders, like good business leaders, seek sound counsel and act with the interests of the business in mind. Of course, unlike most businesses (and here I generalize) the military has a strong commitment to the people, as well as the mission. Most firms believe their commitment to the person ends at the end of the workday. Not many places of employment that I know will provide to the employee and their families:

- unlimited "free" healthcare
- Housing at no additional cost
- Discounted shopping through the exchanges and commisaries
- Recreational and wellness facilities

But again, perhaps I misjudge you. Perhaps your decisions as Dean are put up for a vote, rather than having an administrator decide. And perhaps your position as Dean is a routinely elected position (technically making it a Republic rather than a Democracy, but I digress.)

**"In a democracy, we allow everybody -- even those who aren't in the military -- to talk about the military. "

Perhaps you haven't heard the saying "A bitching soldier is a happy soldier." Military members talk about the military in good and bad terms all the time.

** "Unhappy workers can't just quit"
Actually, you deal with this in your own following sentence by limiting the response to "most." This would be "Breach of Contract" and we have seen this many times, where a corporation will pursue damages because an employee who entered into a legal contract of employment sought to break that contract.

** Desertion. Yup. That's true. No one else calls it that. Many companies in fact will just let the flotsum and jetsum of life quietly leave. The military does have to worry about good order and discipline (discipline being another concept that, in this anonymous writer's opinion is far too often lacking). Again, however, if someone walks away from a job without meeting the obligations of the contract, they can find themselves in court quite quickly. Especially if they were performing a critical task resulting in significant financial harm to the business. AND the court can direct that the employee make good, which can either mean completing the task, or paying damages.

** Earlier you wrote: "It has no room for children. It has little room for senior citizens. "

Most firms believe their commitment to the person ends at the end of the workday. Not many places of employment that I know will provide to the employee and their families:

- unlimited "free" healthcare
- Housing at no additional cost
- Discounted shopping through the exchanges and commisaries
- Recreational and wellness facilities

As for the Elderly:
- Again, health care, far below the cost available through most other firms (can *you* provide full health care for $36/mo for a family of five?)
- Access to all the other services provided above.
- Retirement eligibility starting at 20 years of service.

While you are correct, these are not identical models, there are sufficient parallels to at least make the comparison worth considering.

Again my whole continuation of this thread is to deal with your complete dismissal of the military as being a model for life simply because of your limited understanding of the military.

And it's not an ad hominem "slur" if my statements are to point out that your experience base is limited and thus your ability to make sweeping and condemning generalizations about military life is limited as well. Do you accept criticisms from people outside your discipline on an equal footing as those of your colleagues? Or do you point out that they have no proper education or training which would provide the basis for their analysis?

Now to deal with your dismissal of me because of anonymity. This anonymous poster is somehow less qualified to speak than you are, because I have chosen to honestly declare myself anonymous, rather than "pseudonymous"?

Let's make a deal. I will tell everyone who *I* am, if you tell everyone who YOU are.
 
My apologies. I didn't realize that in your comment:

"In a democracy, we allow everybody -- even those who aren't in the military -- to talk about the military. "

you thought I was trying to argue that you can't talk about the military. I was certainly not trying to limit your ability to speak. That is clearly your right as a citizen. I was simply pointing out that, as a "more thoughtful white guy" you weren't being very thoughtful. And as an academic you were reaching rather hasty conclusions without the facts.

I wasn't challenging your right to speak. I was challenging your position to speak authoritatively, or even accurately.
 
Well, for one thing, no one has tenure in the military, although some NCOs may appear to. In most academic institutions telling the Dean and the President to screw off appears to be expected behavior. Try that to a superior in the military.

Now I do admit that most college/university presidents are about as bright as George Bush and twice as conceited, but you can't have everything
 
EliRabbeett makes an interesting point. I suspect that it is Academia that is so unique to the point of not being a very healthy model for building a society.

The military doesn't have tenure, but neither does any other business model. It is my suspicion that in most businesses, if you tell your boss (superior) to "screw off" that one will find themselves quickly dusting off their resume.

Now, we can all find that unique boss that respects the person that had the guts to stand up to them, but that person is rare, and as likely to be a General as a CEO.

So as I see it, we have a Military that is MORE like the general business environment, and academia that is not. Hmmmm...

Signed once again,

"Anonymous"
 
"Now I do admit that most college/university presidents are about as bright as George Bush and twice as conceited, but you can't have everything"

I wonder how many you have known. The ones I have known (3 very well as a faculty member and administrator), 3 more as a student) have all been exceptional in almost every way. Each had a quirk here or there, but they are all extremely intelligent and great leaders.

Perhaps your experience has a different base? I have been at major, top-tier universities.

- Another Dad Dean
 
More than I would like to have. Conceit and inflated self worth appears to be a job requirement, although to be honest it may be and for sure there are some without it. There is certainly a lot of CEO sickness being passed around among them.

Let me point out that in institutions where the faculty has power, because of its ability to walk (research centered institutions primarily), presidents tend to be less prone to this (or they get their heads handed to them, see L. Summers). On the other hand, in the more normal colleges and universities the President is often bipolar, varying between homicidal and delusional with a large number of people paid to insulate him or her from reality and get them out their raising money. YMMV
 
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