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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More attention abroad...

While a Google Alert for Lloyd Jacobs turns up lots of interesting tidbits about the touring production of "Phantom of the Opera," it also turns up diamonds. To wit:
While there might be some argument that not every university can be everything to everyone, the speed with which Jacobs has attempted this radical change, and the way in which he has attempted it – without faculty input, with student input, without careful thought, planning, or research – has had a terrible impact on faculty and student morale, especially for those of us in the fields he does not value. Even tenured faculty are worried about their job stability. And if faculty don’t lose their jobs, they may nevertheless lose control over curriculum, at which point one wonders what that job stability will be worth.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Support around the web

If you haven't yet seen it, Margaret Soltan of University Diaries gave Jacobs' "Re-Engineering" speech her "Scathing Online Schoolmarm" treatment. Follow the link to read the whole thing, but here's a highlight (Jacobs' words in black, Soltan's in blue):
But note well: This plethora of programs, this multiplication of models, is what gets mass production into trouble. Very differently, the concept of extreme student centeredness treats every student individually and eliminates the need for many special programs. Every student is special. Every student becomes an individual case. [Again, notice the Orwellian split between what he’s asserting — in one cliche after another — about how special each individual is, and what he’s actually going to do: Take away the curriculum, shove students in big rooms with computers, and make them teach each other.]
The comments there are also worth reading. And one of her readers across town at Georgetown (Soltan is at GW) picks up the thread from Soltan's post and comments further at his/her blog.

And in another part of the blogosphere, New Kid on the Hallway, a historian, takes on the Strategic Plan and its insistence that all core courses must be made "relevant" to STEMM and professional programs.

Update: Yet one more post from out there in the blogosphere -- it, too, expresses horror at the commercial language that contradicts itself.

Word is getting out. I wonder if Jacobs has a Google-alert on his name?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Globalization" means you're never alone...

Thanks to the internets, our situation at UT is starting to attract attention. That's small comfort, though, since a lot of the attention seems to be of the "we're in trouble too" variety. But comfort is comfort, and so here is a little roundup of news abroad:

  • The online petition includes signatures from five states and two countries.
  • "Janice" wrote in comments to tell us about a similar situation in Canada. The most salient post is this one, but scrolling down you'll find discussion of issues we are or soon will be facing. For instance: our new University of Toledo in China, an arrangement that might be just peachy, or that might not be. But who recalls the deep campus wide discussion about the finer points? The issue (subscription required) was discussed in the Chronicle some time ago, but perhaps this is a good time to revisit the issue.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

picnic anyone?

The Independent Collegian has reported:"[T]he dean is acting through the president and provost on the policy of the board according to BOT Chairman, Richard B. Stansley." The same article suggested that the board members were surprised and uninformed about the sudden and unprecedented grassroots opposition by concerned faculty and students; for example, against the hastily contrived details of the board policy ("New Entity" and such) as these have been showcased in surreal public forums. Since the board policy is vague in almost all of its details, the potential collateral damage in these details to the university and college mission should quickly and emphatically be made known to each of the members of the board through their personal interactions with concerned faculty and students. I suggest a picnic hosted by A&S Council: an informational meeting where BOT members can discuss their hopes and plans with those in opposition to further insensitivity and mismanagement by executives responsible for the detailed design and implementation of BOT policy. Excellence above all in our educational endeavors is what most of us A&S faculty want to achieve. This is not so difficult if faculty serving in a rich diversity of complementary departments have high morale. Many students recognize that excellence in public higher education is corrupted by an administration that promotes false efficiencies and naked ambitions. Perhaps the BOT might even consider basic revisions of their policy to institute what is from moral and ethical perspectives both best and right for UT, its faculty and its students. Individual Members of the BOT are profiled at the following website, where they can be contacted:

Please contact them and introduce yourself and the significance of your urgent message. Invite them to the picnic. Many of those key administrators that the BOT Members might be swiftly reining in during this current time of crisis are in China, far and conveniently away from the fray. So it’s up to you, and now. The Members of the UT Board of Trustees are:

Richard B. Stansley, Chair
David G. Huey, Vice Chair
Carroll L. Ashley, Board Secretary
Steven Reginald Barker, Student Trustee
Thomas E. Brady
George E. Chapman
C. William Fall
Susan E. Gilmore
Marvin K. Himmelein
S. Arjad Hussain
William C. Koester
Kristen Kunklier, Student Trustee
Richard B McQuade, Jr.
Susan Farrell Palmer
Olivia K. Summons
John S. Szuch
Cynthia B. Thompson
Hernan A. Vasquez

