The University Record, October 29, 1996

THE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH

Editor's Note: This week's issue of the Record includes coverage of the first two candidates for president who were interviewed by the Regents last week and met with members of the community in town hall sessions: Carol T. Christ, vice chancellor and provost and professor of English, University of California, Berkeley, and Stanley A. Chodorow, provost and professor of history, University of Pennsylvania.

What follows are excerpts from Chodorow's responses to major issues raised by the Regents as well as to questions raised in the town hall sessions.

 

By Bernie DeGroat and Jane R. Elgass                         Photo of Chodorow by Bob Kalmbach

 

Stanley A. Chodorow

 

Chodorow is "in love with" the university as an institution and sees universities as "sacred precincts" that are fragile and in which "special things happen."

In explaining why he chose an academic career, Chodorow says he sees a university as "a vessel in which we create and encourage chaos" that "needs to be nurtured."

 

On his vision of the university in the 21st century:
The role of the research university in undergraduate education must be clarified, after having been clouded when colleges became universities, and these universities must "create an undergraduate environment that is research-rich, rich in knowledge."

He calls for "a vast expansion of the ability of undergraduates to get involved in research in the broadest way," as well as an increase in the amount and number of cooperative programs, not necessarily work-related, but interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. "Leaders need broad knowledge and we can provide education in broad and substantive ways."

Programs aimed at developing "high-order skills"writing, critical reading, numeracy, the ability to hear and see criticallyshould be taught throughout the curriculum.

Services to students, Chodorow says, should be "effective and efficient." Students "shouldn't have to stand in line for this and that and the other thing."

They should get information they need "quickly, easily, intuitively . . . because I want them to work really hard on their academic career. And as long as that other stuff gets in the way, it interferes with that."

 

On accountability and outreach:
Chodorow says that while universities can make a real difference, there is a lot of work to be done in gaining respect for and understanding of the U-M, which, like all public universities, is facing cynicism.

"It seems to me," he says, "that the leadership of American higher education, and particularly public research institutions, must try to persuade the public and government about what it is we do, what is of value, how we do it, what are fundamental purposes are, what kind of a contribution we make."

There is a demand for accountability, he says, and the public needs to care about what goes on at the University. "We're extraordinarily accountable, but we haven't succeeded in convincing the public of this."

The president of the U-M must build and maintain good relations with legislatorsnot just during "budget time," but all the time.

"When there is not a hot issue before the legislative body, that's when you have to start building relationships, because ultimately the pressures upon the institution will be strong or weak depending on whether they trust you or don't trust you. It's the job of the president, in part, to make certain that the people who support you understand what you're about and what you're doing."

The University needs to address outreach and go out into legislative districts to teach and learn about the role of the University, paying attention not just to legislators, but to the constituents also.

"One of our great tasks in the next 10 years will be to restore trust, and I have no illusions regarding how hard it will be to do."

 

On the Medical Center/Health System:
Chodorow has had two experiences with medical schoolsUniversity of California, San Diego, and the University of Pennsylvania. "San Diego did it wrong, Penn did it right. You are moving in the right direction."

Penn, he says, developed a health system that incorporated the hospital and medical school, recognizing the "enrollment could not survive without the system." It also didn't want to "spin off" the hospital, fearing that it would drift away from medical education if that were done.

Medical schools, which are central to and critically involved in research, "have to continue," with the school and hospital "integrated under a single vision."

Penn, he says, has created an environment "to train and educate physicians for the kind of practice they'll have," while also conducting successful research, with the hospital profit going to the medical school.

University health systems have to be "put in a competitive mode with respect to making decisions," giving them flexibility and freeing them to compete in the market.

A two-culture system in which academe and business work together "is a daily struggle, but it's worth doing. I'd never recommend to jettison [the hospital]."

 

On access, state appropriations
and affirmative action:

Access is a "great issue for public research universities, that's why they're regarded as flagships," Chodorow says.

"We have to talk to people and persuade them that the state has an interest in providing the best possible education." An understanding with the state on the proper balance must be reached. "It would be a tremendous loss to the U-M to restructure to Michigan students. They are living in a world that's not really national, it's international."

We can't educate them for this world, Chodorow says, if they are educated in "a narrowly defined community."

"An institution dedicated to the education of the leadership of society has to educate people from all parts of society. We must be dedicated to people from the entire range of society because [our] purpose is to make new leaders and new knowledge. We must reach out to serve society."

 

On research funding:
Chodorow says that the shift in federal research funding from basic research to applied research is one of the challenges facing public universities. This has limited universities' resources for conducting research and has forced faculty to spend more time seeking alternative sources of funding.

 

On teaching:
While Chodorow believes that a research environment is the best place to educate studentswhere they learn by doing, not simply by observinghe also places a premium on excellent teaching, not only in classroom performance, but in curriculum development, advising and mentoring.

 

On faculty governance and tenure:
Chodorow strongly supports the notion of shared faculty governance and is a firm believer in tenure.

"The faculty play the central role in the governance of an institution in the sense that the things they do are the most important things that the institution does," he says. "All the great universities are built on the basis of faculty values, which, of course, means faculty activities.

"The work of the university is a knowledge-making work. The most important thing we teach our students is how to make and use knowledge. You can't be a knowledge-maker if you don't have authority over your own ideas, your own direction, your own inspiration or motivation, and that's essentially what tenure does."

 

On research and undergraduate students:
Chodorow believes that it is important for faculty to include students, especially undergraduates, in the process of research. This not only empowers students and enhances faculty-student relationships, but also teaches students the "most important thing they'll ever learn."

Universities, he adds, "must continually rethink and revise undergraduate education to keep pace with a constantly changing world and to better prepare students for an increasingly globalized work environment."

 

On the electronic revolution:
The "electronic revolution," Chodorow says, is transforming the way in which we communicate in academe and business, and is changing the rules regarding the economics and ownership of information.

"In the past, we have treated information as a public good, but information is becoming a commodity. To the degree that it becomes increasingly proprietary, institutions like universities and libraries will have to pay for it. We are going to be faced with very serious issues in terms of managing and acquiring the information we need to do our business."

Chodorow says that universities and their libraries must rethink the definition of information, decide how best to integrate and preserve print and electronic media, and determine where to spend money on information.

 

On Value Centered Management (VCM):
"VCM works to create powerful incentives to raise revenues," says Chodorow, who has had experience with the system at Penn. "It is basically a free-trade system with very powerful protectionist forces, so you need a set of rulesa GATTthat lays out and prevents certain kinds of behavior by deans and schools."

He notes, also, that the central administration of a university must ensure that new budget systems such as VCM make provisions to provide funding for libraries and other central resources.