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Thursday, April 30, 2009

UT Student Protest of April 29 (Photo by Holly Layman)

Loyalty

Loyalty is a funny word. It is often used by higher ups when they want you to do something. We now see how loyalty is repaid by the university administration. People who have given their lives to this institution have been axed by it. How many of us remember the claim that our budget and the hospital's would have nothing to do with one another--unless you count fund transfers. Ask those who have been cut about improving the human condition and how transformative this is going to be for them.

One person on the list is Karen Rhoda. Dr. Tinkle does not know her personally, but sees in her removal a giant step toward outsourcing all of online learning. Can anyone say, "Higher Education Holdings?" I have an idea. Why not outsource our administration? If this is the best this administration can do after three years of manipulation, then it and the BOT need to go.

My dear sweet mother used to tell me, "Tinkle, never put your faith in an institution, it will only screw you over. Put your faith in your family and friends." We should all listen to our mothers a little more.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Townhall Synopsis on April 27

A few items concerning President Jacobs' Townhall meeting of April 27 as reported by Bloggie's roving intelligence agents:

1.  Give thanks to Providence, but no UT administrators are being laid off today.  How the top- heavy careening of the Jacobs' administration might be affected by such a rash act, Bloggie does not even want to consider. 

2.  The low-level vulnerable people who are being laid off are being led away today by a HR professionals and disposed of in a "humane" way, according to the words of UT Central Committee members, comrades Jacobs, Haggett and Scarborough.  

3.  A UT rumor-control operation to trap reactionaries and counter-revolutionaries is now underway.  You are to report rumors to your Dean or the Provost.   (Nothing was said yet about  unauthorized conversations in hallways, but beware.)  Report  all suspicious gossip!  Bloggie thinks, to be even more helpful, that anything you might hear in the restroom that sounds suspicious should be reported immediately to the Provost.   You will be thanked for your input, of that you can be reasonably assured. 

4.  The townhall meeting was held in a room that held perhaps 25 persons, despite it being the townhall meeting of the semester that was most likely to attract attention.  This appears a deliberate choice,  although Jacobs attempted to pass blame to a low level functionary for the choice.

5.  Jacobs will be keeping his bonus because he earned it, and he defended it.  It's his.  

The amazing thing about all of this is that Bloggie is not making any of it up or even exaggerating.  And these points report only just some of what happened.  How does one even satirize an administration that is an auto-parody? 

CORRECTION.  Bloggie was wrong about the part of item #2 that concerns "low-level" people,  Apparently a few people were laid off that were not going along with the program, who by no means could be described as low-level,. e.g., Karen Rhoda , head of distance learning.  Now presumably Jacobs is free to turn this  DL fiefdom over to one of his liegemen-cronies. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Implementation

Okay Folks let's discuss implementation of the Round Table points. But first, let's have an operational definition of the word. There are some issues over exactly what is being done by the groups at this Saturday's fun and games. If by implementation it is meant to actually make final decisions and "put those into effect" then this little gathering scares me to death. If by implementation it is meant to begin a rather lengthy discussion then I am all for it. For example, there is a curriculum committee. This committee is going to examine the college core and, I assume, how that core is presently delivered. There is likely to be blood on the sand during such a discussion. I cannot imagine implementing anything said Saturday by the end of May. But, just because I can't imagine it does not mean this administration can't imagine it. They are desperate for money. Please remember how quickly Higher Education Holdings became a part of our local jargon. So, if this is the beginning of a true and lengthy discussion about a core curriculum then let's do it; if all they want are larger classes taught over the web, then no. Zemsky says students don't care about quality. My answer is, "then we have to." We are the responsible adults in this process.

A look back

Dear Friends: Just a quick comment about last Friday's announcement. It was well known in public relations that if you had bad news you held the news conference late on Friday afternoon because the stations could not get the film developed in time for the six o'clock news. That is an old, old model. (remember the Simrell firing just before Thanksgiving) Given the inability of the Jacob's administration to understand the "human condition" here at UT, I am not supprised. We've known for a long time that the administration was playing fast and loose with where the money was going and how it was being divided up. Now we know they are also cowardly. I have asked before and now ask again that the unions demand a complete accounting. I want to know what money was moved from which accounts and where it went. It is the least we can do for our friends.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Stewardship?

Bloggie always thought "stewardship" had to do with accountability and trust--as in "where did all the money go?"