Student voices

If you haven't seen it yet, the Independent Collegian ran an editorial today about the opportunities the new merged Faculty Senate might provide for better communication between the faculty and administration and the faculty and the board. While that might not sound much, it's actually a strongly-worded call for the preservation of shared governance. It begins quite boldly: "The past few months have been turbulent ones for the University of Toledo, capable of wrenching the institution from its foundations and inspiring ruinous upheaval." But the best part is this section:
In order to truly improve this university - or at least to keep it functioning adequately - all parties involved must have a hand in planning UT's future. It is undeniable that there are important advancements that can be made here at UT, even though the idea of improving a "failing liberal arts education" is ridiculous and dangerous. In order to even come close to accomplishing these goals and maybe moving UT ahead in national ranks, no matter the direction, there must be shared faculty and administrative governance. A marginalized faculty will, at best, simply not cooperate with an oppressive administration and become stressed, creating a nightmarish bureaucratic tug-of-war game and an unhealthy atmosphere for student education. At the worst, it will encourage faculty members to leave this university and continue their careers elsewhere.
The students get it. Why doesn't the administration?

Go read the rest. It's worth it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Let's make some (more) noise

If Benedictine monks are murmuring, we should be shouting. (Link is to an Inside Higher Ed story about Saint Vincent College's fight with their new president.)

It seems the reason Inside Higher Ed picked up this story about the new president at Saint Vincent College and his “systematic and pervasive disregard for collegiality and shared governance” is because it made it into a major newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Hey Blade reporters, where are you?

And hey Insider Higher Ed reporters, it's happening here, too!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Toledo Free Press letter to the editor from an A&S faculty member

This letter to the editor from an A&S faculty member appeared in this week's Toledo Free Press dated 4/18/2008.

Analyzing Jacobs

Your April 13 article about higher education in Northwest Ohio puts a positive spin on the plans of Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, president of the University of Toledo. I would like to offer a different analysis.

Jacobs does not want to educate Ohioans as a way to contribute to economic growth in the Northwest region. He wants to train them. I encourage your readers to read his recent speech (delivered on April 2 and available on the UT News page on the Web) about “re-engineering” the undergraduate experience. What would a UT education look like if Dr. Jacobs had his way? Undergraduates would take eight to 10 canned courses, standardized to fit a technocrat's vision of what they need to know about science, society and the arts, before entering into a “frugal” approach to getting to their first job.

One directive the president has issued is symbolic of his vision. He plans to take the third floor of the newly renovated Field House and turn it over to technology managers who would help feed packaged distance-learning courses, created by UT faculty or others depending upon the relative cost, to undergraduates. The third floor was originally promised to the English and foreign languages departments, disciplines that are crucial to success in a globalizing market that demands creativity, flexibility, language and reading and writing skills, and, of course, central to leading an interesting life; these disciplines would be at best marginal in Jacob's university.
And think about Jacob's understanding of the phrase “student centered.” Think about his plan for “mass customization.” Education is not a commodity; it is a complex lifelong project to which higher education contributes.

Jacobs was appointed president of the New UT without a national search.

In ignoring all the customary procedures, the board of trustees also ignored its responsibility to hire the most qualified person. Jacobs administered medical schools, not a university. Jacobs is no more qualified to be president than was Vik Kapoor, former dean of engineering at UT, who was fired within 17 months after damaging many of the best aspects of a UT education.

Upon his firing there was another national search, and Daniel Johnson came to UT. His administration repaired damage and returned UT to some semblance of stability, in terms of our budget and programs.

With the addition of MUO to our ranks of UT colleges, we could do even better than UT has in the past attracting funds and students to our school and region. And many of us see potential in Gov. Strickland's strategic plan developed by Chancellor Fingerhut. Yet the administration tells us that this plan would damage UT. I ask your readers to look at Page 21 of the strategic plan to best understand the spirit in which it is written.

associate professor, political science, UT


This is the section on page 21 of Ohio's Strategic Plan for Higher Education that I assume Dr. Heberle was refering to:

"Beyond STEM

In emphasizing economic development as the rationale for improving higher education, some inevitably misinterpret it to mean that we intend to focus only on science, technology, engineering and mathematics – the so_called STEM disciplines. To be sure, there is justified concern about the state of science and mathematics education not only in our state but in the nation as a whole. Ohio is taking creative steps to improve its performance in these areas and must take more. Success in the global economy, however, requires more than technical skills. It will take communication skills, creativity and innovation, an understanding of global cultures and history, and much more.

