Search This Blog

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A&S Round Table Update


The Roundtable Implementation Committee (RIC) met on December 16 in the A&S College conference room to discuss a “RIC Progress Report Circulation Draft” (hereafter “Report”) dated December 14th. The authors of the Report are Lawrence Anderson-Huang, James Benjamin, Charlene Gilbert, Renee Heberle and Ben Pryor. Other participants at this meeting were Provost R. Haggett, Dean N. McClelland, P. Poplin Gosetti, M. Denham, J. Barlowe, R. Heberle, P. Lindquist, C. Habrecht, R. Chandar, L. Rouillard, D. Nemeth, and D. Tucker.

This was the final scheduled meeting of the RIC. We met to jointly to “fine tune” the Report based on concerns raised and suggestions presented by committee members during previous meetings, and by interested outsiders. As I read over and contemplated on this latest incarnation of the Report in preparation for this meeting I kept in mind that the RIC was originally tasked to articulate clearly and credibly 1) a core identity, 2) a collective vision, and 3) a coherent strategy for our Arts & Sciences College. I also kept in mind how Dean McClelland emphatically and repeatedly directed the RIC to deliver a final Report that will establish our Arts and Sciences College as an “integrative hub” within UT capable of achieving “top-tier ranking” for its academic excellence. The Dean began the meeting by expressing her delight with the Report. She then turned the meeting over to J. Benjamin.

During previous RIC meetings I have voiced my concerns, and sometimes emphatically. I have offered many suggestions hoping to correct what I perceived meeting after meeting as persisting content problems in the developing draft Report documents. I have taken issue repeatedly with their false assumptions, internal contradictions, omissions, and mistakes. I share with you now my disappointment to discover that many of these same problems have persisted into this final draft Report. I think these content problems, unless corrected, will undermine the credibility of the final Implementation Report when widely circulated.

To illustrate and emphasize content problems persisting in this Report I created a “word cloud” (see image above) of the entire December 14 Report document (including its appendices). In this word cloud the top fifty terms used more than three times in the Report are displayed in alphabetical order. Contrasts in word font sizes reveal a measure of “relative importance for key terms used” based on the number of times they appear in the document.

I distributed this word cloud to the RIC at the December 16 meeting and offered up a few interpretive comments and examples. For instance, the term “excellence” does not appear in the word cloud. A subsequent word search of the document reveals that "excellence" does not occur as much as three times within the entire document. Further investigation reveals that “excellence” appears twice in the Report, both times in reference to improving Graduate Studies in the A&S College. The Report completely ignores the Dean's directive to systematically infuse academic excellence into the A&S College undergraduate experience. How can A&S College achieve “top-tier academic ranking” in the future without an aggressive commitment to the pursuit of undergraduate academic excellence in the present? Note that “top-tier” is another term that does not appear in this Report’s word cloud because it appears but once in the entire Report.

Also, search the current Report's word cloud in vain to find the term "lecturers". What sort of credible A&S College strategic planning can these days ignore their existence?

Note how the term “integrative” looms fairly large in the word cloud. The Report asserts that “integrative hub” is the RIC-designated Identity for the A&S College. Fine. Yet nowhere in the report is the term “integrative” defined! Around the meeting table I heard many times that “integrative does NOT mean interdisciplinary!” Yet no one on the RIC ever defined "integrative" though the question was raised many times. I suggested the dire need for a glossary in this Report because it can never fly while burdened with such vague terminology.

I invite you to study, analyze and interpret the image of the RIC Implementation Report content and what (and who) it represents, infers, implies and empowers. Do your own content analysis. Reach your own conclusions.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Artist's Depiction of Brian Patrick Destroying UT's College of Arts and Sciences


In the interest of providing complete information to UT and its Arts and Sciences community, Bloggie has posted below the second installment of the fantastical and hateful claims of the anonymous emailer who has slandered professors as well as attributed to them some rather extraordinary powers--e.g, the ability to destroy the College. 

This post is merely "for the record," so that those of you who have not seen the anonymous email and merely heard of it indirectly can read and assess its meaning and pathology. 

Bloggie is not trained in psychology, but suggests a technical scientific term that may describe the mental condition of the anonymous emailer--to wit, the emailer is "Whacked Out."   If anyone reading this happens to hold qualifications in clinical psychology, Bloggie would be much obliged for a more authoritative diagnosis.     

Also, Bloggie suggests that it is time to return to matters of more substance, for the substance-less racism charge seems to be a diversionary tactic created and sustained by but a few, while meanwhile UT administration moves forward with its program of resource starvation, exploitation and enslavement the College of Arts and Sciences to its poorly informed business model.  It is apparent from the poll results, and from feedback from faculty and students, that few members of the UT community put any credence in the charges of the Whacked Out Anonymous Emailer.  An exception possibly seems to  the UT president who, in an insult to faculty and students, seemed to credence these crazed charges in a speech reported on the Dec 14 University News; but he has been noticeably out of touch with the College and real every day students since he arrived.  For even his town-hall meetings are essentially him surrounded by a retinue of fawning, paid administrators. 

