The University of Southern California Essay
The University of Southern California
The University of Southern California (USC) is a leader in community service. The university believes in giving back to the community and especially in collaborating with the local community in terms of developing an empowering environment. Particularly USC has made its presence through the participation in there-development of the Figueroa Street, which for many years has remained in a deplorable situation. The fact that the Figueroa Street had been without proper lights for years had contributed to numerous problems.
Security in the downtown had deteriorated significantly given the facts that lack of proper street lighting saw many gangs and criminals use the alleys as hiding place. Since no one was sure of what was causing the problem of insecurity the local community pointed fingers at the USC community.
The USC community and especially students had on numerous occasions been attacked along the street which in turn led to USC community to point accusing fingers on the community thinking that it was responsible for the deteriorating security situation. Another problem, which had arisen out of the Figueroa Street corridor re-development, was resistance from some sections of the university community. There are those who felt that, the university had many other pressing issues and therefore dedicating tens of thousands of dollars to the Figueroa Street corridor reconstruction was a misplaced need.
It appeared that not every member of the USC community was for the construction of the Figueroa Street corridor inspite of the much publicity, which was given to the project. To curb any resistance the University administration had engaged in a public relations and communication campaign in the months preceding the commencement of the project in which all stakeholders were enlightened on the importance of the project especially on the overall security of the university community.
It appeared however that, not every stakeholder was convinced judging by the level of opposition and resentment, which followed. Many of the stakeholders who opposed the construction of the Figueroa street corridor viewed it as falling way beyond the vision and mission of the university. As a result, those who opposed the Figueroa Street corridor project were of the opinion that, the university had many pressing problems directly falling under the mission and vision of the USC, compared to the involvement in the Figueroa Street corridor re-development which critics argued that, it was not falling under the university’s strategic plans.
Such opponents cited the lack of up-to-date library sufficient for the large university community, insufficient accommodation facilities, lack of enough academic staff as well as lack of enough pay to the lecturers as deserving areas of priority which needed to be addressed before the university administration could settle on funding the Figueroa Street corridor, seen as having less importance to the university. In addition critics pointed out that, USC does not set aside sufficient grants and bursary funds for the needy students. Therefore, many critics argued that, the amount committed to the Figueroa Street corridor project could as well have been dedicated to the allocation of grants and bursaries to the needy students.
Other opponents questioned the manner in which tenders of the project were awarded although there is little evidence to show that, the tendering process was flawed or failed to adhere to the necessary accounting requirements and standards. Controversies surrounding the Figueroa Street corridor also stems from the fact that the university administration were more than willing to contribute to this particular project. This has not been the case in the past, where it would have taken a lot of lobbying to get the university to sponsor any kind of project.
As mentioned above, there are other pressing areas in the university which require urgent funding but efforts to get the university to fund them have not been forthcoming. This led many opponents of the USC involvement in Figueroa Street corridor re-development to see more than a mere public relations gesture in the Figueroa Street corridor. This has led to accusations of corruption although there has been no evidence tabled to support corruption charges in Figueroa Street corridor re-development.
Another controversy surrounding the Figueroa Street corridor re-development is the quality of the job done. There has been allegations that, the original plan for the Figueroa Street corridor was altered many times leading to construction of a street corridor which is different from the original one for which funds had been earmarked. Controversy has also surrounded the project especially in regard to its effectiveness in solving some of the problems in the project sought to solve such as insecurity in the downtown which characterized the Figueroa Street corridor re-development before it was given a face lift.
Most people argue that, the university overstepped its mandate by purporting to solve the insecurity problem arguing that the state government has funds set aside for such purposes and therefore by the university chipping in, this could set a bad precedent whereby the local government may in future fail to honour its mandate to the local community in anticipation that the university and other institutions can contribute or solve the problem affecting their institution.
In addition, the re-development of the Figueroa Street corridor did not go well with some of the sponsors of the university who felt that, the money they give to the university is not meant for some categories of projects. This is especially so when such projects widely fall outside the vision and mission of the university. To some sponsors, the Figueroa Street corridor project was way out of the purpose the university is meant to serve, and therefore setting aside, funds for such projects could as well have been in contravention of the USC Charter which clearly outlines the purpose for which funds can be spend on.
