20 January 2016

Running a University Like a Business: Burning it Down for the Insurance Money

Current President of Mount St. Marys University, and former finance type, attempted to boot about 5% of the incoming freshman class in the first weeks of class. He called it Drowning Bunnies:
Amid a conversation about student retention this fall, the president of Mount St. Mary’s University told some professors that they need to stop thinking of freshmen as “cuddly bunnies,” and said: “You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”

Simon Newman was quoted in the campus newspaper, The Mountain Echo, on Tuesday, in a special edition that reported the university’s president had pushed a plan to improve retention rates by dismissing 20 to 25 freshmen judged unlikely to succeed early in the academic year. Removing students who are more likely to drop out could hypothetically lead to an improvement in a school’s federal retention data; the deadline for submitting enrollment data is in late September.

Newman, a private-equity chief executive officer and entrepreneur who was appointed president of the private university in Emmitsburg, Md., in 2015, said Tuesday that there are some accurate facts in the Echo story, but “the overall tone of the thing is highly inaccurate.”

“The inferences, the innuendo, it’s not accurate at all — the conclusions one would naturally draw from reading it,” Newman said in an interview with The Washington Post. He described an intensive, multi-pronged effort to improve retention rates, because the school loses 20 to 25 percent of its first-year students. School administrators, he said, want to be sure their customers, the students, are successful.


A professor who was part of the conversation The Echo quoted confirmed to The Post that the quotes were accurate.
(emphasis mine)

"Their customers, the students," 4 little words that show everything that is wrong with corporate management of education.

They call it, "Bringing a blunt, analytical business perspective to the management of the school." I call it arrogance and running their company into the ground, because after this, and the story is on their Wiki Page, (I put it there) they are in for a well deserved world of hurt.

BTW, the way he was running it was unethical and profoundly dishonest:
The Mountain Echo reporters wrote that Newman’s retention plan included administering a survey to all freshmen, with this introduction: “This year, we are going to start the Veritas Symposium by providing you with a very valuable tool that will help you discover more about yourself. This survey has been developed by a leadership team here at The Mount, and it is based on some of the leading thinking in the area of personal motivation and key factors that determine motivation, success, and happiness. We will ask you some questions about yourself that we would like you to answer as honestly as possible. There are no wrong answers.”

But the paper reported on an email exchange that expressed a desire to eliminate a certain number of students, based on the survey results, by the Sept. 25 cutoff date when the university would be required to report enrollment numbers to the federal government.

The plan, the paper reported, sparked strong pushback from some members of the faculty and the administration.

An email from Newman, the paper reported, explained: “My short term goal is to have 20-25 people leave by the 25th [of Sep.]. This one thing will boost our retention 4-5%. A larger committee or group needs to work on the details but I think you get the objective.”

………One of the goals of the symposium was to help ease students’ transition to college, and with this proposal they might be kicking out some students who would be successful.

Newman responded that “there will be some collateral damage.”
This is not only everything that is wrong the increasingly corporate business of education in the country, it is an indictment of business culture generally in the US, where callous selfishiness and indifference are viewed as virtues.



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