Let’s Kick It Up a Notch

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Recruitment, Thoughts | Posted on 08-15-2008


It’s finally Friday, and here’s my thought of the week. In Higher Ed, mediocrity is embraced and accepted way too much. I’ve only worked in higher ed, but I can’t imagine this cutting it in other workplaces.

We all know that higher ed is a notoriously slow environment, but why does it have to be that way?  Aren’t we controlling our own destiny?  Wouldn’t it be so much greater to kick things up a notch and really make some moves in the industry?  Won’t the team that actually embraces this be miles ahead of their competitors?  Why are we constantly measuring ourselves against other universities that are moving at the pace of a snail as well?

Who wants to break through?  Which schools are going to be the movers and shakers and utilize all of the resources available? Why talk a good game when nothing is actually going to happen?

I’m not quite to the point of frustration yet, but it’s taxing to swim against the tide day in and day out.  Do we really need a 13-person committee for that? Should small changes really take 2 weeks?  I don’t think it just ‘that time of the year’ where we’re at the end of the summer and gearing up for the new recruitment cycle.  It’s an entire culture.  And what a lofty goal to actually change it, because as I said, it’s embraced and accepted too much.

I threw this question out on Twitter this morning and got several responses, but sometimes 140 characters is not enough space to have a conversation.  So let’s chat. What are your thoughts?

Comments posted (30)

You are right we do control our own destiny. Each time we say “that will be hard to get done” or “we can’t do that” it is usually because of roadblocks we have created.

I think a lot of it has to do with people feeling like they are losing turf when they work as a team. We have to figure out a way to get people to stop thinking about it as an us vs. them and instead We the University.

Time is my main issue. I have pitched using Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and each idea has been well received. However, I am not supposed to stop the mundane everyday content changes. One thing hindering implementation is our campus is migrating to new web templates, and it has been mandated that every page will “look” the same. This is taking up most all of my time, but it isn’t totally bad since the new templates come XHTML & CSS comliant out-of-the-box. Granted, content managers will mess this up, but at least they are starting off correct.

Another thing slowing Higher Ed is I think that the higher ups “say” that the web is a priority and that they “support” it, but then don’t provide any resources to improve it. It seems that sentiment is widespread across Higher Ed.

My answer on Twitter was “higher ed embraces mediocrity because they don’t question things, don’t push themselves and don’t have original ideas.” I’ll expand on that.

It’s not about it being a slow environment (yes, it’s slow…it’s the way it is…but that doesn’t give you an excuse not to get stuff done). It’s not about lack of resources (and this is coming from a member of a 2-person web team serving a $1.3 billion fundraising campaign where money is exceptionally tight). Those are excuses. The real problems, in my opinion, are much harder to fix.

1) Lack of questioning: If you question a person, whether that be in your office or in the higher ed community online, that’s considered bad or negative. I remember watching the eduWeb discussion on Twitter and seeing people say “so and so is rocking his presentation!!!” when it was only 5 minutes into the presentation. That’s ridiculous. No one can rock a presentation within 5 minutes of starting it. Same with the blogs. People pretty much mindlessly agree with what is being stated. I love it when people question me on things I write because it forces me to think and defend (or in some cases retract) what I wrote. Questioning brings us all to a higher level of understanding and there isn’t nearly enough of it.

2) People don’t push themselves: Oftentimes people get frustrated with the environment of higher ed and use that as an excuse not to push themselves. “Oh well…the administration just doesn’t understand.” What utter crap. It took me a year and a half to convince people at my last school that blogs were a good idea (this was before every college had them) but I kept at it and eventually, they got up. Also, I don’t think people push themselves intellectually as much as they could – they accept what’s published on blogs without questioning it (because, back to point one, if you question you are negative and bad).

3) Lack of original ideas: I think I worded this poorly on Twitter because I don’t think there’s a lack of original ideas – I think people just don’t push them as much as they could (going to point 2). If we settle to do what we’ve always done because the administration is made up of a bunch of bad guys, then we’re nowhere. It’s not OK to give up on something just because it isn’t easy to get implemented.