In addition, most sponsors are worried at the deteriorating academic standards of education given the fact that the university had of late experienced a significantly high turnover of prominent researchers and professors. Part of the high turnover has been blamed on the little funding which the university is setting aside for research purposes.
A report released by the university on the status of research at the university showed that, there had not been a significant budget increase on the research activities of the university. This therefore means that the university may not be giving the research work the attention it deserves. This also has an impact on the quality of academic staff the university can attract and retain given the fact that, most scholars and well known educationists prefer to offer their services in institutions which treat research work with the seriousness it deserves.
If I was brought in as a consultant to resolve the Figueroa Street corridor re-development controversy, I would recommend a number of changes or mandatory actions.
First of all, I would recommend that the university engage in activities which are strictly in line with its strategic fit. I would also recommend that the university carry out an analysis before undertaking any project whether for development purposes or otherwise. In addition, I would also recommend that the university engage in an assessment process to identify the impact of its activities on the university stakeholders such as the students, staff and sponsors as well as the government. I would also suggest, a needs analysis be carried out to determine the need for any given project in order to ensure that, the university only engages in activities which add value to it.
I would also put in place or set up a communications and public relations office which would be responsible for handling all negative publicity which results from the activities of the university. Particularly I would equip the university communications office with the right tools and make sure that, it is headed by a well qualified communications or public relations officer who would be able to handle any amount of pressure from the public and the university community.
The University of Southern California intervention in the Figueroa street corridor re-development must also be analyzed without any bias if any analysis undertaken will reflect the real situation on the ground. The analysis also must be devoid of biases stemming from any influence from the consultant taking sides.
Unless the report steers clear of such bias, the out come of the consultation report will be rejected by the majority of those who are meant to consume the contents of the report. While there has been a lot of criticism surrounding the university’s role in the Figueroa street corridor re-development, definitely, there are many positive things about the university’s involvement in the re-development.
The only controversy is just how timely the University’s actions were and the execution bit of it. The fact that the university failed to engage the necessary resources in the whole affair is mostly to blame for the controversy. If only the university authorities would have convened meetings with the necessary stakeholders before engaging in the re-development, perhaps this could have changed the whole story. Before engaging in any project of such a magnititude, it is often crucial and important for the organization to engage the different stakeholders such as the students who have student representatives able to be involved in direct negotiation with the university authorities.
The state authorities must also be involved especially the education department which has a say on what the university can or can not be engaged in. The state education department is also the custodian of education and has a right to intervene especially in making sure that, the education standards offered by the university are in accordance with the standards provided for in the state education act.
Again, the university should also have addressed the issues raised by the sponsors who seemed precarious concerning the university’s involvement in the re-development project. For example it was saddening that the university could afford funds for re-developing the Figueroa street corridor but lack funds to stock the library, pay the lecturers better salaries, sponsor research activities as well as to improve accommodation facilities in the university.
In conclusion, there are a lot of issues requiring urgent attention in the university which have remained neglected for a very long time and as such, they should have been addressed way before the university could be involved in the Figueroa street corridor project. The controversies arising out the Figueroa street corridor re-development is a clear indication that, the university has some issues which needs urgent attention if it is going to continue serving all its stakeholders well.
Works Cited Page
http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:B6QWgFzW3RUJ:www.usc.edu/about/+University+of+southern+california+mission+statement&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=ke Accessed on 10/04/2007
http://senate.usc.edu/senatemissionstatement.html Accessed on 10/04/2007
http://senate.usc.edu/senatefunding.htm Accessed on 10/04/2007
http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:2ocxEpqYkjEJ:www.experiencela.com/MA_FigueroaCorridor.htm+Figueroa+Street+corridor&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=ke Accessed on 10/04/2007
http://www.usc.edu/ Accessed on 10/04/2007
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 March 2017