In the Arab world, presidents of the public universities are not hired they are granted their posts by the leader of the country. Like the Queen of England knights some well known figures. In Jordan, for example, the King determines who should be president of what university. I believe the King or the leader of the country has –supposedly– chosen wisely, based on his counselors’ recommendation, the president of a university. But, can you imagine being hired for any position by the King of your country. Who will ever dare to criticize what you do. Because you have been CHOSEN BY THE KING you are above it all, what ever ‘all’ mean. Of course this also means that ONLY the king can fire you, no one else.
With all the power that comes from being hired by the King, even for the Academic Deans it is not easy to meat with the president of the university. The president of an Arab university has the power to fire a Dean or a faculty because he can.
During my four years in one of the Jordanian universities I saw the president only once on campus. He was attending a national celebration held on campus. He was there surrounded by the campus guards and a big entourage of staffs. During the four years I have never seen him walking on campus.
On the other side of the world, USA, it is totally different. Not even the president of the greatest country in the world has a say of what public universities do or not do.
Our University Chancellor, Brady Deaton, is retiring on November 15th of this year. This video shows a surprise party some students made for him and his wife, Mrs. Anne Deaton.
The Chancellor’s residence is on campus. For this reason, I have seen him around walking on campus by himself many, many times. He smiles and greets who ever he sees on his way. At the beginning of every semester, the Chancellor sends an email to all students (34,000) welcoming them to the campus and inviting them for a reception at his house. Here is one of these emails:
“My wife, Anne, and I are eager to meet you during the many events of the semester. Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, we hope you will join us for a special reception at the Chancellor’s Residence on the Francis Quadrangle during Family Weekend on September 28. We look forward to seeing you there!”
You can see how emotional were both the Chancellor and his wife. I liked Mrs. Anne Deaton’s reaction and her spontaneity. Here is something she said in the video:
“And we love all of you truly. To look at our breakfast window and see you all passing by the columns, around the quad [places on campus around their house], you began our day and we knew what we were there for everyday because we saw you. And you came to our home like our own children came into our home. And we have loved you very much and we are so excited about the future and this country and the world because of you and what you are going to bring to it.You are just all wonderful.”
A friend pointed out to me once the stigma of the Arabic word “Mas’ool” (مسؤول). We call a government official “mas’ool” , we call his wife “Mart Mas’ool” (the wife of a Mas’ool) and his son “Ibn Mas’ool” (the son of a Mas’ool.) Below, is the translation, according to Google translation, of the word (Mas’ool):
|responsible||المسؤول, مسؤول, جاد, موثوق به, ذو مسؤولية, قادر على الوفاء بالتزاماته|
|accountable||مسؤول, ممكن تفسيره أو تعليله, عرضة للمحاسبة|
|in charge of||مسؤول عن, مسؤول, متول|
|taking charge of||مسؤول|
I said stigma of the word “Mas’ool” because the word lost its meaning and became something to scare people of. When someone in the Arab world say “He is Ibn Mas’ool” (That is, the son of a government official) it means he has connections and sometimes it means he is above the law. So, you better stay away from him. In the Arab word, a government official (Mas’ool) is no longer accountable or responsible or in question. He is ‘taking charge of’ and he is in ‘power’.
P.s. The Tiger you see in the video is the university’s mascot.