"What is it Like to be a University President?" Why? Radio Episode with Guest John Ettling
3:31PM Apr 2, 2020
Jack Russell Weinstein
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Hi, I'm jack Russell Weinstein host of wide philosophical discussions about everyday life. On today's episode, we'll be asking what it's like to be a university president with our guest, john Edlin. I've been a full time faculty member for 23 years employed at public and private universities, liberal arts colleges and research powerhouses. I've taught the narrowest classes on the most obscure subjects and expounded on the great brushstrokes of history. I've had the security of a distinguished professorship and the Anxiety of the transient adjunct. But in all the places I've been at all the schools have received a paycheck. One thing has unified the teaching staff, contempt and disdain for university administrators. The first time I saw this from the inside was actually as an undergraduate, my professor Dave Mallory showed me an email someone forwarded to him reporting the discovery of a new element administrator, powered by the force in its nucleus, the moron. This, by the way, was in 1991. I swear this is true. I got the same email forwarded to me this semester. It was like seeing Jacob Marley's ghost, given the vehemence with which I jumped on the anti administrative bandwagon, and knowing the venom I've reserved for administrators of all stripes. There was really only one thing I could do to preserve my intellectual integrity. I had to arrange a public recommend exposing why I was wrong. I needed to find someone whom I both liked and respect to show me the injustice of belittling those who toil away in public accuracy. That's the point of this episode to explore what a university looks like from the perspective of those who often feel to me like my mortal enemy. The truth is, as a faculty member, I get to be selfish. I get to create, cultivate and govern my own little world, I get to make the rules for what counts as success and failure. And because I have tenure, I have the luxury of doing so as conscientiously or as lazily as I want. I'll be the first to argue that I earned this right I played by the rules and jumped through even the stupidest of hoops. But this doesn't change the fact as the teacher, I have the freedom to not be surveilled, to establish my own standards and to stand on principle. administrators are not that lucky. Presidents provost and Dean's are all employed at the pleasure of their superiors, they're subject to the hierarchy of their boss's self interest. Professors get to teach and mentor students but administrators have to protect and coddle procedures. Faculty navigate student complaints and plagiarism but vice presidents in their cohorts have to contend with fads, regulations, lawsuits and angry alumni. They're slaves to accountants and the creditors. As someone once explained it to me, being a controversial faculty member is a good thing. But being a controversial administrator is the death of a career. At the heart of these differences is an important philosophical distinction. My job is to educate students but their job is to protect an institution. I get to see the university from the ground level, interacting daily with those whose futures I'm helping to create class by class. I live my professional life not seeing the proverbial forest for the trees. They on the other hand, have to see it all from above thinking five year increments and make sure the electric bill is paid all while watching the very trees they protect, shake their angry fists at them, unsympathetically condemning the administrators who make their jobs possible. Okay, so I'm mixing metaphors here. I know that I'm also glossing over the fact that I know some awful awful Dean's vice presidents and even presidents who were vindictive egoists that treated their schools the same way that strip miners treat a mountain top. Nevertheless, compound everything I've described by the fact that higher education is in a period of transition, that government funding has diminished that conservative politicians have decided to dismantle public education. And then in five years, the college age, population numbers will plummet, and you get an administrative class and chaos. The university managers are trying to ensure that their schools are around for the next generation. But no one has any idea how to make that happen. I suspect there's been more change in higher education in the last 40 years than in the preceding 200. The fact is, Americans no longer agree on the purpose of the university. Is it to prepare students for the workplace or make them well rounded citizens? Is it to provide an economic engine for small cities or populate sports arenas with up and coming athletes? Does education make students knee jerk liberals closed minded right wingers or mindless conformist worker drones I've heard each of these theories over and over again, and each is defended with complete conviction.
Sometimes it's hard to be a professor, but I can thank God that I'm not someone more important, like, for example, a university president who has to answer to the mob who has to defend his school to its ungrateful stakeholders. And that is what we're going to do on this episode. Imagine where university presidents, we're going to talk higher education with someone who has been a professor Edina provost and the president, and who now looks back at it all from retirement, a person in the ideal position to share wisdom rather than spin experience instead of politics. And this, of course, encapsulates the whole problem. When administrators talk, they use the voice of the institution, but when faculty do so they speak for themselves, neither has unfiltered access to the truth. And now our guest, john atlin, received his PhD in history from Harvard University and made his way up the university ranks as Professor Dean and provost at the university. North Dakota. He was president of the State University of New York for 15 years and retired a few months ago. JOHN, welcome to why radio.
Thank you jack. It's good to be here with you.
If you'd like to comment on the show you can find us on twitter instagram and facebook all at at wire radio show one word or email us at ask email@example.com and you can listen to all of the previous episodes for free and find information about our future shows at wire Radio show.org john how's retirement going?
-I have mixed feelings about it. I miss being in the in the day to day rough and tumble of it all. But there's a lot of things about that. I like like not having to put on a suit in the dark.
Well, that's that's good. You didn't have to put on a suit for the radio show. I hope no one told you if someone told you that.
I know. No, I'm not. I'm dressed for the radio. Yes, that's excellent.
Um, I guess I want to start by just putting out there what I what I introduced the show using When faculty talk about faculty becoming administrators, when they talk about someone moving into that sector, they often use the phrase, they've gone to the dark side, and the administrators even say that to Oh, you've come to the dark side, or I've gone to the dark side. It has venom in it, there's insecurity, there's all sorts of stuff. Does it sting? Or is that just part of the ritual of movement and it doesn't really mean all that much.
I think it's part of the ritual actually, jack, ever since the first Star Wars movie came out, people have been saying that about administrators through my whole academic career, essentially. So I think now it's almost a cliche, tongue in cheek sort of required on both sides of that divide. In my particular case, I can't really point to a Rubicon. I had been a full time faculty member who took on an occasional administrative assignments until I left the University of Houston and move to North Dakota where I became a full time administrator. But it wasn't as if I got up one morning and found myself in a completely new relationship to the people who have been my colleagues for years. It was a new group of people. And they saw me as a dean and not as a system professor who came up through the ranks.
Is, is that transition? I guess, from your perspective, it seems natural from other people that may seem more abrupt. Do you see it as a spectrum? Do you find yourself doing the same basic thing but as you described with a different relationship? Or is it really a different job with just a different way of seeing and being and internalizing what you do?
Well, it's it's a very different job.
And, you know, there's no, there's no denying that it requires you spending your days addressing a completely different set of challenges than you did. When you were a faculty member, and let's say there's no denying that there's no pretending that's not the case.