I’ll add one more – higher ed people are way too focused on what’s going on in higher ed. That’s not where the cool stuff is. People almost exclusively go to higher ed conferences. Why? You know all the people and you know all the ideas already…why not go do something different?

Anyway, sorry to rant. You opened a hornets nest with me with this question :-)

While I hate roadblocks to innovation as much as anyone, there does need to be some realization on our part that higher ed by nature is slow to change. Though it may seem unsettling to those of us at the leading edge, there is a value in healthy review and consideration.

Maybe Brad is feeling a lack of empowerment to innovate. It becomes frustrating when people with good ideas don’t have any outlet to create change, even incrementally.

It really comes down to knowing that: 1. you are encouraged to innovate; and 2. you know the process by which change happens. This way, change agents can manage expectations, both their own and those they bring along with them.

I’ve seen seven “obstructions” in higher ed:

1. Marketing is a four letter word in higher ed
2. Doing the Web is not teaching or research, so it’s not seen as part of the core mission
3. Lack of money to hire web personnel means a lot of generalists (some of which are undertrained) and not a lot of specialists
4. Central control issues — too much of it stifling creativity on the local level, or too little of it creating branding/coding chaos.
5. Professors are (generally) not techies, yet they end up being the administrators and committee members that make web decisions
6. Professors are (generally) not techies, yet some of them design and build unit websites, even though they have zero experience in “real world” web design/development
7. Professors are afraid of technology
8. Politics in general, especially faculty politics, create nightmare project plans
9. An entrenched belief in “staying off the bleeding edge” that in the end means a fear of any technology that’s less than five years old
10. No resources mean no time to do anything — too few FTE to get things done, much less do the research/playtesting to keep skills up and push the edge.

In my time in the school, everything I’ve done to push the boundary has basically been on my time. And while I’ve shoved at the boundary pretty hard, still it takes three years for the rest of the school to catch up to the idea that the time I invested in podcasts/RSS/etc. has any value, so I’m dinged for not doing the “timely.”

And yet, three years later, when their clan of faculty start hyping podcasts or RSS and they come screaming down the hall demanding them, I point out they’re already there and have been for a while, and they’re suddenly thanking me for being prescient.

I’ve learned that the best way to function in higher ed is to figure out the New And The Cool, test it out, and then be ready with all the answers when people start begging for the New And The Cool years down the road.

In the end, the real issue is that higher ed is competitive, but it doesn’t want to be competitive. It accepts there are marquee schools (e.g. the Ivies) but there’s this sort of belief that a BA from Harvard is, on paper, just like a BA from Central Washington. The reality is that the real world perceives the Harvard degree has having much more value than the CWU degree. But within higher ed backrooms, that reality isn’t always reflected — and that understanding of reality, i.e. people have perceptions and biases about schools, doesn’t influence the decision-making when it comes to marketing or communications. So, there’s less willingness to take risks and try something new, even if, say, engaging in social networks could increase the school’s rep.

But most of all, it’s all about money — and the lack of money schools have right now to do much more than teach. This is especially true from the big research schools that are competing more and more for a smaller and smaller pool of NSF and NIH money.

@dw I’m sorry but I just don’t buy the whole “we have no money” argument. Most everything you do on the web is extremely low-cost. What I’ve seen is that the web isn’t awarded money because they don’t make good arguments for why it is a valuable investment. They make the “this is cool” or “everyone says they really like it” argument and that usually doesn’t fly with executives. I think if web people tried to speak the executive’s language a bit more, they would be more successful in getting funding. But that takes work…and it’s boring work at that….and its just not something people feel the need to dedicate time to.

Thanks for everyone who has shared their thoughts so far.

@Paula – Agreed. If Admission had a better working relationship with IT, Marketing, PR, etc. I think we could get more done sooner. Actually, one of my goals on my review for the past year is to try to strength/re-form these bonds because I think it’s a huge issue.

