Search This Blog

Monday, November 23, 2009

memo to dean

Your Deanship:

Please read Jim Nemeth's suggestions below. They are timely, accurate and to the point.

One other suggestion: If you can't stand the heat, don't be the chief chef.


Approving Chair said...

Re Jim Nemeth's recommendations re chairs, I suggest also Chair form their own Council and meet WITHOUT the Dean presiding over them. The latter system is a bad organizational design suitable only for coordinating supervisors at a mass production facility. The Dean speaks and they listen, is they way it works. Meetings have become essentially the Dean telling them to make sure people are in their offices and other minutia that are more consistent with running an elementary school than a college at at modern university. The chairs should have a steering committee for their council and this steering committee meets with the Dean. This would empower the chairs. and eliminate the humiliating experience of being talked down to each meeting by the dean. More like a meeting of equals than dictated-to-lackies, as they are now treated .

Jeff Odelot said...

I would like to add another suggestion to Dr. Nemeth's recommendations for excellence, if I may.

In order to restore faith in our academic community, the entire University of Toledo community needs to take back our official university seal. This seal is the emblem that you see in the middle of Centennial Mall, in the 3rd floor hall of University Hall, or at UT events such as graduation (perhaps the blog monitor might post a picture of our seal for all to see?) Currently, this seal is reserved strictly for presidential use at the University, an abhorrent abuse of power in my humble opinion.

This great seal, UT's rococo and romantic emblem of academia, is a beautiful representation of what university education should stand for. The seal's use of Old Spanish --Coadyuvando El Presente, Formando El Porvenir--is unique among America's major universities. The seal's very use of an archaic language ascribes a certain value and beauty to the prospect of liberal education -- what economic worth does the knowledge of old Spanish bring to 21st century America? Absolutely nothing.

But with knowledge of Old Spanish, one can begin to see the bigger picture of our world. Questions begin to flow "Why is our motto in Spanish?", "What is Toledo's relationship to Spain?". The questions originating from our seal don't stop with Spain, but are ever increasing in scope. “Why have universities?”, “What is our mission in the world” Are not questions the basis of an academic community?

Therefore, I believe a formal return of the seal to the university community will help bring UT out of its current nebulous malaise. I am not asking for the president to give up his office's use of the seal; no, I am simply asking for the democratic return of the seal for the entire community's use.

Anonymous said...

At last a substantive post that I can agree with! Senor Odelot, you are correct: that ridiculous, banal, blase shield-thingy with the pathetic green leaves must go. It reminds me more of a logo for a female contraceptive device than it does a logo for a university (let alone one that aspires to greatness).

Anonymous said...

OK, I've got to point out, I don't know of any University anywhere that uses its seal as its logo. Such casual use of the seal would diminish it. It's a fine debate to have over whether the president should use it, but the notion of slapping the seal on every powerpoint, invitation and brochure is horrifying to me.

Jeff Odelot said...

To any-moose #2,

I whole-heartedly agree with your point regarding the use of the seal as a logo; traditionally, universities do indeed have separate logos and an official seal. However, I never once in my previous blog post recommended committing the "presidential" seal to use as the UT logo.

The word "Logo" is Greek for talk, speak, speech, word, all things that need to be encouraged here at UT. The current shield design for our logo is not my favorite, but I have seen a lot worse. (Trust me on this one... I am a former newspaper editor, and I have sign some really bad design work!)

University seals, on the other hand, are traditionally used for much more formal purposes. They should be strictly used to authenticate official documents, from diplomas to scholarships to letters of commendation. Seals are certainly a factor to consider in social power structures, as they are typically granted from a higher power (the university) to a lower power (the student). The assignment of the university seal to the special use of the presidential office in effect confers all of the university's power into said office, which is not the democratic ideal that we claim to represent at The University of Toledo.

FRD said...

???? Ok, not to be a jerk, but all the power is in the president's office. I don't like a lot of the things he does, but the governance of universities is set up through state law. Within federal and state law, the president can take any action he wants. The level of shared governance at any institution is always a matter of how much power the president chooses to share. It is most decidedly undemocratic, but the law doesn't design it to be democratic either. I'm not saying this is the way it should be, but it is unfailingly the way it is. Governance is shared if the president chooses to share. And judging from the angry comments I get from colleagues and that I read in Chronicle stories and comments, it's much the same most places...