Universities tend to be structural enigmas to the general public and, surprisingly, to a not inconsiderable number of faculty members, students, and staff. Beyond the primary units of departments and schools, lines and areas of authority are familiar to junior and senior administrators, whose business it is to know them, but for others the locations of decision making are often unclear, and the organizational relationships among faculty, administration, and governing board are obscure and without parallel in their experience. Since the nature of what is being administered is an essential background for understanding its administration, some comments on the anatomy of a university may be in order.
A university or college has a structural order all its own. That it is typically incorporated by legal charter in a given state does not mean that it has the structure of the typical business corporation. Quite the contrary is the case. A university is an association of professional scholars and learners; its organization and administration would be more nearly analogous to that of the professional association found in a large law firm or in a medical group practice than in the business corporation. For reasons founded in long experience and tradition, the right to hire and fire in a university is quite limited and circumscribed, subject to the direction of the professional staff and to the implementation, if approved, by the trustees. A university does not exist to make profit but rather to teach and to enhance scholarship and learning. A university, of course, is expected in this modern day to make the expertise of its faculty—when needed and when possible to do so—available to solve immediate, emerging problems of society, but problem solving for society is not the first priority of its existence. The university is therefore an organization designed to take the resources made available to it and, rather than hoard them, use them as effectively as possible for achieving its central purpose.
In a business corporation the administrator is almost solely responsible for the entrepreneurial function. That the academic administrator, whether he be head of a department, dean of a school, or president of a university, has some entrepreneurial responsibility none can deny; the welfare of a department or school in a university may be advanced by a carefully planned program of development utilizing the available resources of manpower and equipment. Planning and dreaming of future development are essential. However, in a university the entrepreneurial function is not exclusively the responsibility of the administrators. That responsibility is shared by each and every member of the staff, without exception; and since so many capable men and women must shoulder the load, the resultant program should be unusually effective.
An institution of the special nature or particularity of a university logically requires a type of administration adapted to its structure. In my experience—which incorporates experience as an administrator of business as well as of a university—the role of the university administrator bears no resemblance to that of a corporate head. Therefore a quite different set of general principles should guide the day-to-day function of the academic administrator and should create the state of mind with which he approaches his work. I would emphasize, however, that while the principles remain the same they must be interpreted in different eras through the personalities involved and the society in which the university functions. No two administrations can be alike because of these differing circumstances. I can illustrate this point with a bit of background information about President Bryan’s administration, mine, and then the present one.
My predecessor spent his life as an administrator in a university that was growing, and growing rapidly, but that was still much smaller during most of his period than the university I inherited. In his case, as in every case, the administrative responsibilities were distributed, not so much according to some magic in an organizational chart, but according to the talents of the people who were part of the general administration. John W. Cravens, whose titles under President Bryan were secretary of the university, secretary of the trustees, and registrar, would have been labeled in a modern-day organizational chart an executive vice president. U. H. Smith, the bursar, was also charged with maintaining administrative liaison with the university units in Indianapolis and with the Indianapolis business community. Ruth McNutt, the president’s executive secretary, performed many functions beyond those typically associated with that position simply because of her vast experience and great capacities. The librarian, William A. Alexander, possessed talents and interests that involved him in public relations and fundraising for much of this period. Frank Elliott, head of the News Bureau, performed many public-relations functions that would now be assigned to a public-relations vice president.
President Bryan had as a central objective the creation of a true university structure. That meant, in the first instance, making sure that Indiana University had the medical school and the other medical sciences in its orbit.1 It meant also creating a number of professional schools such as Commerce and Finance, Education, and Music. Dr. Bryan felt that the university had been, prior to his inauguration, for the most part a large teacher’s college with most of the emphasis and energies of the university directed toward the production of teachers, a worthwhile purpose but still a limited one and one that could not meet the needs of the burgeoning economic and industrial expansion of the state in the first third of the century. So he undertook to create the new professional schools that would provide the skeletal structure of a university.
When I came to the presidency I inherited that skeleton, a sound skeleton, and during most of my administration our central purpose was to grow in strength and depth rather than in breadth. We resisted the creation of any new professional schools that were foreign to our nature such as engineering and agriculture although we could have justified these additions. In fact, engineering schools are in all separated state universities in the United States other than ours,2 but we thought that this was Purdue’s field and that Purdue should develop it. The only professional additions during my period were the Optometry Division, which fitted in with the health-science rubric, and the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, which had become so large an appendage to the School of Education that, for administrative reasons, it seemed wise to spin it off into a separate administrative unit. Persons interested in that profession and the School of Education faculty agreed to the change. We availed ourselves of the opportunity to take into the university family the Normal College of the American Gymnastic Union in Indianapolis, which had to find an accredited university affiliation in order to survive and to carry on its valuable work. One further change in our structure originated from the law school, our oldest professional school. A proprietary institution in Indianapolis, named the Indiana Law School, had violated American Bar Association (ABA) standards and was in danger of losing its approved status. Its graduates would then have been ineligible to take the state bar exams. Representatives of the ABA approached the dean of our law school, Bernard Gavit, about the possibility of having an evening law school in Indianapolis. By agreement of the parties concerned, we acquired the Indiana Law School and made of it an evening school of high quality, linked to the law school in Bloomington but geared to part-time students. Dean Gavit’s sure and judicious leadership was a significant factor in bringing this about.