Below is the cut and paste of the Whacked Out Anonymous Emailer.  If you want to read crazy, enter below at you own risk:



   Sane Ends Here

____THE THIN RED LINE OF SANITY_______

Crazy Starts Here 

 From:  _ _ [ttmchicgnr@gmail.com] Sent:  Thu 12/10/2009 12:49 AM
 To:  Adams, John TAddison, Treyken MichleBaker, Aaron AllenBaker, Shirley AnnBarlowe, JamieBarrett, John A.;Belkofer, DonnaBell, Karen A.Blochowski, Toni MBohn, Diane R.Bonitati, JulianneBurns, LawrenceCalzonetti, FrankChastang, MarkCooper, LauriCousino-Hoersten, LisaCutri, DavidDabney, DavidDemory, RobertDerhay, Tyna (Kristina)Early, Johnnie L - Dean, Univ of Toledo College of PharmacyEisel, DianeFlowers, Laurie S.Floyd, Barbara L.Gaboury, JohnGaspar, Tim Gold, JeffreyGrabel, KathyGray, Joanne MaryGulch, VirginiaGutteridge, ThomasHagen, ElizabethHaggett, Rosemary Hanna, WafaaHayes, Teresa LynnHutt, LynnHymore, DianeJames, Patricia A.Johnson, JenniferKankam, KwabenaKimmel, SanfordKing, ValKlinger, TobinKomuniecki, Patricia R.;Kroll, Vicki L.Kucera, KevinKwapich, CindyLaskey, Doris E.Lee, BrendaLehnert, CharlesLettman, Dennis S.;Lockwood, MattLogie, Bill (William) G.Manton, Sandra AnnMartin, Steven J.Martinez, Michele CatherineMc Bride, Joyce E.McClelland, NinaMcGinnis, RonaldMcMillen, WilliamMcSweeny, JohnMetting, PatriciaMonger, Barbara J.Moore, PamelaMowery, Patricia M.Naganathan, Nagi - Dean, Univ of Toledo College of EngineeringOberhauser, KathrynO'Brien, Michael EOlson, Walter W.Padilla, Patricia AnnPapadimos, Peter J.Patten Wallace, KayePiazza, Nick J.Poplin Gosetti, PennyRay, DouglasReynolds, JenniferRodriguez, BethanyRussell, NikkiScarborough, Scott ;Schaller, JanelleSchmoll, Beverly JSchorling, JoanSchroeder, MattSchultz, KathySheley, MicheleSimpson, Gail;Skeens, AliceSnyder, VernSoncrant, Cynthia K.Stachowiak, MariaStaunton, BarbaraStevens, MariaStrunk, JonathanThiessen, PennyTomlinson, NormaTraband, Margaret M.Trempe, JamesWaldock, Mary Jo SmithWay, Jacquelyn;Weaver, KrystalynWhitman, Sandra L.Wise, RachaelWolff, HarveyZbinden, Jane;jgriffith@independentcollegian.comeditor@independentcollegian.comhdudar@independentcollegian.com;mgilbert@theblade.comOlivia K. Summonsaghaji@buckeye-express.comglasscityjungle@gmail.comNemeth, David J.Patrick, BrianJacobs, Lloyd
 Cc:  
 Subject:  Re: More racist filth from the College of Arts and Sciences Council Blog
 Attachments: 
View As Web Page
I have been both disgusted and heartened by the response to David
 Nemeth's awful post. The comments and posts on the blog have
 been shocking:

"It is not state law that the University has to dredge the harbors to 
find students--you misunderstand. Yes, UT must admit students 
with high school diplomas. But this does not mean that we should 
forego recruiting good students and focus resources on them."

and

"And now the A&S Council has heard the president of the
 Student Body excoriate a fine professor for racist ideas. 
Her inability to tell the Council what she found so offensive 
in Prof. Nemeth's blog post made it seem as if his words were
 full-blown scatology!"

Attacking students. Classy.

But perhaps the most damning comment that was posted was 
in response to Ashley Pryor's wonderfully brave response seeking 
more input from Nemeth. (Watch out Ashley, you'll soon be accused 
of being a Benedict Arnold and administrative puppet. 
Courage is not something admired by those who post on the A & S 
blog.)

The comment is from someone who claims to be a student who 
refers to the UT Guarantee as "21 URBAN cities sounds very much 
like we are trolling for underprivileged students to give handouts 
to. Not only that, the expanded version was announced on Martin 
Luther King day, like it's some sort of handout for African American 
students."

Now Brian Patrick and those who run this blog find value and 
choose to publish a comment from someone EMPHASIZING that 
urban does mean minority, the very thing they'd spent several posts
trying to deny! And before they claim, "it's just free speech and 
others can post what they want... FALSE. I regularly post comments
 to the blog that are never 
approved because Brian Patrick and his cronies believe they don't 
have value or add to the conversation. Brian Patrick thinks I post 
just to attack his blog. (Which I do, it deserves to be attacked.) 
But what this proves is that Brian Patrick sees value in a comment 
that backs up my original claim that Nemeth's e-mail is code for 
attacking those students who attend urban school, which, 
by the by, happen to generally be majority-minority schools. The
fact that this ignorant student is approved to post on Brian Patrick's 
blog means that Brian Patrick and his cronies see value in the 
comment just as they saw value in Nemeth's original racist post.

