The management and condition of a university’s residential housing and its facilities is as important as the university’s academic programs. This is why faculty and staff members alike play an equally important role in the success of an institution. There are several noteworthy considerations in Mr. Washington’s communiqué to Miss Bolling. First, it did not matter how great the instruction might have been at Tuskegee Institute (University) if the ‘daughters of Booker and Mother Tuskegee’ not only talk[ed] about the matter but report[ed] it to their parents[;] it brings disgrace to the institution.” (The concern and care that an institution shows beyond the classroom is often the most important consideration that parents deliberate upon when deciding to send their children to a university.) Second, it was not Mr. Washington that was to be held chiefly responsible but the person who possessed oversight of the area. (Indeed the university president possesses ultimate responsibility in the governance of a university. However, he or she must rely heavily upon those within his or her charge to ensure that their areas reflect the expectations of the president. Thus, Mr. Washington’s reminder to colleague: “We hold you responsible for this.”) Third and last, Mr. Washington had not only provided additional resources to assist with this problem but was also willing to provide more “to help eradicate the bed bugs.” Moreover, he provided Miss Bolling with first-rate management advice: “…it will amount to nothing without your remaining constantly with them while they are doing the cleaning.” (What you expect, you must inspect. And if one has units that you are being held responsible for then it is not unwise to personally inspect those units so that you are not held accountable for the performance of others.) Let no university employee believe that his or her work does not impact the success of an institution. For the individual’s success will ultimately become the university’s success.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.