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August 25, 1964 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1964-08-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


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VOL. LXXV, No. 1 ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, TUESDAY, AUGUST 25, 1964 SECTION 3
ORGANIZING ANARCHY

By KENNETH WINTER
Managing Editor
IT SEEMS terribly simple.
A person wants to learn some-
thing, and someone else knows it.
So they pick out a convenient log,
sit down on each end of it, and
"teacher" teaches "student." That's
all there is to it.
If this classic model of educa-
tion ever did really exist, even
then there were "administrative"
problems. The would-be scholars
had to find an unoccupied log,
decide upon a time to meet, and de-
vise a way to keep themselves fed
and clothed while the intellectual
exchange was taking place. And
chances are they would eventually
need other people's knowledge as
well-which would lead to the
need for books, lecturers or labora-
tories, and the need to find, pro-
cure and maintain them.
Now multiply this teacher and
student by several thousand, scat-
ter them all over the nation and
demand that all the students be
educated. Multiply the knowledge
to be transmitted almost by infin-
ity, so that no man can know

Administration

more than a part of a fragment of
a section of the whole. Throw in
the demand that knowledge be not
only transmitted but expanded
through research.
And finally, require that the
whole operation be run on nothing
but the lackadasical support of a
public more interested in spend-
ing its money on cosmetics and
Cadillacs than on education. Then
you're approaching the problems of
the modern university administra-
tor. Part businessman, part politi-
cian, part psychologist and part ed-
ucator, the administrator has to or-
ganize one of the most anarchical
operations in the world: the deli-
cate and unpredictable process of
learning.
DOES HE SUCCEED in this
Herculean task?
To an extent, he certainly does.
The modern college definitely is
organized and functioning. Every
year it admits students, holds class-
es, produces research, gets and
spends money, builds buildings and
awards degrees.
But critics contend that the bee-
hive of activity the administrator

has organized isn't education. Some-
where in the process of organizing
the scholars-on-a-log, they assert,
the real intellectual exchange, the
real learning process, was lost. In-
stead, the modern university dis-
penses symbols-grades, diplomas
and other citations-which are sup-
posed to represent education but in
fact replace it, becoming ends in
themselves-and real education is
lost in the shuffle.
To meet such criticisms-often
emanating from within the univer-
sity and occasionally from the ad-
ministrator himself--is the creative
side of the administrator's job.
While maintaining a functioning
institution (often an uphill battle
in itself) he must at the same
time seek new ideas which will
bring that institution closer to its
basic purpose.
THE UNIVERSITY'S solution to
the need for innovation within
continuity is the concept of de-
centralized administration. Instead
of all policies being decreed at the
top and passed on down through

the ranks, from president to vice-
president to dean to department
chairman to professor, many of the
important decisions are left to
deans and department chairmen,
with the upper administration step-
ping in to set policies which must
be University-wide.
So in a sense, the top adminis-
trators described in this section
don't "run the University" at all.
The people who make the day-to-
day decisions' which most directly
affect the University undergradu-
ate are the lower-level decision-
makers: the professors who make
the assignments, the deans and fac-
ulty meetings who set requirements
and the student-affairs personnel
who formulate the regulations that
govern students outside the class-
room.
THE UPPER administrator's in-
fluence on the education a stu-
dent receives here is more subtle
and indirect-but also more perva-
sive. Upon his decisions and his
imagination, in the long run, rests
the future of the University.

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