Another underlying condition that had an important effect upon my administration was the rapidly growing economy and the steadily advancing industrialization of the state. These lent urgency to the need for research. Thus when federal funds for research and graduate studies became available, we were in an advantageous position to make use of the funds because of the state’s research needs and because of the university structure that we had inherited. Burgeoning university enrollments nationwide forced an increase in graduate studies as the demand for scholars grew. These two influences upon the graduate area—research, which required research assistants, and a greatly enlarged undergraduate population, which required teaching assistants—accelerated the development of Indiana University’s graduate school.
The present administration has to work in an entirely different setting. In the first place, the university has grown enormously in size. The regional campuses have come of age and the university has become a multicampus institution in the truest sense, whereas during my time the regional centers were small, effective units within a community and, at their stage of development then, could be administered from the center. Now an entirely new kind of organization is necessary, one that President John Ryan has brilliantly achieved. Moreover, in recent years, the state’s continued growth in population, industrialization, and political complexity has placed new demands upon the university. But the most overwhelming and the most striking of all of these changes with which the present administration must labor is the great proliferation of federal and state legislation affecting universities, which restricts the flexibility of administrators. The restrictions make it impossible for them to take initiatives and seize opportunities as we were able to do. Also, the horrendous growth of both state and federal regulations circumscribes nearly every activity of the university—certainly every activity having to do with personnel and financial administration. Now, with the creation of the Indiana Higher Education Commission, even the introduction of new courses in long-established fields or the dropping of old ones is controlled. Moreover, social forces have had profound influence on the curriculum. For example, the women’s movement has led to a program in women’s studies; the heightened sensitivity to the special needs of minorities has caused the introduction of Afro-American studies and Chicano-Riqueño studies; and the demand for better health care has placed enormous pressure upon the medical sciences to offer new specialties.
These random illustrations of the way in which administrations are subject to the conditions prevailing in their times are intended mainly as a caveat to precede my observations about administration generally: First, in a university organization the simpler the administrative structure the better. One might express this principle in Jeffersonian terms as the least administration is the best. I do not mean to imply, however, that the small, everyday housekeeping problems of operating an institution should not be well and efficiently discharged by administrative officers. Inability to take care of the details of the organization creates many irritations, and faculty and students have every right to be freed of those by the efficient working of the administrative staff.
Second, academic administrators need to try to cultivate the ability to lead rather than command. The house of intellect is by nature averse to orders. Besides, one cannot command spirit, cannot command learning, cannot command an atmosphere; but one can, with the proper leadership, contribute to the nurture of all of these. The corollary of this principle is a point that bears repetition: administration is not an end unto itself. Administrators should remind themselves that it takes no genius to increase overhead, and in general the simpler their machinery—the more informal, more decentralized it can be—the better.
The most important element in the effective operation of a university is the spirit present in the academic community. In this peculiar kind of organization, the spirit of a place becomes the principal motivator to effective action, and therefore administrators, it seems to me, need to pay greater attention to spirit than to statistics. With the right spirit, the right atmosphere, the right ambience, nearly all things become possible in the learning process, which is the central purpose of a university. The administration should be a source of information and expedition, not a bottleneck. One of the most important contributions administration can make to the spirit of an institution is to be receptive rather than negative toward suggestions and ideas, habitually to seek how something can be done when nobody else can see a way to do it.
A university president never has all the talents required to deal with his many and varied duties as the leader of an important university faculty. Therefore, he must seek to have around him administrative aides of the highest competence, all of whom, if possible, complement his qualities. In fact, I made it a rule throughout my tenure always to try to attract to the central administration of the university men who I felt had talents superior to mine. That seems to me to be almost a cardinal principle of a good administrator to recruit people as strong or stronger than himself whenever possible. In any large university, the office of the president becomes in miniature something like the office of the president of the United States; that is, it is not a one-man office: it is two, three, four, or five men—depending on the presence of first-rate men, all of whom have certain responsibilities—working together to discharge the duties of the office.
To accomplish all that was necessary, we found personalities as time went on who could be a part of the presidential team, and their responsibilities were in large part determined by their own abilities. Although they did, generally speaking, carry the title of vice president, not always did the title correctly and fully describe each officer’s functions. We simply tried a pragmatic type of organization, to put the people who could do the particular jobs that needed to be done in the places to do them. This proved to be successful for that period and enabled us to meet our central objective. An example may serve to illustrate, as follows.
One of our very important goals early in my tenure was to bring about a more adequate funding of the university. To do so, we needed to gain parity with Purdue and to arrive at a cooperative arrangement with Purdue and the other two state schools for the presentation of the budget to the Indiana General Assembly. The man who took a leading part in many of these negotiations was Vice President Wendell Wright, whose official responsibilities did not include anything remotely related to these budgetary problems, but it turned out that he had a great facility for working with those intermural negotiations. Joseph Franklin, assisted by his staff, was an indispensable counselor and aide in this effort also. The team that we assembled and their relationships with each other worked well for our time.