Is it still an academic position? Is there academic content? Is there an intellectual life? I know that some administrators try to if they're scientists keep their lab going. Occasionally people write research. I'm hoping that you still had the opportunity to do some reading. But is, even though it's in the academic universe, is it still an academic position?
Not really, although in smaller schools, it does still remain an academic position, because it's, they often will teach as well, that is college presidents. In my case, the habits of mind all the way through my tenure as president here. Were once I developed as a as a graduate student and a faculty member that is, instead of reading and and spending my time engaged in it, Sexual pursuits, and not always sort of carrying balance sheets home to study at night. So So yeah, I would say more keeping habits of mind and a lifetime's worth of, of interests alive. At the same time that I've moved into a completely different kind of job.
is a historian going to be a different kind of President than an engineer or a physicist or a sociologist?
That's a good question jack. I don't know.
Historians, have a if they're any good at it, have a have a longer perspective, but not longer than geologists For heaven's sake.
Or astronomers for that matter.
They have spent a good deal of time studying the interactions and the effects of interactions of people with each other. Though I like to say the difference between sociologists and historians is that we as historians play our tricks on dead people and sociologists play their tricks on people that are pretty much still alive. In that case, I guess a sociologist would make a good university president.
I assume you don't want effectively full of dead people. That's, that would be a major failure. The vision I have right, is is john Etling, the historian sitting at the desk having to make a decision and you're like, well, bring me the decision books of the last 12 presidents let me compare, let me look at the original documents. Is there anything like that at all? Is there any sense that in order to make decisions, you have to have a sort of a historical perspective or are decisions really in the moment and more future oriented than backward looking
their decisions by and large or I made in the moment, but however, they have to take into consideration the context. And I don't just mean the circumstances at the moment, but I also mean, the culture of the institution. And that's, that's something that's developed over time. And historical, so the difference between, say, SUNY Plattsburgh and the University of North Dakota, in some ways is profound because they've developed different cultures and evolved in very different ways. But the decisions that their leaders have to make oftentimes are based on the same set of, of demands.
Alright, so full disclosure. You're retired from the president of SUNY Plattsburgh savers. Nick Plattsburgh is a small college 6000 students roughly on the border of New York and Canada about an hour south of Montreal. It's my alma mater. It's where I went as an undergraduate when you were a candidate for the job. We had in common contacted me and asked me for advice and I've been back to visit you a handful of time because I have a very strong relationship with Plattsburgh and a very different relationship than I have with you and D there's a, there's a loyalty that I have to Plattsburgh that I can't imagine ever having with UMD even though at this point UMD has paid for my house paid for my child, employed me for 19 years given me tremendous honors like the Chester first distinguished professor, but as an undergraduate Plattsburgh has given me a life that I often describe in almost teary terms. How does a president deal with these contending visions? You've got faculty who have loyalty and animosity and frustration and excitement, and then you have students an alumni who have this existential connection if everything goes well to their university, how do you balance those two things?
I'm not sure you have to, you just have to acknowledge that they coexist. You can't play one off against the other and understand the alumni attachment, that emotional bond with the, but to the place that they that is the alarms that stay in touch the way you have it Plattsburgh, some of them go out there into the world, and we never hear from them again, and they are just as happy that they don't have to be in touch with us anymore, but most of them are loyal. And I think it has something to do with what they they look back on what life was like when they were 18 or 19 or 20. And it's through rose colored glasses. You know, life is has dealt with them in the intervening years. And they they aren't as alive, they don't think there is alive, they were in their 80s and 90s. I used to laugh that I thought that alums thought that the college started going to hell, as soon as they left, it has been going downhill ever since.
And as far as the other side of that, that
conundrum that you mentioned, faculty understand that most alums don't stay in higher education, they leave the college and go out into the world to make a living doing something else besides staying at a college or university. And my my theory is that people who end up spending a lifetime in academia, as faculty members, especially in the humanities and social sciences, have an inherent critical relationship to the world, in the people around them. And that that's going to manifest itself not just in a kind of skepticism in their own research, but also in their relationship with the institution that employs them.
So that's really interesting. So so the critical framework that informs research informs inquiry is such a personality trait, that it's going to define how you deal with your boss, how you deal with your colleagues how you deal with your institution. I wonder if you talk a little bit more about that. What's it like to lead a group of people a large portion of whom because of course, there's also staff, there's also other administrators, but a portion who sees their role as constantly analyzing second guessing, critiquing, and even scoffing at whatever decision you make, regardless of what it is.
Yeah, I know.
It comes with the territory when I was the provost at UMD, is to say and I believed it that the end comprise the greatest agglomeration of brains and talent between Minneapolis and Seattle. Well, I guess you have to throw the University of Montana in there too. But that that was true. But there are people who are cranky, individualistic, prima donnas, who are very good at what they do. And I saw my job and so my job here at Plattsburgh, in much the same way, is the kind of Van Allen Radiation Belt, I was supposed to help shield them as much as possible from the slings and arrows of state politics and budget cuts and all the rest of it as I could. So they could go about their their business, what they do teach philosophy, prepare the next generation of lawyers, whatever.
That's a real interesting point of contention, though, because isn't the great complaint to faculty that they don't feel shielded, they feel exposed, right. That that be Cause of the different perspective. You and I, you know, take you at your word. I know your career, and I wouldn't have invited you on the show if I didn't think you hadn't been an outstanding president. But from your perspective, and from many of the people you work with, as administrators, you see your job is shielding. But the fundamental complaint of almost all faculty other than not having enough resources, is they feel exposed. Is there a way to reconcile those two things? Or is this just a matter of this is how people are placed in the world and as a manager, you have to negotiate in commensurable attitudes about what you do.
Well, there's always a tension between being completely forthcoming with with faculty who are bright and curious and skeptical, as I said, and protecting them if that's possible, from you know, the assaults on the institution which are coming fast and furious. morale is an important thing. You don't want to go out of your way to destroy it. But at the same time, you don't want to, to shield people, adults and professionals from unpleasant facts that they should know.
In a little bit, I want to ask you about the nature of those assaults and how they've changed in recent years, but before that, I want to get back to something you said in passing a little earlier, which is you don't want to use or to come up with the exact word to use but but but use the attitudes of the students and the alumni and the faculty against each other. Why not? I mean, my sense, and you can tell me if I'm wrong about this is that the President, you said isn't an academic position, but it's certainly a political position. And isn't the job of a politician to sort of take special interests groups in use them to compromise with one another and to grant some things to some and not the others. Why do you see the role as not pitting these groups against each other as opposed to leveraging them against one another?
