1. Big for Small. It’s not a big institution, but it is a big institution for a small town like Whitewater. There’s no institutional or organizational hierarchy in Whitewater half so large.
2. The key issues aren’t structural. Without question, UW-Whitewater’s biggest leadership challenges aren’t organizational, they’re cultural. Some university leaders’ challenges, however, likely have come, and still come, from confusing a small-town university with The Very Center of the Known Universe. A deep org chart reinforces the idea of a big organization.
In truth, Whitewater’s a small city, and nothing in it is truly big. The sadness of some – and the ruin of others – has come from refusing to accept that small and simple can be beautiful.
Few would contend that a person of average size should eat to morbid obesity, in the theory that more pounds make a better person.
3. Titles. Title inflation, in particular, is a UW System-wide practice, borrowing from corporations where a single simple designation no longer seems enough. UW-Whitewater’s not exceptional in this regard – on the contrary, it’s simply following the herd.
4. Rock, McHenry, and Lake. A university that wants to recruit from more prosperous Illinois counties now has to manage a truly struggling Rock County population, with uncertainty over how many of those students will integrate with Whitewater’s campus.
One might contend that a large organizational structure will help UW-Whitewater scale more easily, but that will only prove true if the leaders within the organization can manage different populations, including one for which they’ve shown little interest until they were recently compelled to do so.
It’s a large task, and for a leadership that hasn’t come to terms with past cultural errors, it’s especially large.
Those of us who ordinarily might have hoped for an evolving university as source of uplift have reason to expect a much longer wait.