If one subscribes to this view of the presidency, that is, the presidency being a group responsibility of a number of compatible but complementary personalities, it follows logically that the president must have the right to select his own aides. If he is to be held responsible by the faculty, students, and trustees for the discharge of the work of the president’s office, he must be allowed to surround himself with the kinds of people who can interact best with him and each other and who can form together the most effective and efficient team. In building such a staff the president, if he is worthy of the office, will take into account not only the personal qualities of the individuals but also their sensitivity to and their knowledge of the significant aspects of the life of the university. A similar principle applies to the dean of a large college or school who is selecting his aides. If he is to be held responsible for the duties assigned to him by the faculty and trustees, he should not be handed an excuse for poor performance by reason of having had to work with people whom he had no part in selecting.
Inevitably, an administrator who serves any length of time gains some wisdom about the ways and means of successful operation. Certain of these observations may seem obvious but others, perhaps, are less apparent. The timing in making administrative decisions is all-important; where the problems are difficult and the decisions are controversial, timing is incredibly important. A decision announced at the wrong time can create a disturbance that is unnecessary and that far exceeds in intensity the essence of the issue. On the other hand, the same decision, if reported at a different period, even though equally explosive or difficult in terms of consequences, would hardly cause a ripple. By timing I mean not only calendar but also the general state of mind in the academic community. It is a subtle, intangible kind of judgment that has to be made, but little else is quite so crucial as the timing of announcing controversial decisions. Moreover the terms in which the decisions are expressed are extremely important. The use of unnecessarily abrasive or inflammatory phrases or words can cause a great deal of trouble, generate a lot of heat and no light, and be a handicap to progress or to the solution of difficult problems. In fact, timing and the method, place, and manner of expression of a decision are all part of the same technique.
In my own experience I frequently tested an idea for reactions. When I discovered the reaction would be unfavorable, I dropped the proposal for the moment; yet, if I thought the proposal or idea was important, I simply put it “on the shelf” for the time being and waited for a propitious opportunity to present it. Over a period of weeks, months, or years those opportunities would arise, and when they arose the idea’s time had come and instead of being resisted it was accepted graciously and enthusiastically. Had one pushed them originally by sheer strength or pressure, they might have been accepted, but there would always have been attached to them a certain stigma that would have handicapped their effectiveness. With a little patience and time, the idea could be brought forward without risking that handicap.
One of the best ways administrators can contribute to the atmosphere or the spirit of a university community is to dedicate themselves to the never-ending search for talented faculty members and to their retention. This means that the administrator must support the work of a talented man in both word and deed and, where necessary, with financing and equipment. He must, whenever possible, help a talented man achieve his academic goals insofar as administrative machinery can accomplish that. The university will be the better for having abetted the scholar’s success.
A university can have no greater asset than talented persons who can find in the institution a congenial place in which to realize their own scholarly and personal goals. Even though there may be opportunities to carry on elsewhere—and in most instances there are several such opportunities—they resist them all and spend their lifetimes here. I like to believe that in most instances talented men who do this achieve more than it would be possible for them to do if they spent a good deal of their time and their energies moving around and restarting again and again. Also, I am certain that not only their own rich achievement, which reflects credit upon the university, but in addition their own continued residence here, which leads them to have an understanding of, a true comprehension of, the university’s strengths and weaknesses and manner of functioning, makes them invaluable colleagues in interpreting those factors of the university to incoming faculty members. It also enables them to give students a better sense of the resources of the university and allows them to share their own devotion and understanding of the institution with students who become therefore much more loyal alumni once they go out from the university. Distinguished men who spend long years here become valuable sources of wisdom, counsel, and guidance also for the general administrative officers—for deans, for department heads, and for others who bear responsibility for making administrative decisions.
The administrator should ever be alert to recognize achievement on the part of his colleagues and to express appreciation to them personally and on behalf of the institution. When a good man is threatened by circumstances beyond his control, the administrator should go out of his way to help. I am reminded of an instance that took place many years ago when Herman Muller, the great geneticist and Nobel Laureate on the Indiana University faculty, was summoned by the House UN-American Activities Committee, a notorious, red-baiting congressional committee. Once upon a time Dr. Muller had headed a research team in a laboratory of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., but he left Russia because of the persecution of scientists and the distortion of genetics by the Soviet government. Although he thereby became an enemy of the Russians, he was nonetheless considered by some anti-Russians in America to be farleft-wing. Dr. Muller was less perturbed by the summons than was his family, whom it filled with fear. But when he came to my house to inform me, he seemed nervous and agitated, and I quickly assured him that he would have the full backing of the university. We asked the university’s Washington lawyer, Douglas Whitlock, who had many congressional contacts, to make himself available to Dr. Muller before the questioning. There was, however, really insufficient time for Dr. Muller to seek much help if he had wished it because he had a speaking engagement in Boston just before the hearing—a speech about the suppression of science in Russia. However, Dr. Muller made a brilliant appearance before the committee and created such a favorable impression that they complimented him on his views. He returned home in triumph and, I am certain, grateful for the fact that he had carried with him to Washington the full backing of his university.
Instances of this sort, usually less major and dramatic, occur frequently in the day-by-day work of the university. In my judgment they present to the administrator an opportunity that should not be overlooked to demonstrate to the members of the faculty that the university administrative structure truly believes in the supreme importance of academic freedom and values top scholars over all else.