@Todd – I think you might be able to enter some of these projects and you’d be surprised that they don’t take a lot of time/effort. Twitter, for example, can be used with twitterfeed.com. I set up @butlersports at the beginning of the year and haven’t touched it since. If you’re already uploading photos to the web, why not use Flickr and do something like a Slideshowr/Lightbox feature on a page with them? And I love your last thought, dead on.

@Karlyn – Great comments as always. But what do you do when there isn’t a lack of resources? I sit and sit and sit on projects that just need to be approved. I am the resource, that’s why they hired me. There is just so much hesitation to innovate.
I agree with your comment about pushing yourself, and that’s the trap I don’t want to fall into. I don’t want to embrace mediocrity. I know you’re a big proponent for non-higher ed conferences, but I have tried to get to one before, and they are viewed as “outside of your job description”. Well, no, they aren’t. They are actually doing right now what you will want me to be doing in a few years here, lol. Keep the bees flying, we all need to think about this stuff so we don’t accept less than best.

@Matthew: Love your alternate view. I generally have a free reign to get going on stuff, but when it comes time to promote and publish, the roadblocks might begin. I have been able to get a lot of cool and great projects out of the door, but there is always room for improvement.

@Dylan: Seriously, get your blog back up. Great list there. My problem with waiting on the new and cool is what to do until that happens. I’ve been focusing more on content of the site, etc., but that’s not what I’m passionate about or where my skills are. I like to innovate and create. I’m not a maintainer. And I don’t know about your school, but we have this Money Tree right behind our office. It’s pretty great.

Thanks again everyone, keep the thoughts coming.

@Brad – what do I do when there are a lack of resources? Honestly, I haven’t found it to be a problem, either at Dartmouth or Norwich. I think there are a lot of really cheap solutions out there which can be easily implemented for a fraction of the cost that you would pay to a higher ed vendor (which typically gouge the hell out of you). It may not be the ideal solution, but it works and gets the job done.

Also, your deal right now seems to be the time thing and I think that’s something you just have to get use to. Personally, I like it. I think it forces me to really think things through. I have ideas all the time that I think are the greatest thing ever and if I could implement them quickly and by myself, would have turned out horribly because they weren’t thought through entirely. I saw things crash and burn A LOT at Norwich because they were just pushed out the door without being thought through and it was always very frustrating to watch.

You can’t let yourself get burnt out on the slowness of it all. When you have a good idea, don’t be afraid to be the pest in your boss’s ear. Why not push for weekly approval meetings or set deadlines when you ask for approval (I really need this by such and such a date…) I think someone said something about you not being empowered and I think you have to just ignore whether you are or aren’t and empower yourself to ask for these things, even if its from people who technically outrank you.

Again, apologies for the length of my replies…I just think this is an important topic and a great discussion. Thanks for bringing it up (especially on a Friday!)

After coming to Higher Ed after working for a private company that moved at a very fast pace, and then owning my own business, it was extremely difficult to get used to all the committees and task-forces that seemed unnecessary to make simple decisions. It seems there is always a lack of communication somewhere. Regarding recruitment, a faculty member asked if we had an office for that. Really? I mean, really? Should that have happened at a new employee orientation? How can we be responsible for what people retain?

Anyway enough of the that… Getting used to meetings, committees, and task-forces was difficult, but I’ve also been a fan of doing it and facing it later. This may not be the best solution for something big, but for little things it works. For example, people are saying now, “We should put stuff on YouTube.” My reply is always, “Yes! Lets do it!!! (3 exclamation points…) We can put it on our channel!” They always have a “huh” look on their face and then I explain to them that our University has a YouTube channel, and a Flick account, and a Twitter account, and a MySpace page, and Facebook…and on and on and on…yet no one knows about it. I have done all these things without approval so far, but am armed with the answers to the questions when I am asked. And sometime it looks good when I’ve already done something. It’s internal marketing. They don’t know what they want until we tell them.

