Sunday, February 25, 2007

Should SIU try to be more diverse?

No, not based on skin color, but on skill set. I have written several times in this blog about how people with PhD's don't seem to have a clue about management. There have been several comments about salesmen are better if they don't have PhD's. I commented in this entry - "hiding out in a college town and only dealing with people with multiple advanced degrees ... might not be sharpening a true view of the state of the world?"

Should it worry you when the only input you get is from the people who worship at the same Altar that you do? Makes you understand how some people think that "W" is doing a good job, they don't expose themselves to diverse ideas. There is a real style of learning to US higher education and most professors are bound to that style. A question is what is lost because of the lack of diversity in educational styles? Would a drill Sargent do better, would an intercity Chicago high school teacher do better, would a Nun with a fast ruler do better educating the students? More important, would adding one of these diverse skills sets improve the teaching of the entire department?

For example, SIU would never hire an administrator that didn't have a doctorate in something. Doesn't that say that the university rejects anyone who doesn't play their hoop jumping game? I have received a majority of my education laying on my couch with books and at work at a high tech company. Is this an invalid way to learn? It is invalid for US universities, if you want to be an employee who is promoted. When did these giveaway EdD/PhD in Education become a valid measure of knowing something? I prefer results to dogma myself. Education doctorates are really lightweight, the company business plans I have written should earn me a doctorate each, if that is the quality bar.

Maybe SIU needs to stop recruiting management and faculty from the same white bread group they are currently using and diversify with new ideas and different views? If diversity is really important, professors who are black aren't really that diverse compared to a business person are they? There are many people with different colored skin, from many countries at SIU already, but do they bring true diversity? Yes, in a way, but I'm framing an argument here, so let me gloss that over for now.

If 10% of the SIU faculty was African-American and 25% of the students, would that change anything for the better? Would there be better learning, better results or any other positive results? If 10% of the administration were business people, things would be changing for the better (once they washed the blood off the walls). Of course, bring in the right university administrators would work too, SIU just doesn't seem to be able to hire the right people.

Quick story, they are hiring a new Dean of Science and I hear someone asked one of the candidates about his research. The guy has been in management for a while and I bet hasn't published for many years. Should he not be hired because he doesn't want to discuss some low level research in his field? What does his research from 20 years ago have to with with his capacity to be a great manager? Microsoft hires programmers like this, since they don't have real people skills or training in interviewing job candidates, they only ask technical questions. We have seen the results in the pieces of their products that require people skills to design. Does this seem like a management team that you know and work with often? Better researchers and politicians then leaders and managers?

Your comments are welcome.


Gary Walkup said...

Interesting idea about the drill sergeant.

My high school PE teacher(and I graduated in 1971) WAS a retired Marine Drill Instructor. He challenged us to do our best, yet was fair and knew that we had different levels of physical skills. He also whopped our butts with a meter stick if our pushups were sloppy and would bounce a volleyball on our bellies if he didn't like our situps. I doubt he had a PhD, or even a masters, but he was an awesome teacher

The history teacher wasn't a nun..but he had a lightning-fast ruler and frequently wielded it on the unsuspecting trouble-maker's knuckles. No doctorate there, but the best-behaved history class in the western suburbs!

A couple of weeks ago there was an article about an "enrollment committee" that was being formed to look into SIU's decling enrollment. The article listed all the different campus groups that were tasked to form the committee. Interesting enough, there were NO "members of the community" on the list. I emailed the chairman, Carmen Suarez, and suggested she include one or more community members, theorizing that highly-compensated SIU employees WHO GET AN "EMPLOYEE DISCOUNT" ON TUITION may not be as open to suggestions as a mid-level auto dealer employee with two family members attending college with a third starting in 3 years.

Carmen replied and thanked me for my suggestions, but perhaps this is a job for my old meter-stick-yielding ex-marine DI who'd kick ass and take names!

Peter in Carbondale said...

I can see Glenn Poshard trying to move things forward, but kicking ass and taking names really isn't his thing. He is more into slinking around corners, making deals in smoke filled rooms and delivering a well place knife in the back I think. I'm afraid things at SIU are going to get worse before they get better.

The combination of teachers with lessor work habits (then Great Depression Era) and parents with two jobs, divorce and little self discipline are exposing our educational institutions inability (or willingness) to change and thrive. SIU seems like a case study for Darwin from my perspective.

My feel has been for sometime, that everyone knows the problem in the gut and the State is going to fix this by cutting off all funding increases to universities until they get their act together.

Fraydog said...

Do you think they slack off like that at UofI Urbana-Champaign? Is this just a problem at SIU, or do even the excellent institutions have these problems?