One of the great joys of life in a university community is the presence of many strong personalities, and these can be extraordinarily varied and can exhibit many eccentricities. An early university mentor of mine, U. G. Weatherly, always alleged that a university faculty needed to have a rich ingredient of faculty eccentricity—the more the better—as only thus did one have the color and excitement of really extreme points of view and attitudes. There are likely to be many people with unusual behavior in any large faculty—eccentric by ordinary standards—simply because the man who prepares for the life of scholarship and teaching is by the very nature of his vocation a person who likes independence of thought and action. He is the very antithesis of the organization man, the conventional man, the Madison Avenue type, the gray-flannel-suit kind of person, and he exhibits this difference frequently by his informal style of dress, his individuality, his behavior in many respects. I believe that an administrator should not only tolerate this idiosyncrasy but accept it and rejoice in it. He must never let a man’s personal quirks obscure his true worth, scholarly distinction, or the contribution he may make to the collegial life of the academic community.
A great faculty is never homogenized nor does it have the characteristics of the organizational stamp. A faculty is an aggregation of individualists and should be accepted as such, and that individualism should be utilized to the nth degree insofar as it is possible for the administration to do so in achieving the university’s ends.
The university as an institution should stand for and in support of all that is best about which men have written and thought and produced in times past in philosophy and literature, and in art, music, and science. The university should be an upholder of the best of its inheritance and in so doing should serve to inspire such standards of thought and conduct. But the past should not be used as an excuse to inhibit the development of new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new ways of expressing artistic and aesthetic values in current society. The members of the university community must exemplify these values. Therefore, the quality of their lifestyles, of their basic integrity, of their commitment to the truth even when it is unpopular and to ideals of scholarship is of paramount importance. They are ideally a community that is humane and is concerned with every segment of society, that believes in the dignity and the worth of every individual and is concerned with the quality of the community, its environment, its health, its hospitality to talent, and its opportunity for aesthetic development. These ideals should not be espoused as dogma but rather in terms of the commitment and belief of the officers and particularly of the faculty who come in regular contact with students. History is filled with illustrations of how great teachers have touched the lives of talented students who in turn have made remarkable contributions to society through a new philosophy, a new insight, or enlightened standards.
Certain other things may be done to contribute to making the university community a good place in which to work, learn, and discover new truth. In a small community an effort needs to be made to provide those cultural facilities that would be automatically available in a large city, namely, first-class art exhibits, music, and theater, stimulating outside speakers, and similar cultural events. In a university that has a fine arts department, a theater department, and a music school, these can all, of course, be an extension and a part of the academic program. At Indiana University we have superb music, excellent theater, and an increasingly exciting program in the visual arts available for our people, so much so that we really need not go elsewhere to receive the aesthetic and intellectual stimulation that such art forms offer.
Of course, an excellent library is of preeminent importance for scholars in most fields, and the additional boon of a rare-books library can stimulate an intellectual excitement on the campus.
A pleasant and attractive campus providing physical beauty which soothes the spirit is desirable, and, of course, good working facilities in offices and laboratories are an important requisite. In a rapidly growing institution it is nearly impossible to keep up with the demand for academic space but when the members of the faculty believe that an effort is being made to provide facilities as rapidly as possible, they are less frustrated by inconveniences and imperfections and less likely to let that factor harm the spirit of the institution. All of these measures are helpful but, to repeat, it seems to me that the first task of the academic administrator is to try to attract and hold the most talented faculty members, encourage them, support them, and then get out of their way and let them go wherever their talent and energy lead them.
Whereas talented faculty members have a right to be relieved of routine problems of housekeeping, as I have mentioned, there must be at the same time an opportunity for them and their colleagues to have a voice in all major policy decisions. Such an input is requisite for the formulation of sound policy and is essential for the maintenance of the esprit de corps of the enterprise.
The spirit of community is further fostered by continued respect for and acknowledgment of the presence of the retired members of the faculty and the contributions it is possible for them to make, not only as functioning scholars, but also in the providing of experience and perspective based upon their lives at the university. It seems to me that an institution is penny wise and pound foolish to discard the rich resource that is the retired faculty. Every effort should be made to give retired faculty members the space in which to work so long as they wish it, to find some funds if needed to assist their research, and to continue to involve them in the university committees that should have the benefit of their backgrounds. In addition, other types of recognition should be given them—in general, efforts to mute the distinction between active and retired members other than the fact that the retiree is no longer engaged in formal teaching. Not all faculty members will wish to have full participation, but all those who do should have that opportunity, and they will, out of their sense of well-being and gratitude, radiate to the younger members of the faculty the assurance that their institution is one that puts the highest premium upon the faculty contribution and does not mean merely to use the man and woman and discard them when they are past some fixed retirement age. A happy university faculty and a happy university community depend in no small measure upon the activities of the spouses of the members of the faculty. One of the joys of the university community is the social intercourse that is provided by informal dinner parties among members of the faculty. The dinners bring relief and relaxation from the tension of work and enable the members of the faculty to come to know each other in some depth, to learn in a relaxed setting more of each other’s activities and departmental interests, and promote thereby a commonality of goals and ambitions for the total institution that is of utmost importance. An administrator needs to be mindful of the role that the faculty wives play in promoting the general spirit of the institution, to show an appreciation of their role, and, wherever possible, to provide facilities for their own group activities through which they may share especially their interests, problems, frustrations, and triumphs.