As for the money comment, it is an issue. While web may be low cost, the overhead is needed to do it. How many tasks can you put on one person? I know I have three different job titles. When my University found out my skill set had expanded way outside of what my original job title called for, guess what happened?

I don’t know what happened, I thought I had a point here, but I just keep on typing…make…it…stop.

@Kurt re: money comment….again, this is coming from a person on a 2-person web team serving a $1.3 billion fundraising campaign who’s job (in less than a year) has expanded exponentially outside her job description. Welcome to the higher education club, my friend. I think that money is nothing more than an excuse – constraints promote innovation and creativity. Would it be nice to have more people? Sure. Am I going to blame the lack of more people for us not being able to implement as much as we’d like? Not on your bloody life. You just need to accept that you can’t do it all and be able to prioritize what is REALLY important versus what is just maybe a fun project that doesn’t produce much value.

@Brad – I have set up several things, but just the basics. Developing them out to reach the full potential is more of what I was talking about. But Twitter for example, it’s set up using twitterfeed, but I find it hard convincing the Marketing dept to post more news.

@Karlyn – I agree with the money thing. There are so many free or cheap tools out there that do a great job.

@Karlyn – I said “when there isn’t a lack of resources”, which is my case and yours it seems. Resources are definitely there, especially staffing since my position and your old one essentially were geared with the same objectives. I don’t think there is a lack of monetary resource either, it’s just how things are allocated that makes the difference.

I do have a weekly meeting with my boss, which I absolutely love. It’s my 1 hour of the week to get all the information/approval/clarification I need. This is what my notes usually look like, and it acts as a ‘checklist’ for the week so I can go through and cross off as I’m done. And yes, it all makes sense to me. :) http://www.flickr.com/photos/bradjward/2757602708/sizes/o/

@Kurt – thanks for your comment. I have generally played by the “do first, ask later” policy as well. It’s easier for me to buy a $175 Flip camera with my own $, give it to my bloggers and have them record, then create a YouTube channel and show it to people and say “this is what we can do” rather than try to explain the possibility. If I can show someone what is possible using real examples, it usually helps me in the the long run. Staff buy-in is also a huge issue it seems. I can create something great, but unless the counselors are helping to push it along to the students via word of mouth, it’s just not going to gain the same traction. And I can tell you what happened, people saw your talents and abilities and slapped a new title on your job. :)

And just to clarify, I love working at Butler. It is a great environment with great people, but I think the ‘culture cloud’ that looms over all of our jobs, offices, departments, and campuses is a major hindrance to innovation. I would expect my trials and tribulations to be an issue at any campus I would work for, as you’re all proving for me. :) Good to know there are some other people that face the same issues, and that we have a platform to discuss and share ideas.

The response I get a lot is: “Well, no one is stopping you from doing it.” True no one is stopping me from doing it, but there’s also no one empowering me to do it . And that’s what really gets at me.

It takes some getting used to, but I’ve taken up the just do it and deal with the consequences philosophy. I’ve found that it’s easier just to get the ball rolling and then once you do, let people know what going on. Sure every once in a while I get burned and it turns out I’ve wasted a bunch of time on a project just to have it shot down, but for the most part, it works out okay. Of course, there are certain things that must be cleared with the administration, but I’ve found that most of them don’t understand the Web 2.0 world so why bother.

I could write at least a paper on this but in short if you agree with:

* academic process is slow
* academic’s generally run higher education
* staff influenced by academic process also run higher education (that takes 10+ years for the conversion for most)
* staff attracted to stable, safe work environments are drawn to higher education
* ‘innovation’ is usually grass roots following the research team approach
* there is no real central authority in higher education

Once you accept the above (or something similar) you can figure out if you want to stay and play or cut and run to something more exciting. There is only so much you are going to learn working in higher education before it can start to warp your reality… unless you play a smart game.

