Academia and business are the two main aspects of running a college, but can they coexist with one another? How well does TCC keep these two philosophies balanced?
In recent years, college professors and faculty across Texas have taken issue with the idea of managing a college like a business, including NE English associate professor Annette Cole.
Cole’s concern with the business side of college management is the idea of looking to make a profit more than anything else and referring to students as clients.
“This is not a business,” Cole said. “We don’t roll out a product, we produce thinkers.”
Cole’s main concern is the effect someone with exclusively a business background can have on college policy and funding decisions, calling for more people with educational backgrounds to be placed in positions of power at TCC. According to Cole, many professors voice the same concern.
“Until we go back to looking at the students who come in as students and not clients, then it will continue down this road,” Cole said. “I cannot tell you how much I hate it.”
TCC board of trustees Vice President Kenneth Barr disagreed with applying this idea to the board of trustees.
“I think the fact that we have a diversity of backgrounds on the board is more important than all of us being a bunch of educators,” Barr said. “There’s nothing wrong with having educators on the board, but I think it works better with a diversity of perspectives.”
Trustee Shannon Wood explained there “would not be checks and balances” if there were more educators on the board.
“It’s a tight balance, because you have to balance your budget,” she said. “You can’t overspend, but you also want to make sure the students are taken care of.”
Wood emphasized that she tries to do what is right for students while doing the same for taxpayers. She said the board does not give money to run the college unless the students succeed.
“Most of the decisions we make are business decisions,” she said. “If we give too much away, the students aren’t respecting it, they’re not going to take care of it.”
Cole referenced those campus management as being unaware of the world around them, saying those officials “don’t see what we see.”
“If you’re hired by the college you need to come in and teach at least one class and experience what we deal with,” said Cole.
Wood, while disagreeing with the idea of requiring TCC officials to teach, highlighted the importance of board members and other administration officials visiting campuses and classes.
“I get excited when people invite me to stuff, because I want to know what is going on,” Wood said. “If somebody doesn’t invite me then I would never know.”
Barr adds he does not spend a lot of time talking directly to faculty members.
“The system is pretty good at bringing that information to the board,” he said.