The culture that is Disney? The culture that is GWU?

The George Washington University faculty and staff ain’t got no culture. Or worse, we’ve got a negative culture. This was the verdict of the Disney Institute, which the president of our university commissioned last year to assess the culture on our campus. Fortunately, the institute, which is the “professional development and external training arm of The Walt Disney Company,” has a remediation plan. It has designed workshops to teach us the cultural “values” and “service priorities” we evidently require….

Our president is rumored to have forked over three to four million dollars to the Disney Institute to improve our culture (he refuses to reveal the cost). A select group of faculty and staff, those identified as opinion leaders, are being offered all-expenses paid trips to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando “to gain first-hand insight into Disney’s approach to culture.” For everyone else, the university is conducting culture training workshops that run up to two hours. All staff and managers are required to attend. Faculty are strongly “encouraged” to participate, and some contract faculty, who have little job security, evidently have been compelled to do so.

I attended one of these workshops. It was a surreal experience. About a hundred mostly sullen university employees—maintenance workers, administrative staff, faculty members, and more—filled a ballroom. Two workshop leaders strained to gin up the crowd’s enthusiasm with various exhortations and exercises, supplemented by several slickly produced videos. The result was a cross between a pep rally and an indoctrination camp.

We were introduced at the beginning of the workshop to the university’s brand new slogan: “Only at GW, we change the world, one life at a time.”

Here is the full blog post from Dane Kennedy, faculty at GWU.  Via Isaac C.


Sounds even better than leadership training workshops.

Sounds like a better use of money than continual hiring of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion staff and the ballooning of other "entertain-and-make-kids-feel -better" staff and programs. At least the Disney thing is a non-recurring expense.

Most universities seem to be actively doing their best to destroy the culture that created and sustained them.

Are you triggered? Do you need a safe space?

This is rich. Disney teaching culture and values. Didn't they fire their American IT staff and hire H1b to replace them???

It's an remarkable paragraph in favor of all the online users; they will take benefit from it I am sure.|

They are hell bent on replacing existing cultural institutions with the world of wokeness. Their mission is almost complete. Eventually the hoi polloi will replace college summer camp with low cost self-paced online ed once the credential problem is solved, possibly via testing like the BAR exam and other professional certification regimes. Only the wealthy and superstars will attend expensive schools and the third tier schools will fold.

Sadly, the ruling elite and their subservient mandarins will get processed via the woke machines.

I predict the ruling class and their Mandarin bootlickers will not be popular.

Hold on to your hat.

Disney is not to be trusted.

"They" includes, but is not limited to, Disney.

A perpetually copyrighted mouse stomping on a human face, forever?

It would be better if they hired someone from Hillsdale to teach the ignorant about the Constitution. Katy Tur, of NBC IIRC, was touting the fact that the states of the Senators voting to throw Trump out had a greater total population than the acquittal states. She further asked if “gerrymandering “ of the states led to Trump’s acquittal.

Then Donkeychompers identified a previously unknown famous economist, Milton Keynes. So-called “higher education” needs to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch, in a cheaper, streamlined version.

That's classic Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,

Only a socialist would mentally group Friedman and Keynes like that. But we already knew she was DSA.

Socialist! What an insult!

And what would you call someone promising to eliminate the debt (not the deficit, the debt) in one presidential term.

A moron?

Sorry, two presidential terms.

Still a moron.

Yes, but a majority in which Asians are reduced to third tier citizenship.

Remember: Democrats want Asians who score above the 90th percentile in MCAT to go be plumbers.

The Democrat policy is that people who fail every test should be doctors.

Does gab care about truth? Nah

Curiously "Milton Keynes" is a "new town" in England where Cranfield University is located.

Socialist campuses have much to learn from an excellent capitalist business like Disney.

Our president is so foresightful - he has already removed his name from the sort of place that cold blooded socialists would use to go down that slippery slope to mass public executions last fall. "At two of President Trump’s oldest businesses — a pair of ice rinks in Central Park, which Trump has run since the 1980s — Trump Organization employees did something unusual in the past few weeks.

They started removing the Trump name.

