Last week and during a week in February, the top University of
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University business professors joined in
a significant program on management development for about 40 middle
Now, that may not sound exactly earth shattering, since
management seminars can be found on every corner these days.
However, this particular program was important because OU and OSU
joined forces to produce it.
This could be a major first step in the thousand-mile journey of
marshaling Oklahoma's education and business resources to diversify
our economy. It will take us well into the 21st Century to complete
that journey, if we take on the challenge now.
The program was led by Dr. Robrt L. Sandmeyer of OSU and Dr.
Robert F. Lusch of OU, both business administration deans.
Outstanding professors of both schools presented seminars on
leadership, negotiating skills, management strategies, setting
goals, achieving productivity, identifying markets, sharpening
competitive positions and service quality, among other issues.
"As far as we know, it was the first time the two top
universities of any state have joined for a program like this,''
said Jack Kasulis, director of executive programs and associate
professor of business administration at OU.
What's so remarkable about all this.? It sounds like something
we should have been doing for decades.
The fact is: we haven't, and this goes much deeper than just a
joint seminar. It goes to the very heart of our entrenched feelings
about separate educational institutions in Oklahoma and the
traditional separation between education, business and government:
- Our higher education system was developed with the principle
that each institution should provide some of almost everything. As
a result, our natural human tendency to protect turf has assumed the
upper hand. The rivalries between OU and OSU, and among the other
colleges and universities, have gone far beyond football, basketball
and other sports, bands, debate teams and the like.
We have had rivalries for funds and power. As a result, we have
spread our financial and human resources so far we have provided
mediocrity - some funds and leaders for each institution but few
concentrations of excellence.
- Business, meanwhile, has tended to go its own way, hiring
college graduates for potential leaders but ending the relationship
there. That probably was partly because early government leaders
were suspicious of business. It also was partly the result of a
business community bent on getting established with little time to
think about concepts and research for the long run.
"Most of our big business leaders in Oklahoma started as
entrepreneurs,'' said Kusalis. "Men like Dean McGee and Frank
Phillips built large companies from scratch. We are just now
entering an era in which second and third generations of leaders are
taking over most of our large companies, which are maturing.''
At the same time, we are entering the high techology information
age - an era in which numerous Oklahoma companies must compete with
the world, not just each other for companies in Tulsa and Dallas.
"We have to learn to think about what we are doing, why we are
doing it and what we plan to do,'' said Kusalis, "instead of just
tackling business from day to day. Companies have to learn from
each other. We in education can provide forums, and we can learn as
much from companies as they can from us.''
That means bringing our best minds together - the best of
business, education and government in "centers of excellence.'' We
have to overcome old petty rivalries and join forces if we are to
spread the information we need to develop a balanced economy.
Only through a balanced economy can Oklahoma absorb world
fluctuation of prices on oil and gas, agriculture products,
manufactured goods and services without the kind of recession we
have suffered over the last five years. …