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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Had enough yet? Read this!

Private Conversations
February 26, 2009
Online at Inside Higher Education

Tension is mounting at the University of Toledo, where administrators are exploring a partnership with a private company known for churning out quick and inexpensive degrees.
Toledo officials are considering a deal with Higher Ed Holdings, a Texas-based company that would help deliver online masters-level education courses to students in exchange for a share of tuition revenues. The company, founded by Dallas entrepreneur Randy Best, already has a similar arrangement with Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

The potential partnership with a for-profit company comes at a time when faculty in the Judith Herb College of Education are increasingly skittish about the administration’s apparent affection for the private sector. Those concerns were stoked in part by the circulation of a letter, obtained by Inside Higher Ed, in which the university’s president outlined the parameters for finding a new interim dean to replace Thomas Switzer, who is retiring. In the Jan. 27 letter, President Lloyd Jacobs told his provost that a “business orientation” – not a background in education – was essential.

“I strongly suggest a person outside the JHCOE: indeed, a person outside the ‘educational establishment,’ ” wrote Jacobs, who is a medical doctor. “I have some ideas I would like to share with you.”

Efforts to reach Higher Ed Holdings Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Gregory Stone, an associate professor of research and measurement, said he’s worried about the implications of the partnership with the company, as well as the broader notion of running a public university like a private corporation. “The problem is education can’t be entirely run as a business,” he said. “It’s not as clear cut as making widgets and selling them, and unfortunately the notion of quantity over quality within the business world seems to be paramount.”
Details of the potential partnership with Higher Ed Holdings are still sparse, but Provost Rosemary Haggett said Wednesday that Toledo is not looking to outsource curriculum development.

“They would be our degree programs taught by our faculty members,” she said. “Where HEH comes in is they would provide a distance learning platform.... This is a way to take these [programs] to scale, to reach a large number of individuals in the state.”
“What’s important to us is to maintain the high quality of our programs,” she added. “These remain our degree programs.”

Under the roughly outlined agreement, Toledo faculty would continue to teach online courses through video lectures, but students would be assisted by “coaches” employed by Higher Ed Holdings. Toledo faculty say they’re unsure what the credentials of the “coaches” would be, and that’s a source of discomfort.

“They would be hired by HEH, [but] we would have the opportunity to decide whether or not the coaches were adequate,” Haggett said. “We have the opportunity to say ‘No, this isn’t working.’ ”“The way I’ve thought about these coaches is they are sort of like graduate students, which we use in our face-to-face classes all the time,” she added.

The American College of Education a subsidiary of Higher Education Holdings, LLC, describes the coach as “the primary contact person for students’ concerns and questions.” Furthermore, the coach is charged with evaluating students’ performance and participation after “training by faculty.” The professor, on the other hand, has the responsibility of maintaining course quality and serving as the “role model for students as well as the professor of academic record.”
The arrangement, as it’s been described, stands to undermine quality, according to one faculty member who asked not to be identified.

“If I’m a talking head on video, I would have very limited contact with my students,” the faculty member said. “The only people who would have contact would be ‘coaches,’ who have a masters degree – or not; who would understand – or would not understand – [course] content or the province that I have in my classes. It’s probably the worst case scenario, as far as I’m concerned.”

Cronyism Charges

Apart from concerns about the model, faculty say they’re troubled by the choice of Higher Ed Holdings for a number of other reasons. Best, who runs the company and served as a major fundraiser and contributor for George W. Bush, endured charges of cronyism when he received lucrative contracts connected with the No Child Left Behind program. Voyager, one of Best’s companies, sold for $380 million after its program for remedial students was employed in Reading First, a $6 billion federal initiative designed to help low-income schools meet federal NCLB requirements. Charges of conflicts of interest plagued Reading First, particularly after a federal report demonstrated that participants weren’t reading any better than those who didn’t participate.

