Being in the Higher Education program here at Warner I often times catch myself wondering what type of position I will one day hold at a college or university. There are so many different areas to choose from and so many different levels of each position. Directors and Assistant Directors, Vice Presidents and Presidents, all play an important role in the college community to make it function and make it a place that students want to attend.
With each of these positions comes a great deal of responsibility. Challenges, tough decisions, and the struggling economy put the people in these positions in very difficult situations on a day to day basis. Recently in my leadership and management class we were looking at leadership challenges in facing financial tensions. We were all broken up into different groups and the professor came around and assigned each group a job title. For instance one group was Vice President of Enrollment, another was Vice President of Financial Aid, another being Vice President of Student Affairs, and even another group was students. My group was assigned to be the President, which at first sounded great, but soon we came to realize that with that title come a lot of decisions.
So after we were all split up and given our job titles we were all presented with the same case study. The case study being about a small-liberal arts institution in the Midwest, and due to the recent downturn in the national economy, to find a way to make a six percent reduction in our budget for the next year. The case study went on to list all the details needed to make such decision but those are not important for this discussion.
What was interesting to see was how each group reacted when we presented our decisions. As President, my group had to take in all the feelings and ideas of each group and do our best to make everyone happy while still doing what we thought was right to move the institution forward. Every group’s ideas were different. Some tried to bargain, some said they couldn’t make cuts but could remain on the same salary. Some groups wanted to fire staff and hire younger, cheaper replacements.
And these were just the groups who were employed by the institution. When the group of students began talking it was all about lower tuition, turn down the heat, stop having so many parking vehicles driving around. Demands and ideas that in a perfect world would be great, but are difficult to meet.
The point I’m trying to make is that it is so important and beneficial to be exposed to such realities here in the classroom. These are challenges and realities that we sometimes overlook when we aspire to hold one of these positions someday. Now I am not saying that I wouldn’t be able to tackle these challenges and face these decisions, but I am grateful for the opportunity to learn how to prepare to handle these situations in the future.