Should things change? Yes. Will they change? Not quickly. It usually takes *new* institutions that see huge success to really move higher education in general. I think an example can be seen with University of Phoenix and its massive success at Distance Education.

Academics scoff at distance education generally speaking so most of higher education offers it on a limited scope. However the gross profit and academic success of University of Phoenix has marginalized those against it and influenced a real boom in legitimate Higher Ed institutions offering quality DE programs.

Phoenix was forced into offering Distance Education I would imagine. Who wanted to go in the desert for Uni? What history does it have? What is the experience? Since they don’t (didn’t?) have a big sports program/following they had to look for revenue in other ways.

I could be wrong, just an observation, but innovation comes in spurts and out of necessity and it is usually reactive as well which is incredibly frustrating.

Personally, I have run into the issue of lack of resources at a previous employer. Not everything we do on the web is cheap. Let me explain…

1. Time is money–whether it’s my time or convincing the administration that additional bodies are needed needed. I used hard facts, stats, numbers, (was actually a physics undergrad–not web–so used to using stats, etc.) to show we needed more than my 40 official hours and additional 40 unofficial hours of effort per week. They were not enough for the web overhaul. Especially when it was given a six, yes that’s 6, week turnaround time. I was able to convince the admin that I needed assistance. So I was given a 20 hour per week student assistant. Luckily, she was (and is, I’m sure) the best student-worker in the world!

2. Not having software resources. It seems that some schools of thought in the IT arena are to not use the open source solutions available. While free, they often require many man hours to customize it…so, see #1. :-P

Again, in my case, I was told to use what we had. (Even with the charts and graphs haha). Guess what that was? FrontPage! It was part of our campus Microsoft package. In the end, I wrote the code (CSS and HTML…yes, archaic) for our entire site. We then just used FrontPage for editing.

The good news is that all of my data, graphs, etc. did pay off for my replacement: he now has a CMS thanks to the work that was put in, but it’s not being used to its potential because of…well, see #1. :-)

3. Although seen as a priority, the web is often not given the attention it needs by higher ups. How many times have I heard, “Really, it will take that long? You need help? My nephew can change his MySpace page in about 5 minutes.” Enough said on this one. Still makes me cringe.

It seems that many of the challenges faced by higher ed “web people” seem universal, but I bet the resources or lack thereof vary from institution to institution.

I agree with Karlyn that we ought to approach our admins like we would in the business world, but the truth is, some of us do and it may or may not work every time.

I often feel like working in higher ed, on the web, in Marketing feels like I’m trudging through molasses. For many of the reasons already listed by others here.

Until the nirvana of: our working more diligently to back up our needs with data, and the admins’ desire to accept that we are the experts in our fields and allocate resources for us, then I fear that we are doomed, er, destined, to sometimes feel as though we are embracing mediocrity.

So, I say, let’s all go get our PhDs and take over higher ed. Seriously. I’m already working on my master’s. hahaha

@Brad – OK, I may have misread. My bad :-) Although it brings up an interesting point – a lot of people bring up money and believe me, they penny pinch here more than I’ve ever seen. EVERYTHING has to be justified. Plus two people is really not that many for the amount of work we pump out. I guess I just don’t resort to blaming a lack of resources as the problem. I refuse to. I have resources – I just need to figure out a way to use them creatively and prioritize.

@Susan – I love the analogy that its like trudging through molasses. Very true. I suppose I would also say that just because you approach higher ups from a business angle doesn’t always mean its going to work lol. And you have to be prepared for that. I think there are a lot of people who are so passionate about what they do that they take every “no” as a personal attack, which really drains them of their motivation after a while. I definitely use to be like that and its exhausting. To your third point, about people not getting how long that stuff takes, in my office that’s referred to as the “web is magic” syndrome :-)

@Jesse – I’m not entirely sure that I buy your argument that academics control everything. They definitely have influence (though I saw it much more when I worked in admissions than I do now in development) but I don’t think we can entirely blame them for the slow-nature of the game. I do also think people are attracted to higher ed because of the job stability (including me!), but that doesn’t mean you can’t expect excellence out of them.