Now, as skating season begins, the president’s name is gone from the boards around each rink where large red “TRUMP” signs once surrounded skaters. It is mostly gone from the desk where visitors rent skates: There, the white tarp used to hide the Trump name wasn’t quite big enough for the job, so a “T” still sticks out."

I have heard Sanders intends to adopt the old Albanian system and ban all religions.

My point is, it is sad to imagine that we may be an election from communist totalitarianism.

Assuming your comment is not tongue-in-cheek, not likely. If you look at the candidates, reflexive far-left ideas look normal within the Democrat field. Put one of them against Trump, and their stupid, destructive positions will be spotlighted.

There is not much crossover potential between the candidates. If Bernie is swindled again, his supporters are unlikely to back another candidate. That’s the ball game right there. If Bernie becomes the nominee, ho, ho, ho! Better short popcorn.

I am not so sure. Commjnist seems to be the wave of the future in today's America. Sanders proved to command a bigger wave of enthusiasts than any Democratic pre-candidate in modern times. It is not unthinkable that he can, in the general election, do as well as Clinton and then re-take a swing state. He probably has a lock on Jews, Blacks, Hispanics and millenials. It might prove to be just enough specially if something happens to the economy between now and Election Day.

Bernie winning would be the third upset win by a populist in a row. What does that tell us, besides “Americans are unhappy”?

Its tongue in cheek to call Obama a populist. But he was an outsider who surprised a lot of us.

Sorry to disappoint you, but not enough of that the electorate is brain dead enough to buy Bernie’s “ideas”

Maybe, but it is terrifying that we might be an election from totalitarianism writ large. I am seriously thinking about immigrating.

I think you meant to write "emigrating." "Immigrating" would be coming to the US from somewhere else.

You could move to Brazil.

According to famous economist Mr. Caplan, Sanders might be "a totalitarian hiding in plain sight". His being a communist, according to said expert, is almost as likely as you shooting yourself playing Russian roulette with one bullet. Will we gamble America's future?! Read it all here: .

Boring Thiago is the worst Thiago

You might be mistaking me for another person.

Just the facts:

1) GWU traditionally has been a haven for rich kids who's parents don't mind paying at one point the highest undergraduate tuition rates in the country (surpassing I think even Harvard). Hence no team spirit.

2) GWU I once read has a very low alumni endowment fund. Most people just graduate and move on. No team spirit even after graduation.

3) what the professor is complaining about is a routine "corporate leadership training or team building" workshop, as done in the private sector. Often indeed a waste of time.

4) This sentence speaks volumes to me: "About a hundred mostly sullen university employees—maintenance workers, administrative staff, faculty members, and more—filled a ballroom" - why SULLEN? I think Disney was right.

5) Re cost, if you want to cut costs, cut salaries, overhead and the like. It would probably take GWU down a notch or two in the "best colleges" ratings, since 'rating agencies' look at this kind of stuff, and reduce GWU more to the level of GMU, which always seems to rank lower.

6) GMU also has no team spirit. At one time in the 70s they were a branch of U of VA, and a commuter school for adults who had a job already. Prior_A can tell you more about this.

As I say, just the facts from a guy who's somewhat familiar with DC colleges and universities.

Bonus trivia: Marymount University in Arlington actually *is* affiliated with LA's Loyola Marymount U, at least in spirit, I did not know that. ("Marymount was founded in 1950 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM) as Marymount College, a two-year women's school. It was a member school of the Marymount colleges operated by the sisterhood in New York, California and several other states.")

Why no team spirit? You would think rich kids love to socialize with other rich kids and leave a lot of daddy's money behind like they do at Harvard, Stanford, even USC. Possibly a lack of academic rigor or lack of later alumni success?

The employees were sullen because they also had to sit through a pitch for a time-share at one of Disney's resort properties. Seriously, this sounds like some credulous dean answered a spam email and ran with it. Perhaps the culture that is lacking is one of financial responsibility.

No, this can't be right. Imagine if university presidents were gullible fools subject to be taken in by whatever slick con or dazzling new idea was presented to them, the world would look...well, a lot like the world we live in....

Thats why GWU has the same culture as Trump University.

