The first failure was to merge disparate entities with entirely different assigned missions. The second was to recruit an apparent transformational president to make that unnecessary impossible dream a reality. So what did we get but a Captain Bligh with little sense or skill in transactional communication – one who has little appreciation of the cultural history and expectations of the community of scholars to which he was called to lead and to transform.
A university at best is an organized anarchy. Therefore, the first task is to sit down and listen, not to stand up and shout. On paper, the organizational structure is overtly participatory with a president’s cabinet of 39 vice-presidents, deans and divisional heads. One needs a classroom not a conference room to assemble such a mix. Jesus had only 12 disciples – actually 11. Even God said: “Come let us reason together.”
That strongly suggests a one-on-one relationship – an impossibility in a classroom setting. So what transpires but a lecture rather than a colloquy?
What was lost in the attempt at unity was to ignore the ethos, values and organizational history of the disparate units within the whole. To effectively transform, one must be effective in dealing, and in making rational transactions within and between competing forces of disciplines, functions and subsets. To ignore the reality of individuality is to invite disaster.
By the way, we may not be UCLA but we do have great basketball teams. They are our “A” teams – let them shine.
We need a transformational leader who has mastered transactional social, political and academic exchange, not a Rambo.