I’ll chime in with another perspective. Not suggesting that everyone’s arguments to date aren’t relevant, but here’s one more to chew on.


Why are there 12 people on any committee? It’s not because each person is expected to impart substantial wisdom to make something happen. The reason there are 12 folks on a committee is to prevent something stupid from happening!

If one person were allowed to have full creative control, and execution, things would happen quickly. In the instance of ‘things went wrong’ a single person is left accountable (until he’s fired that is). Conversely, if things go right, they also take the credit. Committee’s are quick to take credit for things, but few often get a chance as they are fixated on ensuring they’re not part of any blame. A typical Risk-vs-reward scenario.

Why is higher ed so slow? My two cents is that “institutions” and “organizations” have two VERY different philosophical approaches. Institutions (universities, governments, etc) have been in existence for decades and don’t assume that time will challenge their existence. Organizations can come and go in a flash if they don’t change as quick as market demands do; hence they make changes much faster.

With a severe demographic shift about to take place in higher ed throughout the US, time will tell if their existence is protected.

@Drew: Seems to be the same for me. I lose a project here and there, some big and some small, but for the most part, things are rolling along ok.

@Jesse: I don’t really know about academics/professors having that much of a say in things, at least at the universities I have worked at. We rarely work with faculty on projects; I don’t think I ever have. This is a whole other blog post I have been working on, but essentially the change in the next 5 years will be far greater than the past 5 years. And we definitely need to stop being reactive and more proactive.

@Susan/@Karlyn: Also agreed on how to approach higher ups. If it’s for my boss, it’s usually an email broken down into bullet points, maybe a SWOT. If I know it’s heading up to the Director/VP level, it’s more of a formal proposal, breaking down budget/implementation/etc. When I got my bloggers, it was a 12 page proposal that ended up at the President/Board of Trustees level I was told. Geesh!

@Toby: Large committees are probably necessary for big projects, i.e. university-wide implementations, website redesigns, etc. But for a virtual tour? That’s just a problem of everyone wanting their say in all of it, which just slows down the process (Oh here’s a novel idea, how about some usability testing?! Always get a blank stare from the room when I mention that one…)

Random thought while I was running this afternoon: Competition leads to innovation. How can you use that to get things moving? Do you view other schools as competitors? I’m not entirely sure that we do. We know they are there, but do we really try our hardest to ‘steal’ the kids from other schools, or are we too passive in letting them decide? OR should we be passive?

Great thoughts everyone, keep them coming.

When I was in admissions we sure as hell viewed other schools as our competitors. We always found out what other schools the students were looking at, what would be their deciding factors, etc… for use in later phone calls with the kids. I don’t think admissions offices should be passive at all…you’re selling a product (or an experience) and your job as an admissions person is to make the numbers. We can debate the ethics of it, but that’s another conversation.

Keep in mind that is coming from me, and I have never met with a family or really talked to a student before. I’m sure our counselors are great with knowing their students, etc but on the comm team we might need to consider it more.

I know we poll both incoming and non-enrolling admits to see where they are going and why, etc, to find out our top 25 cross app schools, why people are/aren’t coming, etc.

@dw I’m sorry but I just don’t buy the whole “we have no money” argument.

Well, money buys resources. Yes, there’s all sorts of free stuff, and I rely on it pretty heavily. But someone still has to set up and maintain those systems.

And that’s where the money problem comes in. Money buys time in the form of people. We don’t have the money, so we can’t hire more people. And I’m finding this on every level of website creation — I fight for time with our writer, I fight for time with our DBA, I fight just to make sure I have the time to do everything.

So, yeah, we don’t have to drop money on software, but someone still has to maintain all of that.

Most of my job involves time tradeoffs. That’s where the money problem comes in. If I had money, I’d hire another me, or my own writer. I don’t, so I’m stretched.