Well, I think they exist in in sort of parallel universes. The faculty are their day to day and they think they own the institution. The Alumni aren't their day to day we don't see them in the course of our comings and goings, except at certain times a year, or if we go on the road for alumni receptions around the country, but I don't see them in although there are different points of view regarding the same institution. I don't think they're in conflict. But say they exist almost in parallel universes. Somebody heard this, I'm sure. sarcastically said a successful college president will provide parking for the faculty football for the alumni and sex for the students. Yes, and if you can do those three things you'll survive.
Do you feel that doing those things? Actually, let me let me rephrase the question. You just said if you can do those things he will survive survive is a very different standard than thrive. Is it possible for a president to thrive or is the president like the mayor of New York City? Everyone who ends up in that position is going to fail no matter what.
Except for the just for the one who's decided he wants to be president.
That's that's that's just a momentary he has enough money that this is his his video game he'll he'll be okay. A couple weeks. Yeah.
thrive, survive. I will say that.
The American Council of education every five years goes out and surveys over 1000 somewhere 1500 American college and university presidents just to take their pulse surveys and One of the things they've discovered in the last between 2007 and 2017 is that the average tenure of a college university president had decreased from about eight and a half years to around six. So that means over, I'm just extrapolating from that over my time at Plattsburgh from 2004 to 2019, that life expectancy has gone from about nine down to about five and a half. Now, some of those people are moving into other presidency, some of them are retiring honorably, a lot of them are being driven out and they're being driven out I think, because of the the relentless set of challenges that are very, very difficult to meet, and is, as you've said before trying to keep all the constituents reasonably satisfied with the direction the speaker institution is taking.
When we get back, I want to talk about those challenges. I want to talk about the assaults that you mentioned, I want to talk about what it's like to lead in the face of things that you can't control your university like all this has had its controversies during your tenure. But I want to start by asking you about your vision of what a university is and how that aligns with and changes or has changed from the past or from other universities. But first, you're listening to john netlink and jack Russell Weinstein on wide philosophical discussion to everyday life. We'll be back right after this.
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you're back with jack Russell Weinstein. I'm talking with john Etling retired president of the State University New York at Plattsburgh about what it's like to be a university president. And I guess in order to begin talking about the next thing I want to talk about, I have to tell just a little story about something that happened a few weeks ago, and I'm going to be talking critically about a friend I'm not going to name the friend. And the friend knows everything that I'm about to say because I said it during the meeting that I'm going to talk about But this friend has moved recently to administrative position. And this friend was a good teacher and very committed to liberal arts education and is in the humanities. And this friend had to give a presentation about advising to my department. And this teacher of 20 some odd years came in and did what it feels like administrators always do. Read a PowerPoint presentation at us for 20 minutes, felt like they were reciting what was on the screen. The pedagogy was terrible, the experience was boring and the information could have been encapsulated in three minutes with an email. The fundamental difference between administrators and faculty from the faculty perspective is that administrators talk differently. Administrators present information differently, and administrators are interested in legal and technical and procedural requirements that faculty are not and it's incredibly frustrating. And so, john, I guess the question I want to start with before I asked about your overall vision of education is what happens that when someone moves into the management, and their entire style of presentation, their entire style of talking changes, my friend, and I know that you can think of 1000 examples, like this person knows how to teach and knows how to engage. But there's something about it, the way that meetings operate, and administrators operate, that all of that seems to disappear in the face of presenting information in and of itself. Why does that happen?
I don't think it has to be that way. In fact, I know it isn't always that way. I've never given a PowerPoint presentation. Much less read off slides in any format or any context. So, to begin with, I don't accept the premise that good people who move into the people who move into administration necessarily completely change their attitude towards information and develop a new vocabulary for communicating it, they can still talk the way they did in their classes. Although there is a difference between talking to an auditorium full of faculty members and to an auditorium full of first semester, freshmen, just you do have to adopt a somewhat different style of presentation. Also, when you're talking to a room when the President usually is talking to a roomful of faculty members, he's talking about nuts and bolts about the the institution itself, where it is what its challenges are, and he's not giving a lecture on the war of 1812 or, you know, Andrew Jackson, to a group of freshmen who may not have heard of Andrew Jackson. So the so there is a difference in that. I don't think so, too. vocabulary. They don't take the new administrators out and in lobotomized them. They still they still draw on, you know a lifetime's worth of experience in absorbing and communicating information. It's just that the information changes.
So So implicit in that answer is, I think attention that faculty have a tendency to treat everyone like students in some form or another. Anyone who's been married to a faculty member, or has been the child of a faculty member knows that experience of all of a sudden there's a lecture all of a sudden this discussion, my daughter always refers to it as a dad has his professor face on, right. And she rolls and she rolls her eyes, right? To what extent is I'm not sure how to phrase the question, but to what extent is this a problem in University Relations where everyone is an expert on something everyone has the tendency to expound everyone has the tendency to want an audience, does that play a role in the communicative difficulties? I would imagine that in a non academic environment where people aren't allowed to criticize their bosses where people aren't allowed to take that analytic point of view on their work, or their workplace, that people just have to put up with it. But faculty don't put up with anything and then frankly, administrators don't seem to put up with very much either. How much of that is about trying to create a different I don't know power relation between people all of whom think that they're right all of the time.
You know, I I've got this theory. It's not mine I've heard from from friends of mine who are attorneys that faculty members often make terrible. Witnesses that in depositions, they actually think that they can persuade the attorney on the other side, to see things their way. And by by just going on and too often in too long, and so that the attorney on the other side will turn to his client and say, gosh, he's right. I never saw it that way.
And that doesn't happen.
In fact, we do get carried away often by the, by their own eloquence. And sometimes that shows up in the end of the semester course evaluations, but by and large, that's what they're supposed to do. They're advocates for their particular discipline. And they're trying to impart what they know, as best they can to their students. One of the problems of course, jack, and you know this as well as is anybody is that? Students nowadays learn in completely different ways than they did when you and I were working Students decades ago, somewhere deep in the last millennium, and that we haven't caught up with that we haven't really figured out how to embrace and take advantage of that, that change to become better instructors. Just a quick point, when I started at Plattsburgh in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg was still living in a dorm room at Harvard. And the world has been transformed since then. And along with that has come the different ways in which our current students learn, and we haven't kept up.