But, for the sake of argument, (which I don't believe for one 
second in light of the blog's history of racism by Nemeth and 
Dr. Tinkle) let's assume Nemeth didn't mean to address race at all.
 If that is the case, (as your echo-chamber vote implies) then 
Pryor's response to Nemeth is just as damning at the absolute
lack of respect the Arts and Sciences "leadership" is showing to
 students. Whether that be references to "dredging the harbor" 
for students, insulting them outright as Nemeth was eager to do, 
or laughing and heckling the student body president when she call 
you out your refusal not just to act like leaders,but to act like adults,
 the blatant disrespect for those students you claim to be
fighting for is running rampant.

Brian Patrick is leading an effort that is destroying the college 
because he hates the president and the provost and the dean so much
 he is willing to tear down his college to make them look bad. Then,
 in his mind, when everything is in ruins, the board gets rid of the 
administration and we faculty will remain to rebuild 
our paradise lost.

I am so proud of Ashley Prior and I know there are many faculty 
out there who feel the same way she does and are going increasingly 
uncomfortable with the gleeful hostility casually flung about by
 "leaders" in the college.

I cannot believe a professor who expertise is supposedly in 
propaganda would be so stupid as to publish a comment from 
someone confirming all the stereotypeshe and his cronies had just
 spent three days trying to rebut.

I again call on David Nemeth to retract his hateful words. I again
 call on Lawrence Burns and Kevin West to address the growing 
racial hostility of this blog, as exemplified by the comment posted
 Dec. 9 at 6:10 PM to Ashley Pryor's blog and I again call for more 
in the College to stand up and publicly denounce this filth 
billowing from this blog.

I'm not trying to shut you down Patrick, but I want everyone 
to know the sort of filth you publish. You have every right to 
portray yourselves as racist bigots increasingly so angry at the 
world you'll attack anyone who questions your tactics.

Krystal Weaver, you are fighting the good fight. That's why 
these faculty "leaders" attack you.

 _____YOU ARE NOW LEAVING CRAZY ZONE________________


 





 
Welcome Back!

Bloggie

P.S. Apologies to the innocent parties mentioned in WOAEM's
email, but Bloggie wanted to present the document
as it was sent.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Urban schools"

Dear Ashley,

Thanks for taking the time to express in some detail your concerns about my latest Roundtable Implementation Committee report titled “Hub of Mediocrity: Inviting the Playground into our Classrooms.”

http://ascforum.blogspot.com/2009/12/hub-of-mediocrity-inviting-playground.html

You state: “the way we frame our urban schools directly impacts” [our personal and professional lives] and you continue on to provide examples from your own observations and experiences.”

I agree. My RIC report has framed “the aspirations of our urban public primary and secondary schools” as “trashed” by student “discipline problems and anti-academic attitudes.”

Now here is the way John Hechinger of the Wall Street Journal has framed our urban schools in his report titled “Math Gains Stall in Big Cities” (Wednesday, December 9, 2009, A3):

“Most urban school districts failed to make significant progress in math achievement in the past two years, and had scores below the national average, according to a new federal study.”

“Urban school districts are central to federal efforts to improve U.S. education, especially among poor and minority students, who are disproportionately taught in underperforming schools.”

In sum, "urban schools" are city schools. Common usage as such in one of the America's major English-language newspapers validates my intentional use of the term in my critique of the draft Roundtable Implementation Committee report.

Yours In Cordial Correspondence, Jim

Thursday, December 10, 2009

UT's A&S Students are the Best in the World

Our students are the best--and believe it when Bloggie says that they well understand what is going on, even with all these diversions and crazed denouncements that have been rocketing around the University this week.  You would think the denouncers are trying to establish a Gulag State around here instead of a top tier University.  Soon the denouncers will be having show trials for non-conformity with their party doctrine.

The following video is made by UT students and may put you in the appropriate frame of mind for the Holidays:






  

Preparation

Dr. Tinkle dislikes the idea of interrupting the dialogue regarding Jim Nemeth's comments but feels the need to review a bit of connected business that apparently took place at the last A & S Council Meeting. The Council meeting was its usual moderately exciting event (passing curricula, discussing the Confuscious Institute, you know the usual fun and games) until right at the end. Dr. Tinkle has it on good authority that at this point two student government types were introduced to the assembled throng. One is the President of the Student Government. She proceeded to lash out at the blog and Jim Nemeth. What evidently became apparent was she was not prepared for the response. Some departmental reps had no idea what all the hoopla was about, not having read the Nemeth post. Others agreed with the Post while the students evidently wanted the Council to support their demand the Nemeth be censured or censored. Dr. Tinkle hopes he has this somewhat correct but there are slightly divergent views. Being a card carrying member of the ACLU Dr. Tinkle does not question the student's right to free speech. However, one should be fully prepared when one enters the public arena. According to reports, the students still believed this blog to belong to the Council. It does not. It is owned by a consortium of faculty. The students did not have copies of Nemeth's post and so could not fully inform the Council of what he said. The students did not know the address of the blog. The students were stunned when the Council did not immediately agree to have Jim tarred and feathered. Chair Patrick stopped the discussion and suggested that if they wanted to have Council take up the subject in a meaningful way they should come to an executive committee meeting; explain the issues; and, then get placed on the agenda.

