“My position in respect to the students and the public is peculiar, and I must see that everyone does the highest service in benefitting the students, and must get rid of any obstacle that prevents this result.” “March 26, 1895,” -Booker T. Washington
There is no clearer statement that ought to mark both the mission and vision, the tradition and trajectory, of any institution of higher learning-especially as evidenced here from the founding principal and president of Tuskegee Institute (University)-than one that has its first and foremost focus upon STUDENTS. Student success, student engagement, (parent)-student satisfaction within a university environment is akin to a business’s focus being squarely upon its customers. (Who would offer a different focus for where an institution of higher learning’s resources should be otherwise directed?) Any alternative suggestion flies squarely in the face of the work and function of a university and reveals far more about the individual who offers an alternative suggestion as opposed to the mission and vision of an institution. At many American institutions-except for the most exceptionally endowed ones-the institution’s primary revenue stream derives from the net tuition revenue received from its students. To be sure, faculty research and philanthropic giving also provide additional streams of revenue, but even here these opportunities are largely premised upon the business of educating students in a living-learning environment. For where there are no students, there is no university, and where there is no university there is no purpose. A university’s mission is to educate her students, and Mother Tuskegee is committed to educating her students-the sons and daughters of Booker.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.