Lariviere situation: running like a business?

The Governor’s news release supporting the Board states that:

…Any private sector CEO, faced with a division manager who was totally dedicated to his or her specific department but willfully and repeatedly undermined the needs and goals of the overall company would, I expect, fire the manager ….

This analogy is flawed. The president of a research university is nothing like a division manager or department head in any organization, public or private. All university presidents are CEOs themselves, leading complex institutions with distinct histories, missions, and identities.  The OUS System’s equivalent in the corporate world is a holding company with all production and value residing in its wholly owned subsidiaries.  With this in mind, let’s ask the question another way:

“…What would Warren Buffet do with the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway’s best-performing subsidiary — someone who kept the corporation running in the black through the worst part of the recession, who grew demand from new customers, increased loyalty from existing customers, opened new global markets, contributed to the local community, built staff morale to an all time high?”

Also from the Governor’s statement:

The Board of Higher Education is a group of thoughtful and dedicated Oregonians – many of whom have executive management experience themselves…

Due to multifaceted missions and a wide array of internal and external constituencies, executive management and leadership positions in a research university are arguably far more complex than their private sector equivalents. But if private sector experience is needed for street cred, take a look at Richard Lariviere’s curriculum vitae for examples of his significant and successful experience in private industry, and the ways he has used this background to advance university-industry partnerships and economic development.

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