ASU Administrative Bloat Part of Higher Cost?

The Goldwater Institute recently released “Administrative Bloat at America Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education“.  It shows that administrative spending per student has increased by 46 percent between 1993 and 2007.  Dr. Crow of course feels this assessment is not fair.  I guess sometimes you get defensive when your nearly $750,000 salary comes into question as waste.

The Arizona We Want Where Doing Takes Ten Years

Dr. Lattie Coor, started a Think Do Tank (Center for the Future of Arizona) after stepping down as president of Arizona State University in 2002.  I never really paid attention, but recently this Do Tank spun an initiative called The Arizona We Want.  It seemed light on substance and heavy on buzzwords, but I was open to being surprised.  I found a podcast from ASU talking with Lattie on the subject and decided to tuned in.

I learned that this Do Tank on day one decided to never tackle more than three issues and to always go after the most important.  Guess what the most important issue they could find in 2002 was?  Poor high school graduation rates in poor Latino schools.

So like all good “Do” tanks they first thing they did was lots of talking.  Years of it in fact.  What did this talking result in?  Hiring a consultant of course.  So they picked out Jim Collins author of Good to Great and hired him to help out.  Now that it is nearly 2010 they almost have that initiative in full swing.

Part of all this talking got them to the point where they found out that Arizona had no Vision Statement.  Of course, this took them until 2005 (3 years) to figure out.  So they decided to start phase 1.  What was phase 1?  Collect all the recent policy report’s (about 50) recommendations and decide what the values of the state should be based off that.

Fast forward to 4 years later, and they have decided that maybe they should ask the people instead.  So what did they do?  Hire another consultant of course.  This time they hired Gallup to help them collect what the people of Arizona want, the citizen voice.  This poll showed that we have a great “level of attachment” and of course this means everything is A OK right?  The Arizona Republic even did a big spread on the report, therefore it HAS to be going in the right direction.

The DO Tank now is going to take the next 18-24 months to talk it over.  At which time I suspect they will hire another consultant to help implement something.  If they wait long enough, the economy might already be in recovery and then they can just take credit for it.

At this point, I am not sure how Lattie can with a straight face consider this a *DO* anything.  I am all about patience and the long term vision, but seriously.. talking for 5 years?  WTF!  Never mind, that good leadership while getting feedback from the people isn’t about letting the majority be the guiding force for all decision making.

So what exactly do they hope to get from implementing this thing?

1. that every candidate for local/state government will frame what they want to do around this report and it’s goals

2. that all arizona organizations will align their goals to this report and it’s goals

3. that creation of coalitions and strategic alliances will form around this report and it’s goals

Well batman, let me break you the bad news.  Lofty goals like that don’t get done by hiring consultants or sitting around talking.  So either re-think your lame ass strategy or get off out of your little “Do Tank” and get to work.

One thing that was overwhelming from the study was that K-12 education needs serious fixing.  Everyone is concerned that graduates are not career/university ready or able to compete globally.  Oddly Gangplank decided to tackle this problem some 8 months ago and already has a number of active programs in place and is heading an East Valley educational summit to accelerate change in the system.  We had the unfortunate disadvantage of not being able to hire a consultant or run expensive studies.

The one thing that I found the most disturbing was that they are looking at ASU to be the primary implementer of change around this study and that they believe ASU will fix Arizona.  I’m not sure when this became the mission of ASU, last I checked they were still struggling providing quality talent to meet the current workforce demand.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.