And that really is a wonderful pivot, because, of course, I am a faculty member and some of these questions have been a little too inside baseball. And so part of what I've been trying to get at is this idea that information that ways of communicating the power relations, that that culture and then How one sees oneself is going to affect what how one interacts with other people. Now we have a problem that students themselves have changed radically. How does technology and how does how to cell phones and laptop computers and the interconnectedness of the students? Does that just change the mechanisms of education? Or does that force us to rethink our vision of what education is, and what a university as a whole should be?
I'm not sure it goes so far as to challenge our assumptions on what a university should be. But it does, and I believe this that it does mean that we have to come to terms with the fact that our students are different. And they're different, not just in that they've grown up with smartphones and in social media, but also that they're different kinds. They've come from from different kinds of backgrounds here at at Plattsburgh we're in a part of the state of New York in which high school graduation rate numbers are going down every year. So our traditional catchment area, if you will, the the counties appear in what we call the North Country is not sufficient to maintain enrollments. So we have to look farther afield field and the only part of the state of New York that shows increasing graduation numbers is New York City. So to bring a student from Brooklyn, or the Bronx, to Plattsburgh, New York is like bringing in a heavy lift, it's like taking them to the dark side of the moon, and saying, this is where you're going to live for the next four years. And to understand and appreciate the background. The circumstances into which those students
developed and brought them to our campus requires a profound difference and understanding when I left high school and went to college, only one person and four went on to higher education. Now it's it's, it's not just expected it's almost seen as a, as a as a right as a natural right for everyone. And I don't think there's been a dramatic change in the intellectual capacity of ordinary American citizens over the last 40 or 50 years. I just think more of them are going to college. Now they went to college before and they're coming from very different backgrounds to throw in throw in smartphones and social media and into that mix and you've got a real volatile combination of circumstances. Where in faculty face that are pretty conservative, they like to teach the way they're taught they were taught. Some of them will deviate in an attempt to meet their students has Least halfway. Instead of saying, I am here to tell you what you need to know or saying, I want to help you learn what I know.
And we'll get there sooner or later. But we're not there yet.
I often tell people that despite the reputation of being liberal faculty are the most conservative group of people I've ever met, because they want everything to stay exactly the same, because they have good jobs, and they're in charge, and they get to teach the way they want, which then leads us to elaborate on something you said a moment ago, which is there was a time when if you were to take a student from Brooklyn, and bring them to the North Country, your job as the president, the universe, his job as the institution was to teach that kid to make that student conform to a certain kind of social norms, there was a vision of what an educated person should be, there was a vision of what of how a cultured person should act and what he or she should know. I'm assuming that's not the case anymore. I'm assuming that the job isn't to take the Brooklynite and make them into this uniform vision of what the average educated American should be. So what replaces it? How do we move away from the conformity tendency that all schools have had at their core since public institutions began?
I'm not sure it's been there since public institutions began, but certainly since the Second World War, and I think you get a good rough sense of what the faculty at least think, is the purpose of higher education when you take a look at the components of general education curricula across the country, and they're pretty much the same. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Social Science, humanities, science and math, fine Performing Arts, bring it all together with a capstone course or a project in your senior year. That I think is as good an indication as we have of what faculty at least considered to be a good education, or at least that plus a major. But I don't know. And that hasn't changed in my lifetime, my working lifetime that we nibble around the edges and try to make it more interesting for students, but it still is pretty much the same. I remember reading somewhere hearing that of all the general education curriculum across the country and throughout the 10s of thousands of courses that are embedded in those curricula. They're about 25 or 27 courses. 90% of undergraduate students take and they're like psych 101, college algebra, US history, whatever.
And that hasn't changed.
So and there's no reason why it should the faculty responsible for teaching general education, they should pretty much have a pretty clear idea of what it is that they want to incorporate in that. Too often, I'm afraid it's seen as a kind of an opportunity to get students under compulsion into courses that they might not otherwise consider taking. I remember when I was the Dean of Arts and Sciences at UMD 90% of all freshmen were enrolled in arts and sciences courses, but by the time they were seniors, only about 10% were so most of what arts and sciences faculty did back then, I don't know if it's still the case was surface courses in general education to colleagues and other schools, other colleges, other departments, engineering, nursing, whatever airspace business and that's less so here at Plattsburgh because we We don't have that range of academic disciplines. But but still very much, though.
So there's still the sense that, that we're taking students and molding them into a vision. But historically right from the 60s on there has been a concern that this is racist that this is sexist that this is American exceptionalism that this is imperialism. And the faculty have responded with attempts at inclusive classrooms attempts at different pedagogy, but there still is this this fundamental sense that we're taking students from one place and making them into something that we think they should be, is that still a viable option for a university in the 21st century, is our job to mold students into what we think and educated students should be or is the job of a university to cater to an individual students desires. And sort of field their vision of what they think an educated person should be.
That's, that's a really good question. Jackson is one that, that I've been asking and been in conversations about ever since I was an assistant professor back in the 1970. So the in let me again put it in the context of diminishing resources. My college here, my vice president for business affairs, for most of my time here was a man who started as a back office accountant at the college in the mid 1970s. He told me then, when he started working here, that somewhere between 75 and 80% of the annual orphans budget came from taxpayers through legislative appropriations. When I retired six months ago, that was under 20%. So it's declined from about 8% percent to 18% of one person's working lifetime. Where does the rest? How do you make that up? You make that up by collecting in tuition from students. And students have to come to the college before they pay tuition here. So we have to take into account what the students tell us. They want to study when they come simply because they're the ones who are paying the bills. 85% of what we spent at Plattsburgh every year, goes into salaries. So fewer students means fewer tuition dollars, which means fewer employees. It's really that simple at one level. But that doesn't mean that you turn over your curriculum to the to the in, quote, desires or ambitions of, of 18 year olds. So there's some way you have to strike a balance between what you think they need to know. And I'm not sure we're molding them so much as we're introducing them. To a range of intellectual and aesthetic possibilities that they might not have had before just giving them a taste of this, hoping that they will develop on their own an appetite for for indulging in these kinds of intellectual activities over a lifetime. We're not trying to turn them into little sociologists or philosophers or mathematicians, but just to give them an introduction to the extraordinary range of intellectual activity that they might not otherwise have, so that they'll have a status what we want to have a satisfying and productive life.
Does that work? after having been president after having been at the University at all different levels? Do you have faith that students exposed to subjects New ideas are literature, science, technology, that they are intellectually attracted to things that they do change their minds become that it is their choice to do those things. Because one of the standard complaints about and on campuses is that students are only here for credentials. They're only here to get a job, and that this old fashioned idea of revealing the world to them, so that they become compelled by it's by the interesting nature of the creation is just not the way students think anymore. Do you think that they do? Do you think that students are attracted by the knowledge that we have accumulated?
Certainly not all of them, and perhaps not even most of them? You're right Tech students come to us now. And have for 20 years or so, in search of a credential that will allow them to get a job when they graduate that will pay them a living wage. The rest of it. As I say, some students do get it in some students don't get it right away. But when they've been out of college for 10 or 15 years, there's nothing I found more depressing when I'm out talking to alums around the country than to have somebody say in his mid 40s, come up to me and say, I really wish I taken advantage of what was in front of me when I was at Plattsburgh that. I just wanted to get through as quickly as possible and get a job. Here I am now working hard, making a living kids in school, paying a mortgage. I don't have time to do all that. All those concerts, all those plays, all those elective courses, I could have taken if I'd wanted to. But didn't, and now it's too late. That is sad. But some students do see that. And all we need to do really is introduce them to it and then they've got to probably embrace it themselves. And when we can't force it on them, and if they're here to get credentials, and they're here to get credentials, and that's part of our purpose and in teaching them is to help them get a job and make a decent living. Once they get out of here, that it's good for them. It's good for society. One of the interesting things I think about being here in Plattsburgh is that we're 20 minutes. As you know, south of the Canadian border kaback is just to the north of us. And there is a drastically different operating philosophy in Ontario and in Quebec regarding the value of higher education. There it's seen not just as a personal advantage, but also a society. Good. And so taxpayers in Ontario and Quebec essentially pay for higher education, which is for all intensive purposes, free or extremely inexpensive and those two provinces, whereas here in New York on the other side of the border, we have come in the rest of the country as well come to see the beneficiary of a college education is the person who gets it, not society as a whole. And so we expect the person who gets it to pay for it. And that person is assuming debt now, out of proportion to what used to be the case, and so they're not willing to waste too much time on the road to credentials. Because it's just costing them more and in student loans, which is an interesting dichotomy. I think the difference is between these two societies that are is I see In my case, 20 minutes apart, Quebec pays for college education taxpayers. And that's a marvelous, marvelous thing and my point, but it won't be the case. It's not the case in New York and will never be the case again.
Does this make your university and UMD because there's a similar situation, they're less of a public university if the government funding has gone from 80% to 20%. In your tenure, I don't I don't mean to apply. That's your fault. But in your tenure, are the public universities in some sense, less public than they were a generation ago?
Well, less public in the sense that they're, they're not supported to the same extent financially as they were. And it's not over just it's not a reminder, it's over the last 40 or 50 years. Not Not my time here
instead of the 70s Right,
Yeah, but that doesn't mean that, again, you're talking about the various constituencies. The legislature is a big constituent, and they do think they still own public higher education. And that's certainly the case in North Dakota, where you MD is a huge fish in a very, very small pond, at on the back of beyond, and, and in some ways, it's easier for me here than it would be if I were in a similar position at UMD. Because here I'm a very small we're a very small fish in a very large pod. People in New York City can go through decades without ever thinking about Plattsburgh. It's impossible to imagine the North Dakota legislature going through a term without thinking seriously about what's wrong at UMD. And, as I say, that makes the job of President of UMD I think harder than the job President Plattsburgh and nothing but best best wishes for the, for the incoming new president at UMD. I hope he does a superlative job. I hope you guys ended up being nice to him.
See, I was I was gonna be generous. I think right? Every person at the university wants to be surprised and wants to be happy with the leadership. And the history has shown us that that that doesn't usually happen. But well jack,
when was the last time I put it? Let me just say I've been away from U and D for a long time. So my opinion probably doesn't matter even if it was valid 15 years ago, but but the last really successful president u and D was Tom Clifford. And he was president long before you arrived on the scene, right? And there there are a number of reasons for that. I think Not least because he was a native North Dakotan in a genuine or hero, and had been a business school D. and the Presidents that they've had since then are people they brought in from outside.
their careers as at UMD. We're not as obviously as successful as Tom's was. We'll see. This guy looks like he's got the he's got the boy, I don't know what it's like to be the academic vice president or faculty head provost at the Air Force Academy. But I can't imagine that it's a whole lot different than being provost at UMD. We'll see. And I wish him well. It's a it's a tough job. You know who William mcraven is. The names familiar, but I can't place it. He's a retired Admiral, who was well actually when he was on active duty, he was the person that planned and and saw carried out the The Raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He got out of the Navy. He became the chancellor at the University of Texas, which he left in that job about two or three years. And he ended up saying that he thought being a university president and also the president of a large teaching hospital, were probably the hardest jobs in the United States. Now, why would he say that when he was been an admiral? If he didn't believe it? I think he did. I think that when you were the the president of a large public institution like the University of Texas, which is a big fish in a big state, or like the University of North Dakota, you have to contend with the different expectations of your constituencies and the expectations are office often mutually exclusive. And if you're having to deal with that, in an era of declining state support, shrinking enrollments,
It becomes even more difficult.
So one of the ways that the university system has decided to deal with this complexity because I don't doubt for a second, that the job is unbelievably difficult at any level is to have a class of administrators who are educated to be administrators. There's something fairly new on the field that a lot of our staff a lot of our vice presidents and they have degrees in higher education administration, and they will come through the ranks of administration without ever having been teaching or research faculty. Our last president who didn't last very long, had never really been an academic. He was a businessman. He was a representative in Minnesota for a little while, and he, for all intents and purposes just didn't get it and didn't understand the university. Do you think that a president ought to come from the faculty? does it provide an advantage to have someone like in your career who has experienced every level of experience or having an educated expert class who are raised I guess, who go through the process of learning the business, the way that someone would learn how to build a bridge, or dissect an animal or anything like that, that that level of expertise is a better approach.
