The following is the transcript of the speech given by President Henry Cotton at the National Higher Education Thought Leadership Conference. No portion of this text may be reproduced without the permission of Willard College, LLC.
“Dear Friends, Colleagues, and if I may be frank, Buddies,
Thanks for inviting me to the NHETLC. I’m a lifelong member and I know you all have followed Willard College with great interest. I get a lot of questions from college presidents. How do you manage to raise administrators’ salaries as enrollment and endowments plummet? How do I manage to hire enough faculty, or retain enough of those who already work here, to maintain accreditation? How do keep students happy enough that they rise up and burn the campus down with me in it? How do I keep deferring costly upkeep and repairs while avoiding catastrophic disasters?
Simple. Keep the money moving. Rob Peter to pay Paul. Spend enough to keep everyone just above miserable. Promise. Shift money to solve part of a problem, then shift it back to solve part of a different problem. Cash flow is key. Incoming tuition and federal grant money can stanch most open wounds, at least prevent a bleed out. Never admit a mistake. When confronted with a mistake, accuse the accuser of something worse. Keep your cards close, but play all of them, even the ones you have up your sleeve. Accountability is for suckers. Bend the rules. Write the playbook. Toss out the playbook.