And Bloggie never knew that a budget was a game of "musical chairs."

And that administrative rhetoric could go so effortlessly from this:

"Under his leadership, the University, which operates three campuses and has an annual operating budget of more than $700 million, has enjoyed tremendous momentum, experiencing enrollment growth in the last three years to more than 22,000 students."

to this:

"Next week, UT will announce layoffs for employees across all campuses.  We will have to say goodbye to friends and colleagues who helped improve the human condition in academics, health care and other areas of university engagement"

Bloggie wonders how many of these "friends and colleagues" will be high level administrators.  But Bloggie must also admit that the practice of rewarding bad stewardship with big bonuses has become the standard in American business practices in recent times (e.g., AIG) and in this UT has shown itself as advanced as any of these cutting edge firms.  

Maybe this is what is meant when the UT President wants to put more people with "business experience" in charge of UT colleges?   

Poor Bloggie doesn't have a head for such business and cannot understand it.   

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You've Got to Carry That Weight!

Below you will find a Chronicle article concerning the Vedder report on the increasingly top- heavy university.  You may wish to note what the articles says about Universities with hospitals, especially if you have been wondering what President Jacobs and  VP Scarborough are intending to do with the funds they are trying to take away from Arts & Sciences' many students (of course reserving much for their own salaries, additional compensation and bonuses).  UT is definitely feeling the weight :


Brainard, Jeffrey; Fain, Paul, & Masterson, Kathryn. (2009, April 24). STICKER SHOCK:
Support-Staff Jobs Double in 20 Years, Outpacing Enrollment. The Chronicle of Higher Education,http://chronicle.com/weekly/v55/i33/33a00102.htm

An occasional series exploring college costs. 

Colleges have added managers and support personnel at a steady, vigorous clip over the past 20 years, new research shows, far outpacing the growth in student enrollment and instructors.

Support staff — like budget analysts, computer specialists, and loan counselors — nearly doubled from 1987 to 2007. Meanwhile, jobs for instructors increased by only about 50 percent, according to a report to be released this week by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.


Although the report draws no direct link between growth in back-office staff and rising tuition, it does conclude that the scale of the expansion reflects unproductive spending by academe.

Enrollments also grew over this period, but the rate of growth of managers and support staff, many of whose positions did not exist 20 years ago, increased much faster. The ratio of this group to students rose by 34 percent, compared with just a 10-percent rise in the ratio of instructors to students.

The shift means that the core academic operations, teaching and research, are now a smaller piece of the pie, says Richard K. Vedder, the center's director and an economics professor at Ohio University.


"There's hardly a university in the country where it hasn't shrunk," says Mr. Vedder, who was a member of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education during the George W. Bush administration. "It's time for higher education to go on a diet."

College officials say they have added managerial and support personnel to cope with growing regulations, increasing student expectations, and new technologies on campuses. They did so in flusher times.

However, cost experts say colleges could have done more to control the growth.

"This is simply not a good trend, however justifiable the individual decisions may be," says Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, which was not involved in the study. It is "simply not a trend that's supportable."

Similar findings about the growth of the nonteaching work force were highlighted in recent reports by the American Association of University Professors and the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability. But the center's findings, combined with added research by The Chronicle to identify individual colleges, raise questions about priorities and provide fresh ammunition for critics of supercharged spending. Even before the recession, colleges were under pressure as students and parents reeled from tuition hikes, and policy makers questioned where the money went.

Growth in Support Staff

The center's report is based on U.S. Department of Education data reported by 2,782 colleges from 1987 to 2007. That was before the recession, which has led many colleges to freeze hiring.

Not surprisingly, many of the institutions with the largest relative numbers of back-office staff and the most growth over the last decade are universities with major hospitals. For example, Vanderbilt University employs 64 administrators and support staff members for every 100 full-time-equivalent students. That alone represents a 97-percent increase since 1997.

Beth Fortune, Vanderbilt's vice chancellor for media relations, says the medical center accounts for 80 percent of all university employees. Vanderbilt opened a children's hospital during the past decade while also increasing its annual sponsored research to more than $400-million, from $121-million.

"More physicians create the need for more support staff," Ms. Fortune says, adding that Vanderbilt is serving the growing health-care demands of the surrounding region without "drawing from our educational mission."

