Retrenchment, Day 25

As I've had more time to think about this survey and these "strategic priorities" the administration is trying to roll out to the world using the disguise of asking for our feedback, something has occurred to me. The clue was in the survey's title, "Strategic Direction and Campus Marketing". As I thought about it, I started getting angry again.

For at least a decade, Bemidji State has basically failed to market itself as Northern Minnesota's university. That's what we are, after all. Moorhead is 125 miles west-southwest alongside Fargo, where North Dakota State University is located. And Duluth (where there's a University of Minnesota campus) is 150 miles east-southeast. BSU really occupies a prime location to own Higher Ed in the northern third of Minnesota. So what's the problem?

The problem is, BSU's Marketing and Admissions departments have been abject failures at their jobs. They have been unable to articulate (maybe to understand) BSU's value proposition as not only a place where students can gain vocational skills to take into the workplace, but a place where young people become thoughtful, responsible, balanced adults. Where they learn life skills of thinking and discernment that will not only make them healthier and happier human beings, but will also provide them with the *resilience to adapt* to changes in job markets in an increasingly uncertain employment future. There are so many examples of this, but let's just consider a recently-emerged challenge. Remember ChatGPT? It is going to do to the white collar world what robotics and offshoring did to blue collar America. So maybe this isn't the best time to be abandoning the Humanities to focus on vocational training?

But our Marketing and Admissions people don't see this. They have failed to articulate the value of a university education to people in Northern Minnesota for a decade or more. And now, when we're faced with a population that doesn't understand the value of a university, what does the administration do? They blame it on the university. They assume the people are right, and a university education really has no value. They blame BSU for having no value and eliminate teachers, programs, maybe even departments.

So basically they're getting a free pass to define the problems as "structural". That means no one who was responsible for communicating the university's value to the public (Marketing) or to prospective students (Admissions) needs to take any responsibility or face any consequences. Better yet, they can keep doing whatever it is they've been doing, and it won't be their fault when it continues to fail to attract public support or student enrollment.

Link to YouTube:
https://youtu.be/BEMeJ3HkZns