These skills are acquired through study in a wide range of disciplines, including the liberal arts and humanities, law and business, as well as science and math. Among employers and business leaders, concern over the basic reading, writing, and oral communication skills of the workforce is as deep as the concern over the technical skills workers bring to the job. Where this plan speaks of a comprehensive, quality education, it is meant in the broadest sense to include liberal arts, fine arts, and humanities. Where this plan speaks of developing Centers of Excellence,i t fully contemplates that these centers can and will be established in fields commonly associated with these disciplines, as well as the STEM disciplines."

Toledo Free Press Letter to the editor from A&S student

This letter to the editor from an A&S student appeared in this week's Toledo Free Press dated 4/18/2008.

Defining education

The coverage regarding higher education in the area was very interesting. However, educator Lloyd Jacobs has a very limited and narrow definition of education.

As a history major at UT, I pay the same tuition rates as every other undergrad at UT. However, the College of Arts and Sciences is not very high on Jacobs' list, especially the history Department. Jacobs has an aversion to this type of education because they are not considered “hard sciences.”

The department's funding is getting cut, tenured professors are retiring without replacement in the history department, all the while without having a real chairperson over the department.

As a student paying the same rates as those taking engineering and other “hard science” majors, I demand and deserve proper attention to the history department or my tuition partially refunded. I am getting robbed by paying for a decent education which is actually turning into subpar garbage via one man's power-tripping biases.


Rocket Report on NC Vote

Click the play button twice on the image below to view.

If the embedded video doesn't play, the link is

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Student Senate resolution

A few hours after we voted no confidence in the Dean two days ago, the Student Senate passed this resolution. The three student sponsors of the resolution were at our own session, along with eight or ten other students. We appreciate their support.

David H. Davis, Chair
A&S Council

Resolution 100x-R-041508

April 15, 2008

A resolution in support of the Arts & Sciences Council

Authors: Senator Mark D’Apolito, Senator Noah Gillespie, Senator Ken Evans

Whereas, the Faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences provide the classes that are necessary for the advancement of the students in all Colleges, and

Whereas, the Arts and Sciences Council has carefully deliberated, considered, and acted upon many proposals of the administration that have not received due faculty input.

Therefore, Let It Be Resolved, that the Student Government believes that the Arts and Sciences Council has acted in the best interests of students, and will continue to do so, and

Furthermore Let It Be Resolved, that the Student Government offers its full support to the Arts and Sciences Council.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

FOXToledo 36 News Story on No Confidence vote by ASC

Click the link below to view the video:

MyFox Toledo|'No Confidence' in UT dean

Blade article on no confidence vote

In case you haven't see it, you can click the link below to read the Blade's article on the no confidence vote. -- Faculty group declares lack of confidence in a UT dean

Also, -- and yes, even I think I'm being weird here -- I can't help but be fascinated by the fact that the photo of Dean Lee that accompanies the Blade article has obviously been cropped from the photo of the Dean shaking hands with "Bat Boy" that appeared in the April 10 Independent Collegian (p.B2).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No Confidence in Dean

The resolution that the Arts & Sciences Council has NO CONFIDENCE in the Dean passed Council today, 42 in favor and 7 opposed. This is an 85.7 percent No Confidence rating for the Dean.

Madame Provost--what will you do about this?

Monday, April 14, 2008

No Confidence Vote re Dean on Tuesday April 15

Tuesday at 3:30 the ASC Council will for the first time in the history of the College vote on a "no confidence" resolution in the Dean of Arts & Sciences.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Student Concern

Student government leaders have expressed concern in the future of the University and also great interest in the pending no confidence vote and the arrival of the New entity. There is discussion of a student petition to protest the Jacobean Entity. A number of them will attend the ASC meeting on April 15.

Also they have asked Exec Council to send a speaker to one of their meetings.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Good to Grrrreat!"

