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Saturday, April 11, 2009

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.

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