Mr. E. J. Scott: Please be very careful to see that all electric lights in your Department are shut off whenever they are not actually being used. By giving attention to this, you will save the school quite a good deal.” -Booker T. Washington, “January 14, 1901”
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
If a single individual thinks that leaving a random light on within their singular residential living space, office space, small apartment or home can lead to increased costs upon their electric bill, just imagine what the costs are for an institution the size of Tuskegee (Institute) University when lights are multiplied exponentially. And the founding principal and president, Booker T. Washington, left little to the imagination addressing this issue in a letter to his modern-day chief of staff, Mr. E. J. Scott. Note-it is quite easy to callously disregard or be indifferent to the many costs and expenses associated with running a large organization where these costs are largely hidden from public view. However, Mr. Washington-and many men and women functioning in similar capacities-could ill-afford to do so. Furthermore, Mr. Washington could ill-afford for the persons surrounding him, including his closest lieutenant, to not be aware of their responsibilities to this aspect of fiscal stewardship and responsibility. This 19th century leader, Booker T. Washington, understood a now commonly understood concept for leadership in the 21st century: It is far more profitable for an organization to foster and multiply a spirit of corporate leadership, management and responsibility amongst its employees than to suffer the multiplied costs associated with poor fiscal stewardship.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.
7th President, Tuskegee University