The former president of Chicago State University left this summer under a cloud when it was discovered she lived like Falstaff on the taxpayer’s dime. A "leadership conference" aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean, with her whole family along, for $15,000. Etcetera.
From a story in today’s Chicago Tribune, we learn that among Elnora Daniel’s last extravagances was the commissioning, for $18,000, of a glossy coffee table book honoring … herself. "A Retrospective: Ten Years of Vision and Leadership."
Of course the Trib didn’t have a hard time finding observers to question the strategic wisdom of putting out a book glorifying a departing chief executive.
More delightfully, a fellow turned up who defended the book, Chicago State’s Honors College Dean Richard Milo:
"It is an elaborate memento, but I am not saying inappropriate. There are people at the university who thought and continue to think highly of Dr. Daniel and would much rather she be remembered for the positive things than the few missteps that garnered the university some unwelcome publicity."
It’s leadership like this that makes "strategic communication" the joke that it so often is, no?
I don’t think it’s fair to use the rarefied, and frankly inbred (seriously, these people make the British Royal family look good re: in-breeding!) environment of academia as a yard-stick against which to judge strategic communications.
The whole concept of tenure is so retarded and counter-intuitive when talking about excellence, or strategic…well, anything as to be next to useless!
It is simply NEVER a recipe for good results when someone almost CANNOT be fired no matter how incompetent, or stupid they may be. At least, in the public world, this IS a risk that powerful people have to be cognizant of and consider when making choices.
Sometimes, I think that having somebody around you to poke holes in your balloons when a “humility check” ora “bad idea check”is overdue, is THE most important support a powerful person can have where strategic communication is concerned. Too bad more of them don’t realize that before they shoot themselves in the foot.
Chicago State “academia”?
There’ve been enough of these excesses in corporations sans tenure that it’s a good point.
We can only hope that at some point some communicator at least tried to save her from herself but simply couldn’t breach the walls of her self-indulgent idiocy.
However, I must admit I am inspired. Having just marked my 10th anniversary with my current employer, maybe it’s time for a similar glossy retrospective of my communications career. It will be nice to have somebody write about how fabulous I am for a change.
David Murray says
Rueben: Murray’s Freelance Writing would like to put a bid in on that project. We’re thinking somewhere in the neighborhood of $18,000.
Hey David! Got any bridges for sale in NYC while we’re at it!?
I can think of nobody more capable to handle this project for me, David.
How’s this for a title “A Retrospective: Ten Years of Somebody Else’s Vision and Leadership”?