Sitting in the lush farmlands of Central Pennsylvania, Bucknell University is one of the premier liberal arts universities in the nation. It boasts an absolutely magnificant campus, talented faculty, and intelligent and motivated student body (if I don’t say so myself). Having now spent almost three years at this university I believe that I have had the opportunity to see this university in a very different light that most students do. I have worked with deans, faculty, students, and high-level administrators and have a gotten a “behind the scenes” view of how this university is run. It would be easy state that the goal of Bucknell University is to educate students in a liberal arts setting to a degree where they will have the ability to succeed as citizens in the 21st century. Yet, there are so many more facets to Bucknell as an organization than simply educating students.
Throughout this semester we have been looking at organizations through the lenses of the natural, open, and rational perspectives along with focusing on other aspects of the organization such as power, technology, and culture. The interesting thing about Bucknell is that it is such a multi-dimensional organization with several very different groups all working to better the overall organization. Bucknell is actually quite similar to Enron in the sense that they both have a decentralized structure with different groups working towards different goals that will all hopefully benefit the organization (Bucknell/Enron) in the end. These different groups at Bucknell are comprised of the students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni, and trustees. Yet, even within one of these groups, say the administration, there are individuals and sub-sets working towards drastically different goals. For example, those working in Development and Alumni Relations are working on very different things than say someone in the Finance Department or Athletics. This also sets up for a very interesting hierarchy within the university because many of the groups are in essence working for each other. The administration has to work to appease both the students and faculty because without either the university wouldn’t exist, but each of these groups has extremely different interests.
In addition to the complexities within the organization, I also think that a lot of the topics we discussed in class can be applied to help analyze Bucknell as an organization. Theories about power and authority can help to explain the power struggles within the university and potentially the conflict that occasionally arises between the student body leadership and the administration. I would also argue that Bucknell has a very distinct culture around it. There truly is a sense of being a “Bucknellian” at this university and the “Bucknell Bubble” absolutely exists. Innovation is also something that is extremely important to the success of this unversity. Because of internal and external pressures and the competitive environment that surrounds liberal arts universities, Bucknell is constantly required to come up with innovative new ways of doing things. From a new curriculum to a virtual admissions website. organizational innovation is essential for this university to thrive.
It is clear how several of the topics and theories discussed in class can be applied to and help us to understand Bucknell University as an organization. I fear that the only issue I may face is the complexity and vastness of different organization aspects, so I may have to focus more specifically at certain areas of the university. Either way it will certainly be interesting to yet again look at Bucknell through a new lens.