Campus spirit is, of course, dependent in no small measure upon the reaction of students to their environment, including their teachers, their library, and the cultural and recreational opportunities available to them. Thus, by and large, a sufficiently strong and stimulating faculty can inspire even the most phlegmatic student. Since students learn from each other, I have always believed that group housing, whether it be a university dormitory or a student organization house, can contribute to their learning. I must admit, however, that the potentialities of group living are seldom even barely realized, and there is a tendency on the part of the administrative hierarchy to think of the campus living units as mere feeding and sleeping stations. If this is all they are to be, the university should not be burdened with them; they should be eliminated and the students should be allowed to find their own group associations whenever and wherever they can. Every effort should be made to involve student living units in academic activities even to the extent of having classes held in those buildings.
It seems to me, moreover, that administrative leadership needs to address itself regularly, year after year, to pointing out to unsophisticated and inexperienced students that they have the richest possible opportunity to savor the academic life, more than they are ever likely to have again. Learning is a lifelong process, but on a campus they can concentrate on learning with unparalleled resources of library, faculty, interpreters, tutors, and associates of different backgrounds and experience, and with exceptional access to the arts. All these in the well-regulated and typical great university are more readily and easily available to the students than will ever again be true for them. And so their first and foremost effort should be to plunge into the life of the intellect and of the spirit, to take advantage of the many opportunities at hand. Administrative leadership, itself aware and appreciative of those opportunities, can help to make them clear to the students.
Students are human beings and they like to be recognized as human beings. Therefore it is highly desirable for the general administrative officers to make themselves available to students whenever and wherever possible, not simply as a ritual, but as a means to learn their concerns and ambitions, their views of the institution, and the character of the particular student generation. I do not except the student dissident or adversary. He is usually ill-informed; his challenge presents an opportunity to the administrator to educate him. I discuss student relationships at some length in a later section.
One of the rich opportunities available to students in an institution like Indiana University is the great diversity to be found in the student body: cultural diversity, diversity of economic backgrounds, religious diversity, and so on. Moreover, we have been fortunate through the years also to have on our campus the rich resource of many students from overseas representing the widest variety of religious, political, and geographical backgrounds; for the most part they have entered well into the life of the campus community. Thus any student in the university, regardless of how small or provincial the town from which the student came, can become acquainted with students from various places throughout the world, and through their eyes and through their minds come to gain a new appreciation and new understanding of the world in which we live.
In the first fifty years of this century the American university became tremendously involved in what is typically known as “in loco parentis”—that is, standing in the place of the parent—while the student is at the institution. I believe our institutions went too far in this respect. Perhaps the happiest relationship is the one that existed when I first came to Indiana University: a student signed up, with any luck, for the right courses and did his classwork; if he did not, he was out. In the best of all possible worlds student regulations would consist only of those that David Starr Jordan issued when he was president of Indiana University. He is alleged to have done away with all student rules except two: students were not permitted to shoot the faculty or to burn any buildings. Beyond that they were to find an outlet for their energies as best they could, but especially in the classroom and the laboratory, and to learn from experience about the hard realities of getting along with their colleagues.
Members of the nonacademic staff are important contributors or detractors, as the case may be, to the spirit of the community, and efforts should be made to attract and hold people who plan careers in which they can take pride as supporting staff members, including the secretaries, the laboratory assistants, and those who tend the grounds and the physical plant. One of the great figures at Indiana University for many years was William R. Ogg, who loved the flora and fauna of the campus and continually watched over their development. As a result he earned the respect of the entire community. His own children went on to distinction in academic fields: his daughter was a successful public schoolteacher, and his son became a nationally known scholar and professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin. But their father’s contribution to the creation of a beautiful campus, and hence to an inspiring setting for scholarly work, was an achievement as worthy as their own. One could cite other illustrations of staff members who became nearly indispensable to the life of the university and its smooth functioning simply because they knew their jobs and were proud of them and thereby won for themselves positions of recognition, dignity, and appreciation. There should be an appropriate kind of respect between the academic and nonacademic members of the staff. The nonacademic members rely for a livelihood on an institution in which academic members are essential, and the academic members’ work is dependent in no small measure upon the work of the supporting staff. Throughout the administration, throughout faculty ranks, throughout the staff, there should be proper concern for each other’s welfare and for the total goals of the university.
Members of the nonacademic staff have a rich opportunity to influence and encourage students. A cheery greeting or helpful information given by the front office is a great booster to student morale. An encouraging word from a dormitory maid or cook has helped many a homesick freshman to overcome his depression. Recently I was on a cruise ship that had a courteous, skillful, and cheerful crew from the captain to the room stewards; it was a happy ship radiating a sense of well-being that enhanced the enjoyment of every passenger. A similar atmosphere is needed in a university. The junior administrative and secretarial staffs and receptionists can play an indispensable role in making the university operate as a happy ship radiating a sense of respect and belief in the academic enterprise.
The president must find some time to devote to alumni affairs. The alumni have a right to expect him to assist in their organizational activities and to report to them on the state of the university. In turn, through the alumni machinery or from individual alumni, he can receive valuable comment and criticism about the operation of the university. As a group, alumni are the people in the body politic of the state who would normally be expected to have the greatest interest, an informed interest, in the welfare of the university and be able to serve the university as good interpreters of the state’s needs. They would have knowledge of the university’s capabilities or lack of capabilities, so the university president must find some time for them. Because their achievements represent the fruits of the university’s efforts in teaching and learning, the quality of their careers is of utmost importance to the university’s standing and claim upon society for continued support.
