And who by FIRE...
The Penn/Harvard/MIT debacle carries frightening undertones for the next stage of "our" economy
Liz Magill's Resignation and Its Implications: The resignation of Liz Magill has been misinterpreted by BOTH the academic community and by society at large
Academic Leadership and Diversity: The piece touches on the uniformity in academic backgrounds among university presidents, particularly in the Ivy League. The perceived requirement for university leaders to have a traditional academic career path (all recent Penn presidents are women with an academic background) is unlikely to generate the required leadership.
Comparison of Skills in Leadership and Education: While there are overlaps like communication, the core competencies are distinct. The focus is on strategic vision and financial acumen for leadership, versus subject expertise and teaching skills for educators.
The Role of Wealth and Power in Academic Leadership: The piece concludes with observations on how wealthy donors and alumni are influencing university leadership decisions. The author expresses concern that this trend might prioritize the interests of these influential groups over the needs of students and society.
Zack Tomlin writes:
Mike, lots of great points, and an enjoyable read. I commented on Le Shrub's piece at the time and will ask here. Are we sure Powell isn't anchored to "not repeating the mistake of the 1970s"?
Also, curious to hear your thoughts on the ongoing slowdown in bank loans and leases. This seems unprecedented for a pre-recession period and frankly worries me.
MWG: Zack, I agree this is the tension — Volcker or Janet. Others have noted that Powell DESPISES Yellen and it’s certainly possible I’m wrong. Feels very much like Scylla and Charybdis, or the proverbial “Caught between a tall and a small place.” Sorry, couldn’t help myself.
The slowdown in banks and leases is concerning, but importantly it appears to be coming from the demand side as much as the supply side (supply is being increasingly met by private credit for LARGE entities). The Kansas City Fed had a nice piece that’s worth reading.
The Main Event
And who by fire, who by water
Who in the sunshine, who in the night time
Who by high ordeal, who by common trial
Who in your merry merry month of may
Who by very slow decay
And who shall I say is calling? — Leonard Cohen
“Why are you reading this NOW?”
The news of the resignation of Liz Magill at the University of Pennsylvania carries both opportunity and frightening implications. First things first — I called for the resignation of Liz Magill and stand behind that call:
The higher education community response suggests that the wrong message has been received. In their mind, while the various academic leaders did no favors to the community, the fault lies with the questioning:
Feel free to read the various comments for more denial.
There’s also something mildly surprising about this picture:
Yes, that’s right. Only Liz Magill doesn’t wear glasses. Clearly, not academic leadership material. This is a joke. They are all women. Well, not all. There are two male leaders in the Ivy League (yes, I am aware MIT is not the Ivy League… it’s still a pretty good school). And note that everyone of this age wears glasses (at least part of the time). While much of the focus is on the dynamics of female leadership, that’s not what I would highlight:
In fact, the universality of an academic background is so robust that Forbes magazine seems to believe it’s a REQUIREMENT to become a university president:
The Era of Inclusivity
Before becoming a university president, you need to hold senior leadership roles in a university, such as a dean or provost. The pipeline to these roles becomes narrower and more difficult to penetrate for those from underrepresented groups. The appointment of six women as presidents in the Ivy League is a testament to the progress toward achieving gender parity at the highest academic levels. The new leadership sends a resounding message that times are changing, and women are increasingly recognized for their intellectual prowess and leadership abilities. — Forbes magazine,
This is simply absurd and highlights the REAL problem with academia. Here’s the history of Penn’s leadership:
Let me expand that for you:
Let’s try a different approach:
I want to be perfectly clear that I have zero concerns about the ABILITY of women to lead organizations in business, government, education, health, etc. But the probability that the BEST leadership for any institution is defined by promotion from within ranks and the sex of the leader is vanishingly small.
Two hundred fifty years of consecutive male leadership at Penn is a testament to women's wasted skills over that period. Thirty consecutive years of female leadership immediately following that period is a testament to DEI nonsense. But honestly, I’m more concerned by the academic background requirement. This is simply absurd. The skills of leading an institution bear almost no resemblance to the skills of being an effective educator. Let’s ask ChatGPT: