I received a big envelop from SIU the other day and it contained a 4 page, both sides, fold out, super thick and glossy brochure entitled, "Research Profiles 2007." Postage was over $1 and the brochure must have cost at least $1 each and maybe as much $4 each. Then there was a little specially printed cardboard hanger on the brochure with SIU's logo and these words, "Compliments of John A. Koropchak Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Dean."
I know why SIU sends these sorts of things out, and maybe they data mine and only send these super expensive things to big givers? But, how exactly did I get this tax payer funded document that is "Compliments" of some administrator? Did he pay for it? Why am I getting expensive campaign literature, that claims to be compliments of some pseudo-Vice President type? Is he running for office?
If we ask about this, I bet they will tell us that "we didn't spend tax payer money." But that means they are spending donor money. I think that means they are wasting the money that I send in, by sending me fancy brochures, doesn't it? Why would I give them more?
One of the problems that SIU hasn't begun to address is how to walk the fine line between communicating and wasting money. Brochures like this one feel like waste. A quarterly email list, with fancy HTML email, would feel like communication to me. I guess the 70 year old fat cats, might like paper though. It isn't a clear and easy problem, but SIU should start to think about how they are going to handle this.
The appearance of wasting our money, to make yourself look better, is a place that SIU needs to avoid.
Your comments are welcome.