that's a that's a, you know, here's my, my fat my faculty side coming out. I think it's, it's important that a college presidents have come up through the ranks like that, on the academic side, although, you know, mcraven mentioned college presidents and also hospital administrators in the hospital administrators as you know, follow a completely different career path. They, they fail. They're not doctors, they go through school learning how to be hospital administrators. And you're right that's that's the tendency in higher education as well, especially at the community college level. Less so but increasingly so at, at the college and university level. I think that since the faculty are by they're there day in and day out, year in and year out, administrators come and go, by and large administrators advance their careers by leaving one school and moving to another. That's not the case with faculty. Most of them spend their careers where they start and in their heart and soul, the students Yeah, that's why we're there. But the students are there. They're the half life of the student generation is what two or three years and then they're gone. A new group is their take their place. It's the faculty unless the President understands, even if it's a distant memory from his, you know, his misguided youth, as an assistant professor, he's taught classes. He's had to engage in some kind of scholarship or creative activity in order to earn tenure, which is tough.
done all that. So he understands where faculty members live, even if he no longer lives there with them. He least he has an appreciation for the challenges and the difficulties of building a successful career as a member of a faculty. So yeah, I think it's I also think it's important that even even faculty members who who not the President and say dark side of the force and all that have to have to recognize that the person that they're criticizing that way was once And assistant professor now they say Well, yeah, but he sold out somewhere along the way. But nevertheless, he has that experience in that background. And probably, as I said before earlier, those habits of mind and that he developed or she developed as a graduate student, and a faculty member.
Is it. What the question I want to ask is, what's the purpose of a university? But there's a reluctance in me because I feel like that's an unanswerable question or the answer is going to be, it depends. And philosophers are never particularly satisfied with those sorts of answers. So I guess the question I want to ask is, first, what's the purpose of the university? But second, how does one go about answering a question like that, as a president, you have to have a vision for your institution. There has To be obviously a mission statement and things like that, but you also have to have a guiding light for how you want to sail the ship.
So I think basically, and again, this is conservative, this is nothing radical or unusual, comes down to the cliche that you know, the three expectations of the good faculty members, same thing could be saved for the institution, which is made up of hundreds or thousands of faculty members. It's teaching, research and service. Just that, and if specially, so with public universities, that we
are here as
in, in my cynical moments, I think of the State University of New York is and also the university system in North Dakota is a form of rural welfare, that they have these little campuses out there on the prairie or in the small towns in upstate New York. That really are the only game in town. That the people that we bring in faculty staff from outside form an important and irreplaceable part of the cultural and intellectual and even the commercial life of the of the community in the region in which they're found. Our principal purpose here is to teach and you know that it's the same at the University of North Dakota as well, although their research expectations as well, that are greater than they are here. But there's that you have to stay engaged in your discipline, not just because you're creating new knowledge, but also because it keeps you fresh. The cliche about the ancient faculty member who's still lecturing from yellowed notes that are 40 years old, may be true, but it's not something that that we're proud of. expect that faculty to stay engaged in their disciplines and the way they demonstrate that is by contributing to it, as you well know, you are a public intellectual this radio program is testimony to that, that you think there is something of value in what goes on in the university and the people who work there that could benefit members of the community as a whole. And that's terrific. That's one of the things that's disappeared over the last 50 years or so. is the is the public intellectual. There's just not that many around anymore. That's that's a long way of answering your question, but I do think it comes to what's the purpose of the university, what's the vision, it's teaching, obviously, the next generation, research, creative activity and service to the community to region to the state.
And it's really interesting to hear you talk about service in those terms, teaching research service for faculty members. For for a university person, our technical terms. And when we talk about, you know, every few years UMD has tries to develop a new mission statement and my wife Kim, who you know, and we both know is much smarter than me, always scoffs and says, The mission is easy. It's to create and disseminate knowledge. That's the purpose of a university. But of course, there is this economic development part that is in service and there is this fact of the matter that, you know, the North Dakota system has, I think, 13 colleges, and that if one of those colleges disappeared, it would decimate the economy of the region of the state that it's in. And so I guess the question I have is, does that end up being a moral obligation? Does Plattsburgh state have does UMD have to other universities have a moral obligation to To be an economic driver to provide jobs, resources, entertainment opportunities, other such things. And so when you use the phrase rural welfare, which I sign on to 100% that's not a negative. It's a positive because that's part of the moral mission of the university as well.
I agree. I completely agree. It doesn't mean it's a part of the moral obligation of every member of the faculty or staff at that university, but it is a an important part of the overall mission of the university as a whole. Some members of the university community are much more adept at that or whose own disciplines lend themselves to that kind of development. I mean, we had the Small Business Development Center here, even at Plattsburgh for years. We work closely with the Chamber of Commerce, in Plattsburgh. We are Plattsburgh, the mayor of Plattsburgh, as a faculty member in the The town supervisor for the town of Plattsburgh is an alumnus of the, of the college. The president of the Clinton County state legislature is an alumnus of the college and we are embedded in this community, the community is us. That is the kind of service
then I'm talking about, but also lending their expertise to things, everything from developing campaigns to help not for profits, raise money in the community, to
serving as consultants and developing
business plans and so forth. Yeah, I do think that, as I said, I don't expect everybody on the faculty to, to be engaged in all those kinds of activities, but it's an important source of support for the community that nothing else quite provides part of
what's so nice about your response. Is that it is really representative of the presidential point of view. Right? I asked a question I asked an either or a question, which is my tendency on the show. And your response was, Well, that's true of some people and some parts of the university. And it's incredibly morally important for those folks. But it doesn't mean that other folks have to do and it doesn't mean that everyone has to do it. And that's one of the fundamental differences of the of the presidential point of view, right? You have to see all of the moving parts, how they fit together, and who can do what in order for everyone to do their best work. How much can you as the president, choose the priorities manipulate the institution so that more or less becomes economic drivers? fewer or more people become public intellectuals? How much power does a president have to move The parts and I'll steal a metaphor from Adam Smith. How much can you treat the people, the staff, the faculty, the students, etc. as pieces on a chessboard? And how much are you just powerless and have to let their internal theories of motion direct them?
funny you should mention that of Smith. I was just reading about him last night.
You poor fellow.
No, I wasn't reading Adam Smith I was reading about.
