What I'm Reading, October 27
Thursday, October 27, 2016
This edition of “What I’m Reading” covers a lot of ground, from what higher education can learn from the military and from one of the nation’s premier hotels, why the federal government needs to boost basic research funding, and a role model in doing college athletics the right way. Enjoy.
“Business Backs the Basics”
This must-read Science magazine editorial grew out of the “CEOs and Leaders in Science” retreat convened in California by the authors: my new friend, Carnegie Mellon University President Subra Suresh, and Amgen CEO Robert A. Bradway. I commend them both for their thoughtful call to action. Basic science research with robust funding from the government is indeed critical for our nation's prosperity. America’s largest public and private research universities will lead this work, with institutions such as Robert Morris University benefiting "downstream" as we focus on applied research and preparing students to move in directly into the professional world. (A good example is our NSF-funded work in mobile Internet security.)
“Basic Training for Higher Ed: What colleges could learn from the military about serving low-income students” (subscription required)
A provocative article with two theses: First, higher education can learn a great deal from the military when recruiting pupils from lower socioeconomic strata and first generation students, aka "Opportunity Kids," by using inclusive and aspirational messaging. Second, colleges and universities should also take a close look at the scaffolding the military provides its recruits as they adjust to life in the military.
“Customer Excellence: A Goal for Universities”
One of my favorite case studies at Harvard Business School was no doubt the one written about the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The hotel’s motto, "Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen,” has always resonated with me. Gallup’s Brandon Busteed challenges the reader to imagine a world where college and universities accepted a similar charge as they engaged students. Robert Morris University participates in the Gallup-Purdue Index and has successfully demonstrated that our graduates are more likely to be engaged at their jobs and rate themselves better in the five areas of well-being when compared to most other schools. I do, however, disagree with one of Brandon's points and would argue our students are more like "clients" than "customers" in that we advise them on how best to achieve their goals, dreams, and aspirations rather than doing it for them.
“Closing a chapter in his ‘never-ending mission’”
Brit Kirwan epitomizes much of what is right about university leadership in athletics. Smart, thoughtful and courageous, he has led the charge in many of the key changes in sports, which have benefited the student-athlete. I am proud to be a newly appointed member of the famed Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, joining, among others, retired NBA star and U.S. Naval Academy graduate David Robinson and Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson. We are proud to continue Brit Kirwan’s legacy.