At another wealthy private institution, Wake Forest University, much of the staff growth on the main campus directly or indirectly serves students, says Kevin P. Cox, assistant vice president for university advancement and director of media relations. Expectations of students and parents have grown over the years, he says.

Robert A. Sevier agrees. Mr. Sevier, senior vice president for strategy at the higher-education-marketing company Stamats, says that for many students "the educational experience is increasingly a lifestyle experience."

Mr. Cox points to Wake Forest's service-learning center and intramural programs as examples of what today's students are looking for. "I believe all that contributes to community."

Wake Forest's main campus has 1,323 full-time staff and 491 full-time faculty members for about 7,000 students. "The importance of staff to supporting students and faculty is sometimes overlooked," Mr. Cox says.

Diversity of Jobs

According to the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, most of the increase in the back-office work force came among support personnel classified by the Education Department as "other professional staff." They include a wide diversity of positions that support the college's academic, student, and institutional operations, like lawyers, librarians, clergy, coaches, and student counselors.

Colleges added nearly 300,000 such jobs over the 20-year period, as well as about 64,000 administrators and managers, according to the center's report, "Trends in the Higher Education Labor Force: Identifying Changes in Worker Composition and Productivity."

Academic institutions actually added more instructors, about 625,000, than in the managerial and support categories combined. But most of the new faculty positions were part time. The center's finding that jobs for instructors rose by 50 percent reflects both full-time positions and part-time jobs expressed as full-time equivalents.


The ratio of managerial and support employees to students increased across all types of colleges. Two-year and for-profit colleges had lower ratios than did their four-year, nonprofit counterparts because both the former usually had no residential students for whom they needed to provide services.

The report argues that colleges could justify hiring more instructors in order to bring down average class size. But some of the administrative positions were redundant, the report says, and colleges could have constrained the growth by exploiting productivity gains made possible by information technology.

And although college officials say they have been forced to hire more administrators and support staff, some of the hiring has been discretionary, to accomplish educational goals, says Daniel L. Bennett, a labor economist at the center and author of the report. He cites, for example, diversity and foreign-study coordinators.

The report presents no data about the extent to which the growth in managerial and support jobs has helped spur the steady rise in tuition.

But labor is the biggest expense for most colleges, and more jobs mean higher spending on salaries and benefits.

Unknown Details

Some people who have looked at the work-force data say it is impossible to use them to draw broad cost conclusions because they don't differentiate jobs. Researchers don't know if the increase in back-office jobs represents redundant layers of bureaucracy, more staff members who interact daily with students, or positions that produce revenue for institutions, such as fund raisers or people who work on technology transfer.

Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, disagrees with using data reported by colleges to the federal government to draw a line between instructors and the staff on a campus. "That bright line doesn't exist in reality," Mr. Hartle says. "Numerous people they've consigned to 'back office' duties have enormous amounts of interaction with students."

They also contribute to the life of the university. "You can't run a first-class or even second-class university without librarians, academic support staff, and IT-support staff," he says. "Administrators aren't just people pushing papers and cutting the grass."

Lynn University, in Boca Raton, Fla., has seen growth in both staff and students since it became a four-year institution, in 1987. The student population has more than doubled in that time, to more than 2,500 in 2007, and that growth triggered increases in the faculty and in support services.

Lynn now has five colleges, a music conservatory, and an institute that provides individual tutoring for students with learning disabilities. Its information-technology department quadrupled to about 40 people, and its development office went from one employee to about a dozen. Jobs once done outside, such as marketing and maintenance, were brought in-house.

"Did it add to costs?" asks Laurie Levine, vice president for business and finance at Lynn. "Yes, but it also added to student outcomes and student experiences."

Raising Questions

Jane Wellman, director of the Delta project on postsecondary costs, says the pattern of staff growth and spending on administration is not the biggest driver of college costs. Others include declines in state appropriations, which have led public colleges to raise tuition. But administrative costs do contribute, she says, and raise questions about whether colleges are moving away from their core missions of educating students.

"It's not the smoking gun," she says, but it is "something to be looked at, absolutely."

It costs a great deal of money to become a major research institution. And experts say ambition outpaced reality at many institutions.

"Once you get into the federal-grants game, you have any number of nonteaching jobs that you have to hire," says William G. Tierney, director of the University of Southern California's Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis.

