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Mission, Operation
and Management
in State Universities


Management practices and policies adopted by administrators, trustees or regents, and legislators have the greatest impact on shaping state universities. These factors bear upon a broad spectrum of educational matters including Visual Art. Organizational structure, definition of responsibilities, policies, procedures and management styles affect teachers, students and educational quality.

Educational Organization
Regents or trustees and legislators have ignored important aspects of academic organization and seem unaware of its evolution in Western culture over a period of nearly five hundred years.

Educational policy-makers do not demonstrate an understanding of how structure and principles of educational organization are uniquely different from corporate, business, military, religious or government organizations.
Educational organization is composed of four groups: trustees,
president/administration, faculty and students. Each body has power to affect the others. Successful operation of the institution is based on interdependency achieved through appropriate balance and tension between the four groups. Academic organization has proven to be an excellent structure when a balance of power is maintained.

Historically, each time education was in trouble, it was because one group had too much power over the others. In the eighteenth century, trustees determined the curriculum, disciplined or rewarded both teachers and students, and even established dress codes. When trustees met, the president waited outside and, at the conclusion of the meeting, came before the board to receive instructions. About the time of the Civil War, trustees began to transfer much of the responsibility for operating institutions to presidents. Before long, presidents had enormous power and presided over institutions in an autocratic manner. Early in the twentieth century, teachers organized The American Association of University Professors, and by the 1940s it became a dominant force on university campuses. In the 1960s, student activists rebelled and exerted undue influence within institutions. Beginning in the 1970s, administrative offices and functions dramatically increased to the point that administration is now out of balance with faculty and students.

The balance affects distribution of responsibility, division of
institutional resources, university objectives and decision-making. It is imperative to restore balance of power between operational and educational segments within universities.

Operation and Mission
The university is ideally perceived as a monolithic organization composed of trustees, administrators, faculty and students all working toward the common goal of education. In reality, the university is sharply divided between its dual roles of operation and education. Operation includes finances, business, planning, legal affairs, record-keeping, alumni relations, maintenance, security, academic services, housing, food services, fund-raising, public relations, sports and cultural activities, auxiliary organizations, liaison with the community and other similar responsibilities. Faculty and students are primarily concerned with educational quality and learning environment in the classroom, studio or laboratory.

The divisiveness of these roles has become more pronounced in recent years because of expanding administrative powers. The consequences have been a down-graded role for faculty and an application of business values to educational matters. Administrative dominance has resulted in operation becoming more important than education, The tail wagging the dog.

 

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