Stronger University Culture Will Help Public Higher Education Prosper

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Public higher education will prosper and meet
increased demands by creating a stronger, more cohesive university culture,
according to Washington State University President Samuel Smith.

He and 23 other public university presidents discuss a strategic framework
needed to create such a culture in a just-released Kellogg Commission report.

The report, Returning to Our Roots: Toward a Coherent Campus Culture, is in
the form of a letter sent to chief executives of the nation’s state and land-grant
universities. It suggests eight principles for “effectively reinvigorating”
university culture. They include fostering institutional coherence, reinforcing
the integrity of tenure and renewing efforts to align athletics with academics.

WSU has made good progress in fostering institutional coherence, Smith said.
“This is a continual process to assure that, to paraphrase the report, loyalty to
the university and willingness to collaborate to advance learning, discovery
and engagement, is not overshadowed by commitments to various
professions, departments and services.”

The public, Smith said, often misunderstands tenure. As the report notes,
tenure is a “guarantee of academic freedom to ask unpopular questions – not
job security.”

He said WSU does well in aligning athletics with academics. To participate in
the intercollegiate athletic program, WSU student-athletes must meet all
academic requirements of the university, the NCAA, and the athletic
department. According to Smith, former chair of the Executive Committee of the
National Collegiate Athletic Association, WSU student-athletes are given
comprehensive academic and career services support to help them identify and
meet academic and career goals leading to graduation and career development.

Smith serves on the 24-member Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and
Land-Grant Universities, created by a grant given from the W.K. Kellogg
Foundation to the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant
Colleges. He is NASULGC chair for 2000.

Toward a Coherent Campus Culture is the fifth in a series of six commission
reports being issued between 1996 and 2000. The entire text of the report is
available online at