Page 288 - American_Higher_Education_V4

Basic HTML Version

busy. They are not here simply to expand their horizons; their
horizons are pretty wide already.
They’ve formulated their basic philosophy in life. They’ve
decided whether they’re Democrats or Republicans. Their
social sensitivities have been formed. To treat them like 17- or
18-year-olds was not only futile, it was demeaning. What they
needed was the usable part of the bodies of knowledge that
were included in any subject matter that was being dealt with.
CI: How do you define a BA? Granted, your students are
more mature, but don’t they also need some expansion of
their minds?
: Remember, I’m talking about undergraduate study.
It’s only been in the last couple of years that we give lower-
division courses. So all of our students had had their general
education requirements before they came to us. Now that
we’ve begun to deal with younger students, we have a dean
of general education, who is responsible for the philosophy,
the sociology, the English, the biology and the various other
All of our upper-division courses are professional, so we
are not trying to turn out sociologists or political scientists or
historians. We’re trying to turn out business administration
majors, nurses, counselors, teachers.
CI: Don’t upper-divisionmajors also take political
science or economics?
: Not very often. But obviously we have economics,
although we aren’t training economists. We’re training
managers, who have to have the knowledge of business and
accounting. When you turn out a person whom you expect to
be a competent manager, the two years of a full set of courses
is just barely enough, in my opinion.
CI: How do you define a BA for a business major?
: If you look at the
Chronicle of
Higher Education
or various higher ed
“think tanks” or study centers, they have
determined that there’s no consistent
definition of a BA. It simply doesn’t exist.
A BA is what any college or university
says it is, when a student receives a
CI: Couldn’t one argue that there
is some general consensus beyond
anything written in stone?
: No. There is no general consensus.
CI: How do youmaintain standards
regarding faculty, students, grading?
How can you do this nationally, let alone overseas where
you now intend to expand?
: We have a system that is scalable. It’s replaceable. And
it includes standardized curriculum, a method for hiring
faculty, training faculty, including all of the skills we expect an
instructor to have in a classroom, including judging skills and
grading of student work.
Clearly, as is widely recognized by those familiar with it,
we have the nation’s most sophisticated quality management
system in higher education.
CI: How do you arrive at that conclusion?
: We measure everything, and we have won several
national awards for doing so with precision. We measure
faculty performance every five or six weeks. We measure
student performance every five or six weeks. We measure at
least every quarter, the performance of academic counselors,
of financial aid counselors, of the various administrative
officers at each of the campuses.
We took the concept of continuous improvement
and we applied it to our particular industry, which is
higher education. It’s not the same as Motorola, where
they manufacture cell phones and computer chips. But
Motorola in what you would call its soft areas—its research,
administration, human resources—still strives for what they
call “six sigma,” and that’s one error out of every million
CI: But aren’t Motorola’s operations much less complex
than yours?
: I don’t think so. Research, development,
administration—those are just as humanly complex as higher
CI: How about the huge regional differences and
demands in this nation? Can you respond to these with a
single concept?
: I think that in the U.S. we have a common culture. We
haven’t found that the material we prepare for Los Angeles
is any different fromwhat we need to prepare for Detroit or
CI: What about overseas?
: I’m not responsible for that. The president of the
university [Jorge Klor de Alva, an old Sperling friend who
left an endowed chair at Berkeley to take the post this past
February] will be responsible for that, and I’m sure that there
will be a need for localization.
CI: You’ve been to China…
: I can see eventually the University of Phoenix might
develop a land-based program in China. But it would not be
There’s a vast
regulatory mechanism
designed to protect
markets, and our job
is to find a way either
to go over, around,
or, if need be, knock
’em down.