"why SULLEN? I think Disney was right"

In most organizations they would have brought donuts, and this would have been an entirely sufficient to lift the mood and break the monotony.

Obviously if they spent millions and there were no donuts this is a real crime.

The harping on "team spirit" is a bit odd to me. This is a job, not a lifestyle or a club. Sure, work together to get a job done if necessary, but at the end of the day the school is a business. You can't expect indefinite loyalty to a business.

And if you're surprised that workers are sullen to be required to attend a pointless meeting that's got nothing to do with their work, you haven't worked with blue-collar or admin types. Those folks have work to do, and this meeting is interfering with it. And they're not stupid; they're going to look at what happened and reasonably conclude that the university has been swindled (was there any chance Disney would NOT have said they need this training?). Hard to get these folks to happily sit and watch their employer fritter money away.

Also, donuts are nice. Coffee is necessary. Forget the coffee and they won't be sullen, they will move into passive resistance. Saw it happen once. It was hilarious.

+1. You get.

The whole thing reminds me of the numerous sensitivity trainings I had to endure during corporate years.

And diversity training for government managers. Years later, I'm still laughing about how the trainer used Dennis Rodman as an example of how management should welcome diversity.

What's wrong with Dennis Rodman? A total weirdo who was nonetheless, in the right surroundings, an amazing contributor.

"What's wrong with Dennis Rodman? "

Well there's the multiple assaults, including the domestic assault charges.

@JWatts - You judge a baller by what he does off-court? That's wrong bt very PC, very common with some people. Personally, I'll never forget how Rodman once 'hand checked' a dude with his member, without touching him with his hands, it was hilarious.

Bonus trivia: Rodman's father is named "Philander Rodman" (sic), which you can use Webster to figure out, and he's got several dozen illegal wives in the Philippines, around Subic bay.

If we're evaluating his skills as a basketball player, those factors may not come into play.

If we're evaluating his ability to speak to how management should welcome diversity, they're worth at least considering. I wouldn't trust Bill Clinton or Cosby giving a seminar on sexual harassment in the workplace, but I'd trust them to give a lecture on politics or acting.

Headbutting a ref, and kneeing a cameraman in the crotch is enough to judge his court behavior.

Culture cannot be taught. Culture cannot be manufactured. Culture can only develop naturally and organically.

The issue is "corporate culture", not "culture" as in the arts, etc. But, this anecdote tells one alot about GWU's lack of corporate culture. GWU's management is apparently lacking in leadership skills. Trying to outsource leadership by holding a few expensive seminars and boondoggles will likely only make matters worse, even though by most measures Disney is a well-run company.

Yet, culture is learned. Just because no one has developed a good curriculum yet does not mean it is inherently impossible.

That's very true, but it can be monetized with careful lies.

Culture can be sold, however developed.

You have to have willing buyers, though.

Change "Disney Institute" to "Diversity Institute" and make the single targeted cultural "value" elevation of demographic statistical outcomes over merit, equal opportunity, free speech, and open inquiry, and isn't this process of trying to "improve (diversity) culture" going on at many universities beyond GMU?

Safe spaces are available for everyone, dear.

"...isn't this process of trying to "improve (diversity) culture" going on at many universities beyond GMU?"

Yes. In fact it is a fait accompli. Top to bottom and side to side, academia is totally woke. The ongoing trainings are just reinforcement. Wow to the unwoke ...

“Only at GW, we change the world, one life at a time.”

So, you do it in bulk when grocery shopping?

Besides, that motto/slogan is too short. I’d add another sentence at least.

I wish my consultancy got this kind of deal, must be something I am doing wrong. But then, I don't have the means to bribe top administators with an all expenses paid stay at Disneyland. At $4m they probably overpaid on this one, though. Perhaps the added effect of annoying their staff makes it worth it, though?

I can see the economist's write-up of this: "A Disneyworld Dilemma: Costs of Cultural Conferences for a Mickey Mouse Management Consultancy"

Clearly Mickey Mouse management is everywhere in evidence.