“We’re concerned about the quality of our educational programs, given that this guy’s first company, [connected to] Reading First, was pretty questionable,” said one Toledo education faculty member, who asked not to be identified.
Best, who denied that his connections to Bush helped him win contracts, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Asked if she thought Best’s history was a source of legitimate concern, Haggett said “No. I do not.’”

A few moments later, however, Haggett sought to clarify her statement: “We intend to do due diligence about the company, certainly if we want to pursue anything with them.”
The decision to pursue anything, however, will happen “in a matter of weeks rather than months,” she said.

Toledo CFO sat on Company’s BoardIt’s no coincidence, professors say, that Higher Ed Holdings ended up on Toledo’s radar. Scott Scarborough, the university’s chief financial officer, has a history with the company, and once sat on its board.

When Scarborough was executive vice president of administration at DePaul University, he helped broker a deal with the American College of Education. In a controversial agreement, the college acquired DePaul’s Barat College, and – more importantly – Barat’s accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Toledo officials concede that Scarborough’s history with American College was what started the conversations with Higher Ed Holdings. They dispute, however, any notion of a conflict of interest.

“This company has no direct connection to our CFO,” Haggett said. “He happens to know who they are.”

In an e-mail to Jacobs, Toledo’s president, Scarborough sought to dampen any suggestion that he had a stake in the negotiations with the company now courting the university.
“I have no financial ties to Higher Ed Holdings,” he wrote in a Feb. 20 e-mail. “I do know the people who work at Higher Ed Holdings and admire the quality of their work.”
Scarborough went on to explain that while at DePaul he was the university’s representative on the company’s board of directors, but he vacated that position when he “left DePaul.” Scarborough, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, was questioned by faculty about his ties to Higher Ed Holdings even during the DePaul negotiations. In a statement provided to the Faculty Council in 2006, Scarborough said he was given $1,750 for attending four board meetings – a fact he said he disclosed in conflict of interest papers.
If DePaul faculty had a primary concern about Scarborough, however, it was his tendency to allow financial concerns to override academic priorities, according to Anne Clark Bartlett, who was president of the Faculty Council in 2006-07.

“Academic decisions were being driven by financial parameters and protested vigorously [by faculty],” said Bartlett, chair of DePaul’s Department of English. “That was definitely the historical view [of Scarborough].”

A business-driven approach to academics, however, appears to be in keeping with President Jacobs’ desires for the College of Education. In his letter last month to the provost, Jacobs stressed that a business focus was essential to the college’s future, and that the search for a permanent dean should be conducted with that goal in mind. While a search committee will be formed to help select candidates, Jacobs insisted that “we will not approve the selection of a [search] firm from the ‘educational establishment.’ "

“The search should emphasize the need of fresh thinking, creativity and new paradigms,” he wrote. “A business orientation is essential.”


Hi ho hi ho it's off to work we go.....oops sorry again. It seems if the administration has its way, some of us will not be going to work. It is now time for the union's to step up and demand an accounting. This may involve the state auditor. We need to know how much money we had last year and how much we have now. We need to know where it went. If people are going to be asked to sacrifice, then we need to really know why.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Follow the Money

For those of us fortunate enough to have seen our King's remarks yesterday, I have a suggestion. Let's ask for a real accounting. I want to know how much we had last year and where all the money went. They are asking for furloughs while tossing 10 million at the technology corridor. How much have they already invested in the School of Perpetual (oops, sorry) the School of Renewable Energy? Are they using the "fiscal storm" as an excuse to raise teaching loads and to bend agreements with unions? If we really are in this big of a financial problem, how did we get there? Enrollment is up. It would seem that if sacrifice is necessary then our "transparant" administration has to do a better job of explaining where the money has gone. I understand that the country is in a lot of trouble as is the state. The question is how much money do we actually get from the state and how much of that has been cut? I am willing to be convinced but yesterday's performance did not begin to do that. If by "we" the King means everyone, then it should mean everyone including special pets and their projects.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

