USC president: They’re doing it again

As you saw in today’s paper, the USC trustees might, if they feel like it, tell us who their three "finalists" for president of the university are. Then they plan to make their final selection Friday.

In other words, they’re presenting us with the next thing to a fait accompli, with virtually no time for the community (and in this case, "community" includes the state of South Carolina) to react and offer input.

As it happens this is precisely what we told them not to do in this editorial on our June 22 editorial page.

Could it be that they ignored us, again? Naaahhhh….

Since we’re all being kept in the dark, here are my predictions of who the three will be. We’ll see how many I get right (probably none, but I have no money bet on this, so who cares?):

  1. Harris Pastides
  2. Andy Card
  3. A Woman. No, I don’t have a name; I’m just saying one of the three will be a woman.

Yeah, I got the first two from today’s story. Of course, they’re the two who’ve been most often mentioned in the past. But the very fact that we all think we have reason to believe those two are finalists probably means that they were long ago eliminated from consideration, just because the trustees want to rub our noses in just how much in the dark we are, and what little regard they have for us and what we think we know…

14 thoughts on “USC president: They’re doing it again

  1. slugger

    I would have thought that USC would come under the laws that govern state supported body’s.
    When it comes down to 3 people that are being considered, I thought you had by law to announce the name of the three.
    Correct me if I am wrong.

  2. Phillip

    Well, looks like you got 2 out of 3 right. I’m sure there is enormous relief in the university community today that Andy Card is out of the running. Wise, wise decision.

  3. Lee Muller

    I can think of several objections to Harris Pastides.
    Exactly what objections, legitimate or not, are there to Andrew Card? We can skip the objection that he worked for President Bush, because that would not be an objection to Mr. Card, an really childish.

  4. just saying

    Does Card have any actual experience in the structure or running of a University? Without a terminal degree in his field he isn’t even qualified to be on the faculty, is he? And, why introduce pronounced political persuasion (in either direction) to the position when there are lots of legitimately qualified candidates who don’t bring the baggage?
    As far as childish, wouldn’t you immediately label any candidate who served high in, say, the Clinton White House as being a socialist and thus unfit to be a university president because they should be strung up for treason or some-such?

  5. Lee Muller

    I asked for concrete objections, not the empty speculation of those who know nothing about the candidates.
    Having a PhD does not qualify you to run a university. Just look at the inability of Sorensen and his 4 predecessors to control the spending and come up with detailed plans. Each one did a few projects by the seat of their pants.
    Not having a PhD doesn’t mean you can’t run a university. UNC is an example. So is Duke.
    A person who has successfully run large enterprises, like the federal executive branch of government, would appear to be qualified. So would some business CEOs, accustomed to controlling spending through budgets and project management.

  6. just saying

    Why does running one type of large enterprise necessarily qualify you to run a different, entirely unrelated, type of large enterprise? I completely agree that being able to oversee the people who oversee the budget is a definite plus, but the president of a university is also the final overseer of all of the academic issues and very important to fund raising. If someone is available with experience in all three, wouldn’t they be better than a candidate good at only one or two?
    And is USC that out of control money wise? I thought its per student spending was lower than many of its peer institutions? (Anyone have the figures handy on how the per student state funding + tuition/fee revenue increases compare to inflation for the past decade?)

  7. Lee Muller

    Experience unning any type of large enterprise with fiscal accountability is the experience of success, and experience that most college and university administrators sorely lack. They are just in over their heads, and the mismanagement is obvious.
    College costs have much faster than family incomes, on the same order as medical costs in the areas under government control. Medicine has at least seen great improvements in care delivered, while colleges deliver the same or inferior services to those 30 years ago.
    Such cost problems mean mismanagement.
    Good management would not have these problems.
    Yes, I have the price inflation figures for college education overall, and at Clemson and USC, from the 1960s to 2007. I am trying to keep it up to date, because I know the school management doesn’t want to.
    Just look at how much an old dorm room rent costs at USC per square foot. It is more than a new luxury apartment. It’s the same with meals, tuition, books, and a myriad of inflated and bogus fees.

  8. just saying

    Do your numbers include the state support as well, or just what is being charged to the students?

  9. Lee Muller

    It’s hard to get all the hidden taxpayer subsidies to education, but taxes have also been increasing at several times the rate of general price inflation and incomes, so they can’t be good at the schools.

  10. just saying

    Aren’t the state dollars going to the Universities down considerably per student after adjusting for inflation over the past decade or two?

  11. Lee Muller

    Costs to students and to taxpayers have nowhere to go but down, after 30 years of double-digit price increases.
    We need a freeze for 50 years for incomes to catch up. That is not an exaggeration.

  12. just saying

    There have certainly not been 30 years of double digit % increases in tuition (even without factoring in cost of living), and neither have there been 30 years of double digit % increases in state funding provided per student.
    Hyperbole aside, the tuition sure has outstripped cost of living/general inflation by a heck of a lot. However the students who keep a B average don’t end up actually paying much of it at all. On the other hand the state appropriations that actually go directly to the U (as opposed to the students as lottery scholarships) haven’t gone up very much at all.
    In the past decade there have been five years where the raise to University faculty has been less than the COLA given to retirees (including several years of 0 or 1%), and about that many years where there was either a mid-year cut or cut-vs.-the year before in funds available for general running of the various academic departments (for purchasing paper, toner, conference travel reimbursement, etc…).
    Which, I guess makes part of your point about the managing of the money and need for a competent president… should we really be slapping up Innovista at the expense of the general student body (most of who frankly will never come in contact with it), while we let the departments they take classes from every day slowly wither?

  13. penultimo mcfarland

    Well, Mr. Warthen, two of the three finalists are women, and you played the wrong Card.
    But, with a Pastides, a Fouke and a Hockfield Malandra in the running, not exactly South Carolina names, USC Jr. will carry on its tradition as the University of Somewhere Else at Columbia in the Shadow of the State House.

  14. Lee Muller

    Because tuition and fees are so out of control, schools have gotten the legislature to create more lending programs, and grants to students which push the costs onto the taxpayers.
    These are not solutions; they just encourage more bad management by colleges.
    I think Innovista is a ridiculous pipe dream. It’s estimated cost is $5 BILLION, which this poor state cannot afford. There is no plan for developing the research community from the ground up – just gradiose plans for empty buildings. So far, there are no tenants who are the high-tech sorts promised by Sorensen, only a who moved to USC rental space because they got contracts from USC.
    As I told Dr. Sorensen in a public forum years ago, if you clean up the failed research park on I-77 and develop it, then come back and talk about Innovista. If USC can’t do that, then you can’t manage anything larger.

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