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The Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 46, Number 3 (Dec. 15, 1944)

The $64 question,   p. 11


Page 11

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           THE $64 QUESTION
   Many questions are being asked these days about the next
president of the University of Wisconsin. Without infring-
ing on the prerogatives of the Board of Regents, let's look
at one of these questions 'that deserves special attention' right
now: What kind of president does the University of Wis-
consin need?
   Two facts have an important bearing on this question.
First of all, we must take into consideration the: changes
that have taken place in the president's job in recent'years
due to the University's rapid growth and expanded services.
The University has more than 2,700 full-time people on its
-payrolnand-operates onabudget of A t2 million dollars-a
year. Its operation involves all the manifold problems that
are inherent in an organization of this size.
   Secondly, the job is too big for any one man to handle
alone. Some have suggested that the next president of the
University should be a scholar, an educator and a business
man-all in one. This paragon may be floating around some-
where, but my hunch s that it is expecting a little too much
to find all'these qualifications in one individual. Further-
more, if this paragon does exist, he is very likely holding
down a job that pays three or four times as much as the
salary customarily'paid to Wisconsin presidents.
   In some Wisconsin circles, there has been an irnclination
to seek a University president with all the characteristics
listed, above-plus others. We have sort of taken it for
granted that the president of the University of Wisconsin
must be a scholar, ' an educator, an administrator, a public
speakere and also a bit of a politician. Such practice is
fraught with danger. It produces a tendency to expect the
impossible from the University's executive head. When the
impossible doesn't happen, the critics bring      out their
hatchets. It's unfair to put this responsibility on the presi-
dent's shoulders without giving him the assistants he needs
to carry the -load..
               President Needs Assistants
   It would-seem more logical, therefore, to pick a president
 who has a full measure of one of these characteristics and
 then provide him with assistants to handle the other jobs that
 need to be handled in the president's office.
   Since education is the primary purpose of our University,
 it seems reasonable that its president should be first of all
 an educator. Some may prefer a scholar. Some hold that
 the president should be -both an educator and a scholar.
   Having'selected this president, the next step is to see
 that he gets the assistants needed to do. his job effectively.
 In a sense, these assistants would be vice-presidents, each,
 with specific duties and responsibilities. Without defining
 these jobs too specifically, here are three that seem logical
 in view of present campus needs:
      1. Business manager-to handle the complicated budget
         and business problems that demand expert super-
         vision in an institution as large as the University of
         Wisconsin.,
      2. Director of public relations-to interpret the Uni-
         versity to the people of Wisconsin and to develop
         activities which make the University's services in-
         creasingly helpful to the state.
      3. Educational coordinator-to coordinate the teaching
         facilities of the University so that its students may
         get the highest possible returns from their work on
         the campus; to develop new courses and new educa-
         tional opportunities to meet the demands of our
         changing post-,war world.'
   The president must be big enough to delegate both
                                        lovice-reidents"'.Th
authority and responsibility to these "vi e- residets      . The
president~~ jobs- an executive- job. If he isn'Lbig enough
to delegate this authority and responsibility, he isn't big
enough to be the' president of a great university like the
University of Wisconsin. These assistants will relieve the
president of much of the detail that makes his job so dii-i
cult -under the present set-up. Wisconsin presidents need a
cabinet like this to maintain Wisconsin's leadership among
American universities.
                       $10,000 Men
    This plan isn't worth a darn, of course, unless these
 assistants are big enough for their respective jobs. No
 $5,000 a         year men will do. These assistants 'should be
 $10,000 a year men. If this seems out of line, remember
 that one of our Big Ten neighbors pays its business manager
 $24,000 a year-and considers it a good investment. It
 costs money to hire brains and ability in the University, just
 as it does in the business world. Half-pint executives never
 get results in any field. Fortuihately for Wisconsin, there are
 men on our campus right, now        qualified to hold these
 important jobs.
    Such assistants would enable the president to do three
 things that are all-important to every executive.
    First of all, this plan would give the president time to
 concentrate on the big objectives of our University life; to
 make big plans for attaining. these objectives. This would
 also give the president more time to THINK-and thinking
 is just as important to a university president as it is to the
 president of Allis-Chalmers.
    Secondly, this plan would give the president more time
 for informal mixing with faculty, students, alumni, busi-
 ness and, professional leaders, labor heads and others inter-
 ested in the University's welfare. Such exchange of ideas
 is good for all concerned,- including the president.
    Thirdly, the plan outlined. above would give the president
 greater opportunities for providing the leadership that right-
 fully should come from     the president's office. Leadership
 is essential in all organizations and exceedingly important
 in a University with over 2,700 employees. If proof' is needed
 to substantiate this statement, look at the administration of
 President Van Hise. His inspired leadership brought to the . .
 University the combined support of faculty, students, alumni
 and citizens of the state. President Van Hise. demonstrated
 that every institution is but the lengthened shadow of one
 man. Wisconsin needs another Van Hise as the University
 gets ready to start its second century of service to the people
 of our state.-JOHN BERGE.
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