Student, or customer? (Feedback).
I read with considerable interest your editorial ["I Spy a Customer"] in the March 2003 issue. As an academic and administrator with a background in the public and private sectors, as well as the military, I certainly share the philosophy of melding best business practices with higher education management. Let's face it, education is big business and the industry is growing each year. However, to treat students as "customers" can have a deleterious effect on academic quality as well as credibility. Many students enroll in specific institutions because of the status of those institutions. And, for many, the costs of attending college drive the decision as to where to enroll. But, the bottom line is that in the business world, customer satisfaction is paramount, and processes are engineered to ensure the needs of the customer are met. When it comes to education, particularly higher education, many students would prefer to complete the process as fast as possible and with the minimum pain necessary. This translates to "cutting corners" wherever possible, which is reflected by the plagiarism we read about so often. If students are to be treated as customers in the business sense, colleges and universities wit[ have to make their programs more attractive and easier. Many students are not motivated by receiving an excellent education, per se, but rather by the credentials that the education provides. Thus, they want it fast and cheap. We can certainly use best business practices to run our institutions, but we also need to be wary of believing that higher education is solely a business and neglect the academic standards that produce better informed and more productive citizens.
DR. JOSEPH GALIOTO, Campus Dean, Manassas Strayer University Manassas, VA
I enjoyed your article in the March UB. I am the business manager at Baker College of Jackson. I wanted to add a single point to your article: that there are internal and external customers to view. The external customers are the students (if you choose to view them in that fashion). The internal customers are the employees, departments, and faculty that interact with each other on a daily basis. These internal customers' ability to serve each other at the highest level will only increase the overall customer service provided to the student. In your article, you hinted toward that point with the academic side of higher education.
CRAIG TAPLEY, Business Manager Baker College of Jackson Jackson, MI