Anyone with an ear to the ground has no doubt heard the sussuring of a hedgehog rolling over in its little hedgehog grave.  You know the one.  The grave beneath the chapel?  Anyway: said hedgehog is rolling over after reading minutes from a meeting in which the "hedgehog concept" was used to justify threats to fire tenured faculty members because though they may belong to "good" departments and programs, they do not belong to "great" departments and programs.  
Problem:  the "good to great" concepts (hedgehog et al.) cannot be applied to academia in the same way they can be applied to corporations. First of all because the entire "good to great" analysis emerged from close, careful empirical study of corporations, not academic institutions. More importantly because a "great" institution cannot sever and forget about core values, core obligations, its central mission (identified by the chancellor's strategic plan as having everything to do with the liberal arts).  But don't take my word for it.  Here's Jim Collins himself, the author of the "Good to Great" book:

Once institutions have developed their hedgehog concept, their core values are readily identifiable. Core values don't change over time; they remain fixed and provide a sense of purpose that goes beyond just making money. Core values are the ideological framework on which everything is built. They are not open for negotiation. Academic freedom is a core value in higher education; the practice that flows from that core value is tenure. Institutions must not confuse their values and their practices: one is fixed, the other is open to change to allow for progress.

I have a feeling that a dead hedgepig is even more dangerous than a living one. Hedgepig is dead, and we have killed him. Long live hedgepig.

Bat Boy Pleads His Sabbatical Plan

“So, please tell me Mr. Boy exactly how your sabbatical plan aligns with the UT Strategic Plan?”

“Well, first let me thank you for asking. My basic plan is to hang around inside the darkest steeples and abandoned belfries of selected medieval Gothic churches along the Baroque Crescent of Western and Southern Europe. As my proposal explains, a “steeple” is a tall tower surmounted by a spire. Here, let me make one with my hands ... see ? By the way, could you please dim down that light?

“Let me first write a note to myself here ... and suggest, little Nietzsche-man, that you contemplate long and hard while hanging aloft in Europe just how much cleaner, more orderly, safe and secure World might be without all those dusty old steeples, belfries and Gothic churches taking up valuable space. Consider all the profits that might be generated by dictating alternative uses for their now underutilized sites: malls and dog parks and such. Begin thinking outside the steeple, Mr. Boy! Ever hear of Andrew Carnegie? “A rising tide will indeed lift all boats!” Read your Ayn Rand, too! Science, technology, engineering, math, medicine – together with a healthy dose of discipline -- can give you all the vision and the tools you will ever need to build a bolder, brighter future on this planet for both elites and little people!

“I don’t want a brighter future. I’m a bat.”

The Maotization of the University

Excerpt, Quotations From Chairman Mao TseTung

Within the ranks of the people, democracy is correlative with centralism and freedom with discipline. They are two opposites of a single entity
[the New Entity?] contradictory as well as united, and we should not one-sidely emphasize one to the denial of the other. Within the ranks of the people [faculty?] we cannot do without freedom, nor can we do without discipline; we cannot do without democracy; nor can we do without centralism. This unity of democracy and centralism, of freedom and discipline, constitute our democratic centralism. Under this system our people enjoy extensive democracy and freedom, but at the same time they have to keep within the bounds of socialist discipline.

Sound familiar?

At least we aren't alone...

The Georgia system seems to be in the grips of a NewEntity.  

Monday, April 7, 2008

the state strategic plan

in a response to
Repost: How academic corporatism can lead to dictatorship
LST said...

You can post this a thousand times. It gets better with every read.

What is truly interesting about the fiasco at UT is that nothing in the State's strategic plan requires or even hints at the dictatorial crap that we face day to day, though everything they're doing is supposedly linked to the state's new strategic plan. Indeed, it calls for strong liberal arts, consultative leadership, and explicitly for thinking of "areas of excellence" as complementary to--not exclusive of--traditional areas of scholarly activity.

A&S Council would do well to invest in nice printed copies of the state's strategic plan for every member of the college. It might actually save us.

i am not sure i agree. the state strategic plan was written by the benevolent dictator chancellor fingerhut, who with the governor has taken power away from the regents. in essence, it is just as much a top-down document as our strategic plan is. now, i have not read the plan in detail, but the executive summary has three disturbing paragraphs:
The University System of Ohio will end the counter-productive competition among institutions for scarce resources. The historic strengths and traditions of our individual universities will be
drawn upon to create distinctive missions for each, leading to the establishment of nationally and
internationally-recognized Centers of Excellence that will be drivers of both the regional and state economies and that will complement the comprehensive, quality education available at each institution. Each institution will delineate these Centers of Excellence, together with specific goals and measurements by which the goals can be evaluated.
This paragraph in and of itself is not so bad, if by "Centers of Excellence" one does not mean departmental programs.