There's a point here and I'm actually getting to it. There are many real discussions that faculty in A & S should have. I congratulate both Jim Nemeth and Ashley Pryor for doing just that. Many of these are not simple, easy subjects. If they were they would have been dealt with much earlier. However, calling someone a racist does not move any discussion forward; it merely builds walls higher and wider. Who we are as a faculty and what defines a university education are subjects that should be argued about endlessly.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Open Letter from Ashley Pryor to David Nemeth

Ashley Pryor to editor, David, me

Hi [Bloggie],

Sorry if I am not sending this to the correct person, but Professor Nemeth and I have been having an exchange about his post on the A& S College Forum website. He let me know that IC reporters would be talking to him today and encouraged me to send you a copy of the open letter I wrote to him, and also sent to the blog to be posted. I am copying Jim and "Bloggie" in the spirit of continuing a collegial exchange on these important issues.
Best,

Ashley

Letter begins here:

Jim,

I am one of those people who is troubled by your recent post, “Hub of Mediocrity: Inviting the Playground into our Classroom,” on the “Arts & Sciences College Forum (The Blog Formerly Known as Arts & Sciences Council e Forum).” I am taking the time to write this because the way we frame our urban schools directly impacts my family, but also because I have had the pleasure of teaching so many wonderful students this semester-- exceptionally bright, motivated, ambitious, students, many of whom are the first members of their families to attend college. I am terribly concerned about the message that they might take away from posts that seem to unproblematically equate urban schools with anti-intellectual attitudes and behavior problems. To cut to the chase, here are the two passages that I have questions about:

“I have asked repeatedly to our group why UT is interested in recruiting and then retaining (at great cost in dollars and reputation) academically-unmotivated students rather than recruiting on-record high-performing academically-motivated students? Are we after a top-tier quantity ranking or top-tier quality ranking? These questions have so far gone unanswered.”

“The floodgates are already opening up: the discipline problems and anti-academic attitudes that have already trashed the academic aspirations of our urban public primary and secondary schools are apparently soon to be invited, accommodated and formally implemented into our own A&S College curriculum, scholarship, teaching/learning modalities, space and graduate studies. The huge internal contradiction and false claim in this Roundtable Report is that it claims to be taking the High Road to Top-Tier Ranking while it is obviously mapping out instead in this Roundtable Implementation Report a Low Road to Mediocrity -- or worse.”

Your first assertion is that, “UT is interested in recruiting and retaining academically-unmotivated students.” I don’t know of any formal policy to recruit underprepared students. Are you serious? The only change in recruitment practices that I know about is the UT Guarantee, a program that recruits high-achieving (minimum 3.0 average), financially challenged students from the state’s 21 urban centers. In the absence of any information about a new formal policy of recruiting and retaining academically-unmotivated students, and knowing only about this new program, I wonder if you are willfully mischaracterizing the UT Guarantee program as recruiting academically-unmotivated students. I look forward to hearing you clarify your meaning. In the next paragraph you seem to characterize disciplinary problems and anti-academic attitudes as a problem endemic to our urban schools, but never acknowledge that under-prepared, unmotivated, and undisciplined students also come from our suburban schools (btw here I am presupposing racial and ethnic diversity in both settings). If your intent is call attention to the problem of anti-academic attitudes, disciplinary problems, etc., so that we can find ways to address them on campus as they arise, why not just focus on these issues? Why focus on students from urban schools?

I wonder how our students will read the flurry of anonymous exchanges on this blog, which is unfortunately still named the “Arts and Science Forum,” even though it no longer officially represents A&S Council. Today two of our students came before council to express their concerns about language that they characterized as “racist” and found to be offensive. And while I can appreciate that some faculty were reluctant to comment upon or decry a blog entry they had not yet seen, I hope faculty will be concerned about what students (and colleagues at other institutions, and our constituents throughout the state of Ohio) will see on this blog if they visit. Consider this entry, posted a few days ago by an anonymous blogger: “If I am reborn in this World as a UT A&S College professor I will consider inviting student clickers, tweeters, cell phones and other recreational devices into my classroom. Just allow me my taser.” Just what kind of message are we sending to our students with this kind of talk? And what is it about this site that seems to elicit so many anti-student sentiments? Is this really something that we want up on a blog that is still named the Arts and Science Forum? I for one think not.

