Universities should be promoted as universities, not corporations

By Gus Bode

Dear Editor:

With an article in the Southern July 17 revelaing athletic spending is on the rise, it appears that SIUC has become a university where the tail wags the dog!

Too many alumni (and administrators and board members) have a distorted view of the university’s purpose. In recent years, universities seem to have become diploma mills, run like corporations with attention only to “bottom lines,” with watered-down grading standards, students expecting to be entertained and a big-time emphasis on success in competitive semi-pro athletics. And administrators lamely justify emphasis on success in athletics as “good advertising” for their institution — foolishness, when in any game, for every winner, there is a loser. Consider the University of Chicago’s history!


Further, we often hear the complaint from students that “there’s nothing to do in Carbondale.” Why are they here? If it’s to have a good time, they don’t belong here. They could learn some study habits from Asian students among them!

For most young people, the college and university experience is their first experience away from the limited environment of their family, farm, town or city. In classes, dorms and the town away from home, they meet new people from across the U.S. and nations and cultures around the world. They encounter ideas that were not in contest in their homes or home towns. College and university years are for developing talents and interests as students grow up to be unique persons, not mirrors of the ideas where they came from.

A scary idea to some parents and politicos, that is what colleges and universities are supposed to do!

David E. Christensen

emeritus professor of geography