If we are focused on improvement, we have to design a strategy for improvement. Although it is possible to have grand ideas and elaborate discussions about the importance of this or that within the university's portfolio of activities, the critical issue is to know what defines competitive achievement and what drives success in this competition.
John V. Lombardi
Most Recent Articles
April 23, 2008
April 21, 2008
NOTE: This semester we’ve had an active conversation in a graduate course on Managing Universities here at LSU. This blog has suffered as my enthusiasm for arguing about university issues has been diverted to the class discussion list. The participants in this course have provoked some good discussion, and what follows is some of the traffic on my side of a conversation about how universities (and in this context we mean research universities) manage themselves to achieve improvement and enhance competitiveness.
February 5, 2008
In recent weeks we’ve seen flurries of enthusiasm about various interrelated topics, all about money. We hear of the concern about the relationship between the payout rate from college and university endowments and the rise in tuition and fees. We see confusion about the maneuvering of elite institutions to provide non-loan financial aid to desirable student populations with family incomes ranging above $100K. And we read about the increase in potential payments to division I-A student-athletes.
December 9, 2007
This is the time of endless speculation about which division I-A college football team is the best in America. We have polls, computer rankings, conference championships, and the high profile BCS (Bowl Championship Series) program. Our experts (which include just about everyone who follows college sports) argue with great passion about which scheme is the appropriate method for anointing the “best college football team in America.” This controversy lives and repeats itself because we can never get it right.
November 27, 2007
Over the past decade much discussion has focused on the growing percentage of college teaching done by contingent faculty. Variously seen as the exploitation of an academic proletariat, the consequence of hostility towards tenure, or a response to difficult economic circumstances, this issue manifests itself in many forms.
November 15, 2007
OK, I’m following the conversation in Washington about putting universities and colleges on a watch list if they increase their tuition by a percentage deemed too high. What a wonderfully nonsensical notion.
November 2, 2007
Testing enthusiasm continues to grow among friends and critics of higher education. My own enthusiasm for the endless standardized testing schemes proposed tends to be limited. Nonetheless, even as some protest the effects of standardized entrance tests such as the SAT and the ACT, others extol the power of accountability based on standardized exit tests.
October 1, 2007
Since at least the early 20th century, it has been fashionable to attack college athletics as distorting the priorities of American colleges and universities, and there is often much evidence to support the attacks. The difficulty in taking these challenges seriously is that they are often unclear about the context within which college athletics functions and undervalue the significance of the constituencies that support this part of the American collegiate enterprise.
September 26, 2007
At one time, we imagined that students came to the university to learn, that they had an obligation to engage their courses and faculty, read, write, study, take exams, and demonstrate their achievement. This simple approach placed the responsibility for learning on the students who we assumed recognized that the privilege of attending a college carried with it a commitment to the learning process.
August 17, 2007
It is rankings time again, as everyone interested in colleges and universities know. This annual celebration gives everyone something. It gives the rich elite colleges a way to demonstrate their presumed superiority and it gives everyone else an opportunity to identify the errors, misconceptions and ideological biases that inform the lists. As often observed, when institutions rise in spurious rankings, they publicize the results; when they fall in the same rankings, they critique the methodology.