Why Are There Not More Programs Like Ours?
To address this question, one must understand the structure of traditional business schools and the principle of tenure. Tenure is defined as “the status of holding one’s position on a permanent basis, granted to teachers, civil service personnel, etc.”
Traditional graduate schools are controlled for the most part by their tenured professors. Dr. Russell Ackoff, Professor Emeritus at the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and author of over 20 books and 200 articles, had the following observations in response to a question about how tenure prevents traditional business schools from changing:
Today, six years after [professors are] hired, they get tenure or they're out. So now a 31-year-old gets tenure and has 40 years or more of commitment from the university. Many of these people get secure and retire intellectually at middle age; they stop thinking. So to answer your question, we must get rid of subsidy and tenure if we're going to get these institutions to change and improve the learning process.
Tenure has become a protection of incompetence and that's the problem. It's a very difficult problem and I don't see it being solved any time soon. I tried to do it when I was at Wharton. I'd written an article attacking tenure and the local AAUP chapter attacked me. So I challenged the chapter to a test. I said let's hire a research firm acceptable to both of us to investigate the following question: Does tenure protect incompetence more than academic freedom? If it turns out it protects academic freedom more than incompetence, I'll pay for the research. If it turns out the other way, you'll pay for it. Well, they wouldn't take me up on it.
Professor Ackoff speaks to the issue of how to improve business education:
I think it's fine as long as it focuses on learning instead of teaching, because there is the implicit assumption in most educational institutions that learning is the converse of teaching, that an ounce of teaching produces an ounce of learning. The fact is that teaching is the major obstruction of learning. Most of what you're taught you never use and is irrelevant, and what you do use you've learned on the job, usually in an apprenticeship relationship. So the whole concept of education as being taught is wrong. Kids learn in school and some adults learn in university not because of the school or university, but in spite of it. People learn from others by following their curiosity, but they learn very little from courses. Certainly very little that is useful.
To think creatively about learning, every single aspect of the educational process ought to be questioned and systematically denied and the consequences explored. When considering how to improve learning, get rid of curriculum, get rid of courses, get rid of examinations, get rid of accreditation, get rid of degrees - and what would education look like? Compare the potential of this with what we currently have, from the point of view of stimulating effective learning. Until you do this, you'll never have transformation. That's the difference between transformation and reformation. Reformation is keeping the current system and modifying its behavior, with modest change. But given the potential we are not now realizing, I would argue for creative transformation that focuses more effectively on learning.
What do tenured professors, professors’ unions, government bureaucrats and their allies say about us?
Since the founding of Rushmore University in 1996, our critics have been very good at pointing out what was wrong with our program. Sometimes, their comments have been valid. When this has been the case, we have made changes to our programs. More often, however, their criticisms have been dogmatic, incorrect, misleading or irrelevant. We believe that their criticisms are rooted in the insecurity of the educational establishment and its tenured professors who benefit from the status quo.
Obviously, what we say about them is unpleasant for them to hear. The success stories of our graduates put them on the defensive and they confront us with trivial issues that are unrelated to the results our students and alumni are achieving for themselves and their companies.
The most derogatory comment a critic can make about a non-traditional school is to call it a "diploma mill." There are many fraudulent diploma mills out there and you should avoid them. Rushmore is not one of them. Considering that students in traditional business schools waste up 90% of their time (and tens of thousands of dollars) suffering through irrelevant courses during their program, one might wonder if these traditional business schools are not, in fact, the real diploma mills.