The decision to ramp up research may be difficult to reverse, he says, because "it's easier to increase than decrease."

http://chronicle.com
Section: Money & Management
Volume 55, Issue 33, Page A1 

Copyright © 2009 by The Chronicle of Higher Education


Sunday, April 19, 2009

More education in less time

Thanx and a tip o' the horn to Umbraged for this link. In case anyone didn't see this in the comments to a previous post, it's too good to miss.



If for some reason the video won't play, you can click this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO8x8eoU3L4

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Modest Proposal from Dr. Swifty

The meritorious proposal below was submitted by Dr Swifty:


A Modest Proposal for UT


Given the recent criteria now used for selecting interim deans, I submit the following as my modest proposal for the next opening for an interim dean in the college of medicine. Just as Dr. Brady has insisted on his genuine concern about UT and his desire to help in any way he can, I think we should simply ask candidates if they really care about this institution. We should stop wasting time looking at their credentials, educational background and job history, and just focus on intention. Qualifications are simply irrelevant. As long as a candidate intends to do a good job and be helpful, that should be enough. So, when Dr. Gold steps down, I suggest that we select someone who has good intentions for the College of Medicine. No need for that person to have a degree in medicine. In fact, a business degree will be more than adequate and might even help us think outside of the box. Such a person might be able to apply models that have been proposed for the College of Education. Drs. Jacob, Haggett and Scarborough have recently pushed for exclusive on-line learning for two masters programs in the College of Education. By offering distance learning programs in these programs, the University could: reduce the need for faculty, reduce the time to degree, and reduce tuition rates thereby generating more enrollment.


It's time we consider how this model might benefit the medical college. How can we reduce the operating budget ? Reduce faculty, apparently the most costly (and therefore obviously expendable) line item in the budget. Does every medical classroom need a faculty member in it, particularly given the fact that they do not always attract high attendance in their classes? Medical students do not have the best rates of classroom attendance, as some doctors have candidly admitted to me when speaking nostalgically of their med school days. Paying a medical school faculty member to teach the same course repeatedly is a gross waste of money and space. Therefore, I propose that we do video capture of one iteration of each course and then run subsequent iterations of that course via distance learning, hosted by Higher Ed Holdings, for instance. Second-year medical students could tutor or mentor the first-year students, thus earning money to reduce their debt load. Faculty members could be coaches for the tutors and would still control the content material of the courses and could revise it as needed, though it is anticipated that such revisions would be minimal. Since humans have not grown any new brain lobes recently, there would be little need to revise the brain anatomy course anytime soon. Any new research on how the brain functions could be offered as infomercials delivered as short emails. And those business wizards at the pharmaceutical companies are always passing on the latest bit of cutting-edge research in free pamphlets, so there are plenty of opportunities for free continuing education.


Next, let us consider the time to degree. As Dr. Tom Brady recently explained in a meeting of Arts and Sciences Council, the Board of Trustees loves the idea of getting students through programs in ever shorter amounts of time. Given that attitude, why are we so wedded to a four-year program for a medical degree? Is there something magical about the number four? I like the number two: it's a simple, clean number that has the potential to halve everything. How do we reduce the requirements to offer a medical degree in two years rather than four? The above-mentioned distance learning model will greatly help. Second, reduce the number of boutique courses offered at the medical college. How many Ohio doctors will ever treat those glamorous, exotic, one-in-a million diseases? Let's get back to basics: bloodletting was the bread and butter of doctors for a long time and can be again. Do all doctors perform surgery in their practice? If not, then let's end that rotation. (Think of the time and lives that will be saved!)


One way of effectively trimming time to degree is to reduce the amount of information that students are required to learn. After all, we live in the digital age: if you don't know something, you look it up on-line. Doctors could do the same. In fact, they could do in the open what they do when they run from the examination room to consult the Physicians Desk Reference in private.


Dr. Gold has predicted a shortage of doctors in the Northwest Ohio region in the near future. The time to act is now, before it is too late. We need more doctors fast: let's reduce tuition so we can enroll more medical students. At bargain-basement prices, we'll move more inventory (credit hours) faster and so we'll make up the difference and generate lots of profits, and incidentally, graduate more doctors.


Finally, I suggest outsourcing some of the administrative functions of the medical college. We could: 1) offer it up to the lowest bidder, which will likely be a company outside the US or at least outside the Ohio region; 2) offer unpaid internships to business college students who would earn credit hours for which they would have to pay; 3) appoint permanent interim administrators with no previous experience in medicine, thus requiring no national search, a significant savings; 4) demand that medical faculty pick up administrative functions along with teaching, at the same salary of course; 5) or simply choose someone who has recently gone to a doctor's office and who can see things from the customer point of view.