Ashley Pryor

Monday, December 7, 2009

When all else fails

Bloggie has already given a very good response to the None letter so there's not much to add. I would just note that when all else fails people resort to personal attacks and throwing the race card is typical of such actions. Some folks believe that by declaring something to be racist that they can walk away "victorious" when in truth all they have done is walk away. There was nothing racial in Jim Nemeth's remarks. But then, there was nothing racial in either of the other two instances either. The goal is to shut down the blog. That isn't going to happen. I have always found it astounding that whereas a university should be a place where free speech reigns, it is often the opposite. Dr. Tinkle has found that people are generally in favor of free speech as long as the speech favors their opinions. Real dialogue occurs when individuals are willing to actually have a discussion in which opinions other than their own are considered. A truly rational discussion requires this. But then colleagues rarely engage in truly rational discussions.
There's actually a name for this: the Planck Problem. Max Planck noted that really intelligent people almost never change their mind, because to do so would be to admit they were wrong in the first place.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Slander by Anonymous E-mail

Bloggie notes that the same person who anonymously attacked the blog and wrote poison e-pen letters on two previous occasions appears to have done it again, anonymously of course, all while denouncing the blog for its option of anonymity.   As before the modus operandi is to grasp on some ambiguous straw in some post or another and transmogrify it into virulent racism--all done by sending blanket emails to the world.   Interesting technique.  Who has this much time and virulent energy?

In any case, sorry, None, or whatever your name may be. Bloggie notes that just because you project your own interior tempests onto the conversations and remarks of others doesn't mean the outside world, or especially  the people having the discussions are racist, or that any of your slanders carry weight.  Denounce yourself next time, you will probably have more material to work with.  

In any case, please feel free to decry this Blog to the world.  It gains more readers that way. And Professor Nemeth and others have made valuable comments on the Roundtable and other matters.  Bloggie has even let you, None, comment on this blog even though you routinely attempt to silence others. Below is the email these comments are based upon, presented as evidence in a public sanity e-hearing.  Bloggie doesn't feel there is anything "latent" about this aspect of the author of the below work, who appears blatantly racist. It's ugly, but this is possibly true to its maker.  Here it is in its entirety:


More racist filth from the College of Arts and Sciences Council Blog

You knew they couldn't hold out forever. It has been remarkable how the blog’s anonymity has caused latent, subtle and insidious racist messages to bubble up through those posting on the UT Arts and Sciences Council Blog.

First was the racist photoshopped picture of Dr. Yueh Ting Lee outfitted as a stereotypical Asian male out of any offensive Kung Fu movie. Many on the blog tried to stand up for the racist image until some wiser heads prevailed. Blog poster Diogenes was one of those most adamant that the racist photo should stand.

Then, Sept 22 (see: http://ascforum.blogspot.com/2008/09/interview.html) poster Dr. Tinkle cleverly posted that UT’s admissions office was told they should “really recruit more Lucasville alum”. Dr. Tinkle was the shocked, SHOCKED! that referencing recruiting at a prison would be taken as racist when UT was in the midst of a big push to recruit strong students from urban school districts in the state. Dr. Brian Patrick also defended the article in its comments section below, writing as ASC Blog Facilitator.

That catches us up to Racist Post No. 3 on the Arts and Sciences Council Blog which occurred today. Surprisingly, this racist post was not anonymous, but was posted proudly by David Nemeth, (the same David Nemeth who strongly defended the racist Dr. Lee picture, though then he posted as “Diogenes”).

Nemeth posts “Hub of Mediocrity: Inviting the Playground into Our Classrooms” : http://ascforum.blogspot.com/2009/12/hub-of-mediocrity-inviting-playground.html

While I have no doubt Nemeth is an expert on mediocrity, I admit I am stunned at so offensive a post being so freely posted.

Nemeth is attacking the ongoing Roundtable strategic effort by the College (an admittedly “who-cares” effort to create a silly plan). However, Nemeth starts by attacking the students who are seeking an education at UT, blaming their poor quality for Nemeth’s college’s troubles.

Then, in a departure from all logic, Nemeth blames UT’s recent efforts to recruit high quality students from urban communities (The UT Guarantee) for “opening the floodgates”.

Says Nemeth, “The floodgates are already opening up: the discipline problems and anti-academic attitudes that have already trashed the academic aspirations of our urban public primary and secondary schools are apparently soon to be invited, accommodated and formally implemented into our own A&S College curriculum, scholarship, teaching/learning modalities, space and graduate studies.”

Nemeth calls enrolling students from these urban schools while trying to achieve top-tier status for the college “a huge internal contradiction.”

In the spirit of the intellectual heft found on this blog, Nemeth’s post is followed by comments of “Nemeth for Dean!”

David, I’m sorry you don’t like students from “urban public primary and secondary schools” in your class, but believe it or not, not all minority students (because that is what “urban” is code for, and everybody know it, David) have “discipline problems and anti-academic attitudes”.

The UT Guarantee is recruiting hundreds of students with an average GPA of almost 3.5. These are outstanding students, precisely what UT needs to succeed and racist attitudes like the one Nemeth offers today need to be condemned harshly, by many, many people.

1. By Arts and Sciences Council – The Council claims it doesn’t run the blog anymore, but A&S Council chair Brian Patrick remains a contributor. Leadership isn’t only getting to attack your bosses, Brian, it is also standing up to those colleagues who step way, way over the line.

2. Arts and Sciences Faculty – This Blog and A&S leadership are destroying the ability of Arts and Sciences Faculty to effect real change in the college. I have heard many faculty quietly, privately, decry the behavior of those on this blog and on council. But these statements are never made public. I know you are serious people doing serious work, but this vocal minority of colleagues like Nemeth are destroying your good name and your silence is interpreted as agreement. 

3. Kevin West and Larry Burns – These comments by Nemeth are hostile to minority students and all on campus who work so hard to ensure all first-year students – minority and otherwise – succeed. Blog posts like Nemeth’s promote hostility, not diversity and they need to be addressed immediately and publicly by your offices.

4. Kaye Patten Wallace - These are the students you represent that Nemeth is attacking...

5. Student Leadership - Students should be outraged. The Black and Latino Student Unions, Student Government... This is a professor attacking students based on stereotypical beliefs of how "urban" students act. Krystal and Rachel, you get to talk to the president once a week in those videos... demand he address this. You address it too, don't wait for him. This is the time for leadership.

6. Any and all who believe minorities have as much right to a UT education as anyone else.

7. Trustees, President, Provost, Dean

What is wrong with this University that people like Nemeth feel free to openly spout racist comments against OUR STUDENTS!? Guess what Dave, without our students, you don’t have a job!

This is Racist Post Number Three. No doubt there will be more, particularly if there are no consequences and no public shame when a UT professor openly requests, no more urban students pleas.

Will people please speak out? Send e-mails to Nemeth (david.nemeth@utoledo.edu) and demand he apologize. Send e-mails to Larry Burns (lawrence.burns2@utoledo.edu) and Kevin West (kevin.west2@utoledo.edu) and demand they address this issue. And please, please, please A & S Faculty, please don’t be swallowed by the venom of these offensive people posting offensive ideas in your name.



Friday, December 4, 2009

Hub of Mediocrity: Inviting the Playground into Our Classrooms


This is my latest Roundtable briefing and commentary. I am afraid it is highly critical and I apologize to my colleagues on the Roundtable who have worked so hard to produce a document that meets both the approval of the Arts & Sciences Council members and the expectations of the Administration that funded it and has closely supervised and encouraged its progress to this point. I offer my comments as constructive criticism.

The A&S College Extended Roundtable Implementation Committee (RTIC) met for three hours on the morning of Wednesday, December 2nd in the old BOT conference room, where we discussed the merits of the “Progress Report Circulation Draft.” This document was distributed to all A&S Council members via Email on December 1st. Members in attendance included: N. McClelland, L. Anderson-Huang, C. Beatty-Medina, C. Gilbert, D. Nemeth, D. Stierman, L. Rouillard, B. Pryor, J. Benjamin, D. Tucker, P. Lindquist, M. Denham, C. Habrecht, J. Barlow, R. Heberle.

Dean McClelland opened the meeting with an enthusiastic endorsement of the document, at one point calling it “worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.” She added that the document nevertheless might be improved by strategically inserting some more “key” or “power” words (those used currently in A&S College transformational discourse statewide in Ohio): “integrative,” “innovative,” “communicative,” and -- most important --”efficiencies.” My word search of the entire document however failed to discover anywhere the phrase “aspire to academic excellence.” This seemed strange to me since Dean McClelland in previous meetings had stressed that the final Roundtable Implementation Report would recommend a list of “action items” that could with confidence lock-in our future trajectory toward a “top-tier” ranking among A&S Colleges nationwide.

Ensuing discussion around the table revealed that the five themes comprising the “Progress Report” synthesis (curriculum, scholarship, teaching/learning modalities, graduate study, and space) had so far resulted in a draft document that emphasized in large part implementing transformational change in the A&S College by systematically improving the lower division undergraduate learning experience, thereby measurably improving retention rates of at-risk students. I have asked repeatedly to our group why UT is interested in recruiting and then retaining (at great cost in dollars and reputation) academically-unmotivated students rather than recruiting on-record high-performing academically-motivated students? Are we after a top-tier quantity ranking or top-tier quality ranking? These questions have so far gone unanswered.

Details of the transformational plan outlined in the Report further reveal that a perfect storm of 1) extreme student centeredness, 2) collaborative learning technologies, and 3) unspecified but ominous “efficiencies” are converging on the A&S College that will flood its classrooms with casual and entertaining educational activities, many featuring hand-held electronic devices. Question: Will this flood meanwhile serve to sweep our remaining tenured professoriate, long dedicated to preserving a disciplined regime of academic excellence in the A&S College, from the center of the undergraduate classroom experience, to its periphery, and eventually out the door?

