[December 9, 2018] There will always be unintended consequences in what we do; even in the most righteous and just behaviors. American colleges and universities have taken great strides over the past few decades to be welcoming and committed to justice for all. Yet, in their zeal to correct wrongs, they themselves have deviated from their traditional mission of educating students on how to think and be better citizens.
For reasons that I list below, accomplished leaders with successful track records are avoiding working with colleges and universities. For example, two retired U.S. Navy Captains recently started a small veteran-owned business. They told me they will not work with colleges because the risks are simply too high. They said that college leaders are bereft of intellectual honesty, overly race and gender focused, and severely lack the moral courage to stand up to what is right.
“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret J. Wheatley, American management consultant
I had a neighbor that was well-known in our neighborhood for sticking his foot in his mouth; funny thing was that he knew it and joked with us about his long-suffering with “foot-in-mouth disease.” Sadly, many at the senior leadership level of colleges and universities lack the same candor and honesty of my neighbor.
Some of the reasons successful leaders avoid doing business with colleges or universities:
- It is nearly impossible not to offend someone, usually a student. If you deviate at all from their progressive-humanitarian thinking, you will be vilified on social media, boycotted, probably sued, and left on your own when the college administration abandons you.
- If you take the common route to explain the best way to be successful as a leader, which is through hard work, merit-based outcomes, and strong family values, you will be publically labeled as insensitive, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. Furthermore, your workplace and home will be targeted by anonymous persons intent on making your life miserable.
- You will be quickly abandoned by the college leadership and staff if you cause offense to any “protected” group. It doesn’t matter how unintentional a mistake or even how complete a business contract you have with colleges, the leadership and staff would rather dishonestly break a contract with you than to experience the wrath of students on the warpath.
What the American college-university modus operandi foreshadows is to drive away those who could be most helpful. This is unfortunate for the colleges and universities and will ultimately assist their slide into a dumbing-down of educating students.
Students will be taught more about “what” to think (a very narrow ideology) rather than “how” to think (about philosophy and science). More and more, these institutions of higher learning are getting the thumbs-down sign from accomplished leaders.