Search This Blog

Sep 26, 2022

The conservative in me

In the higher ed, the talk of change, of innovation, of strategy, and moving forward is all you can hear. In reality all administrators worry at least as much about screwing up. Take the CSU System. The public has entrusted us with this very expensive, very sophisticated machine, essential to the State’s economy and its democracy. As President Nelsen said recently, we are the manufacturers of the middle class for the state. Imagine you are in charge of the James Webb Telescope, a 10 billion dollars piece of equipment that took decades to build and launch. Even if you take care of only a small part of it, you don’t want your part malfunctioning, right?

From a certain angle, the CSU System looks like a slow, gigantic, and bureaucratic beast. From another angle, it is one of the wonders of the world, the image of the future for the humanity. How can it take all of this very diverse population, not the elite, but regular kids, many of whom first generation in college, and give them a degree, a profession, give them hope and purpose? It is something the rest of the world needs to learn how to do.

And our telescope can be damaged easily, yes. One scandal will not kill it, but multiple ones can seriously damage its credibility, undermine public confidence, and result in decreased funding and invasive over-regulation. Any kind of bad news can come out about any university: about poor morale, labor conflicts, harassment, bias, inefficiencies, wastefulness, self-interest, poor management, and many others. Of course no one wants to be the cause of such things, - not only because it is professionally embarrassing, but because we don’t want to hurt the miracle machine.

Yes, we all talk about change and progress, and improvement. Silently, all of us are also conservatives, very much so. We won’t admit it because no one likes an overcautious bureaucrat. Yet the stakes can be high. None of us wants to make things worse on our watch. We all want to pass our little part of the telescope onto the next person in a better shape than when we found it.

No comments:

Post a Comment