“Hello, my name is Steve Tallant, and I am the president of Texas A&M University at Kingsville. I understand you have some questions regarding how we run this university, and I’d like to tell you I’ve been keeping up with your blog.”
I received this call just after The Chronicle published a piece of mine that criticized Texas A&M University at Kingsville for describing faculty jobs—indeed, every job—as customer-service providers. Although I hadn’t expected to talk to the president, I had been calling and sending emails for comment since before the first piece was published. I wanted to understand how a university decides to put “customer service” at the heart of its mission. What are the consequences of such a decision? What other models might exist?