There's this terrific book called The Club. Do you know anything about it? It's came out this year. It's a it's a it's a history of a club that sir Joshua Reynolds and Samuel Johnson formed in the 1760s and had these extraordinary members given in Burke and also your Adam Smith. Anyway, I was reading about Smith last night
is a poker club because there's the poker club. There's there's a bunch of girls Once and they all this is really actually relevant to our conversation because the the Scottish Enlightenment philosophers well who these folks are, they saw doing academic work is inherently social. So they were all part of these clubs, they were all part of these drinking organizations, they all gave lectures in public. And they saw the service in this economic driver at drivers as completely interrelated and tremendous support of their research, because they weren't sequestered in universities in the way that faculty are now. So I'm sorry to interrupt but no, but the club is, is an alternate vision of a very service oriented way of doing research and inquiry with society. So as you answer the question that I had originally asked, I'm curious how those visions are in tension with one another. But anyway, the question was, how much control do you have?
can sort of point in a direction It's, it's sort of like, it's a Moses point, you know, he can look into the promised land, but he's not going to ever lead the chosen people into it. I heard a guy one time at a conference in San Francisco, say that, in a good year, a college a university president actually had control over about 5% of the budget. And you know, it was I do, where the money moves is where things will happen. And you can indicate what you think is important in directions in which the school should go. But your actual control over that really depends. I, I spent most of my academic career at least in faculty ranks, sort of worrying over general education and I, one of the things that came away from that experience believing is that it won't work unless it Faculty own it, and you can't dictate to the faculty what they should, what they should own. So, so, yeah, you can you can stand up and in public occasions, sketch a vision, point to the future. But you really are dependent on the faculty, especially the faculty to, to carry that out or to modify it in ways that make more sense to them. Although, every time I start bloviating like this, I'm reminded of a time when I was sitting in front of a roomful of parents at the University of North Dakota, and I'm, it's the weekend before classes began. I'm there with the chief of police and the bursar and other people to answer the parents questions. And one of the people on the panel was the student body president at the time. He got up and told the parents was the provost, he got up and told the parents that 90% of what your students are going to learn in the next several years will come outside of the classroom. And I said, What? I didn't like that. But then I got to thinking about it over the next several years. And he's probably right. And so the Student Affairs people and the folks in the residence halls have have a big part to play in this as well. It's not just the faculty that's responsible for helping the leadership, craft a vision, or a path forward from here to what 2025 or whatever. Increasingly, it's, I think it's the Student Affairs folks as well. One of the interesting things I read jack, is that most of the positions that have been created in universities and colleges over the last 30 years have been outside of the classroom, and many of them are in response to unfunded mandates from the federal government or state government. But some of them have been things that colleges have done to themselves in an attempt to to make themselves more attractive to prospective students. She for better for worse. If your child growing up on Long Island, you're used to having your own bedroom, right? If you come to college, do you really want three roommates? Or do you want a room to your own dormitories and cafeterias were built in the days when students didn't have those expectations. And now we're having to put money into renovating them so that
I heard a student from Long Island once
complained about what's in the, in the dining halls and the dining halls are wonderful. It's not just the blue plate special take it, it's wonderful, you know, and I said, What do you mean he's from long? I said, what do they not have he thought about he said, they don't have to bully you Gosh, you've got me there. I said, Imagine if I saw how many of the kids growing up in the North Country I've even heard of to Bulli much less expect to find it in the cafeteria. So, so yeah. The whole point of this is Yeah, vision, but you really depend on the people who work with you in the college in the university. It's in this is one of the things that I'd be interested to see how your new President thinks about this. But he's a comes from a military background, a very specialized kind of military background. He spent most of it in the Air Force Academy. But the military is a very hierarchical, formal structure with colleges and universities, the successful ones at least, are far more horizontal. I mean, shared governance is not just
something to which we pay lip service. It's it's a fact.
Especially at a school and this isn't the end especially at a school like Plattsburgh when all but about 20 something of the people who work here are members of bargaining units, which have very specific they have contracts that are negotiated at the state level and we have to abide by those everything from raises to promotions to other things are controlled by union contracts. That's not true at UMD. But that also makes it that much more imperative, that successful president at us Dade College like Plattsburgh will engage in a collective effort with faculty and staff to craft that vision.
How much how much of this vision I'm thinking about the student, that's a bully, how much of the vision is limited and guided by and I'll use the technical term here, the stupid crap that students do, right? And I don't mean how much of your time because I can't even imagine that but in your tenure And like I said, I'm, I'm still connected to Plattsburgh. So I finally things in your tenure early on. There was a controversy because a bunch of students got involved in making a porn film off of campus. There was a some students on the newspaper did they drew a racist cartoon that that got blowback, um, there's always stuff going on. And then there's the more serious and heartbreaking things. Students God forbid commit suicide, there's drug addiction problems, there's sexual assault, right? There's all this stuff. How much is the vision of education, defined by limited by controlled by these externalities that all you can do is react to or try to create a safer environment as opposed to control or even nudge?
Yeah, that's one of the most disheartening things that I heard during my time as the President was students saying, I don't feel safe here. I mean, if I can't at least provide them minimally, with an environment in which they feel comfortable and safe, how are they going to learn? Will they want to be here? Why would they want to be here if they don't feel safe? So yeah, that, that those aren't just distractions. Those are things that that sort of focus your attention on, on bedrock questions of safety, and, and comfort, especially when we as I said earlier in the show that we're bringing more and more students here out of necessity from New York City. And they're often students of color. And they're moving to a small town in upstate New York that is 95% white. So So yeah, those things, those things challenge and in the bedrock in And incidents like the ones you've described, I won't say social media exacerbate them. But social media reduces the amount of time that people have to respond to them and deal with them. And I'll give you a less harrowing example. Last February. On a I guess it was a Wednesday they were predictions of an ice storm that night and the next morning I went to bed early because I had to get up and drive to to a state penitentiary to give a commencement address to a roomful of GED inmates and so I knew it was going to take a while to drive so I went to bed early. Well, apparently while I was asleep, say between 10 and five in the morning. A couple of students collected over 3000 signatures on an electronic petition demanding that I cancel classes. That's 3000 students in about six hours overnight. They weren't all students. But nevertheless, it gives you an idea how quickly these things can. Can. It's almost like spontaneous generation. And same thing with with racist Snapchat, pictures and videos and so forth. The outrage is immediate, because it's it spreads across the campus and in the community like wildfire because of social media. We also had an incident last year in which I guess it was a snapchat picture, not snap, but some sort of Instagram video, a picture of a couple of white women students in blackface. And immediately there are people in the campus who saw this, promulgated it puts senator around and saying here it is Plattsburgh again racist, racist and that the place was about to erupt again. And our police, thank heavens we have a bias response team and they got to work on this right away and found out that, indeed these two people were from another school altogether, they had nothing to do with Plattsburgh. But the match was lit and ready to apply to the Tinder. I mean, it was. It could have exploded in our faces again, and this is in a matter of three, four hours from beginning of this episode until, until we were able to say they are not our students. This is not in
class. And virtually everything that you've described has happened in one form or another in the last couple years that you end the petition thing happened last year at a blizzard. We've had a bunch of Snapchat incidences, although they were u and D students. And that's just par for the course. So so we're running out of time and I just want to ask, I wonder if you'd say to the community, imagine that you're talking to the legislature. What do you say about the value of a university education from the perspective of the presidency to people who experience of schools and universities is largely negative, largely critical, or at best, having to do a lot of homework and put up with professors that they didn't particularly enjoy. How do you justify in the modern world in the face of the constant negative attention? What the university does? And how do you make a defense for it in a way that moves people to maybe increase public funding, maybe increase donations, but give the university the credit and the authority and the legitimacy that I assume you think it deserves?
