The N&O touched briefly on a subject I’ve been curious about for a while: How the recent events revolving around State’s leadership have affected its revenue stream from donors.
“If NCSU can afford to give Mary Easley an $80,000 salary increase, it no longer needs my support.”
Beyond the obvious issues of inadequate accountability and the even more inept management by our “leadership,” this quote resonates to the recent trending of State away from its commitment as a land-grant institution to play “an active and vital role in improving the quality of life for the citizens of North Carolina, the nation and the world,” towards, instead, a major player in the big business that is the modern university.
I understand the inherent need for growth and progress, especially through multi-million dollar corporate partnerships in research, and this isn’t an argument to the contrary. But since I graduated in 2001, it just seems to me that this progress has been realized at the expense of tradition and the increasing alienation of State’s cultural foundation, which is disconcerting.
Many of us give what we can, when we can. After all, beyond the sports, we’re intimately vested in the success of State as an institution, because so much of our identities and personalities – personal and professional – were borne from our student experience at State – the best years of our lives, right?
As a university, I firmly believe that State’s ascent towards being among the premier science, engineering and technology institutions is imminent, and I’m very proud of that. But there’s no pride in being world- or nationally-renowned if it stems from the abandonment of those of us that still say “State” without preceding it with “NC” and still wonder why Tuffy needed a makeover just so we can market a “better” product to some guy in Kansas.
I’m ecstatic that State as a university has big plans on the horizon, but hopefully we’ll find a leadership group that can achieve those goals without forfeiting our identity.
From the realm of ‘great minds think alike’ – Alpha Wolf was penning some comments on this very topic as LRM posted his entry. So, it makes sense to put merge these comments into the same entry here.
Rank and file NC State contributors are none too happy about the shenanigans recently brought to light, and some are voting with their checkbooks, according the the News and Observer today:
For three decades, James Arthur was perfectly pleased to send an annual donation to N.C. State, the university that granted him three degrees.
But last year he began reading about Mary Easley, her pay raise and the university’s handling of the matter.
And he put the checkbook away.
“If NCSU can afford to give Mary Easley an $80,000 salary increase, it no longer needs my support,” he wrote in an e-mail early this year to the head of NCSU’s annual giving initiative. “That the chancellor of NCSU would give such a rich reward to the wife of a sitting governor has lowered my respect for the chancellor and, sadly, for the school as well.”
School officials said in the article that while receipts for this year are steady, new commitments have dropped. They blame the shaky economic conditions more than the Easley situation.
“There’s really no way to measure cause and effect,” [Nevin Kessler, NCSU's vice chancellor for university advancement] said, referring to the Easley saga and its potential impact on fundraising. “That isn’t to say we don’t have an issue and have to rebuild confidence and trust.”
Actually, there is a way to measure cause and effect and it is done every day in corporate America through the use of controlled focus groups that provide accurate statistical analysis for executives to use in decisioning. What Nevin Kessler is not saying is that NC State has not undertaken those metrics, either now or presumably in the past. Such an exercise would be useful to create a baseline to identify shifts in opinion and motivation. In fact, the school teaches how to use these techniques in the College of Management.
In my opinion, this is part and parcel of the ivory tower mentality that hounds NC State from top to bottom. We see it here in the case of the possibility that the Mary Easley issue has potentially affected donations — something that could only get worse if the Easley scandal leads to indictments and trials. We also see it within subsets of the Athletics Department, including the Sports Information Department that is best described as a fiefdom where tribute is to be given to the queen or banishment will soon follow.
Until NC State matures into a modern organization with modern managers who make use of the very tools they are teaching to their students, it will not live up to its vast potential.