Monday, January 16, 2006

What To Do About IU

Many IU alumni are less than confident in the direction Indiana University is going. That unease has escalated considerably with IU President Adam Herbert announcing his departure at the end of his 5-year contract in 2008, only two and a half years into his initial contract with the school.

While many may fault Herbert's leadership style, many of the problems the university is experiencing are institutional and made more evident by his seemlingly weak, low-key style of management.

Steve Sanders, who worked in several administrative positions with IU for a period of 15 years before leaving to attend law school in Michigan, made some interesting observations in an op-ed piece in yesterday's Indianapolis Star. Sanders believes reforming "an organizational structure that inhibits strong leadership" is critical. As Sanders explains:

The president now oversees eight vice presidents plus six chancellors. Meanwhile, the head of IU's flagship Bloomington campus (and its chief academic officer) has little effective control over huge areas of policy and finance: human resources, facilities, computing and research infrastructure.

He also notes that IU's current budget system "encourages some middle-manager deans to build fiefdoms while starving others." He believes the system needs to be changed "so that budgets can be built on common priorities and strategic opportunities."

Sanders' ideas seem well worth consideration by those looking to get the university back on track.

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