I'm just jumped off the couch and ran over to the computer. I was reading "the southern" and worked back to page A4 and Jim Muir's column. In answer to the title question of this entry, both Jim and Walt have no clue about how to manage a business. Today we got a whole eye full of this cluelessness in the paper. Let me explain.
Jim writes that the reason SIU isn't doing well is because of the ultra liberal/communist professors. He wrote about Jon Bean's academic mobbing by the clowns in history. Let me say here for the first time, shame on Robbie Lieberman for being the leader of that unethical mess. Where this is a big problem for the ultra-far-right that Jim represents, it is just a bump in the road in SIU's results.
SIU has one traditional problem and one problem that Wendler introduced. The traditional problem is that since Morris left in 1972, the university has been poorly managed. From that poor management almost all problems flow. The people who are managing the professors and staff really don't care about the results, only power. If you fail, you are never removed, never. The second problem is that Wendler changed the management focus of SIU from students to research and sports. He raised tuition and fees to around twice what they were when he arrived and didn't increase the quality of anything the students care about. I call what Wendler did "breaking the marketing story of SIUC."
An example of Walt's incompetence as a manager is the survival of Sue Davis and SIUC's refusal to recruit students the way everyone else does it (no advertising, brochures, press releases, you know the standard drill). How can you still have your job if you don't have recruiting literature in high school guidance councilor's offices?
Walt doesn't understand what people in Illinois are about (note, they are different then people in Texas). Just like all architects, he didn't listen to his clients. He refused to look at what SIUC did well and try to build on it. He had people who really stunk as direct reports and never fired them. His new boss didn't like him and he didn't figure out to survive he had to kiss Poshard's ring. How stupid is that? That is why I start companies, but if you don't be prepared to pucker up. Bottom line, he didn't get it and his results are terrible.
Here is Walt's spin from today's Southern. He really thinks that he is being replaced because of something beside his results? Totally clueless. He could be driving a car with anti-gay bumper stickers if he was doing a good job otherwise.
What parents want is to send their kids off to a place where they are wanted and they are safe. At the end, they want their kids to graduate with a meaningful degree and get a good job. This isn't much different then an Army recruiting. If you aren't playing the PR game in America's education system today, you are saying you don't care about the students.
Good for Poshard for firing him in public. Now he needs to fire about 20 more people. Fire the admins who are doing nothing but hiding behind the civil service rules, instead of passing them on to the next office to do nothing. Fire the administrators who stink. Fire the chairmen who are terrible leaders. I would say fire the Deans, but they are all new. Punish the tenured faculty who aren't working hard by giving them terrible classes to teach and bad job reviews. The problem with SIUC is that management has allowed people to do nothing for over 20 years. The no work culture has to change, the politics over results has to change. SIU needs to change into a meritocracy instead of a political quagmire.
I haven't seen Jim write it, but I bet we agree that discrimination based on intelligence and effort is good (this is called capitalism), but not if you base it on skin color. I do agree with Jim Muir that SIU needs to hire better professors who have a clue about the real world, but that will be another long blog entry. I certainly don't agree with his spin that this one little anti-conservative issue is that makes SIUC sub par, it is but one example out of thousands of what is wrong.
Firing Wendler for cause was a great first step. Finally, SIU has a President who cares about results. Go get them Glenn, you haven't done enough yet.