I do think it deserves and i'm, i'm
i'm disheartened when I see these polls that suggest that upwards of 60% of the American electorate no longer believes that a higher education is necessary no longer really trust college. in universities, and how we've come to this point, I can't say maybe has something to do with how much it costs to send children to school in the United States and the perception that faculty are overpaid prima donnas, who are coddled and given lifetime appointments, when the rest of the country has to has to scramble to make a living.
I don't know, you know,
you think of something else in a minute, this is not an answering your question, but I was driving back from Montreal is coming through at the border coming through into the United States and the guy in the box. He says, what do you do? And I told him, he said, Oh, he said, I have a degree in criminal justice studies from Plattsburgh. And then he proceeded to keep me there at his window, to tell me about all the professors that he thought jerks, and I'm looking in my rearview mirror at the cars file lining up behind me. I say is this guy gonna let me back into the country? But he eventually did so but he just wanted me to know who it was. And he thought we were on the faculty who were bad news. And I said, Thank you for sharing that it's been improved away. But how do you communicate that? I think legislators by law, well, first of all, they all went to college themselves, almost all of them have decrees, they understand the value of that education. They know that they wouldn't be there in that seat in the legislature had it not been for the back, they went to college. So they know that, at some level, they also know that all those Economic Studies that that demonstrate that college graduates over a lifetime make more than high school graduates do whatever. And I suspect they also appreciate although it's hard sometimes for them to acknowledge this. The intangible Benefits of a college education. The fact that people with college degrees live longer, and they tend to be healthier than people who don't, that they pay more in in state and federal income taxes over a lifetime. So their support for whatever the agents of government are is greater than it would be if they weren't. They know this. in their heart of hearts, sometimes it's it's a legislator telling me that I wish we could do more for you because you're worth it. But we can't. Rather than saying we don't like you go away. You always come to us with your handout.
it's a graying population in New York, which is less concerned now with higher education than it was when they had children of their own going through colleges and universities here. So they're much more interested now in Medicare and safe streets and good highways, all of which are competing with us for their tax dollars. I don't think that's going to change. I don't think that public support for higher education in this country. public higher education is going to suddenly become what it is in Ontario or Quebec, although I'd love to see that happen.
That isn't the most optimistic vision, but it is a realistic one and one I think that comes from the presidency, in that you really understand how to describe not just the educative elements, but as you call them, the intangible ones, and you understand the political ones, and the political consequences and negotiations as well. And that's ultimately why I wanted you on the show because the fact of the matter is, is that I am limited by not only a faculty perspective, but a philosophers perspective. And that is a very, very different thing. So john, thank you so much for so much for joining us on why jack has been fun.
I wish I could say we should do it again, but I probably won't have anything else to add. You're doing a terrific public service and in doing the show, and it's a lot of work. I know it is for you. And you've been doing it for some time now. And you are the a typical faculty member who's spent his career basically at one institution but has not subsided into a kind of an lethargy, put it that way. You're active, is you ever worse?
Well, I appreciate that very much. I appreciate you being on the show. As I always tell people, most philosophers get one job offer in their entire life. I got this one and I'm making the most of it and that includes getting the people whom I like and respect on the show to talk about their expertise in what they do. So, john netlink, thank you so much for joining us on why. You're welcome, jack. Thank you. You've been listening to john Etling and jack Russell Weinstein asking what it's like to be a university president on why radio and I'll be back with a few thoughts right after this.
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You're back with why philosophical discussions of everyday life. I'm your host jack Russell Weinstein, we were talking with john Etling retired president of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, also former Provost and Dean at the University of North Dakota. I went to college in 1987. And I never left. If I do my math, right, that makes me right now in the 44th grade. And it means that my sense of what a college and a university is, is very colored by my experience and by a career that had a very, very specific trajectory. There are things I can't see, there are things I don't see, there are things I refuse to see. And talking with the university president over an extended period of time allows me to explore and come to terms with those. And it allows me to help explain to folks who aren't immersed in the university, what the world unto itself. University is, it has labor disputes, it has controversies. It has crimes, it has successes and failures. It has hopes and dreams. And too often, the community hears the negative things, or the community focuses on the political alleged brainwashing, or anyone thinks about his donations and alumni and sports and all these things. And as faculty member, I'd like to dismiss those. But a president can't. A president has to recognize that all of those things are part of the equation. All of those things are legitimate, even if they are sometimes horrible, important and essential, even if sometimes they're nauseating. The fact of the matter is, is that a university is a massive project involving faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members, and you'd have to have some Who has a broad vision to negotiate all of that? What does that mean philosophically, it means that our sense of what an education is has to be much wider. It's not just about what happens in the classroom, but how we construct, provide for and protect those classrooms. And that involves a huge range of people with a huge range of jobs from the presidency to the plumber. Sometimes I forget that, and often we don't focus on it, because most of the time when people talk about the workplace, it's to complain. As we go forward, as you think about funding taxes, donating to this radio show, think about the wide range of projects, proposals and people that a university brings to the table, from economic development, to entertainment, from education to a excitement to finding people you love and dealing with people you hate. That's what the university does. As we create a vision for education in the 21st century, it has to be realistic. It has to be focused on what we need, but it also has to be broad and wide ranging. And whether we faculty members like to admit it or not, that requires a precedent. Thank you so much for listening. As always, it's an honor to be with you.
Why is funded by the Institute for philosophy and public life Prairie Public Broadcasting in the University of North Dakota's College of Arts and Sciences and division of Research and Economic Development? Skip what is our studio engineer, the music is written and performed by Mark Weinstein can be found on his album Louis soul. For more of his music visit jazz flute wants to dot com or myspace.com slash Mark Weinstein. Philosophy is everywhere you make it and we hope we've inspired you with our discussion today. Remember, as we say at the Institute, there is no ivory tower.