The brilliant and inspiring leadership that Elon Musk has brought to Twitter since purchasing the company for $44 billion is ample evidence (as if we needed more) that universities should be run more like companies.
What better way to break through the inefficiencies and outdated thinking of traditional academic leadership than to not only adopt Musk’s operational style as our own but to recruit Musk as the next president of our university?
Here are the top eight reasons why your Board of Trustees should have as its first priority to bring Elon Musk to campus as the next leader of the institution.
- He Has the Time: It might appear that Elon Musk does not have the time in his schedule to add university president to his titles of CEO of Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX. That would be typical academic zero-sum thinking. Elon Musk has amply demonstrated that he can easily take on more leadership responsibilities, and his work as university president will be synergistic with his leadership of a social network, an electric vehicle company and a leader in for-profit space exploration.
- The Antidote to Staff Bloat: As is obvious to anyone who has ever spent one minute thinking about higher education, the No. 1 problem that universities have is staff bloat. Musk’s track record in laying off half of the Twitter staff demonstrates that he will have the fortitude to do what is necessary to bring higher ed staffing to its most efficient and optimal level.
- Faculty/Staff Productivity: Critical observers with business expertise have long wondered what in the world professors do when not teaching. A university led by Elon Musk will likely follow the expectations he brings to all the organizations he leads. Every university employee will be expected to be at their desk for a minimum of 40 hours a week. Truly dedicated academics will sleep in their classrooms, working round the clock to ensure that every possible teaching and research bottleneck is solved.
- University Shuttles Replaced by Hyperloops: Campus transportation advances have stalled since the introduction of the PRT (personal rapid transit) at West Virginia University in 1975. As president, Musk would bring his knowledge of hyperloop technology to solve the problem of campus transportation. The fast and efficient transit via hyperloop will enable university employees to park at distributed lots many miles from campus, where land is cheap. Through hyperloops, university president Musk would solve the existential governance problem outlined by Clark Kerr, that “the university is a series of individual entrepreneurs held together by a common grievance about parking.”
- An End to Noisy Mowing Outside Our Offices and Classrooms: As one of his first acts as university president (after laying off half of the staff) would be to mandate that all gasoline-powered lawn mowers are replaced by (Tesla-branded) electric mowers. These electric mowers are quiet and will ensure that the university does its part to save the planet from an existential climate disaster.
- Tesla Robots to Address Campus Short-Staffing: Traditional university leaders who came to their presidencies through academic careers have been unable to solve the campus service understaffing crisis. The quality of student-facing services, such as dining halls, has suffered as universities have not been able to hire and retain enough staff. As university president, Elon Musk will be in a position to solve these issues by replacing as many human campus employees as possible with Tesla robots (the Tesla Optimus Bot). Advances in artificial intelligence and sensors will accelerate the transition of expensive university employees to efficient and cost-effective robots, finally creating the conditions to bend the higher ed cost curve and cure the university cost disease.
- Satellite Martian Campus: As the new university president and the CEO of SpaceX, Musk will accelerate plans to build new revenue-generating satellite campuses. Unlike traditional university leaders, Musk will leapfrog terrestrial-based campuses and boldly lead the academic colonization of Mars. Tuition dollars from billionaires interested in both a high-quality degree and space travel will create a new and much-needed source of university revenues.
- Replacing University Email With DMs: If there is one thing that everyone who works at a university agrees on (beyond how terrible parking is), it is that email is the worst. As president, Musk will generously provide every university faculty member, staff member and student with a discounted verified Twitter account. Immediately after laying off half the staff and replacing the gas-powered lawn mowers with battery-powered mowers, Musk will require that all university communications transition from email to Twitter direct messages. The disappearance of long emails that cc every possible stakeholder, replaced by pithy DMs, will significantly increase campus productivity levels for remaining university employees.
For too long, colleges and universities have failed to learn from the most dynamic companies and for-profit leaders. Higher education has stubbornly failed to emulate the agility and innovation of great companies such as Twitter.
By recruiting Elon Musk as the next president, your university can demonstrate its commitment to disrupting itself.