I hope that this modest proposal is a helpful one, and that you believe in my benign intent.


Sincerely,

Dr. Swifty


just a thought

It is not often that the good Dr. Tinkle gets truly thoughtful,(please no comments) but I ran across this piece just today. It is in the book, Mostly True, by Brian Andreas:

The plumber was digging around in the pipes & he saw something shine in the muck & it turned out to be the soul of the last tenant. He gave it to me & I said I wonder how we can return it & he shrugged & said he found stuff like that all the time. You'd be amazed what people lose he said.

I won't sermonize about this but I hope 100 years from now the story is not about Arts and Sciences.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blade: Brady to resign BOT, seek deanship

At least others finally recognized the unseemliness and possible ethical problems of appointing a sitting board member to a university position. Brady is doing the right thing by resigning if he is interested in this appointment. I still think he will have a rough time of it as I stated in a previous post. Also, I think it is an insult to the faculty in the JHCOE that the president thinks that someone with no training in their field and no experience in higher ed adminstration is better suited for this position than one of their own. But you know, as my kids would say, whatever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Article published April 11, 2009
UT trustee to resign, seek dean job

By MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

University of Toledo trustee Tom Brady plans to resign so he can be considered for an interim dean position.

Mr. Brady said he plans to send his resignation to the state over the weekend, and the UT board of trustees will discuss "consideration of resignation of a UT trustee" during a special meeting Monday.

University trustees are appointed by the governor.

"The situation is, if I'm going to be considered for that position, I really cannot be a trustee as well," Mr. Brady said. "I really don't have any choice but to resign if I want to be considered, and that's not a sure thing either."

UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs asked Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio Board of Regents last month for a 12-to-18-month leave of absence for Mr. Brady so he could be interim dean of UT's Judith Herb college of education.

Thomas Switzer, the education college dean, announced in the fall that he plans to step down after the school year.

The regents responded that a leave of absence was not an option and the trustee would need to resign, said Mike Chaney, spokesman for the regents.

The university was directed to work with the Ohio Ethics Commission if it wanted to pursue the idea further, to make sure no conflict of interest exists.

Mr. Brady said it was his understanding that to be considered for interim dean, he had to separate himself from the board and that resigning would help with any conflict-of-interest concerns.

"It really is just a matter of trying to put things in place that would satisfy the state there wasn't any apparent conflict of interest. Of course, there isn't any," he said.

Mr. Brady, 64, is the chief executive officer and founder of Plastic Technologies Inc., in Springfield Township.

His company recently appointed a new president to handle the day-to-day operations of the business, and he'd be available to dedicate his time to the post of interim dean, Mr. Brady said.

He was appointed to the former Medical College of Ohio board of trustees in 2005, and his term expires in 2014.

Mr. Brady said the decision to leave the board wasn't difficult for him because his goal always has been to serve the university in the best way possible.

In addition, he said that even if he's no longer a trustee and is not picked to lead the education college, he'll find another way to be involved. "My position has been at the university that I'll do whatever I can to help."

When news of Mr. Brady's possibly becoming interim dean hit campus last month, some faculty were concerned about a CEO, rather than someone with a background in education, running the college.

http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090411/NEWS04/904110371/0/OPINION

Fox in the Herb House

I would hope that each and every one of our Board of Trustees has read the April 10, 2009 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. I assume every dedicated professional – teachers, administrators and staff -- on the payroll of UT has done the same. While I don’t expect UT students to follow the CHE religiously, I hope their newly-elected representatives do, as well as the editors and reporters of the Independent Collegian. This CHE issue is important because it grasps the current trends sweeping public higher education in the wake of the Wall Street breakdown, and in the fresh bloom of the new Obama Era education policies at the national level. These new trends are not in line with UT President Jacob’s inept strategic plan for shaping the future of the University of Toledo, and are especially at odds with his myopic vision for the restructuring of the main campus Colleges of Arts & Sciences and Judith Herb College of Education.

In specific, the Jacobs Administration represents “[A] performance-based CEO model [that] encourages presidents to drive up enrollments, push for profitable rather than principled curricular changes, and respond to trustee concerns rather than to the voices of faculty members and students in setting the agenda of their institutions” (CHE, 4/10/2009:A60).

