Tuesday, February 05, 2008

American Colleges: Their Branding

Everybody knows that MIT stands for brilliant engineering. Stanford represents the highest academic standards in a very tight symbiotic relationship with Silicon Valley. Harvard and Yale also have clear brands.

What about The University of Texas, the University of Oklahoma, Notre Dame, and lots of other schools? They are known for their football teams. They are not known for student fitness or a high level of excellence. They are known for their football teams and the general giddiness and celebration around their teams, the games, and their campuses. These are schools with a big Greek system. I mean fraternities.

I just spent a few days with a friend of mine who had been at a conference with some major university presidents, Fortune 200 Presidents, and public education people. One of the university presidents was particularly outspoken on why this country is over-reacting to the threat for leadership from China and India in the future. He had recently visited China and saw universities with shoddy construction and poor facilities which, compared to his well constructed campus, seemed lame.

I hear this and worry for tthe future. Our educational system is our future and the universities are dominated by a corrupt dysfunctional alliance with sports. With semiprofessional sports. I feel that these schools have sold their soul. In terms of the future, here's a simple summary.

Our big schools are about the prestige of big time sports, the associated parties and drinking, and the fraternity partying system. Our professors all know this and are very cynical as a result.

Their schools are about education, national competitiveness, and a chance to get ahead. We have frats, they don't. They'll win. And they deserve to.

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