"Branding" might be a more accurate term than "culture". Down here in the South universities have well-known "brands", such as the Univ. of Alabama, on the one hand, and Vanderbilt, on the other. One might be surprised to learn that many high school seniors with a high level of academic achievement choose the former brand over the latter. I suspect that the Univ. of Alabama attracts a student body with a higher level of academic achievement than would be the case absent its brand. Then there is the Duke brand, which attracts a student body that is despised by everyone else because Duke students and alum have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Of course, "branding" is a first cousin to "signaling", which might help explain why so many down here in the South marry their first cousin.

I lost you at the last sentence rayward. Is marrying your first cousin a status symbol in the South?

Rayward fell into some not so subtle bigotry, yet again.

Amateurs should leave parody to The Babylon Bee.

Sound advice for Chris Matthews to follow, not to mention the NY Post.

Everybody knows the socialist executions in NYC will be held on Roosevelt Island, in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park.

I don't know, but the fact we might an election from a reign of unrestrained terror worries me. Maybe Democrats should choose a moderate candidate.

I thought it was parody then I remembered the head of Disney was the guy who figured out the Rossane Barr racist thing. I remember I got stuck on Muslim Brotherhood and monkey, couldn't make the race connection until someone mentioned black people. It was all quite confusing but once the Disney guy splained it to me I figured it out. That Disney guy has a PHD in diversity, I never got educated in the stuff.

Sp, anyway, Mickey Mouse was always my philosopher in chief anyway.

Having my curiousity aroused, such a crazy article exists.

Is he a comedian like Colbert?

U.S. should let coronavirus ‘rampage’ through China’s Communist Party, says hedge-fund manager Kyle Bass
This one is more interesting. An American billionare declares germ warfare on China., According to the Trump doctrine, the Chinese military can assassinate the guy. So, our president just insured that Kyle gets a bullet in his skull, that is something?

Whoa, where did the last bit come from?

That was such a wild leap, not sure what you think Trump Doctrine is, but it seems you're misinformed.

Trump doctrine:
A verbal declaration of war is sufficient for assassination, the Salami guy got blitzed. Remember the Iranians general Trump assassinated?

China can cite the Trump doctrine. Kyle made a verbal declaration of war against China, he is now slated for death, and Trump will approve the result. After all, Trump approved the MBS assassination of the journalist, why would Trump object to Xi blowing a hole in Kyle's head?

I can gofurther.
As a loyal American, patriotic to the Trump doctrine of assassination, I feel obliged to invite the Chines secret service into my country to fulfill our patriotic duty and have war declarers shot dead immediately.

I do not see Graham surviving, that guy declares war on some country about once a week.

What is more interesting, the easiest target to kill by drone is Trump. , He has zero defense against drones, yet he delclares drone assassination to be perfectly legitimate. What stops an Iranian agent from building a foam UAV wiith Chinese prts and a stick of dynamite from blowing away our president?

Nothing actually, it is about the simplest, and now legal, method of assassination. Trump, the idiot, made it legal! You cannot get any more stupid than declaring your own assassination legal while running for president with zero defenses.


The obvious answer is that all the old guys need to go, in government and in media. Froot Loops.

The perplexing thing though is that the millennials might like the old socialist.

Dankest timeline.

Disney is an entertainment company, television, movies and amusement parks. Maybe the operation of those specialties has important lessons to teach to the staff of a well-regarded university. Disney is not just a profitable business venture but is also a part of the fabric of American culture, perhaps the goal of any institution. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck aren't only fictional cartoon characters used to peddle products, they're leaders in the commercial folklore of the country.

I do not think so. They used to a big deal, but now it is Pokémon this, Star Wars that, Fast and Furious that other. Are their comic books even been printed? What about their cartoons?

Disney is a conglomerate, not primarily a cartoon-producing studio at this point. And they own the Star Wars and Marvel franchises, among many other things. From Wikipedia: "The company's main entertainment holdings include Walt Disney Pictures, Disney Music Group, Disney Theatrical Group, Walt Disney Television, Radio Disney, ESPN, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Disney Interactive, Disney Consumer Products, The Muppets Studio, Pixar, Marvel Studios, 20th Century Studios, Fox 2000 Pictures, Searchlight Pictures, Blue Sky Studios, UTV Software Communications, Star India, Lucasfilm, Hulu, and Disney Digital Network. The company's resorts and diversified related holdings include Disney Parks, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Line, and Adventures by Disney."

Revenue in 2019 was $69 billion.

It shows they are good at buying IP. Are they good at creating it?

Well, the post did say “revenue in 2019 was $69 billion”.

Mostly from property, Star Wars and all that, they haven't created. They just bought it. I, too, can buy things. It does not make me a cultural powerhouse.

You don't have young kids, do you? I assure you, Donald and Mickey are alive and well. Disney is just smart enough to separate out the kid shows from the more adult-oriented entertainment. If I want to watch "A New Hope" I do NOT want to be badgered by "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse".

I don't know. Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse used to be ubiquitous and their grip on the country's imagination used to be huge. There were comics and movies and funnies and all that.

I'm starting to get the feeling that what the Americans call a "university" can't really be translated to the German word "Universität". Cause in an "Universität" the idea to send faculty members (which usually are busy with research in their respective departments) together with maintenance staff (which are busy with keeping the infrastructure running) to build a sense of "culture" (what for?!) just doesn't parse.

One has to love Mickey before one judges too quickly. Mickey was always the straight shooter, the up and up character, the leading philosopher of our age.

There's an app for that called Bier.

I would guess that some non-elite American universities feel a bit insecure at the moment, given concerns over student debt and the increasing popularity of online learning.

Like any enterprise going through a time of uncertainty, you need to come up with a strategic plan and then have employees who are willing and able to execute on that plan. Yes, it's a very corporate thing to do but I can't blame a private university that cannot depend on government funding or a virtually inexhaustible endowment from trying.

Yes you can, Ricardo. This is an unbelievably inane waste of money that has already clearly damaged morale and alienated staff at GWU. It is only ideological gasbags here who think having some corporation try to impose its "culture" ("caring"? really?) on a supposedly "socialist" university staff for $4 million is a good idea.

Definitely seems stupid.

Although i do remember an HBR case study on the power of Disney’s corporate culture. Something to be learned there, surely.

But not something to pay for.

This is to be compared with the recent "assorted link" of Tyler to a post by Cochrane about a statement of support to diversity required to persons seeking hire or promotion in (some parts) of the UC system. The UC case was particularly violent and depressing, the GWU case is more comical, but they are instances of the same phenomena happening in any American university I know of.

This poses an interesting practical moral question. When you're an academic (tenured or not) who works in such an institution, which uses more and more this meaningless corporate (or corporate-like) language (care, being nice, diversity), intertwined with explicit racist and sexist ("not only are white males incompetent degenerates, but they are also the origin off all evil on this planet", superposed form the Nazi discourses about Jews) and at the same time forcibly and explicitly introduces racial and sexual criteria in requirement, and when you're opposed to these policies (because you believe your job is to teach all of your students regardless of race or anything, important and beautiful things, like Fourier theory, not "being nice with each other" ), when is continuing your work at your institution "collaboration", in the sense of the French collaboration with the Nazis?

I mean, if you work at such a university, you can oppose from the inside these new policies, and try to neutralize them. But at the same time you have to make concessions to them : at UC you need to write ugly statements, at GMC or elsewhere you need to attend those ridiculous training sessions, and you may be forced to send your students there, etc.

When is the evil you're forced to do to keep your job greater than the good you can do in keeping it? It is not clear in practice. And secondary question: if you determine that the evil is greater, should you quit immediately, or simply refusing to do the evil and waiting to get fired?

Any suggestions?

The term “triggered” is grotesquely overused, but sometimes it’s just perfect. Triggered.

He’s asking a serious question about the decline of, or better a displacement of an entire world view and set of practices about how we interact at colleges and universities. Let’s call it the Martin Luther King world view. You, Mike, are the one who is triggered enough to use a cliche.

No, he isn't. He is triggered and needs a safe space because (the horror) Black people and women exist.

"at GMC or elsewhere you need to attend those ridiculous training sessions, and you may be forced to send your students there, etc."

Sure. Private business never have weird sessions and activies. And it is the same as Nazism! The crazies are getting crazier and crazier.