This model, now relegated to the "greed is good" dustbin of history and histrionics, is the same corrupting model that still inspires President Jacobs to insist that a business executive is somehow qualified to serve as Dean of JHCE. The fact that President Jacobs persists with this maladroit notion demonstrates that he and his advisors are also obsolete and dangerous to UT and should be removed and replaced with more enlightened, humane and charismatic leadership. Gruff businessman Brady, who President Jacobs has designated as his choice for next JHCE Dean, has only yesterday tendered his resignation from the UT BOT where he was long the public face and voice for that Old Paradigm of pushing the business model in local public higher education. His resignation is good news to the extent that the Board now has an opportunity under less ideologically-driven new leadership to transform its vision of what UT should aspire to be, given the emerging new national trends that promote of excellence over expediency, of quality over quantity.

The bad news is that Mr. Brady is presently poised to become the Jacobs-appointed JHCE Dean, according to what may be their desperate endgame in a bogged-down transformative plan on this campus. He may even announce it as soon as Monday in his annual address. In spite of such desperate measures, his speech will show that there remains evidence of some serious intractable momentum in President Jacobs' self-delusional prophecies. So it may still be hard for concerned students, faculty, staff and alumni to derail his runaway train. I would therefore hope that concerned A&S SFSA speak up at the President's address in protest against the inappropriate and now obsolete business model for public higher education and its overextended misapplications here at UT, and especially as these presently threaten the JHCE College and the College of Arts and Sciences. I certainly intend to do so. Tom Brady is no educator and has no “business” aspiring to be the next Dean of Judith Herb College of Education.

Should we let this Fox into the Herb House? No Way! Shame on President Jacobs for continuing to push his disingenuous, ill-informed, morally-bankrupt and dangerously short-sighted personal agendas on this campus community.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

President Jacobs and BOT Member Tom Brady Propose New Educational Paradigm for UT


Guided by the Learning Alliance-Round Table Benchmarking data, President Lloyd Jacobs and Trustee Tom Brady propose a bold new educational paradigm to be installed at UT that will (1) enhance retention, and (2) compete more effectively with other universities in order to achieve Transformative Change and Excellence.  Said Jacobs, "Delivery of the core curriculum will be streamlined into convenient modules that will place UT at the forefront of world class universities."   Trustee Brady congratulated Jacobs on "Increasing the number of students that we graduate. We have lowered the bottom line to the lowest point ever." 

    

Questions

I'm back. Yes indeed Dr. Tinkle has now reclaimed his spot on the blog. Having watched yesterday's A & S meeting I have a few questions.

1. How come Ben Pryor gets to shout out questions and answers while the rest of the faculty have to raise their hands and be recognized?

2. How come the outgoing chair gets to decide the process for selecting people for the committees that will discuss the round table's five areas of concern?

3. How come all the benchmarking data is junk unless it somehow agrees with our own predispositions? I refer here to the retention data.

4. If we do "more with less" will we reap the rewards of the process or will those go elsewhere?

5. Will Tom Brady quit coming to A & S meetings if he gets named interim dean? Or, will he go back to quarterbacking the Patriots?

Inquiring minds want to know.

More meeting stuff

Dr. Tinkle has graciously allowed me more time on his dime. (sorry about the rhyme) At yesterday's A & S meeting several items were discussed as regards the Monday round table meeting. I would like to clear up a few of those items. First, the President was not present at the meeting. The Provost said he had been called to Columbus. At yesterday's A & S meeting I mentioned this and our speaker said well maybe that wasn't quite what happened and rambled on about how the executive committee of the round table had discussed whether he should be present and if he was should he just be an observer etc. etc. I never really got an answer. Frankly, I want to know what the President thinks about the round table, the Learning Alliance, the final report and the benchmarking study. It would have been nice to have him in a smaller more informal setting without either his minions or thousands of us. Second, I mentioned that the attendees of the Monday round table seemed exhausted. Those were my words and I stand by them. I was challenged by Ben Pryor as to why I thought that. I was not given a chance to respond so I will now take the time to do so here. The Monday meeting was chaired by the Provost. The first thing she did was ask if she could take the "draft" off of the report. No one responded. The responses that were then offered were rather tepid. I felt as if the whole meeting went that way. That is an opinion. As they say it's opinions that makes a horse race. Others may feel differently. In retrspect, we probably should have taken the time to move the tables closer together to at least give us the impression we were all in the same room (SU 2592). I have one other thing to say about this process. I sat next to Tom Brady at the second meeting of the round table last December. He has now spoken at several A & S meetings. I think he means well. But I have learned after 30 years of college teaching that you must judge actions, not words. He claims that what he wants is for UT to move forward, to achieve greatness. I do not doubt his words. But in the last several years, half of the college of Arts and Sciences has been systematically ignored. Our resources have been taken from us. We are given visiting professors, not tenure track slots. This is not a path to greatness. This is a path toward becoming a community college. He says we must do more with less. Is that true of the entire university or just those of us in the social sciences, humanities and the arts?