UT-AAUP Notice re Workloads

The following was distributed by UT-AAUP and is posted here merely as a courtesy and convenience for our readers. We are all very interested to hear how UT administrators plan to make up for their disasterous management decision to push early retirements and buy outs to so many professors (73 is the number some sources are reporting) all while sticking to a "no hires" policy, except for the favored few blessed by King Jake. Who will teach these professorless classes that are already scheduled? The administrators? This would assume they are qualified to do anything than spend other people's money on vacuous programs--e.g., the new one they are touting is "The Learning Paradigm" so apparently someone of the higher ups read yet another pamphlet that they found left on a bus seat. Maybe they plan to bus UTs already enrolled students to a nearby community college. Or maybe the administrators plan to start a community/junior college right here on the UT campus.

UT-AAUP Notice begins below....

2/22/2009 Reminder

Dear Colleague:

Over the past few weeks there has been much discussion, rumors and statements about faculty workload. Administrative letters and documents such as the budget preparation documents and letters from the provost clearly indicate the administration's interest in, if not increasing the teaching portion of everyone's workload, at the very least of examining it very closely. Despite these indications from on high, the process of workload as described in the Collective Bargaining Agreement is a bottom-up process: "Each department, or equivalent unit, annually shall establish the workload for individuals within that department, or equivalent unit ..." The way this is intended to work is the Department Chair meets with each faculty member to discuss his/her workload. Workloads are to take into account all three areas of faculty activity: teaching, scholarly activity, and service. In fact, the contract details some of the items that must be considered in Section Specifically, this reads:

The listing below shall include, but not be limited to, the specific items to be considered when developing workload. Classroom teaching Number of course preparations Availability of teaching support resources Class size Course time requirements Development of new courses, laboratories, or instructional facilities Student conferences (including office hours), Off-site instruction greater than 25 miles one-way from campus Individual and special instruction Advising Clinical supervision of students Supervision of thesis and dissertation research and writing Coordinator duties Professional librarian duties Creative and performance activities (whether as principal or as student mentor or supervisor) Scholarly and professional activities (including writing for publication) Sponsored research Special assignments Unpaid consulting Departmental, College, University and community service

Given the administrative interest we expect that the workload issues will be more conflicted than usual this year. Please read carefully Article 10 (Workload) in the contract and be aware of your rights and responsibilities. The article also includes a procedure to follow if you are unable to come to an agreement about your workload. If problems persist, please contact the UT-AAUP.

Lecturers' issues pertaining to workload are still being investigated. If you have questions, please contact Mary Jane Erard at the UT-AAUP office, More information will be forthcoming regarding the Lecturer contract and workload.

UT-AAUP Executive Board and Officers,
Harvey Wolff, President,
Don Wedding, Grievance Chair,
Mary Jane Erard, Executive Director.

Contact Info:
ext. 7270

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Provost Leaps Into Inaction

Below is a very typical exchange of what administrators refer to as "communication," wherein "Thank you for you input" is the theme of this administration, while they fluff off or delay any attempt to talk, while doing exactly what they want, whether it makes sense or not. Regarding this administrative style, a foreign correspondant observes, "From a distance of 10,000 miles, my suggestion is that Jacobs and Haggett could benefit from adult supervision. Alternatively they might like the Chinese administrative style."

From: Hagget, Rosemary

Lawrence - I'm happy to meet with the A&S council executive committee. By copy of this to Karen, I am asking her to find a time for us. I'll warn you it may be a couple of weeks out because of budget prehearings. Perhaps you and I can have a telephone conversation before the meeting so I can better understand the intent of the resolutions. Rosemary

----- Original Message -----
From: Anderson, Lawrence S.
To: Haggett, Rosemary
Cc: Anderson, Lawrence S.; Marchionni, Raymond; Patrick, Brian; Davis, David H.; Creutz, Charles; ; Heberle, Renee J.; Rouillard, Linda