I suggest you double check what you are writing before you post. "GMC" is the General Motors Corporation, not George Washington University (GWU) or George Mason University (GMU, closer, but still not "GMC").

So you give your employees a trip to Disney, under the guise of a vacuous workshop to justify the expense, and this is the thanks you get?

The whole thing went right over his pointy head. He actually thinks that the workshop was the purpose of the trip. Dr. Dane Kennedy must be fun at parties. He'd lose his mind outside academia.

"A select group of faculty and staff, those identified as opinion leaders, are being offered all-expenses paid trips to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando 'to gain first-hand insight into Disney’s approach to culture.' For everyone else, the university is conducting culture training workshops that run up to two hours. All staff and managers are required to attend."

Only a small number went on the actual trips. Most were required to attend culture training workshops.

Knowing that someone else got sent to Disneyworld while you got stuck in some lame pep rally for the rejects probably didn't improve the mood in those sessions....

Yes, Butler, you need to learn how to read. You look like another of the foolish gasbags here who somehow thinks Disney "culture" is something to foist on academics. Dane Kennedy was completely reasonable. I would much prefer attending a party with him than you, gag.

The good professor gets an F for reading comprehension.

Uh, Skeptical, rereading suggests that Butler is under the delusion that this ridiculous workshop occurred at Disney World. It did not. Some handful a GWU folks, probably motly overpaid do-nothing-useful administrators, got that wonderful trip there for which they are supposed to be so grateful. But the faculty and maintenance staff who had to attend this putrid workshop did so at GWU.

Learn to read yourself, Skeptical. You are again showing how worthless your contributions here are.

Disney is BORING for adults. Unless you have kids it isn't that enjoyable for many of us. And yes I do like to have a good time. Send me to Cedar Point please where they actually have roller coasters. Or send me to Hawaii where I can go swimming, hiking, take in the views... there are so many more interesting places in the world that a company could send someone.

Isn't this the college from an MR link last year, the one that was having trouble solving for the equilibrium, amid demographic change, of paying and non-paying customers for its "old-fashioned" educational offerings?

ooh, i think I hear the sound of an academic libertarian free market gear box grinding through the coarse sand of reality

GWU is beginning a program of “right sizing.” This should help them get through that process no problem. 🤦‍♂️

Spin those wheels!

Just curious: does the Disney Co. manufacture "Disney air" for visitors to inhale and exhale--completely free of airborne contaminants--at its Disneyland and Disneyworld facilities?

Are Disneyculture coronaviruses not communicable as they are in this tedious "real" world?

Who else is pioneering "antiseptic culture" these days?

Is contaminant-free Disneyculture as healthful as the sterile culture mediated by the internet or cable?

Disney name will grab eyeballs, but this exists everywhere. Certain folks where I work go to San Diego every year to learn some "best practices" nonsense.

Say GWU wanted to do offer development programming opportunities for staff and faculty interested in growing as leaders, particularly culture leaders. How could they have done that successfully?

In my experience Gov workers, apart form teachers, MD's, RN's where it is a calling they went into to help people, don't do much work and when they do they do it sullenly.

"The result was a cross between a pep rally and an indoctrination camp." That's Disney culture in a nutshell! You either like it or you don't. At least this group learned something first hand.

If the name George Washington is not sufficient to inspire some workplace pride and energy, perhaps the U can sell naming rights to a more inspiring (and deep-pocketed) contemporary figure.

I thought he was just a windbag who has to post something rambling every day or he feels unfulfilled.

Like the Greek millionaire pedophile who likes to post “first!”

Don't miss the comments. There's some high quality toadying going on as well as a lengthy parody of academic woke-speak.

Most of the comments are OK, but several are indeed parodies of themselves. For all those who think Disney is some great expert on workplace cultures of any sort, it should be kept in mind that in recent years there have been several scandals regarding mistreatment of employees at Disney amusement parks, all those poor people dressing up as Mickey Mouse, et al. Yes, these are just the people to lecture others in annoying workshops about "caring" for each other, especially for a $4 million fee.

Should have just sent them all to Disneyland to see this great culture at work. No sullen faces then.

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