This Roundtable Implementation Report in its present incarnation seems satisfied to aspire to achieve only academic mediocrity for our College of Arts and Sciences. Many of its recommendations involving the undergraduate leaning experience appear to be inviting the playground into our classrooms. If so, this initiative seems counter-productive and especially unfair to the expectations of the academically-motivated A&S College student high-achievers we have recruited. We have in fact promised them an excellent liberal arts education and satisfying academic experience on this campus.

The floodgates are already opening up: the discipline problems and anti-academic attitudes that have already trashed the academic aspirations of our urban public primary and secondary schools are apparently soon to be invited, accommodated and formally implemented into our own A&S College curriculum, scholarship, teaching/learning modalities, space and graduate studies . The huge internal contradiction and false claim in this Roundtable Report is that it claims to be taking the High Road to Top-Tier Ranking while it is obviously mapping out instead in this Roundtable Implementation Report a Low Road to Mediocrity -- or worse.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

roundtable meeting

Hey folks: It would behoove you all to read the proposed "final" report of the roundtable. A & S chair Brian Patrick has circulated it via e-mail. Hopefully the good Dr. Tinkle can get the whole thing up on the blog. If you have not been a participant nor really cared what those folks were up to it is time to care. There are things in the report that affect all of us. The time to ignore what these "colleagues" are doing has passed. There are major changes proposed for general education and the way it is taught. They wish to teach all of us how to teach because we have obviously just not been doing it correctly. If students fail it is because we don't understand them. Once again, it will be our fault. I suppose I'll have to start doing wakeup calls and bed checks. E-mails asking, "Have you done your homework?" will be necessary. Integrative studies has become the new password. Read it; it's important.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Matrix



Since first posting my 15 Roundtable implementation recommendations some of my colleagues have asked me questions about them. The two most frequently asked questions are: 1) “To what extent do your 15 recommendations address the five significant issues or themes (space, scholarship, teaching modalities, graduate education and curriculum)?” and 2) “Are your 15 recommendations ranked according to their importance or urgency?” These questions have inspired me to provide a “Matrix of Significance and Agreement” and I provide its image above. I constructed the Matrix by assigning the five issues on one axis and my 15 recommendations on the other, after which I symbolized the importance of their relationship if implemented as Significant (S) or Moderate (M). The predominance of the “S” symbol on the Matrix reveals that each recommendation on this short list of 15 is indeed Significant. Letter symbols (ABCDE) on the Matrix represent the five issues and number symbols (1- 15), my recommendations. I have rearranged the 15 recommendations on the Matrix to reflect what I now perceive of as an “urgency” ranking. I invite further discussion. Email me at David.Nemeth@utoledo.edu if you like, or phone 4049.

FIVE ISSUES

A. Space
B. Scholarship
C. Teaching modalities
D. Graduate Education
E. Curriculum

FIFTEEN IMPLEMENTATION RECOMMENDATIONS

1 Transform the main campus to a 12/7/365 activity schedule
2 Emphatically commit to excellence in education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels
3 Hire more tenure-track professors
4 End “Open Admissions” at UT as this policy is incompatible with A&S College “top tier” ranking aspirations
5 Abolish the administrative position of “Chair of Department” in the A&S College and replace it with “Head of Department;” the Department Personnel Committees will evaluate and reward the performance of their Department Heads in teaching, research and service using the annual ARPA and merit processes
6 Return the Center for Teaching Excellence to its original mission and administrative structure
7 Increase campus-wide support of sabbaticals for teaching as well as research
8 Immediately commence a nation-wide search for a new Dean of Arts & Sciences
9 Reopen our Faculty Club to again serve the main campus academic community as the physical and symbolic intellectual center of their informal educational activities
10 Design and build several “nationality” classrooms (see, for example, “Cathedral of Learning” nationality classrooms at University of Pittsburg)
11 Allocate A&S College space at all scales intelligently toward the constant enhancement of its teaching, research and service excellence
12 Allocate additional and sufficient resources to Carlson Library staffing, and to book purchases and on-site accessibility to hard-copy books, with emphasis on holdings in the liberal arts
13 Strengthen commitment to shared governance and faculty control of the curriculum
14 Revisit the UT “Directions” strategic planning document and especially aspects of educational planning that impact negatively on the A&S College and its traditional liberal arts curriculum
15 Assess the costs and benefits, as well as the ethical aspects, of expensive new classroom teaching and learning technologies (given multiple scenarios of instructional needs and priorities across a faculty-controlled A&S College curriculum)

Monday, November 23, 2009

memo to dean

Your Deanship:

Please read Jim Nemeth's suggestions below. They are timely, accurate and to the point.

One other suggestion: If you can't stand the heat, don't be the chief chef.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My List of Recommended "Action Items"

Five draft issue-oriented Roundtable Implementation reports (“Thematic Reports”) are now being redrafted by five implementation task force group leaders. These latest drafts will be synthesized into a single draft report. The full Roundtable Implementation Committee will again convene (on December 2) to discuss the single draft report.