Sent: Thu Feb 19 21:28:05 2009
Subject: meeting request

dear rosemary-
the A&S council executive committee requests a meeting with you to discuss the resolutions posted in my previous mailing and the schedule/procedure for hiring a permanent dean. another important topic is the future of the LA roundtable discussions. we thought it would be best to have a committee meeting at your convenience, followed perhaps by a presentation by you to council at some future date.

thank you,
-lawrence anderson-huang, chair A&S council

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Report and Observations on A&S Council Meeting This Past Week

Below are the the resolutions passed by Council on Feb 17. These are the versions revised in accordance with instructions and comments from council members.

Rather than wait until the next ASC meeting for final approval for the word changes to the resolutions, and do nothing in effect while UT senior administration continues to destroy the ability of the College to deliver on its mission of teaching, research and service, it was decided that Exec-Committee suitably revise them and send them on. They are again relayed here.

Make no mistake--the College is under direct attack and may be transformed into a junior/community type college by administrative fiat if they are allowed to go ahead with their strange agenda of no new hires and elimination of existing positions through early retirement. Who will teach? Maybe this is what is meant by "Transformative Change?" Presto-Chango and you see a community college where the City of Toledo once had a University. What will the Board and Jacobs attempt next? Transforming gold into lead? Apparently there will be no need for a centennial celebration of the College, under this new plan of theirs, assuming they can inflict it: but if they succeed we suggest someone plan a funeral for the college and/or write an obituary instead.

Resolved that Council requests from the administration a
full accounting of the process for determining faculty
hiring for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, including visiting
and lecturer appointments, so departments can plan
accordingly and faculty may have a voice. The accounting
must include both long-range strategies and ERIP

Resolved that Council seeks explicit recognition by the
administration of the authority of Chairs of departments,
in agreement with faculty, to determine workloads as
described in the Collective Bargaining Agreements.
See Paragraph 10.3.1 in the Tenure/Tenure-Track CBA
and 8.4.2 in the Lecturer's CBA.

Resolved that Council requests that contractual agreements
for designated funds (e.g. start-ups and student lab fees),
including carry-forwards, be honored without a long and
expensive review process. These budget line items have
already been justified at the time of contract and should
be treated as liquid assets by the faculty member and/or

Friday, February 13, 2009

UT Senior Administration Policy Convocation

Thank you Mr Goya for your clear eye on how university policy is set in the era of transformative change. Does anyone know the proper name of the picture?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The New School

Hey guys and gals: There's been a lot of discussion recently about The School of Renewable Energy. Wow. Maybe our problem in Arts and Sciences is we need a flashy name. Then we, too, could ignore the graduate council and just give out degrees to whomever. I am open to suggestions. Of course it will have to fit in with today's language. Here are a few modest possibilities:

The college of never ending whining.
The College of Hot Air. (endlessly renewable I might add)
The College of How Dare You Say That
The College of Do You Know Who I am? (I hope so because I've forgotten)
The College of Perpetual Motion

I'm sure you folks will have more (and better) possibilities.

Just one other thought, this one about gardens. As difficult as it may seem to believe, Dr. Tinkle has gardened and canned (or is that been canned?). It's a lot of work. Frankly a beer garden might do well and attract a lot more "workers".

Lock and load!

How do you bring down a charging Bull Moose? Choosing the right ammunition and delivery system is most important. What does our BOT and this administration read to get such lame ideas (“new entity,” “extreme student centeredness,” “market-smart”?) We already know they have religiously read Zemsky's "Market-Smart and Mission-Centered" screed, which considered in its entirety a sick antelope of an argument in support of creative destruction in public higher education that can be felled with a slingshot and a marble. What else do they read and recommend? The redundancy of questionable content and quality along our top Administrators’ bookshelves are a good measure of why we are herded into a cul-de-sac of mediocrity as a public higher education institution -- instead of invited on a fast track toward excellence in education.