@Brad – I hear you. I had an advantage in being an admissions counselor before I moved into the interactive recruiter role. But I would still argue that your job is to sell students on Butler. You’re based in the admissions office right? You do a lot of web 2.0 type stuff so I can see why you’d want to soft sell a bit more there but ultimately, if Butler doesn’t meet the numbers than you may not have a job….that should put you in a competitive mindset real quick ;-)

What contributes to the environment being somewhat progress-repellant is the fact that promotions are hard to come by and raises in higher education are so far from what they are in the corporate world. The really talented people take entry level positions and then move on if they are not amply rewarded. Without incentive to put in the extra work that change innately requires, we get stalled at, “wow that’s a great idea…” and never implement those great ideas.

@Kathyrn – True and unfortunate. Then those who are stalling the process continue to stay at the university and do business as normal, and the cycle repeats itself over and over again.

@Karlyn – Yep, I am in Admission. I sort of look at what I do from a few ways: 1) find leads and get them to our system, from which point the counselors/comm flow takes over, 2) provide social media that will keep students connected to our university and provide them a chance to ask questions via the web, 3) make sure we are staying in their minds by using email/social media. If our numbers increased significantly I wouldn’t be able to take the credit, so at the same time if our numbers dropped I don’t think I could take the blame (although it sure would be easy to pass it on to the ‘new guy’!)

“Wouldn’t it be so much greater to kick things up a notch and really make some moves in the industry? Won’t the team that actually embraces this be miles ahead of their competitors? Why are we constantly measuring ourselves against other universities that are moving at the pace of a snail as well?”

The innovative players in higher ed aren’t always the ones showing their hand at the card table ;)

Marketing isn’t a dirty word at all colleges. Some colleges embrace much of the business model, innovation, etc. What amazes me is how few and far between they seem to be.

I don’t think operating under a business model is necessarily at odds with higher ed ideals. Indeed, it can help enrollment numbers, giving, cash flow, etc., that allow those higher ed ideals a place to exist and even expand.

@ Brad – Well Brad you may not be able to be blamed, but if you can’t take credit for adding value than you can also be considered expendable. If layoffs come from lack of numbers than the office is going to layoff the people they can afford to lose. If you can’t show what you’ve contributed, where does that leave you? Now, of course, this is all hypothetical.

@Kathryn – Anyone taking a job in higher education knows they aren’t going to get rich from it. Now I agree that salaries are a HUGE problem in higher education. But saying that salaries are responsible for people not behaving professionally in their jobs (I consider slacking off and blaming the salary you agreed to in the first place to be unprofessional) is just abdicating complete responsibility for your own actions.

@Brad and @Karlyn If academics don’t ‘control things’ (do you have a Dean’s council? Ever been to a meeting? we have an Exec Council which is even more fun) their legacy from back when they did certainly exists in the culture of higher ed. I would shocked if your President wasn’t a phd though…

But its the culture we are talking about here and that culture is heavily influenced by academic process thrown in with a dash of public service style bureaucracy (if the school is big enough).

@Jesse I maintain my position. Working in admissions, faculty usually tried to get their words in during the recruiting process, but they didn’t control it. The VP of Enrollment did. In my current position in development, I never hear hell or high water from a faculty member. The VP of Development controls it. Do you know many Presidents that are involved in the day-to-day operations of an office? I don’t. So the fact that they came from being a faculty member is really immaterial.

@Karlyn but leadership dictates the tone of the organization and if the leadership is not dynamic, innovative, etc or open to it then you can bet those that report to them are not… and that trickles down.

This has nothing to do with day to day operations… the problem is far more ingrained in the institutional culture.

@Jesse Leadership dictating tone has nothing to do with whether they are/were faculty or not. And it has EVERYTHING to do with day-to-day operations since its the day-to-day that dictates the culture of an organization – not a proclamation from on high. You aren’t innovative every once in a while. You’re either innovative or you’re not. It’s a constant mindset.

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