Beyond UC: Running higher education differently


At the Lumina Foundation for Education’s 2010 National Higher Education Productivity Conference, there was a more general acknowledgement than previous years that the current business model for higher education institutions is unsustainable.  In order to deal with budget deficits in a more effective way than in recent years (during which institutions leaders have attacked problems the same way, only “evading and trying to avoid the difficult decisions” according to one critic), higher education institutions will have to make fundamental changes in order to maintain excellence and meet growing demand.  Though this has been acknowledged, it is uncertain whether or not higher education institution leaders (state officials, board members, administrators, and faculty leaders) will begin in a timely and deliberate manner to make the necessary, sweeping changes to higher education systems.

Read the full story: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/11/22/textbooks

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One response to “Beyond UC: Running higher education differently

  1. Current model for higher education in California is unsustainable when it is run as it is run at the University of California Berkeley. Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians in Sacramento, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.
    A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies in the system and then crafting a plan to fix them. Competent oversight by the Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on problems and on what steps he was taking to solve them. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left.
    It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies in the system. Faculty and staff have raised issues with senior management, but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3 million) consultants, Bain & Company, to tell him what he should have been able to find out from the bright, engaged people in his own organization.
    In short, there is plenty of blame to go around. But you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. An opportunity now exists for the UC president, Board of Regents, and California legislators to jolt UC Berkeley back to life, applying some simple check-and-balance management principles. Increasing the budget is not enough; transforming senior management is necessary. The faculty, Academic Senate, Cal. Alumni, financial donors, benefactors await the transformation.
    The author, who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture and the way the senior management operates.

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