The group leaders presently redrafting the five thematic reports are:

A. Space ~ Lawrence Anderson (Use of space)
B. Scholarship ~ Charlene Gilbert (Definitions of scholarship)
C. Teaching modalities ~ Ben Pryor (Teaching, learning and advising modalities)
D. Graduate Education ~ Jim Benjamin (Strengthen graduate education)
E. Curriculum ~ Renee Heberle (Curriculum addressed to evolving learning
needs)

The overall objective of a final Roundtable Implementation Report is to recommend "action items" that when approved will function to “raise UT to a first-tier level” and thereby “raise the profile, stature and visibility” of the College of Arts and Sciences as the vital “hub” of UT academic activities.

I recommend to you below my personal list of fifteen action items. As faculty members in the A&S College we are each qualified to participate actively in the Roundtable implementation exercise by presenting and promoting our own list of recommendations. I feel qualified to do so because of knowledge and insights gained while participating in Roundtable Implementation Committee activities after September 29, 2009: I served on two of the five “discussion and writing” teams listed above (“scholarship” and “teaching” modalities”) and also participated in two meetings of the full Roundtable Implementation Committee. In addition, I have long-term research interests in higher education trends. I have studied widely and in depth on the complex challenges, transformations and opportunities taking place in state public institutions of higher education, in Arts & Science colleges, and in liberal arts education. My historical perspective on the advent of the Roundtable initiative at the University of Toledo has been shaped by both objective and personal observations and experiences during 20 years of educational service on this campus. I have also acquired classroom experience as teaching assistant, part-time teacher, lecturer, and “full-time visiting professor” in public and private colleges and universities in three different states, in addition to five years teaching experience overseas. I have also taught a college-level course in a prison classroom.

I am now dedicated to my chosen career of teaching, research and service as a senior faculty member of the Arts and Sciences College of the University of Toledo, and to promoting academic excellence across this campus. Here is my list of recommended implementation “action items” in response to the Roundtable challenge:

1 Transform the main campus to a 12/7/365 activity schedule
2 Emphatically commit to excellence in education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels
3 Hire more tenure-track professors
4 End “Open Admissions” at UT as this policy is incompatible with A&S College “top tier” ranking aspirations
5 Abolish the administrative position of “Chair of Department” in the A&S College and replace it with “Head of Department;” the Department Personnel Committees will evaluate and reward the performance of their Department Heads in teaching, research and service using the annual ARPA and merit processes
6 Return the Center for Teaching Excellence to its original mission and administrative structure
7 Increase campus-wide support of sabbaticals for teaching as well as research
8 Immediately commence a nation-wide search for a new Dean of Arts & Sciences
9 Reopen our Faculty Club to again serve the main campus academic community as the physical and symbolic intellectual center of their informal educational activities
10 Design and build several “nationality” classrooms (see, for example, “Cathedral of Learning” nationality classrooms at University of Pittsburg)
11 Allocate A&S College space at all scales intelligently toward the constant enhancement of its teaching, research and service excellence
12 Allocate additional and sufficient resources to Carlson Library staffing, and to book purchases and on-site accessibility to hard-copy books, with emphasis on holdings in the liberal arts
13 Strengthen commitment to shared governance and faculty control of the curriculum
14 Revisit the UT “Directions” strategic planning document and especially aspects of educational planning that impact negatively on the A&S College and its traditional liberal arts curriculum
15 Assess the costs and benefits, as well as the ethical aspects, of expensive new classroom teaching and learning technologies (given multiple scenarios of instructional needs and priorities across a faculty-controlled A&S College curriculum)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A & S Meeting

According to reports the meeting was a fairly calm exchange of ideas about such items as the Confucius Institute and assessment of big shots. Dr. Tinkle is very much in favor of our assessment of the cast of characters that runs this institution. It is my understanding that a suggestion was made that the Council assess our new permanent, stay here forever dean. While some demured saying she would only be with us for another year, Dr. Tinkle doesn't believe that for a second. In fact he clasifies it under wishful thinking. That said, there really are two important reasons for assessing her nibs.

1. It is a real move toward faculty governance. If the Council can establish a schedule for evaluating the dean, then over time instead of arguing about it, it just happens. It becomes a part of the landscape. Any new candidates for the position can be notified that this happens every two years. Live with it.

2. The data will belong to the Council. This will not be something that the administration will have a hand in. They can't grab it and refuse to show it to anybody.

The ball is now in the Council's court. Go for it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dean's Letter

By now most of you have been able to read the Provost's effusive letter praising our present interim (sorry) permanent dean. While the letter explains she probably won't stay past next year there are no promises to that effect. There is likewise no promise of an actual search for a dean. Given the tone of the letter, I would not hold my breath waiting for a search. Also given the tone of the letter, one might think that on the eigth day Dr. McClelland created the college of Arts and Sciences as well as a global economy. This is difficult for us mere mortals to actually determine because we never really get to evaluate the gods. Dr. White has provided an excellent critique of the letter and I would ask all to thoroughly read it. Just one last point before I depart. What exactly got put on hold because her title was interim? What has not taken place (besides a real search) that would have taken place with a dean? If her leadership has been that effective, why does the title matter? (Perhaps an intended slap at A & S Council?)Inquiring minds wish to know.