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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


Professor Demeritus said...

Like "Anonymous," I retired two years ago after 35 years of teaching at UT and six at another university. "Bitter" just about describes my feelings regarding the majority of my career at UT. I promised myself when I retired that I would never go back on campus, not even to use the men's room. Sorry, but that has to be gender-specific. I've kept that promise.

Yes, indeed, for those of you who do not remember the Driscoll years, UT was a university that was going places. It was a nice place to work. The treatment of the faculty was excellent, just as I had experienced at the other universities where I had worked. I was proud to be associated with it. However, it's been down hill ever since.

Before I retired, I discussed my feelings with a trusted colleague in another discipline, a mentor of sorts, and he told me that it was okay to "hate" the place. He felt the same way. I cannot express just how wonderful retirement from UT has been. To no longer have anything to do with it has been a joy.

Rocky said...

I am a Full Professor with 20+ years who travels to various universities. It is also a joy to step onto a university where the peoplle are happy and proud to doing what they are doing. Unfortunately, I have not had that experience lately. It seems that all universities are in the same state as UT. Administrators that are insensitive to the faculty, atheletics programs that are overbloated, state governments cutting back on state support, Boards of Directors, Regents and Trustees that frankly live in a dream world without contact tot he university, pressures to sell courses via DL, pressures to get big research dollars, etc.

What are we doing to academia?

Worried Alum said...

I would like to see an emphasis put on rebuilding departments with high-quality tenure track hires, establishing thereby a renewed commitment to excellence AND scholarship that would benefit students and the community.

The current practice of top-down administrative programs does nothing except put money in the pockets of the administrators and confuses the public--who may be misled to think that these administrative grunting noises have something to do with a real education. But a slogan is not an education, whatever the UT PR people are paid to say.