High-quality associate and bachelor’s programs in core fields will be made available at a University System of Ohio campus within 30 miles of every Ohioan, utilizing the existing
infrastructure of community colleges and regional campuses. These associate and bachelor’s degrees will be among the lowest cost available anywhere in the country.

The Board of Regents will implement the Ohio Skills Bank to link industry demand to workforce
supply in the state’s 12 economic development regions. Demand for employment in each
region will be measured against the supply of students and programs available, and the programs offered will be adjusted accordingly.
these two paragraphs suggest that economic forces will drive programs and curricula.

The plan is not all bad; there are many opportunities present to grow a wide variety of programs IF the chancellor sees the value in those programs. the problem is that this is a one-pony show, which will flop back and forth as different administrations come into office. anyway, that is my take.

i would certainly like to see further discussion of the state plan; my misgivings may be misplaced. the plan is located at

i recommend that all of our comments be posted as original documents rather than as "comments" - that way they are more likely to be noticed.

Repost: How academic corporatism can lead to dictatorship

I had posted this as a comment to another post a few days ago. A colleague requested that I post this again as a main post so that it would be more prominent and hopefully would draw some further comment of its own.

A colleague sent department faculty this letter to the editor which appeared in the March 13, 2008 issue of Nature. I think you’ll find it describes the situation at UT fairly well and that A&S faculty at other institutions are also battling the top-down corporatism the president displayed in his recent "re-engineering the undergraduate curriculum" address.


How academic corporatism can lead to dictatorship

SIR — Michael Crow’s Book Review of Daniel Greenberg’s Science for Sale (Nature 449, 405; 2007) calls for a response because it reflects a worsening philosophical divide in US academia between those who regard universities as analogous to corporations and think they should be run that way (mostly career administrators) and those who see universities as primarily intellectual enterprises governed by academic core values(mostly line faculty). Asserting that the university is an idea — not an ideal or an ideology — Crow, who is president of Arizona State University, plays down or ignores most of the dangerous consequences of campus capitalism.

Faculty members would generally hold that universities represent ideals as well as ideas. These are manifest in a value system that is among the first casualties of academic corporatism. Derived from political corporatism, academic corporatism is an administrative strategy that is antithetical to the spirit that academics hold dear —including openness, transparency, collegiality, meritocracy, rule-governed procedures, balanced curriculum, a level playing field for probationary faculty and participation by faculty in governance.

Like its political counterpart, academic corporatism often results in dictatorships, with ideas originating only from the top and nothing going the other way. Academic assemblies, unions and senates are eviscerated, neutralized or eliminated altogether. Faculty members are disenfranchised. There is a chilling effect on free speech and the notion of an open marketplace for ideas.

This can wreak havoc with a university’s curriculum, jeopardize its intellectual and educational missions and compromise its future. As former Harvard president Derek Bok said: “The end to which this process could lead is not a pleasant prospect to behold.”

G. A. Clark
Department of Anthropology, School of Human Evolution and Social Change,
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287-2402, USA

NATURE|Vol 452|13 March 2008|p. 151

Sunday, April 6, 2008

more on OSU

here is the academic plan for OSU (e.g. strategic plan).
now why do you think we are a "tier 4" school? we have tier 4 administrators with tier 4 imaginations.
here is a book review describing the origins of the OSU academic plan...

Governance at BGSU and OSU

the academic charter at BGSU is at
BGSU :: Offices :: Faculty Senate
it includes the bylaws of the board of trustees, which are far less specific in their listing of powers than the corresponding bylaws at UT. Instead, responsibilities and authorities are laid out explicitly in the academic charter, and faculty governance is both explicit and implicit throughout the document. the following is taken from article I: the basic principles:

D. The primary responsibility for the development and maintenance of the University's academic
programs belongs to the faculty.
E. There must be faculty participation within the governance structure of the University, and
student participation when deemed appropriate, for discussion of problems and policies at all
levels within the University.
F. Faculty and student participation is fundamental to good faculty-student-administrator relations
in a mature university.
G. It is recognized that all members of the University Community and the Trustees have legitimate
concerns about all aspects of the University. It also is recognized that the primary concern of
students is with learning and pursuing their courses of study; the primary concern of members of
the faculty is with effective teaching and scholarly research or creative work; and the primary
concern of administrators is to provide service and support to the students and the faculty, to
protect the legal interests of the University, and to assure the implementation of the policies and
procedures prescribed by the governing councils and agencies of the University.