As business-sector benchmarking of A&S efficiencies in its mission-related delivery systems is now already upon us in spades, what should we be reading to be able to prepare ourselves in Council and Senate to deflect its targeted blunt-force impacts on our professional integrity as a professoriate? As in the case of the Zemsky book, we should be reading what our own administrators read and recommend to each other, and from which they derive their 1) dogmatic arguments, 2) self-serving justifications for the hurt and injury they cause others, and 3) disciplined commitment to dubious leadership.

This booklist would include one book -- perhaps at the very top of their reading list -- by Jim (Jimmy) Collins, titled "Good to Great" (pub. 2001 -- and which was at the top of Business Week's best-seller list for six years, selling two million copies!). The UT administration's benchmarking drive seems heavily influenced by the "business-sector wisdoms" of this Collin's book. And so they seem to apply them in both broad and small strokes toward "transforming" UT (good) into UT (great) -- as measured by U.S. News and World Report's annual rankings game.

I recommend that all concerned UT A&S students, faculty, staff and alumni read the following article in preparation for Spring debates about the implementation of benchmarking and its impacts on the restructuring of the A&S College:

Denrell, Jerker. 2005. "Selection Bias and the Perils of Benchmarking," Harvard Business Review, 83, 4:114-119

This article is only seven pages long, but it effectively undermines the so-called "research-based" arguments promoted by Collins (and also Zemsky) that pertain to the efficacy of benchmarking in the business world, and as our Administration seeks apply this demoralizing and inappropriate practice here UT.

The Denrell article can be accessed here, at no charge, through Carlson Library's electronic journal service:

Read up, gird up, then act. Help save A&S and its advanced studies in the liberal arts. The Bull Moose is upon us! Lock and load.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"turn the page"

Our own Dean has suggested we cease to embrace our traditions and ideals as a proud professoriate and become passive sheep led to our slaughter. I have read "The Last Professors" and my "Chronicle of Higher Education" and my Omar Khayyam, Iqbal and I Ching – and, alas, my Zemsky. Against all odds I still strongly believe the tenured professorship in public higher education is a venerable institution worth fighting for -- and in the public interest. The public tax dollars support our loyal opposition in threat of totalitarian trends. Real First Amendment space in this country has eroded over the past hundred years to the point where it only resides now on the campuses of public higher education throughout The Land. The business model in public higher education seeks to privatize this last bastion of hope in the face of totalitarianism. It is up to us, the remaining core of our proud professoriate here at the University of Toledo, to fight this fight now and to win it or go down embracing a lost and worthy cause -- but in the end with dignity and pride. To not do so is to be ignorant of who we are and what we represent, and to betray the public trust, mainly by allowing ourselves and our students and the future of Feedom in America to be ground down under the cold heel of fascist tyranny, right here on our own campus. We can begin by dusting off the trusty p******r and resuming our c*********e resistance. We meet next on February 14 at the old location. Students, staff and alumni welcome. Free pizza and beer. Bring your best ideas. Anything goes ... theoretically (winkwink).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Center for Renewable Energy Study Emerges at UT Under Supervision of Administrative Midwifery

The pains of spending real money in an imaginary way are so dreadful, like the throes of birth, that perhaps another $156K in bonus money should be awarded.

Budget Questionnaire to Chairs

Below is the questionnaire that went out to dept. chairs. It came from the ASC Dean"s office although we were given to understand at the ASC meeting of Feb. 4 that it is a distillation of more questions that came from higher up. Actually it was never made quite clear at the meeting who orginated this. Maybe it is sufficient to know it comes from On High. Unimpeachable Authority is involved, and maybe a good deal of very impeachable high density administrative thinking. Enjoy.

1. What is the standard teaching load in your department for both research active and teaching-centered tenure-track faculty? Please provide a list of faculty members who have course releases, along with the reason for the release.

