posted by King Minos in Politics

High, Regents Pick Morehead!

February 4, 2013

Calling his new job “a dream come true,” University of Georgia president-to-be Jere Morehead promised to budget carefully, keep academics a priority over athletics and make serving the people of Georgia the top priority for everyone who works at the university.

It's too early, really, to know just how the Regents went about selecting President Adams' replacement; the King strongly suspects the cronic was involved in deliberations ...!

I imagine, maybe, former Chair Tarbutton passing the hookah; and then maybe the ruler torch when Little Dink began a sentimental version of "Kum Bah Ya!" Hello little Kaolin RR to money in the sky, high!

CLEARLY, though, this selection represents something of a de-escalation of the Regent Civil War, and perhaps an embarrassed admission of wrong-doings, and insistence on burying the hatchet!

But where-oh-where does this leave the Flagship, UGA?

OK, let's go over the big picture once again:

Public higher education spending in GA can improve the standard of living of the state's residents, indirectly; the EFFECTIVENESS and PRODUCTIVITY of the system determines if taxpayers receive a positive, negative or "break even" return on their handsome investment!

The REGENTS, per se, are not answerable for the return on the investments; they are sort of like the members of the Board of Directors at ENRON and Lehman Bros.: Oops!

In fact, this novel selection of a GA long-time native and insider is something of an offering, or gift, back to state residents and political leaders long doubtful about the returns they were getting for their ever rising premiums!

What should Morehead do?

Manage. That is the beginning and ending of the task. A LOT of the movers and shakers at the U have little real practical experience in management. (Instead, they rely on a far flung human resources empire capable of everything from a gentle reminding to a police escort out the door; some are cronies and goons, have little or no regard for education (have little themselves), but continually see higher pay with their promise to "manage" what the academics can't or will not manage ... and this is true for lots of public institutions such as schools; state agencies; etc. It's as though there is a secret army out there, unrecognized by the public or media!)

For instance, if the M&S manages to recruit a high-flying STAR scientist from Vanderbilt, he tells it to the world, and thinks UGA's reputation and effectiveness is at least increased by one scientist who actually knows what he is doing, knows how to get federal grants, or is just a snake-oil salesmen good at generating buzz.

In reality, of course, from a management perspective, good scientists (lawyers; pharmacists; vets; doctors; all of it!) are homegrown, not imported!

Not xenophobia ...! But not GA-phobia, either!

THEN, token payouts to recruits often including new buildings, UNDERMINES the morale of all the other scientists who receive no such consideration or support; what's more, due to the high-flyers sucking all the air from the room, the seed corn can become stunted or simply stop growing all together; it may give-up or get out!

(In some sense, this process has been ongoing for many years; some of the most productive and effective university faculty and scientists have steadily departed replaced by hollow fakirs more concerned with the right media exposure and buzz than the actual pursuit of knowledge and practical applications. In fact, a KEY problem Morehead faces is reassuring top quality faculty that the [filtered word] is over; they are safe to teach and inquire into the nature of things again; without having to worry about some mediamaven air sucker coming to drain the pond of all usable oxygen!)

LIKEWISE, out-sized contribution packages for other UGA employees -- including coaches -- undermines the entire PROGRAM! Again, cooking the books and using shell-game accounting to say lobbying expenses and coaches salaries are paid with "private" funds simply adds injury to the insult on the academy.

The GAA and lobbying operations, formally reintegrated within UGA, proper; this would NOT mean, say, Coach Richt's salary must be cut, to say, that of a Dean; it would ONLY mean, UGA would NO LONGER be in the position of saying spending on sports programs does not deduct from monies avaiable to pay faculty and staff ... SEE, that didn't hurt a bit!

What about athletes who are all walk-ons from the student body, and not "semi-pro" recruits who lack the academic qualifications of real students?

What about public service as a high and privileged honor requiring but subsistence wages? How about work undertaken because of the high calling, and not the high corporate-type salary and incentives?

How much spent to boost the image? Is the substance, then, duly neglected?

Substance more important than image;

Higher education money for higher education: faculty and staff. NOT for lobbyists, lawmakers, ex-lawmakers or even ex-Presidents needing a job; no free tickets, no free rides!

Will the Regents agree to place a stand-alone med school in Athens? No, then send it all back to Augusta!

Can the state afford TWO engineering schools? No, then keep Ag Egr, and send the other resources BACK to Tech!

Higher education is not a jobs program, Gov. Deal! But since you brought it up ... macroeconomic factors in GA and across the nation including trade compacts, capital and labor flows and OTHER things -- like currency manipulation -- have not only short-circuited the direct additive effect of higher ed on the GA economy, it also threatens to force ever-smaller investments in higher education. I KNOW all the little liberals blame the BAD OL GOP for cuts to education: Truth is, it was the loss of trade, manufacturing and production jobs in GA, that really killed that revenue and led to funding cut backs for higher education. Not only that, but new outsized investments in higher education -- absent fixes for the other macroeconomic factors -- cannot improve the GA or national economy! (Hint: Direct more resources at things that CAN boost the economy, and perhaps "rescue" higher ed from the vortex of ever-waning government revenues ...)

Who in the heck, really, decided to create a vast media operation to market the University rather than to spend money to create REAL goods?

As Charlie Sheen whispered in Wall Street: Everybody's doing it ...

Yeah, well, maybe the Regents will allow Morehead to manage instead of running a media circus balanced on an ever more fragile house-of-cards; there is no real cause to believe the attic fire can be extinguished. But why not try?

PS: Delta is ready when you are ...!


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