The president must find some time also for the various publics that constitute the normal university constituency, such as the teaching profession, the legal profession, the medical profession, the organized business community as represented by the Chambers of Commerce and the Manufacturers Associations. He must find time for the farmers, as expressed through their organized farm organizations, and, in our industrial society, for the labor unions as they represent the aspirations and needs of the industrial worker. All these groups have legitimate claims on the president’s attention and contribute to the exacting, demanding, and time-consuming nature of successful job performance on his part.
The preceding pages constitute a personal statement that represents my own view of what I have found by experience to be successful. Not always, perhaps, did I live up to these principles in their entirety, but I can truthfully say that I fully believe they are essential for a happy and productive career as an academic administrator. I have tried to write about the role of administration as I interpreted it in my years in the presidency from 1937 to 1962. If I were to become president again, I would still try to adhere as closely as possible to these principles, priorities, and practices. So far as Indiana University is concerned, the role of administration has since then been greatly modified and complicated by the vast proliferation of government regulations, federal and state. These, of necessity, have increased the size of the administrative staff. In fact, they have made an extraordinary increase almost mandatory, and the cost of meeting all of these state and federal regulations is a considerable portion of the rapidly increasing costs of higher education.
Indiana University, now that it has become truly a multicampus institution, requires a whole variety of new administrative techniques and procedures. To cite a simple example, if the president wishes to speak to all of the university’s faculty and students simultaneously, there is no way for him to do so except by television or radio. Another modifying factor in the practice of administration in this institution arises from the more frequent sessions of the legislature. The Indiana General Assembly now has an annual meeting, and at least every other one of these extends over a longer period than was the case in my day. As a result, the general administrative officers of the university have little time between sessions of the General Assembly to concentrate on academic matters. Instead, they must always be adapting to the changes made necessary by legislative action at the conclusion of one session while preparing their presentations to the next sessions. The situation is further complicated by the fact that we now have an Indiana Higher Education Commission, which is given great power and authority to coordinate the work of the state institutions. This development has meant in practice that budget presentations particularly have to be prepared far in advance and be given hearings in the Higher Education Commission and the Budget Committee of the General Assembly before the all-important hearing in the General Assembly.
I served as president of the university for a quarter of a century in part because I believed that frequent changes in the top leadership of an institution typically were disruptive and detrimental to the realization of long-range goals. I hope my judgment was correct at that time in the life of the institution. The history of American higher education will probably substantiate my opinion that the American system of extended tenure for the president and his colleagues is more appropriate to our nation’s institutions than the European system of two-to four-year terms for top administrators would be.
Holding to this belief in the value of long-term tenures for top administrative officers, I have generally felt that a president is obligated to serve a substantial period of time even at the loss of what he might consider other, better personal opportunities. But I realize that there are circumstances in which a change of leadership, even after a short incumbency, would be beneficial, and so the time, the place, and the type of institution are the determining factors.
During my administration I refrained from accepting board directorships in reputable corporations that occupied a competitive position. I would have liked very much to have accepted some of the offers I received because I would have found the experience interesting. I refused such invitations for two reasons: one, a competitive company of any size would have Indiana University alumni in other companies competing with it, and it seemed unfair for me, in my position, to favor one over the other; two, I felt that the university was paying me adequately for my services and that therefore I owed the university all of my time with the exception of the time every citizen in academic work or any other owes to community services—those community tasks that have to be performed in the field of education in the local communities, in the state, and in the nation. These are typically volunteer, nonsalaried responsibilities. I did accept membership on one important board, however, that of the Indiana Bell Telephone Company. In the first place it was noncompetitive and in the second place in that position I would be representing one of Indiana Bell’s largest customers. I consider this an enlightened kind of consumer policy established long before such policies were being advocated by organized consumer groups.
I tried to speak only where I thought it would be to the benefit of the university regardless of the size of the fee offered. It was my practice never to accept a fee for speaking to any organization in the state. In a few instances where other universities insisted that I accept a fee, I gave the fee back to them to use for scholarship purposes. I likewise made a practice of giving to the university any honorarium that I was paid for an out-of-state speaking engagement because I felt that I was using university time for the speech. Fellow university presidents for whom I have the highest regard followed different policies. For example, some of them accepted membership on boards of large, national corporations; they did so not only for their personal interest but possibly because they felt that the prestige of such a position would reflect favorably on their own institution. I have no doubt that in most instances they were correct in their judgments. I therefore feel that my policies were appropriate to Indiana University and to my own style of operation and do not necessarily represent guiding principles for others in other times, here or elsewhere.
Finally, after I had served for a good many years in the presidency and had gained a host of friends throughout the state, political leaders tried to interest me in running for high political office—for governor or senator. A particularly strong appeal was made to me at the time I stepped out of the presidency after twenty-five years during which, I suppose, my name had become something of a household word. I refused all such invitations because I thought it would be improper and unfair to the university constituency for me to use this widespread voter recognition for the benefit of either political party. Particularly I felt that it would inevitably, in this state, give a partisan political tinge to the university that would be detrimental to its welfare. I also felt that I would be using the prestige that the university had given me for my own career.
My attitude and policies are not universally applicable. I can think of many instances where the willingness of a university president to stand for high political office was good for the institution and for the country. Frank Graham served in the U.S. Senate and the United Nations brilliantly after he left the presidency of the University of North Carolina. William Fulbright was an excellent president of the University of Arkansas, but I think any observer would agree that his willingness to serve in the U.S. Senate was a great public service. No one would maintain that Princeton was injured by Woodrow Wilson’s political activities, I believe, or that Columbia was made less by the successful candidacy of General Eisenhower or by his final great service to his country as president of the United States. So, here again, the type of institution, the period, and the special circumstances in each instance have to be the governing factors.
ON BEING PERIPATETIC AND PRESENT AT THE SAME TIME
Early in my career, in some mysterious fashion, I seemed to have a total vision of what I hoped the university could become in my time. With this to guide me, all my activities were undertaken with the thought and expectation that they would be of benefit to the institution as it moved toward what I believed to be its manifest goals.
My whole being was concentrated in this work; yet, like any great opportunity, it was so challenging that extraordinary effort was not only possible but exhilarating. The refreshment received in turning from project to project dispelled the tedium. For that reason I did not require the usual forms of regenerative recreation. I could devote myself completely to the effort because I had no family obligations to discharge. Moreover, I could carry on these many outside activities without impeding the day-by-day decision-making process for the university because I had remarkable backup from my central administrative colleagues. The support team operated without personal jealousy or jockeying for individual advantage. Our decisions were made collectively and their execution was assigned to one or another of the group. My colleagues knew what their individual responsibilities were. More important, they knew they would be supported in their decisions and therefore could function freely in my absence. The president’s office in this way was never vacant; there were always people present to make necessary decisions. Even with the backup of my colleagues, I tried to keep in daily telephone contact with my office when I was away. Detailed itineraries and schedules for all my trips were also part of the machinery to maintain constant contact. If I had to change plans during the trip for any reason, I notified my staff immediately and indicated where I could be reached under the new arrangement. Then, upon my return, I shared with the group what I had learned that was of interest to the university. Some of my colleagues were also active in national and international affairs and brought back the fruit of their contacts to share with us. Naturally, from time to time I was privy to decisions of concern to us being made by associations or by government agencies in Washington and we were thus enabled to seize opportunities as they arose.
In addition to having a strong support team with authority to make decisions and an effective communications system when I was away, I was facilitated in carrying on a number of activities simultaneously by careful planning and budgeting of time. The result was a compact, multipurpose schedule. As many tasks as feasible were accomplished on each trip, thereby saving a substantial amount of time and energy. Usually I carried routine mail and other materials with me and attended to them in the course of travel. In like manner, I tried to see faculty members with whom I needed to make contact either at committee meetings or at social gatherings in order to save their time and mine. The piggybacking of tasks and contacts is a useful, efficient device. I also attempted to budget both short-range and long-range periods for specific important tasks and to deal with them if possible in the time span allotted. Of course, I was not always able to meet such deadlines, but setting them helped to impose a discipline on my use of time.
ON COORDINATION AND COOPERATION
It is incumbent upon the university not only to husband its own resources, but also to participate in any plan which would husband the total resources for higher education in Indiana. State and regional coordination and cooperation of effort have been much discussed by educational leaders recently, both in this state and elsewhere. The opportunity for the successful development of a program of this nature is excellent here because there has long existed the friendliest spirit among all of our institutions, both public and private. Distances are not great, and communication and transportation facilities are unexcelled. It seems to me, therefore, that there is no reason why the institutions in this state might not assume a position of national leadership in developing cooperatively a plan for higher education which would ensure the elimination of unnecessary overlapping and duplication and allow each institution to draw upon the specialized facilities of the others. More important, the successful operation of the plan would mobilize the resources for higher education, and in so doing would provide the maximum benefit for our youth and for society. In the development of such a plan, Indiana University should be ready to make any necessary adjustments in its own program, deterred neither by tradition nor by institutional pride.
H. B Wells, Inaugural Address, December 1, 1938
Consistent with this statement of policy, throughout my years of responsibility for administration I have been motivated by a strong belief that the resources of higher education are so insufficient and the opportunities and responsibilities so vast, the only sensible course is to attempt in every way to avoid unnecessary duplication among or within institutions. Several examples of this practice, some also cited elsewhere, follow.
When I was dean of our business school, Dean A. A. Potter of Purdue and I tried to work out a coordination of curriculum in the offering ofbusiness and engineering between the School of Engineering at Purdue and the School of Business at Indiana. While the attempt was unsuccessful, it was nevertheless an early illustration of my belief.
The Indiana Conference on Higher Education, which Indiana University helped found in 1944, had for its first objective the utilization of all collegiate resources in the state to ensure that returning Hoosier veterans who qualified would have an opportunity to go to college at the conclusion of World War II. Through the years the conference has attempted to stimulate coordination and cooperation and avoid proliferation and duplication wherever possible. The cooperative budget and allocation of areas of responsibility among the four state institutions (described in chapter 10) is another example. Of course, we at Indiana University had as a primary objective in this effort breaking the straitjacket of parity that had been so disastrous for our institution, but breaking parity was important also for the other state institutions if they were to follow their natural lines of development. The parity could not be arrived at in any sensible way without delineating individual areas of responsibility and respecting that delineation in the policies of the four state institutions. In my judgment this arrangement has served all four fairly well.
