I have to admit to getting a kick out of this latest thread. A
University is and always will be a University first and foremost. A
business does not grant degrees (with the exception of Subway-U ;) A
University does grant degrees. If you take away the computers and
behind-the-scenes paperwork/red-tape, and you take away the money
changing hands, you still have people coming to a location to sit and
listen and learn and argue. At the end of that journey, they are still
granted a degree.
The University (at least as a concept) still exists even if money does
not. Its like arguing that sports is a business. You take away the
ticket-holders and the concessions and the advertisements and the
television and you are still left with sports. It might not still be
called Michigan State University and it might still not be called the
Detroit Pistons, however people will still gather and learn and people
will still play basketball.
This is not to say that there is no business at a University.
Certainly, people with money have ideas that they want researched, and
so they spend it on a certain area of study, and ideas get researched.
The people with money sometimes make stipulations that they have a say
in what gets reported, and I think here is where free speech may be
Academic Technology Services (or the Computer Center as you may
remember) is part of the University, and we certainly do act as a
business because people with money found a need for a support
structure. But again, you take us out of the picture and the University
still exists. I think this is what all of these kind folks who "come
from the corporate world" fail to understand. The University must run
as a University first, and as a business second. It is difficult to
maintain a business sense in a world where higher-education is the
Tuition is not the only place where a University (such as MSU) makes
money. There are also private donations, grants from private companies,
contracts from private companies, and government grants and subsidies.
Of course as you mentioned there are also miscellaneous fees, and who
knows what else.
I appreciate your thoughts on this matter, and I'm left wondering if
your rant helps me or hurts me as one of the "non-hippies" who works
here (I'm not even 30 yet, and I do not wear tie-dyed anything). I
think it certainly doesn't help me. But what I appreciate is that it
could only be said so openly at a University where there is
*free-speech*. Good luck pulling that off over at whatever company you
work for... for the entire company to see. I think that's why sites
like www.wikileaks.org exist.
Perhaps I am not addressing whatever concerns that originally set you
off, but the meat of your argument seems to be that we are a business.
My whole point is that, while yes, we do have business goals, we are
certainly not a business, we are a University. We are not Michigan
State Incorporated, we are Michigan State University. It should stay
that way for a long time after you and I are gone, provided they do not
make any poor business moves ;-)