John Livingston

Facility Parking and Mission Creep

It is becoming more complicated for me to understand what certain people in elite organizations actually do. The mission creep that has occurred in academia with the titles President of University or Provost is making the matter even more difficult. In the military there are charts showing the Chain of Command” which can always be found in every administrative office or can be provided upon request. In the civilian world these hierarchical charts are more difficult to find. Several months ago, I asked a City Father in Garden City for such a chart and was referred to their Web page. Not finding what I was looking for there, I was told a formal request would be required. In the cases involving the military, government organizations, or even in private for profit and non-profit organizations, I believe these hierarchical structures always grow in size and become more complicated without necessarily adding efficiency or productivity to the organizations.

It is my opinion that as these organizations grow in complexity and their connection to the mission statements becomes more obscure, that a system of constant review of structure and process needs to be part of frequent operational audits of such organizations. When such a process becomes the norm, we could be well on our way to shrinking the size of government at all levels.

I believe the problem of MISSION CREEP has become even more of a problem in structures of education. I recently found a quote attributed to Clark Kerr, many years the President of Cal Berkley that gives me pause to reflect about the function of college Presidents, Regents, Chancellors and their underlings. In 1957 Dr. Kerr opined that the function of a College President “was to provide parking for the faculty, sex for the students, and athletics for the alumni”. A simple mission statement I say.

Around that same time George L. Cross PhD., the President of the University of Oklahoma opined as he was responding to a State senator’s question about a $5million increase in the University’s budget, His answer—”We are trying to build a University that the football team can be proud of.”

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Both answers in my opinion seem to be succinct, to the point and in retrospect honest. I don’t know what faculty and administrative parking at BSU is like, though it seems one has to be “tenured” faculty or at least a third level administrator to receive such a privilege and most of the faculty who actually teach students are “auxiliary and part time”.

As far as the ‘sex” part of Dr. Kerr’s answer, I have very little hard data to make a credible assertion except to say where and when Medicaid eligibility for female reproductive services has been more available to students, those services have been increasingly more utilized with a spike noted in the pandemic years when students couldn’t participate or watch in person college athletic events. This was true knowing that “pre-enrollment” and pre-existing condition” restrictions are not operative with Medicaid insurance. This was true in locales with state supported and private institutions. I am only left to believe that with increased reproductive services access, we are seeing increased reproductive activity. I could be wrong, but several academic economists including Dr. Kerr have actually expressed a similar opinion over 60 years ago. I really don’t know how one could prove this without a double blind prospective “peer reviewed” study and even then, there would be issues of “informed consent” and the subjects being held to an “honor’s code”.

In the new era of name—image—and likeness (NIL), and “the transfer portal”, the connection between scholarship and academic progress is an afterthought. The adults—administrators, faculty, and unfortunately coaches are using athletes as a cheap source of labor toward a financial gain of the university. I bet that the salaries of university Presidents and football coaches is directly proportional to the success of their athletic teams, especially football teams. This is nothing less than indenture hood. The athlete’s academic progress should be tied directly to their ability to continue participating. Knowing that less than 400 Division 1 football players even get an NFL tryout and knowing that those who make a team will be bankrupt 2 years after they are forced to stop playing is something a young athlete never thinks about. In the end their chance for glory and financial stability is through academics, not athletics.

The College Presidents in the late 1950’s were prescient and honest. They have lived up to their original visions and mission statements. The maze of institutional hierarchies needs to be reviewed and streamlined. Our State Board of Education and our Legislature needs to stand up for our students and those who actually do the teaching of our students.

Just as a suggestion, tying the number of scholarship student athletes who graduate from the same institution after five years, to the number of scholarships available to incoming student athletes’ year one, would incentivize all the powers that be toward academics and graduation, in addition to athletic performance.

I, for one, still think faculty parking at BSU is a problem and needs to be addressed.

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One reply on “Facility Parking and Mission Creep”

The word faculty appears a half dozen times in this article, but the word facility is only in the title. Why don’t you proofread what you write?

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