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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Response to "New Dean" Post

Dr. Tinkle asks if it is true that BOT member Tom Brady has been appointed as interim Dean of the JHCOE. Brady hasn't been appointed yet, but they are exploring the possibility.

From the UToday of 3/17/09:

"According to an e-mail Dr. Rosemary Haggett, Main Campus provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, sent to the college’s faculty and staff, “This morning, President Jacobs sent a letter to Gov. Ted Strickland requesting that Dr. Tom Brady, chairman, CEO and founder of Plastic Technologies Inc., be provided a leave of absence from his role as a UT trustee so he may have the potential opportunity to serve as interim dean of the Judith Herb College of Education.”

If his leave is approved by the governor, the University would enter negotiations with Brady to serve in the role."

(full story at


In the comments section of the "New Dean" post, commentator What Hath Jake Wrought? said "Word has it that Faculty Senate was, let's say, unenthused over the idea of Brady as Ed Deanator. Many objections were raised."

'Tis true. Haggett answered questions about this at Faculty Senate yesterday afternoon (3/17/09). She said the information was made public in the interest of "transparency" and that the faculty should be aware that this appointment is a possibility. I'm guessing the info was put out as a "trial balloon" to guage faculty reaction. If so, I must say the reaction at Senate was quite skeptical and negative.

Some of the concerns were:
  • His qualifications for such a post (He has a Ph.D. in Engineering, has never held an academic administrative position, and, although Haggett "wasn't sure," quite possibily has never taught a college course)
  • Ethics/complications of appointing your boss's boss as a subordinate knowing that he will become your boss's boss again at the end of the interim period
  • Why he would take a "leave of absense" and return to the BOT instead of simply resigning from the BOT to take the position
  • Ethics of moving from a position as a trustee into a highly paid administrative position in the organization, that is, is he leveraging this highly paid plum from his position of power on the BOT?
  • The fact that we have had individuals serve as an "interim" dean at UT for years (note: Mary Jo Waldock was "interim" Dean of University College for a long time. (Six years if H n' F's memory serves)
  • The appearance of a pattern of cronyism in Jacobs' admin appointments
  • The possibility of a "hidden agenda" in (or at the very least the wisdom of) appointing a person to head the JHCOE who during an address to Senate last semester stated, "We have got to start better using our public education resources. For example, we have two schools of education ten miles apart. My question as a trustee of the University System of Ohio is “Is that the best way to teach education to kids?” (see Minutes of the Senate Meeting of October 28, 2008 available at

And I undoubtedly left something out as this is just the "top of my head" recollection. When the minutes come out in a few weeks you can read the whole exchange including the Provost's responses.


My own point of view is that Brady may be a good enough and capable enough fellow in general, but this appointment would probably be a big mistake unless, of course, the admin actually wants another huge fight with the faculty as justification for some other course of action. Dr. Brady is undoubtably a very capable businessperson who is very involved in his community. He dedicates much of his time, energy, and money to supporting worthwhile causes, including higher education in Ohio, and at UT in particular. However, I doubt that he would be successful as Dean of the JHCOE for a number of reasons. It's hard for me to believe he would be accepted by the college's faculty. He would be coming in under a cloud of suspicion about the propriety of the appointment and of the motives of the president and provost in making it. He doesn't have experience in the culture of academics at the college level. The way we operate and interact within our colleges as professors, department chairs, and deans is so vastly different than how trustees and the upper admin operate and interact, that I doubt that trust, communication, and understanding between the dean and faculty will have a chance to be established.

The perspectives that he seems to hold appear to fundamentally clash with the perspectives of many of the faculty. As an example, at the Feb 17, 2009 A&S Council meeting a proposal to create an "early admissions" option to the Master's programs in Economics, Poltical Science, and Geography and Planning was discussed and passed. This proposal allows UT students majoring in those departments to be admitted to the Master's programs during their senior year, to take nine credits of graduate level courses for undergraduate credit, and then also apply the same nine credits to the Master's program as well. One Council member pointed out that the "double dipping" does in effect either reduce the credit hour requirement for the undergraduate degree by nine hours, or reduces the credit hour requirement for the graduate degree by nine hours (which of course it does). The opinion of the Council, including me, was that this was fine and the advantage to our students in those majors and the recruiting advantages for those M.A. programs gained by allowing this "shortening" of the time required to complete the B.A./M.A. degrees made this "early admissions" option a good idea.

