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Friday, September 4, 2009

UT Enters the Dark Age

This UTNews online message was posted to the campus community in advance of the Labor Day holiday:

“'Employees Encouraged To Power Down Areas for Holiday Weekend'
(September 3rd, 2009).

In line with the University’s commitment to sustainability and energy conservation, employees are asked to turn off all appliances and machines possible for the Labor Day holiday weekend. These include computers, printers, copiers, lights and coffeemakers. This simple act can help reduce waste and save the University money. ..."

The following comment was posted in response, and is copied to this site:

“This “green” message is well-intended, but just another example of the lack of understanding this present administration has about university academic campus culture. Weekends and even holidays on our university campus are intuitively understood by our most idealistic, optimistic, diligent students and tenure-track and tenured faculty to be learning and research opportunities. We expect campus doors to be open and inviting, with lights and power and heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, all available so we can accomplish our academic missions and objectives. Students need access to campus library and computer labs, and faculty members need access to their offices and research materials within them, as well as to their computers. Here is the cold reality: This UT administration does not yet consider the Bancroft campus of this university to be a 24/7 operation like the Heath Services campus, and takes every opportunity to cut costs of the Bancroft campus university academic operation at night, on weekends and during holidays, making it increasingly difficult if not impossible to nurture academic excellence on its campus. When and if ever the Jacobs administration wakes up to its significant unmet responsibilities to promote academic excellence at the University of Toledo, then they will become responsible to their neglected mission, and will strive to become a 24/7 university and grow rapidly in reputation statewide and nationwide, as well as internationally. At present the Jacobs administration demonstrates no sincere inclination to improve academic excellence on the Bancroft Campus. Its day to day operations of the Bancroft campus over the past three years have been regressive rather than progressive. We remain a fourth-tier institution according to the national rankings while Bowling Green University has leaped into the third tier over the same span. We remain bogged down by a seemingly anti-intellectual maladministration and an incompetent leadership that simply does not understand or care what a state public institution of higher eduction is supposed to achieve academically in order to fulfill its promise as a valuable public service that parents, students, faculty and all Ohio taxpayers can be proud of. Turn off the lights on the weekends and holidays? This is a metapor for mediocrity. Welcome to the University of Toledo. The quest for excellence abandoned. Watch your step as your re-enter the dark ages.”


Rocky said...

This could use a bit of paragraphing.

However, the message is right on. This administration does not know what scholarly activity is or should be. As a result, they frequently make decisions that hamper, delay, impede, and hinder the work that scholars are doing.

And of course, the have "benign intent" mainly because of their ignorance.

Ed Tech said...

Some insight into reasons the University of Toledo campus community has allowed itself to be driven into this present cul-de-sac of academic ignominy by the Jacobs Administration and its "Directions" plan and poor advice from its outside consultants is provided here:

Morphew, Christopher C., and Bruce D. Baker. 2004. "The Cost of Prestige: Do New Research 1 Universities Incur Higher Administrative Costs?" The Review of Higher Education, 27,3:365-384.

In a nutshell, the authors examine the social pathology of organizational behavior that accompanies blind aspiration of administrators in higher education. The reading revels how patterns of spending by overly-ambitious university administrators tend to be inefficient and dishonest to the extent that "de-emphasis on instruction" is necessary to hastily grow the university as a research-intensive institution increasingly dependent on external grants. How this has played out at UT for the last three years under the intrusive business model is that the Jacobs administration has put most of its "profits" aside "for purposes not directly (or otherwise) related to educational quality.” Hiring more administrators at outrageous salaries topped with bonuses is the result. Now this shameless and unapologetic administration is demanding employee furloughs to help compensate for the results of its inefficiency and dishonesty, and threatening “termination” of those who refuse to comply. Disgraceful.