Observation of leadership

<p>As we all know, PSU has been dealing with a crises. And in the midst of handling the fall out from that crises, its leadership made some very questionable decisions such as making poor statements, sneaking out the back door, etc. JMU has recently dealt with several tragedies as well - including the unrelated deaths of several students this semester. The president of the university today posted a heartfelt, and very appropriate, statement on its facebook page and the university has held several memorials, etc. I have been impressed with JMU's acknowledging very appropriately what is happening on its campus. I commend the administration and the students. Both schools are on my daughters list. I know which one I am routing for.</p>

<p>^ I wouldn't choose a school on this basis. It could simply boil down to who bought the best PR and legal talent. Or it could simply reflect the good or bad judgment of one person in this particular context. </p>

<p>And saying the right thing in a time of grief is easy-peasy. Sadly, death is pretty common on campuses and everyone knows what to say in a time of grief. I've seen tons of universities do this version you describe. And if nothing more, they can just copy what all the other schools do! But a one off relatively unique crisis such as that facing Penn State is a lot more complicated and has legal implications. You simply can not compare the two. </p>

<p>Not to mention, how one sends out the 'right' message in a time of crisis may not translate at all to good judgment about other important aspects of running a university, such as hiring the right top talent, knowing how to consolidate programs, create and execute a massive change plan involving a lot of constituents and so on.</p>

<p>I have no ties whatsoever to Penn State nor care about defending them in this situation. I am not saying they handled it well either. I'm just saying I think it's a mistake to draw comparisons between these two different situations at two different schools, and more importantly, I think its a mistake to use this as an important criteria for choosing where your kid might want to go to school.</p>

<p>I also am not choosing a school, my child is. And I will trust her to make the right decision for her. However, I do think it is a valid comparison, because, as we know from these very boards, schools quite easily get punished and stereotyped(think Cornell's rep for a while), and having three terrible deaths in a very short time, especially if hidden, mishandled or badly ignored by an administration, could turn horribly ugly. I venture to say it could easily be the subject of very negative threads, as I have seen myself. And I agree that some things can be attributed to "PR" response. However, it is difficult to fake the response of the administration, the students and the faculty I saw on the web sites and the facebook postings over the past two weeks (both to the positive and negative). Fair or not, comparisons come easily. Besides the fact that there appears to be great complicity by the PSU administration (agreeing that we need to see how it all comes out) I was not even looking at that. College adminsitrations must be good leaders of people - which are as big as cities. And I have seen campuses come to gether and students divided. All things being equal, my view is that the wisdom, courage, and tenacity of a leader is reflected by those whom they lead.</p>

<p>I didn't say you were choosing a university, I said it was not a good criteria by which to do so. Or was I misunderstanding the point of your thread? </p>

<p>I wasn't saying it had anything to do with fairness. But step back and look at two extremely different 'crises'. Yes they are both 'crises' that require a response or else there could be bad consequences, but otherwise they are worlds apart. One has gigantic legal implications regarding what they say or do; the other does not. One is about expressing grief, pure and simple, and reaffirming that support is there for students, and the administration cares and bladdy bladdy bladdy. Showing compassion, concern, sadness-- the message is pretty straightforward. And there are plenty of colleges that have had the exact same string of deaths with the accompanying message. The other involves finding out which parties or systems are responsible, who is to be fired, who said what, what did people know and so on. And almost no precedent for this one. </p>

<p>I was also not suggesting that individuals were not expressing true grief or that it wasn't authentic. I was merely pointing out that just because a big university does the right "PR" around grief (which has nothing to do with how individuals feel but simply about what is communicated, when and how), tells you very little about how they would run the university.</p>

<p>I think Penn State's reaction to the events says volumes about the culture of the place, and I wouldn't want any member of my family anywhere near the place.</p>