Universities have historically been more stable than most organizations. Clark Kerr dramatically demonstrated this fact a few years ago, when he wrote, "Taking as a starting point 1530, when the Lutheran Church was founded, some 66 institutions that existed then still exist today in the Western world in recognizable forms. [These are] the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the parliaments of Iceland and the Isle of Man, and 62 universities."1
While universities contribute to the stability of society, they also need to change to meet current and future needs. This precarious equilibrium often gets out of balance, usually because a university holds too firmly to the past. To regain lost equilibrium, then, a great university or college must move forward.
The most natural way for a university or college to move forward is to hire new faculty members who have knowledge and abilities that add to and improve upon a university’s existing knowledge base. In fact, according to George Keller, "There is no more important task [at a college or university] than selecting people for positions... [A] decisive difference between the noted colleges and universities and the less noted ones is the attention they pay to the selection of their people."2
The College of Life Sciences has some important advantages in hiring new faculty; consequently, it can pay close attention to the quality of the people it hires. Because of those advantages, it can choose the best from among those trained by the world’s preeminent universities.
Many of those we have hired recently, earned their undergraduate degrees at Brigham Young University, went on to receive advanced education from "the best institutions of the country"3 and have now returned prepared to strengthen their alma mater, a pattern for building strong universities suggested by John A. Widtsoe. In so doing, they will contribute to the stability of the College of Life Sciences even as it moves forward to become all that it can and should be.
1 Kerr, C. "Three Thousand Futures: The Next Twenty Years for Higher Education." In Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education, Three Thousand Futures:
The Next Twenty Years for Higher Education. Jossey-Bass, 1980, p. 9.
2 Keller, George. Academic Strategy: The Management Revolution in American Higher Education.
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983, p. 137.
3 Widtsoe, John A. In A Sunlit Land. Deseret News Press, 1952, p. 106.