The University is more than a business

In a July 30 Minnesota Daily article, “The science of prediction,” Christopher Coogan, deputy director and chief of staff of the association for institutional research, was quoted as saying, “In essence, your college is a business. … Getting people to graduation is the business they’re in.”

That is a very limited perception of the nature and goals of a university. Of course, prudent financial management is essential, but many would prefer to describe the goals as the preservation, advancement and communication of knowledge and understanding. That is not equivalent to just producing the maximum number of individuals holding certificates of completion of a prescribed program of studies in the minimum possible time. Too much emphasis on the more limited goal of maximum degree production can easily lead to deterioration of standards of both student and faculty performance.

Coogan’s statement indicates a very unfortunate misunderstanding of the nature of a university, coming as it did from a person with some influence over the use of financial and other resources.