Further, in our regional campus policy through the years we sought to avoid a proliferation of new units, taking into account the offerings of the private colleges in the state and the branches of the other state institutions. Two ventures in coordination on the regional basis resulted in the Midwest Inter-Library Center (now the Center for Research Libraries) and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.
Early in my administration, the Council of Ten, an organization of the Big Ten university presidents, began to consider the possibility of creating a midwest center for the storage of little-used materials from the libraries of the member institutions. The council thought that, by grouping a great amount of little-used material in one place, not only would space be freed in the badly crowded library stacks of the individual institutions, but in addition the library might attract scholars whose research would be expedited by this concentration. In time the concept was broadened to include subscriptions to certain rarely used documental series that would then be available to any member institution.
A practical scheme for library loans was developed so that it was possible for an institution to receive requested materials within two days, thereby reducing the inconvenience to campus scholars caused by the remote storage. When the program had been worked out in considerable detail, ground made available by the University of Chicago was agreed upon for the location of the library because of its geographical centrality among the Big Ten institutions. Outside funding of the construction and equipment had to be sought, as the individual institutions could not legally contribute from their own construction funds to build an out-of-state facility. On the other hand, the cost of operating the facility could be defrayed by the individual institutions from membership or user fees. To solicit funds for the buildings, we approached the Carnegie Foundation and Corporation, which were then interested in promoting coordination among institutions in the interest of reducing costs and increasing efficiency. The initial contact by letter resulted in an invitation to send representatives to the Carnegie office in New York to make a presentation of the project. Robert Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, and I were selected for this mission. In due course we traveled to New York and made our presentation to the principal administrative officer of the corporation. At the conclusion of our conference we received verbal assurance of favorable action, and Bob and I went on our way rejoicing. I remember riding up Fifth Avenue in a taxi with him as we congratulated each other on this interinstitutional effort. This was my first participation in making a request to a major foundation for private funding, an experience that I of course was to repeat many times in the years following.
Once in the early years of my presidency and of my service on the board of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, I was at the Carnegie office in New York speaking with James Perkins, who was then vice president of the corporation. During the course of that conversation he remarked that whenever he read in the newspapers anything about the Council of Ten, it had to do with some athletic matter. He asked, “Don’t you ever discuss education?” A bit stung, I quickly replied that we spent most of our regular meetings discussing mutual problems in education. However, the character and bylaws of the Western Intercollegiate Athletic Association, popularly called the Big Ten, relegated certain questions to the presidents for decision. These matters were first on our agenda and, having rather quickly disposed of them and released the result of our actions to the awaiting press, we then turned to our mutual academic problems. He kept pressing: “Well, then, why don’t you have some publicity concerning your discussions? Your ten institutions carry a lot of weight, and any pronouncements of the presidents as a body on educational issues would be not only interesting but useful and important in promoting consideration of academic policies regionally and nationally.”
My reply was that to give organization and coherence to our discussions we would need a secretariat—a secretariat that would arrange agendas, ask for position papers to be drafted, keep minutes, write reports, and prepare press releases. “Would the members be interested in an organized program of cooperative educational discussion?” he asked. I replied that I thought they would. I was then president of the Council of Ten, and it was my best judgment that they would be both willing and eager to undertake a program of this kind. In answer to his question about the cost of such an operation, I replied off the top of my head, after a moment’s hesitation, “For a five-year program $250,000 or $50,000 per year for five years.” As the council was to meet in a few months, he suggested, “Go back and sound them out. If they’re interested, I’ll recommend the project to our trustees.”
I related my conversation to my fellow presidents at our meeting in the University Club in Chicago the following December. Their reaction was enthusiastic. As a consequence, during our April meeting at Ohio State University, we organized the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), composed of the chief academic officer of each of our institutions, and set up the machinery by which a formal proposal could be made to the Carnegie Corporation. The rest is history. The CIC has launched many programs such as the Traveling Scholar Program and the Far Eastern Language Institute. It is now nationally recognized as an important coordinating and cooperative device.
Another significant effort of coordination and cooperation arose from a request by the Ford Foundation, when Peter Fraenkel was its representative in Peru, for me to go there to bring the gospel of voluntary coordination and cooperation to the Peruvian University Rectors Association. The Peruvian universities were supported in large part by appropriations from the central government. Regional political influences were pressing for the establishment of several more universities, some of which seemed unnecessary and would have disastrously diluted the funds available for the established institutions. It was felt that if the rectors could agree among themselves upon an allocation of the appropriation that would be acceptable to the central government, that would in all probability be a sounder use of educational resources than an allocation distorted by political considerations. Happily, we were able to agree upon a report that did provide a formula for the voluntary allocation of appropriations and in addition recommended solutions of lesser problems to achieve greater cooperation and coordination among the Peruvian institutions.
1. See Thomas D. Clark, Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer, vol. 2, In Mid-Passage (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973), chapter 4, for the crucial significance of gaining the medical school.
2. A separated state university is one that is separate from the land-grant institution in a state. The Morrill Act of 1862 made provision for federal subsidies to state universities offering programs in engineering and the mechanical arts. Purdue is Indiana’s land-grant institution. In some states, such as Wisconsin and Minnesota, the two types of schools are combined into one.