Friday, April 10, 2009

Protecting university brands

Yes, some universities are renowned for their football prowess and wild parties. But the main proposition of higher education is the promise of a valuable learning experience – the offer of the knowledge and skills to pursue a successful, happy life. If an institution's ability to provide this experience is justifiably mocked, then its basic reason for being is compromised.

...and its brand is tarnished, affecting all activities from recruiting faculty to attracting students.

That's why the University of Colorado has every right – nay, obligation – to contest the reinstatement of Ward Churchill, who was kicked out for unprofessional conduct and then reinstated by a Colorado jury.

From comes word that the university will vigorously fight Churchill's reinstatement: CU's reputation for academic integrity is the foundation for all we do and having him return to the classroom would be an ongoing threat to that reputation," a spokesman said. "We expect higher standards from our faculty and our students." He said the verdict doesn't change the fact that 20 of Churchill's academic peers found him guilty of academic misconduct.

If a man urinated in the spring water sold by a bottling company, he would be fired for jeopardizing the company's brand reputation – and hence business viability. If a professor spoke, acted, wrote and taught with wanton disregard for professional standards, then protecting the institution's brand means dismissing the prof.



Ron said...

Interesting point. I think the issue here is that it's a high profile flagship institution. If this were a smaller school, it would've been taken care of and he'd have been done with a long time ago...

brandsinger said...

Thanks, Ron.
Yes, big universities are boiling cauldrons of politics... and have high profiles, as you say. The process of dismissing Churchill has been slow and complex.

The broad solution is to have many kinds of universities -- small, large, conservative, radical, diversified, homogeneous, Christian, etc. etc. so that each has a clear brand promise with professors who deliver value as defined by the promise.