2. If there are tenure-track faculty in your department who are not giving their full measure of effort to the work of your department, and if he/she were to increase their contribution through additional teaching of regularly scheduled courses, how many more classes could be taught by tenure-track faculty?

Fall Spring

Please identify the affected faculty:

3. With regard to work load in your department, could you indicate the average number of hours per week that your faculty spend in the following activities.

Activity Hours

Teaching regularly scheduled courses including
preparation, grading, office hours etc.
Indicate for each level
1000-2000 level
3000-4000 level

Supervising, advising, mentoring etc. of students

Research and scholarship

Service and administration

4. Are all the courses offered by your department during this academic year programmatically essential, or are some courses in your schedule because of a strong interest on the part of a faculty member, but not essential to developing a solid foundation in the discipline for your majors or graduate students?

Please identify these courses:

5. Do you feel that any of your department’s course offerings are significantly similar to courses offered in other departments, and are there courses in other departments that could be used in place of any of your course offerings?

6. Could you estimate the number of sections that you could eliminate if, in courses where there was sufficient demand, you were to set the capacity of sections to their room sizes rather than using a predetermined uniform capacity based on pedagogical or other consideration?

7. Which of your programs or major specializations offered by your department have seen either significant increases or decreases in enrollment in the past three years? Which of your programs or specializations have the largest enrollments?

8. Can you identify ways to increase the enrollments in your programs or majors?

9. Referring to previously reported data, list institutions with departments or programs who you would consider to be peer department or programs. What institutions have departments or programs that you reasonably expect to compete with in the next five years.

10. Would it be possible to meet the obligations of your department without a loss of net revenue to the institutions if you were to cut full-time positions by 10% assuming no union contract restrictions?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A & S Meetings

Dr. Tinkle has heard through the grapevine (that's why my ears are purple) that yesterday's meeting was truly bizarre. First of all, it took forever to pass a straightforward minor for the fine folks in Physics. Why the hangup people, it's a science minor. Of course there will be prerequisites. Then there was all the hoopla over the statement encouraging the Pres to donate his bonus to scholarships. Now, whether the statement was good, bad or ugly did not seem to be the point of the discussion. Instead Benny called it immoral because we were telling other people what to do with their money. Excuse me, the church tells me I should tithe, advertisers tell me I should buy, the government tells me I should pay, and charities tell me what a good idea it is to give. These hardly rise to the level of immorality. The statement was voted down. Then there was a last minute addition of a group that will be trying to plant a garden. Nice idea. I wish them well, but the presentation went on for forty minutes. It was five o'clock and our fine representatives had not gotten to the relevant issue of the idiotic questionnaire. They actually had to vote to extend the meeting time. If one were conspiratorial in nature one might suppose that this was by design. How about it Larry???

Monday, February 2, 2009

Budget Questionnaire

Okay Folks, I'm baaaaack:

Yes sireee I have just returned from a long winter's nap. And just in time I might add. The old budget questionnaire is a real piece of work. If you haven't seen it, go ask your chair for a copy. The first thing to realize is that all this information is available should the Provost or whoever came up with this questionnaire want to go look. But let's face it, it's a whole lot more fun to have faculty turning in fellow faculty for not working hard enough. It's no fun to just go look at
ARPAs and then have a quiet conversation. NO but gosh and by golly let's get those little blighters to spill the beans on one another. Heaven forbid that faculty might want to teach a seminar in their area of research. There will be no more boutique courses taught here. It's got to be depressing to have spent years researching a particular area and then have it referred to as "boutique". The good Dr. Tinkle actually has several questions to ask.

1. Was the survey sent to all colleges or just A & S?
2. Who actually initiated this puppy?
3. What happened to the benchmarking study?
4. Have the fine folks at the Learning Alliance sent a report yet?
5. And a corallary to the one above, will we get to see the original or just an edited version?
6. Did anyone else read the questions and think it was 1953? Are you or have you ever been.....?

Good night and good luck