the bylaws of the board of trustees at OSU are here:
the section on faculty powers states:

(1) The legislative authority to establish educational and academic policies of the university is vested in the university faculty, subject to the approval of the board of trustees. In this connection, the university faculty shall have the authority, subject to the approval of the board of trustees, to adopt rules to effectuate the educational and academic policies of the university. It shall also act upon all matters of routine faculty business in pursuance of already established university policies and shall recommend to the board of trustees candidates for honorary degrees.

(2) The university faculty may delegate any or all of its authority and responsibility to a university senate if such senate is established by rule and approved by the board.

New Entity arrives! Faculty slaughtered!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Rocket Report of 4/4/08

Yesterday's Rocket Report lead with a story on Tuesday's motion for a vote of no confidence at the April 15 Council meeting. Click the play button twice on the image below to view the video. If it doesn't play, the link is

Between "dismal" and "abysmal"

This week’s “Chronicle of Higher Education” (April 4, p. A15) under the “Money & Management” section ran an article titled “Ohio’s Governor Presses Plan to Overhaul Higher Education” in which President Jacobs is quoted to have said “’What higher education has lacked and continues to fail at is to develop measurements, ... what you can’t measure you can’t fix’.”

Obviously President Jacobs, Provost Haggett, Dean Lee and (sad to say) my own departmental chair are presently in robotic lockstep with Governor Strickland’s business-driven numerical goals and their mis-measures of "success" and "efficiency" in public higher education. It seems that every aspect of the University of Toledo is now being measured except A&S faculty moral -- which on my meter reads somewhere in the red between “dismal” and “abysmal”! Poor faculty morale impacts directly on our students in the classroom (though -- gee whiz -- perhaps not so much in Distance Learning courses).

Although the UT administration has worked very hard over the last decade to shamelessly adopt the “business model” without remorse over collateral damage to more lofty goals and principles, and has meanwhile attempted to drive a thick wedge between A&S faculty and students, the unexpected events of this past two weeks indicates a sudden setback and perhaps a reversal (dare I say “tipping point”) for this administration’s long-term heavy-handed abuse of our faculty and students. The most recent Independent Collegian coverage and editorials suggest that many students are wise to this administration’s word games and subterfuges that have deliberately and deviously attempted to alienate them and their support them from our dedicated faculty. This administration’s drumbeat “student-centeredness” sham was not working fast enough for their timetable of creative destruction, so they had to invent “EXTREME student centeredness” as their desperate stratagem to speed things up! Give me a break!

Our students won’t be easily fooled by these blatherings of administrative blurts and adverts because we have taught them to be critical thinkers. The Administration has seriously underestimated the intelligence and power reserve of A&S students and faculty. When we A&S faculty and our students finally combine our creative forces and turn our full attention as a body of resistance to UT mismanagement and its destructive, dictatorial and abusive practices, we can then attempt to educate and reform these bullies, or throw them out (as we have done before), and to return to our traditional and sacred missions of higher education teaching, learning and service.

Friday, April 4, 2008

the myth of faculty ownership

i encourage everyone to read carefully the bylaws of the board of trustees, to be found at
particularly important are sections
3364-1-07 Administration of the University and
3364-1-10 Board bylaws; other rules and regulations
the deans have no policy power whatsoever. the faculty senate constitution has assumed ownership of the curriculum, but there in no indication in the BoT bylaws that such ownership exists; on the contrary, the president has the right to repeal any constitution. under these circumstances and given the administration's disregard of faculty sensibility and expertise in matters of curriculum and the mission of higher education, it seems our only choice is to "just say no". let them spend all their time trying to design "mass customization" curricula, related course syllabi, and, for that matter, teach the classes. no need to go on strike. just continue about our business as if they do not exist. administrators come and go; every year there is some other grandiose scheme- why pay attention?
There is a very thin silver lining to President Jacob's Address.

In my last night's grad class on Persuasion and Propaganda (COMM 6230) we had just finished reading Orwell's 1984, its Newspeak appendix and also Orwell's wonderful "Politics and the English Language" essay. Many of these grad students work for the University and had attended the address. They said Jacob's address was the perfect example of what George Orwell was talking about, and they insisted we watch the streaming video of the address. It was just as they said, even more perhaps, and a wonderful discussion followed .
It worked so well as a discusion example that I just gave my online Persuasion class their final exam/paper: to watch the address on the President's website and analyze in terms of Orwell (they have been assigned the same readings). I think perhaps I should send the President a "thank you" letter. Is this what he means by "extreme student centeredness"--him getting personally involved and setting an example for students?
Watch out for the New Entity
It might bite

-----Original Message-----
From: Davis, David H.
Sent: Thu 4/3/2008 4:42 PM
To: Anderson, Lawrence S.; Caruso, Michael J.; Creutz, Charles; Davis, David H.; Lipman, Joel A.; Patrick, Brian; Purviance, Susan M.
Subject: Dr. Jacobs' imaginative address
To the Executive Committee:
Even if you attended the presentation, you should look at the written version in detail. To save time, start at page 13 which says the purpose of higher education is economic prosperity. Page 22 says that degrees will be customized rather than majoring in a discipline. We will organize all undergraduate courses into modules and algorithms (page 26). Professional advisors will be moved to the Provost's office. We will purchase some Computer Assisted and DL courses from outside UT (page 30). We will have a New Entity to do much of this (page 32). Degree programs from University College will be transferred to A&S (page 34). These ideas are "sweeping the business world" (page 35).
While I have many questions, one is Where is the connection to the strategic plan?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

the bionic university

President Jacobs' speech yesterday was Orwellian. He invoked Dell as a model justifying his vision and plan for the systematic creative destruction of our beloved university! I expected a lady with a sledgehammer at any moment to charge into Doermann and down the aisle to toss her wake-up message at the screen. Clearly, without a fight the warm human heart and any part of the brain not wired to instrumental-rational thinking will be surgically removed from our Bancroft campus community and replaced with cold steel and microchips. Over my dead body. Melmoth

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

If you want to be astonished, take a look at the President's Webpage at today's video of his "reengineering undergraduate education" speech, this by someone who may never have taught an undergraduate class. You can see terms like "mass customization" and "extreme student centeredness" and "education incubator" much of which will take place in a "new entity." All this will involve a "common experience" involving course "modules" and "algorithms" that will redesign the Arts and Sciences curriculum. It is total educational change by decree and will start today. It is well worth watching and shows how little we have been told.

Memo for Council meeting on April 1

This is an updated version of the e-mail I sent on Saturday. Yesterday Dean Lee summoned the Executive Committee to what he termed an emergency meeting at 5:15. The main item was his request that we withdraw discussion of the merger of the Communication and Theatre and Film departments. We tried to explain to him the importance of shared governance.

We offered several reasons we need to discuss the merger. (1) We believe in letting the sun shine in produces better decisions. (2) The proposal impacts other departments such as Art, History and Gender Studies. (3) It is already widely known about campus. (4) The two departments have already met to discuss the merger. (5) The proposal may decrease faculty shared governance if the director is appointed instead of elected. In addition the abrupt manner in which the proposal was presented to the two departments appears to violate our system of shared governance. (6) The proposal would change the divisional structure in place since 1999 by vote of the A&S Council without an actual debate. Combined with a merger of History and Philosophy and Geography and Political Science, and English and Foreign Languages, it would be a major change in the organization of the College. (7) The Dean has a reputation for moving fast so waiting may not be possible. He proposes the merger to be in place on July 1, and only five weeks remain in the semester. For us to hold off discussion until it is a fait accompli would make our role meaningless. My own belief is that faculty don’t like to be treated like children.

The Provost has required all professors applying for a sabbatical to submit a statement of how their research will fit the Directions document (Strategic Plan) with references to specific sections. Provost Haggett said she will try to change her schedule to talk to us about 4:45. She will also address the issue of how adherence to the strategic plan may affect decisions on tenure and promotion this year and next year.

Taken together these appear to amount to a war against the faculty. They go against academic freedom and standards of shared governance. They will harm our standing with our disciplines, and will impair recruiting. A school of history and philosophy sounds like a community college. Many of the explanations we hear from the higher administration appear disingenuous. Moreover a number of the sections of the Directions document were changed at the last minute without faculty agreement. Although the threat is chiefly to departments with low priority, the disregard of established rules and shared governance can hurt anyone. It unmotivates that faculty. By harming faculty this will harm students.