2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


RHODES, Dallas D., Department of Geology and Geography, Georgia Southern Univ, Statesboro, GA 30460, DRhodes@GeorgiaSouthern.edu

Presidents, provosts, and deans will not invest their already scarce and dwindling resources in “non-essential” programs unless they are valuable to the institution. What constitutes value depends (in some order of relative importance) on: 1) the financial strength of the institution; 2) the type of institution; 3) the values and priorities of the senior administrators; and 4) the day and hour of the week the question is asked. For any set of these factors, value may be producing external funds from grants and contracts (especially when recovered indirect costs benefit the institution's budget), generating a large number of student credit hours (SCH) at relatively low cost, contributing significantly to the institution's core curriculum, providing positive PR, having wealthy and influential friends, or being publicly engaged in community issues. Value is not simply being good at what you do. A quality product that no one values (e.g., the world's best 8-track tape player or a great 40-year old curriculum) is not likely to have a bright future.

Institutional value can be identified and cultivated by habits of positive behavior. Here are a few to consider. (1) Be entrepreneurial. Like the free market, a university is a large complex organization with opportunities that have not been recognized or addressed. (2) Set goals, especially for metrics used in program evaluation (i.e., SCH production, number of majors and graduates, and retention rates). (3) Be efficient by producing more and costing less. Pay careful attention to the “cost” of the SCHs you produce; there are institutional and national norms against which you will be compared. (4) Provide leadership; instead of resisting change, use the opportunity to lead the way for others. Sharing the products of your efforts with other departments will make allies. (5) Be flexible; in this regard the relatively small size of most geoscience program is an asset. (6) Solve your own problems. Increasing the number of your majors or providing modern instrumentation is unlikely to find a place on the dean's personal agenda. Never take a problem “upstairs” without at least two suggestions for how to address the issue. (7) Finally, use every opportunity to advertise your successes.

John D. Rockefeller explained the secret of success: “Get up early, work late -- and strike oil.” That's finding value.