Summer 1991 // Volume 29 // Number 2 // Commentary // 2LET1

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Fear and Intimidation?


Your editorial "Fear and Intimidation: Threats to Academia Freedom and Extension" (Spring 1991) struck a sensitive chord about Extension's potential to change with the times to meet clientele needs.

You asked: "Has Extension in its commitment to project a positive external image created an internal environment of fear and intimidation?" Yes! My 11-year experience as an Extension professional communicator supports this answer.

An Extension culture exists that suggests "do it my way-or the highway." A climate permeates the Extension System that emphasizes how over what, personality over performance, mediocrity over innovation, and accommodation over accountability.

Doublespeak has replaced vision and caretakers have replaced leaders in all too many circumstances. As a member of Epsilon Sigma Phi's Speakers' Bureau, I visit many other states and the similar comments and reports are simply too striking to dismiss as coincidence.

We're an organization adrift in fear-fear of making a mistake, fear of making someone angry, fear of the unknown, fear of each other-and to compensate, we cling to the notion of efficient tradition, never fully understanding that the most wasted thing in the world is something done efficiently that shouldn't be done at all.

Some of the brightest and most innovative minds in America have graced the pages of this Journal over the years. Extension is blessed with talent-it's a nurturing, confident, and wise leadership that's missing and that leads to fear and confusion every time.

William Russell
Extension Communications Specialist
University of Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas