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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Informal Poll on Interim Dean Preferences

The new poll is unofficial, informal and incomplete. It carries no official weight, but seeks merely to inquire. No one on it has been formally nominated, no one has self-nominated to be on this list, these are simply "persons of interest" whose names have been mentioned in various email communications discussing possible candidates over the past couple of days. And there may well be others who should be considered for the job whose names do not appear on the list. You can put them down as "write in" candidates under Comments if you wish.

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Mass Customization, "X Student Centeredness" and "Directions"

The bulk of questions from the audience at yesterday's packed house President's Town Hall Meeting concerned the relationship between Dr. Jacob's "Directions" document and two driving restructuring concepts that Dr. Haggett has termed both "paradigmatic" and "visionary": 1) "mass customization" and 2) "extreme student centeredness." I put these in quotes because they remain rhetoric, not having been clearly defined or articulated by the Jacobs Administration. Yet they are the heavy equipment driving the present restructuring of the A&S College.

It became clear early on during yesterday's PTH meeting that the Jacobs team is 1) now interested in separating the "mass customization" rhetoric from the "extreme student centeredness" rhetoric, and 2) has no handle on the history, meaning and implications of "mass customization" as it applies to public higher education, to the University of Toledo, to the A&S College, and to the past, present and future value of a rich and diverse liberal arts curriculum within it.

A&Sforum blog readers can gain valuable insight into the meaning of "mass customization" in private and public higher education by viewing here:

In this document titled "Better-Than-Ivy Education: $7,376 a Year" Dr. Vance H. Fried, a "mass customization" in higher education guru, argues that "A well-designed curriculum is key to both improving student learning and lowering costs. Providing a personalized education through mass customization is possible if you build upon a well-designed platform of courses for both general education and the major. While done to insure quality of learning, significant cost savings also ensue because you are reducing the number of class sections you offer." Sound familiar?

I am willing to consider these arguments and discuss them further, as they are critical to the future "Directions" of UT under the present administration. President Jacobs and Provost Haggett have "bought into" Dr. Fried's arguments and proposals, and eager to implement educational policies here at UT based on these arguments. I think students and faculty should read Dr. Fried's article and prepare to discuss it broadly and informally across campus in preparation for release of the release of the UT WMW group's White Paper tentatively titled "Wrong Directions at the University of Toledo: The Social Pathology of “Mass-Customization” Rhetoric and Applications for Liberal Arts Education in Public Higher Education."

Related to this informal discussion, I would like to invite Dr. Fried to the University of Toledo to argue his proposals in a public forum, perhaps sponsored by the UT Student Body or the Alumni Association. At that time Dr. Fried can respond to concerned A&S students, faculty and alumni who object to his arguments and proposals which appear to be those so strongly supported by President Jacobs and Provost Haggett. I encourage everyone on campus and in the community to bone up on the "mass customization" concept and the implications of its applications at UT in anticipation of the important debate looming on the near horizon.

I want to thank our concerned A&S students who raised these significant questions at yesterday's PTH Meeting for taking the lead in guiding us to a productive debate on "mass customization" and for continuing to contribute their ideas, concerns and bibliographical items to WMW in advance of the release of the White Paper.

Article in Blade re Student Concerns Voiced at July 17 Townhall

The article can be viewed at:

Once again we must applaud the quality of A&S students.

Comment: Remarks quoted in the article by administrators re hiring seem misleading in that they imply that new College hires equate with the needs of depleted departments. Restricting hiring to mainly lecturers and visitors when the great need is for tenure track faculty doth not a leading university make.

Also related to news coverage, ABC13 Toledo news aired a story on the night of the Dean's resignation, July 16 at 11p.m. But as of yesterday the story seems to have disappeared from their archive of recent news stories. Is there some sort of pressure being exerted? Censorship? Forbidden knowledge?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A&S Students Protest Dismantling of College, Make Demands, at Jacob's Townhall Event

Students of the College of Arts & Sciences issued the following press release. Supporting documents will be posted as they become available.

University of Toledo Students Share FOIA Findings And Announce Their Demands

Organized student protesters announce demands that must be met to bring their actions to an end

July 17, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact: Evan Morrison, 419.283.7244

Toledo, OH –Today, Thursday, July 17th, students will voice their demands to halt the dismantling of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and the Jacobs agenda at a press conference at 3:30 P.M. during a rally in front of the UT Health Education building. (Health Science Campus, lawn facing Transverse Drive.)

“We have uncovered evidence showing administrators discussing in blunt terms their goals for the elimination of departments at UT,” says Evan Morrison, a History major. “Students will act to ensure our programs are not dismantled.”

Student protest this summer led to the halting of mergers that were planned to conclude by July 1st, mergers that many saw as ill-conceived attempts to weaken faculty and eviscerate long-standing academic programs to save money. “Millions of dollars have been cut from the budget for our college in the past four years,” says Art and Film major Meg Sciarini.(Sha-rini) “How much more slicing can we endure?” Information found in the FOIA request shows that the mandated 10% departmental cuts are described as “Conversation Starters,” which lead many to believe that even more drastic cuts are planned.

Despite evidence showing the college of Arts and Sciences bringing in revenue in the tens of millions of dollars for the University every school year and growing in every school year reviewed, the discussion amongst high level administrators is to “decide which areas should be fully funded, and which areas should not be funded at all.”

Following the press conference, students will attend a Town Hall Meeting being hosted by President Jacobs at the Health Education Building and present to the President the issues that they feel must be addressed.

Information cited comes from “The College of Arts and Sciences: Budget Hearing, Strategic Planning and Prioritization;” Board of Trustees “FY 2009 Budget Strategies and Assumptions;” and Senior Leadership “Transformational Budgeting.” Copies of the documents cited and others will be available at the press conference.

What: Press Conference held by University of Toledo Students
Where: Health Education Building, Health Science Campus Lot 43
When: Today, Thursday, July 17th, 2008, 3:30 P.M. (prior to 4 P.M. Town Hall Meeting with UT President Lloyd Jacobs)


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

time to look forward

i, too, wish the best for dr. lee.
i think he was put in a virtually impossible position as the dean of a college in the cross-hairs of an administration intent on following neo-education pundits who want us to think that university education as it stands is failing our students.
be that as it may, the provost has asked me to put lee's deanship behind us and have a new beginning. i have agreed. now it is time to look to the future.
as part of that forward looking, we as faculty should design our own position for the college in these times, so as to have positive arguments rather than negative responses to administration fiat, if that happens.
brian patrick presented four points of departure in commentary to a posting below. those points are:

(1) improve the capacity of departments to deliver quality university-level service, teaching and research by hiring tenure track faculty that are active and publishing.
(2) instead of controlling departments and appropriating their budgets, allow them to grow towards the light through independent entrepreneurial, creative action.
(3) improve faculty and student governance structures so that the university and college are no longer vulnerable to the half-baked initiatives of the bureaucratically-minded
(4) maintain high standards in faculty hires and curriculum that will prevent this fine and venerable regional University from being turned into a cattle-barn mass model of education.

in addition to those points of departure, the executive committee proposes the following
requests of the administration:

1) make administrative decisions in a logical transparent manner- not as fait-acompli.
2) curriculum decisions belong with the faculty- but we must take that responsibility seriously.
3) the university is not the servant of the corporate world.
4) an audit of administrative spending.
5) a review of the dean hiring process; faculty have to be actively involved.
6) a clear statement of the process for hiring vice-provosts in the future.

consider these points, write commentary, edit, add and/or subtract. discuss them among your colleagues. if you do not want to post to this blog, please write your commentary to me or anyone else on the executive committee. let's get to work for the good of our college. if you think things are fine as is, give your arguments.
thank you all for your support.

Provost Announces Dean Lee's Lateral Transition


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Letter From A&S Executive Committee re "magic bus" post

The below letter was sent by ASC Chair Lawrence Anderson-Huang to Blog Facilitator for posting

July 15, 2008

Dear Colleagues:

A cartoon published earlier on this blog was found to be offensive to a significant part of our faculty community. Since such posts do not serve the mission of the Arts and Sciences Council or the University, the post has been removed at our request. We denounce racism, sexism and cultural bias. We ask our bloggers to respectfully consider all members of this blog's audience.

ASC Executive Committee
Lawrence Anderson Huang, Chair

Blog Facilitator Flexes Virtual Muscle

All right... I have heard and read enough.

Re the Magic Bus Post. Virtuous emails are flying all over the university, each one more righteous than the last, each sender more outraged than the last. A party who complained, justly I believe, denounces the magic bus cartoon but at the same time sends thousands of copies of it by email to the world.

Arts and Sciences Council's Executive Committee, which met this afternoon and discussed the cartoon, did not post the cartoon. Let that be clear. It was posted by a faculty member. This is the nature of a blog. People post things.

Arts and Sciences Council XC has denounced the cartoon. A letter from Executive Committee to this effect and detailing its reasons is posted above.

Now as Blog Facilitator I do not work for A&S Council or follow its directives. This blog is independent and merely provides a service, a forum, which may be subject to misuse. But I agree with concerns that the post does not further the purposes of the blog and that it offends. I remove it in way of correction.

Blog Facilitator

Censorship seem far worse than satire

Before burning down the ascforum blog in the manner of some righteously-indignant hysterical mob trashing a newspaper office in some frontier town, why not just hire an outside consulting firm for big bucks to determine if Lafcadio’s political satires are protected or not by First Amendment freedoms? Or just think it through yourselves. Do we promote critical thinking here at UT or not? Review the evidence on the blog itself. Censorship seems far worse than satire.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Controversy Over Magic Bus Posting. Your Input Requested.

The new "Magic Bus" posting below has attracted some adverse criticism. Someone says it is blatantly racist because of the outfit worn by the person who is apparently supposed to be the Dean and who is depicted in the lower right hand corner. I asked the creator who says it is not racist, nor was it intended as such. "It is satire," says the creator. The same author also contibuted the post above the Magic Bus with the leash and the couple, apparently also a satire, one of whom is wearing what seems to be the same outfit, which does not seem to be racist to critics.

The question I would like to put to the public that reads this blog, and we have already heard much from one of you, is this: Should we remove this posting?

Speaking as blog facilitator, I would like to do the right thing. The author has suggested cropping the photo to eliminate the controversial part.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Getting Away

I would like to move away from Jake and his bus for a few moments. That Arts and Sciences is faced with problems with the dean, the provost and the president cannot be questioned. But, it is only a part of the problem. We have, in some ways, been our own worst enemy. Whenever challenged about curriculum we puff out our chests and yell, "we are the liberal arts." This is hardly a convincing answer. We need to do more than whine. We need to have convincing arguments about why a student should take a variety of courses and not merely mouth that they need to be liberally educated. Ask yourself exactly what you remember from the "liberal arts" part of your undergraduate education? What value did the in-class professor add to that education? How have you used that portion of your education? Do you even remember what classes constituted that part of your education? How many of us have looked back at our undergraduate transcripts and said, "I took that class?" The point is not to embarrass those of us who only vaguely remember the 60s but to point out that merely reciting a mantra that includes "we are the liberal arts" is not good enough.

Monday, July 7, 2008

This Letter went to all A&S Faculty from ASC Executive Committee in Response to the "Throw the Dean Under the Bus" emails

Dear A&S faculty;

Many of you have already seen the e-mails between the President and the Provost reproduced below. They are the result of an independent investigation on the part of students who care deeply about the College. The e-mails were written in April soon after the administration was first presented with the vote of no-confidence in the college’s leadership.
We have serious concerns about both the tone and the content of the e-mails. We believe that they are evidence of disregard, disrespect, and even outright duplicity toward the A&S Council and the faculty we represent (as well as toward the Dean).

In these e-mails, the faculty of Arts and Sciences (“the A&S folk”) are accused of “bad behavior,” and corrective action in the College office is understood as “rewarding bad behavior.” This is simply incredible coming from a university president. As Andy Jorgensen puts it, “the Council did exactly what it should have done - pointed out the limitations of College leadership - and did so in a careful and deliberate fashion in an open meeting characterized by facts and after 9 months of attempting to make the situation work. This is what faculty leaders do.”

We reject the assertion that we were “badly behaved” and henceforth expect and demand that the administration make decisions for the good of the College and its students, not for the purposes of punishing the faculty and the students we teach. The President and Provost will have to prove not merely with defensive words but with actions that they are worthy of our trust.

Furthermore, we are deeply concerned about the imposition of an agenda without any consultation with faculty leadership. Contrary to principles of transparency, openness and negotiation that we adopt as faculty in the arts and sciences, the e-mails show that reorganization was planned in advance and doggedly pursued without any thought of public discussion or real consultation with the faculty whose expertise is singularly important in these matters.

If this administration wants to achieve any of its goals, it will have to respond seriously to the students and faculty of this institution. One cannot run a university with no concern for its historical mission and by eviscerating the largest college on its campus. The e-mails released this week do not inspire confidence that the administration either understands or knows how to run a large, diverse, and intellectually spirited college such as the College of Arts and Sciences.

The A&S Council Executive Committee will call a special meeting of the Council shortly before the beginning of the Fall semester to consider our position.

Lawrence Anderson-Huang,
Charlie Creutz,
David Davis,
Renee Heberle,
Ray Marchionni,
Brian Patrick, and
Linda Rouillard (for Ruth Hottell).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Preparing Jake's Bus

It is unclear at the moment whether President Jacobs will be driving, riding or underneath.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Poll Results

I was talking to a colleague a few weeks ago and he mentioned that Jacobs had accomplished what he thought to be impossible -- he made Kapoor look not so bad. So I thought I'd put up a poll and see how the blog visitors felt about who was the worst of the recent UT presidents.

One hundred eighteen votes were cast and the results were:
  • William Decatur - 2 (1.7%)
  • Frank Horton - 0 (0%)
  • Lloyd Jacobs - 82 (69.5%)
  • Daniel Johnson - 2 (1.7%)
  • Vik Kapoor - 32 (27.1%)
One comment on IHE said my poll was "gloomy." Another said that many faculty either weren't here for the other presidents or couldn't remember how much Kapoor was disliked. So ok, let's have a "sunny" poll asking who the blog readers think was the best of those same presidents and see how things turn out.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The fun begins...

The link below leads to the Inside Higher Ed article re Jacobs and the Provost's emails on throwing the Dean under the bus. There are many spirited comments attached to this article as well on the Inside Higher Ed site.