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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Matrix

Since first posting my 15 Roundtable implementation recommendations some of my colleagues have asked me questions about them. The two most frequently asked questions are: 1) “To what extent do your 15 recommendations address the five significant issues or themes (space, scholarship, teaching modalities, graduate education and curriculum)?” and 2) “Are your 15 recommendations ranked according to their importance or urgency?” These questions have inspired me to provide a “Matrix of Significance and Agreement” and I provide its image above. I constructed the Matrix by assigning the five issues on one axis and my 15 recommendations on the other, after which I symbolized the importance of their relationship if implemented as Significant (S) or Moderate (M). The predominance of the “S” symbol on the Matrix reveals that each recommendation on this short list of 15 is indeed Significant. Letter symbols (ABCDE) on the Matrix represent the five issues and number symbols (1- 15), my recommendations. I have rearranged the 15 recommendations on the Matrix to reflect what I now perceive of as an “urgency” ranking. I invite further discussion. Email me at if you like, or phone 4049.


A. Space
B. Scholarship
C. Teaching modalities
D. Graduate Education
E. Curriculum


1 Transform the main campus to a 12/7/365 activity schedule
2 Emphatically commit to excellence in education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels
3 Hire more tenure-track professors
4 End “Open Admissions” at UT as this policy is incompatible with A&S College “top tier” ranking aspirations
5 Abolish the administrative position of “Chair of Department” in the A&S College and replace it with “Head of Department;” the Department Personnel Committees will evaluate and reward the performance of their Department Heads in teaching, research and service using the annual ARPA and merit processes
6 Return the Center for Teaching Excellence to its original mission and administrative structure
7 Increase campus-wide support of sabbaticals for teaching as well as research
8 Immediately commence a nation-wide search for a new Dean of Arts & Sciences
9 Reopen our Faculty Club to again serve the main campus academic community as the physical and symbolic intellectual center of their informal educational activities
10 Design and build several “nationality” classrooms (see, for example, “Cathedral of Learning” nationality classrooms at University of Pittsburg)
11 Allocate A&S College space at all scales intelligently toward the constant enhancement of its teaching, research and service excellence
12 Allocate additional and sufficient resources to Carlson Library staffing, and to book purchases and on-site accessibility to hard-copy books, with emphasis on holdings in the liberal arts
13 Strengthen commitment to shared governance and faculty control of the curriculum
14 Revisit the UT “Directions” strategic planning document and especially aspects of educational planning that impact negatively on the A&S College and its traditional liberal arts curriculum
15 Assess the costs and benefits, as well as the ethical aspects, of expensive new classroom teaching and learning technologies (given multiple scenarios of instructional needs and priorities across a faculty-controlled A&S College curriculum)


Anonymous said...

I can't find the handle on Recommendation #5! Department "chairs" and "heads" are the same thing, are they not? Tell me more about the "Significance" of this recommendation related to the five themes. Why is implementation of this recommenation so urgent?

BAP said...

Re Heads v Chairs. I think that the Dean and others want to see "Chairs" more as straw bosses who tell faculty what to do and discipline and supervise them. In other words the "Chair" implements in a top down manner what administration decrees. The dept "Head" is a return to the more traditional elected head of the dept, who is more of a peer, who has agreed to take on administrative responsibilities--but is still a member of faculty, accountable to her peers and to her discipline (not some business model being inflicted by consultants and administrators from high above.)

Anonymous said...

I just looked over the "Draft" roundtable report recently circulated by Brian Patrick, ASC Chair. The draft seems to have many arbitrary insertions that seem to come from its early Zemsky origins and from administrative rhetoric. I wonder how representative the draft really is regarding CAS faculty opinion. I am more than leery of this document and the uses to which administrators will put it--all the while claiming that CAS faculty meaningfully participated in authoring it. Beware this pseudo-democracy. Beware also the toadies that promulgate it.

Anonymous said...

“Department Chairs” in our A&S College presently occupy the lowest-ranking position in the Administration hierarchy. If they were” Department Heads” they would occupy the highest-ranking position in the Faculty hierarchy, and not be structurally and psychologically alienated from their departmental colleagues. Associate and Assistant Deans would instead occupy the lowest-ranking position in the Administration hierarchy and they themselves would then have to deal with all the administrative clutter that A&S Chairs are presently burdened with. If you doubt what I write here, read this recent survey

wherein is written: “Chairs report that 61%-80% of their days are spent on administrative duties. For the 39% of chairs who do not have 12-month appointments, 50% report that they work at least 21 days unpaid. Much of the chair’s time is spent answering mail and reading and writing reports, with 91% of chairs saying that they spend 2 hours or more each day attending to departmental communication requirements. Chairs report that they spend little time engaged in boundary-spanning activities (such as grant writing and public relations) or in faculty professional development.”

Nor do they have any time to teach, conduct research or serve the community as is their professional obligation. So let’s put the education mission of UT first on our Roundtable agenda and eliminate the position of Departmental Chair and institute in its place the position of Departmental Head. This single Roundtable recommendation would responsibly promote and reward the interests of A&S College dedicated faculty and diligent students, as well as Ohio taxpayers, all of whom rightfully expect academic excellence in the A&S College at the hub of UT in return for their significant investments and sacrifices.