Tom Brady made a comment near the end of the meeting commending Council and the Social Sciences departments for the proposal. He mentioned the annoying "no longer in a teaching world but a learning one" thing that Dr. T noted in his post and stated that the students would be receiving "more education in less time." On the way out I was talking to a colleague and I said that while I too thought that the early admission program was a very good idea, that the students received less education (nine credit hours to be exact) in less time (which is how attaining the two degrees takes less time). The next day I realized why Dr. Brady and I saw this differently. I saw "education" as a process, experience, exposure to new information and opportunity for learning, and the aquisition of additional knowledge, practice and skills. So for me, nine fewer credits in the program meant less education. I think Dr. Brady saw education as something the student was "purchasing," that is, the degree. So in his view the student received more education (the two degrees) in less time. There may be validity to this view, even if I obviously don't share it. My point is that I think the distance between how the BOT/Jacobs' admin views higher ed and how most faculty view it is so far apart that this appointment will result in even more faculty/administration conflict.


Reuben said...

I'm sure this will be a big step towards getting Mrs. Herb to drop her objections to the way Dr. Jacobs is running the college named after her and give UT the gift, worth many millions of dollars, that she has been withholding in protest.

Oh, wait, no it won't.

Next charge against Jacobs: Alienating college namesakes.

Anonymous said...

Brady makes plastic bottles for Coke. The Herbs bottle Coke. Interesting if nothing else.

Ed Tech said...

Holy Conspiracies!

Brady + plastic bottle manufactures + Coke + J. Hoib bottling plant = Assasination of the University of Toledo!!!

Stop de presses!

Diogenes said...

Anyone who understands the profound mission of state public higher education and who 1) believes in traditional quality classroom education involving a tenured professoriate, and is 2) against mass production of UT diplomas as engineered, milled and molded (read plastics) through privatized distance-learning models and platforms should read this article carefully:

This article will clarify why this administration considers its tenured and tenure-track faculty to be "a thousand points of no" and why it does not promote shared governance with a tenured and unionized faculy. It explains why an online "coach" makes more sense than a tenured classroom professor wherever cost-cutting drives the transformation of public higher education delivery systems.

Anonymous said...

Today's Blade editorial:

Article published March 20, 2009
What model for education?

UNIVERSITY of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs' decision to nominate a local entrepreneur as interim head of the university's school of education is perplexing for what it says about the focus and direction of the university as a whole.

Tom Brady, founder and chief executive officer of Plastic Technologies Inc. in Springfield Township, was named by Gov. Bob Taft to the former Medical University of Ohio Board of Trustees in 2005 and became a member of the UT board when the two schools merged in 2006.

His other experience in education appears to consist of a current seat on the board of the Toledo School for the Arts and a previous stint as a board member of the Toledo Technology Academy, both charter schools.

Much more extensive is Mr. Brady's experience in business, which is exactly what Dr. Jacobs said he wants in the person who replaces education school Dean Thomas, who will step down at the end of the current school year. The new dean should be from outside the "educational establishment," Dr. Jacobs has said. "A business orientation is essential."

Mr. Brady's nomination to take the post on an interim basis for 12 to 18 months until a permanent dean can be found came on the heels of a dustup between education school faculty and university officials over farming out administration of two master's degree programs to Texas-based company Higher Ed Holdings, which would have conducted courses for the programs online. The change would have allowed UT to offer master's degrees in curriculum and instruction and education leadership online quicker and cheaper than they can be completed on campus.

Faculty were concerned about shrinking semester-long classes to fit a five-week online format, as well as the quickness with which they were being asked to decide. As one faculty member noted, "We do not want to be a diploma mill."
Dr. Jacobs has demonstrated a commitment to fostering university-business partnerships. We applaud his efforts, which we believe will reap benefits for the university and the local economy. In particular, the UT should continue to expand its online course and program offerings as a viable alternative to the brick-and-mortar classroom for some students. But we wonder if the business model is appropriate for an academic department.

The school of education trains the teachers who will lead K-12 and university classrooms, the administrators who will evaluate faculty and implement education policies, and the researchers who will develop the philosophical and curricular underpinnings of the entire system of education. That training should not be shortchanged in the interest of short-term profit.

If Mr. Brady doesn't understand that, we would advise Gov. Ted Strickland not to grant him a leave of absence from the board of trustees to take the education school dean - not even on an interim basis.