The round table concluded that there are five areas that should be examined. Exactly how faculty will be choosen for those committees seems at the moment to be up in the air. The chair of A & S said he was going to send something out. His term is about over. The process has to be more transparent than the one used for selecting members of the round table. I urge the Dean to develop a committee structure that will be representative of the diversity of programs in the college. I then urge all of you to participate.

I wish to again thank Dr. Tinkle for the time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Round Table Report

Dear Friends: I'm turning this over to Dave Tucker who was present at the meeting.


I have a couple of quick observations. First we were told the President had been called to Columbus and would not be joining us. Second, the meeting consisted of A & S faculty only. There around twenty in attendence. Third, there seemed to be a level of exhaustion to the meeting. People seemed tired. Fourth, I believe there was a general concensus that the group, if it was going to succeed, was going to have to be more inclusive. Fifth, is the "where do we go now" question. It appears there will be some type of ad hoc committees formed. I suggested that whatever was done should be done through the A & S Council as it is the elected and representative body of the faculty.

In addition to these comments, I feel I must at least touch on the Benchmarking study. To say that the data are fuzzy, is a bit like saying New York City is large. It is not just a case of comparing apples to oranges, it is comparing apples to lug nuts. Attendees got what we were told was a complete study. I assume copies will be made available to chairs or placed on web sites.

I hope to digest the happenings in a better manner at a later date. Dave Tucker

Monday, April 6, 2009

Report Upcoming on Roundtable

The Learning Alliance roundtable met today, with  President Jacobs and Hagget in attendance.   Details will follow. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Moving Comment

The following comment was posted a couple of days ago by an anonymous, retired UT faculty member.  It deserves our attention: 




 Anonymous said...

I retired two years ago after 34 years of service at UT and 16 years service at three other universities. Early in my career here, during the presidencies of Glen Driscoll and Jim McComas , I boasted to my colleagues elsewhere about the quality of academic life here- an administration that not only respected but even tried to care for the faculty, a faculty committed to both teaching an research. In word, for many years I felt that I had made a good choice in coming here, despite reservations about living in the " rust belt " and the university's lack of "snob appeal." I had several opportunities to move elsewhere - as I have some reputation as a scholar - but I turned them down, Well, it's been downhill ever since. My last year at UT left me angry and bitter, and my experiences as retiree have added to my sense of alienation. I won't go into details. I'll simply say that this is a problem the best market campaign in the world couldn't solve. At one time universty administrators were faculty members committed to to life of the life of the mind, , at home in the classroom and laboratory or library ,able to bring to their jobs an understanding of what a university is really all about. It;s been a long time since UT had that kind of leadership, and now faculty experience seems to be a disqualification for candidates for administrative positions - witness the Brady controversy and the less heralded appointment in Arts and Sciences. The present gang are not merely inept, they are openly contemptuous of the faculty . I is a matter of sorrow to me that I can no longer recommend the universty in which I spent the greater part of my professional life to prospective students. When the issue comes up in conversations with friends, I clam up and hope I'm not asked a direct question. I will not speak for this university , let alone give them a dime, until there is new leadership. At one time university presidents w\ere expected to be "gentleman and scholars. " Well , we may not need a gentleman " -there are some fine women academic leaders - but some scholarship and a modicum of good manners would go a long way. Understanding of the intellectual life, respect for the faculty , commitment to real academic values , and a concern for students deep enough to protect them from shoddy programs regardless of the possible profits, these are the qualities so terribly absent at UT. Of the four institutions where I taught during my half century career, UT is the only one which has slid down hill. It's very sad