A more journalistic wrap up of Poshard's interview on WSIU.
Enrollment. The closest thing to news in the interview was Poshard's prediction that overall enrollment would be "about flat". The best he seems to be hoping for is that it will be better this time around than the 300 student decline we had last fall. Marketing, whatever its virtues, isn't going to help us retain students, which seems to be the biggest problem around here (unless, I suppose, marketing can land us more students with more staying power--better students). More on performance based funding, logogate, and Poshard's goals after the break.
Performance based funding. Jennifer Fuller was particularly interested in the State's performance based funding initiative and its possible impact on SIUC. Here I found Poshard's responses rather articulate and well thought out (though I am rather more suspicious of performance based funding than he is). He agreed that all the additional reporting mandated by the new state regulations could prove burdensome. And he tried to respond to Fuller's question about the danger that higher ed would now face a "teach to the test" mentality similar to that in K-12. To his mind, the bottom line was that the new approach would require SIU to take a careful look at programs that were neither producing many majors nor serving the core curriculum in order to make more efficient use of its resources. Program elimination of course is a scary topic, but Poshard managed to avoid reducing everything to economics, saying that when we consider how to get the "biggest bang for the buck" we need also to consider academic quality, and the sort of student we wanted to recruit here. I took this to mean that high quality programs that serve a few fine students might be able to survive even if they are inefficient. I think everyone would agree that efficiency needs to be one metric when we decide which programs to fund; I count is as a victory when an administrator is willing to say that it shouldn't be the only metric.
The BOT kerfuffle and logogate. Rather like the Chancellor, Poshard was more defensive than apologetic on this front--perhaps revealing that our administrators tend to think that they, rather than the BOT, are the ones calling the shots. Poshard noted that the SIU system has had 21 logos in the past several years, and the BOT had never objected before. 21 logos in the last several years. Impressive: does US News & World Report count this toward university rankings? He angrily refuted the foul claim that $950,000 was spent on the new logo, though he did not go on to say how much the logo actually cost (which would seem the logical next step, if one were going to really put that rumor to rest). I'm on record agreeing that the logo could not have cost that much money to design, but of course once one begins to figure in the cost of everything with the new logo on it, if we were to replace everything marred with the clocktower with the new logo, we'd easily spend a million (we spent a million on signage in the last few years, and then of course there is letterhead, brochures, etc.). Poshard, as Cheng, also argued that we weren't spending any more on marketing than we had in the past, but were simply farming it out to the professionals. This is still a claim I'd like to see backed up on black & white, given the contrasting report earlier that we were doubling marketing spending, and Cheng and Poshard's emphasis on our increasing our marketing reach. Just what are the people in SIUC communications doing, if not marketing? Again, I don't hold it as self-evident that spending more on marketing is a bad idea, but I think the administration needs to be transparent about marketing costs.
Goals. Asked about his own goals for the year, Poshard listed some excellent ideas: getting the $17 million to finish the library from the state (which would presumably include money for returning books?); negotiating the best contracts possible with faculty (GAs and Civil Service didn't merit a mention--but I am glad to see that Poshard volunteered this goal, rather than ignoring the unions, which seems to be Cheng's preferred approach); continue the building program--but rather than mentioning the administrative buildings (student services and alumni) or athletics Poshard spoke about the transportation center and the science building (not quite sure what he meant by the latter--perhaps Agriculture?). Finally, he noted that he was very worried about the federal budget, and would be spending a good deal of time, with other college presidents, trying to prevent cuts in federal funding for research or higher education.