Running Colleges “Like a Business”

The hell with higher education, says Lincoln University’s new president, Robert Jennings. What one really needs to do to run a college well is to treat it “like a business.”

According to an article by Kristin Holmes in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

A university is a business. If you don’t run it as a business – you’ll run it out of business,” said Jennings, 61, nearly a month into his tenure as the school’s 13th president.

That approach, Jennings said, will be a key to his management of the nation’s oldest historically black university. When Jennings talks about the school’s future, his speech is peppered with terms like branding, marketing, and financial investment in the Chester County school.

One wonders where Jennings developed this particularly nuanced educational philosophy. Jennings has worked as an academic administrator at Wake Forest University, Clark Atlanta University, Norfolk State University, SUNY Albany, North Carolina A&T State University, and Alabama A & M University.

The only business with which he’s ever been involved is Gems, Inc., a Georgia company that operates two for-profit schools. Between 2009 and 2011 he served as an administrator at Gems, which “operates private schools and personal-care homes for the frail elderly.” He had about 20 employees.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer