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Sunday, January 10, 2010

"It ain't broken!"

The A&S Chair’s Meeting and Retreat held Thursday, January 7, 2010 convened to discussion the latest Round Table Implementation Committee (RTIC) Report, dated January 4. The Report contained numerous “action items” and an implementation timetable jerry rigged with tentative completion dates spanning several years into the future. The action items were not prioritized. Associate Dean Heritage was assigned the onerous task of organizing an implementation task force in the near future, assuming the Report is approved at all levels of university administration.

Apparently A&S Council members and the A&S faculty at large will not be asked or required to approve or disapprove of the final Report (which is still being revised). Instead, Dean McClellan will release the Report for wide distribution across campus as a "for your information only" item. Meanwhile it will move up the “official” ladder of higher administration approvals. Approval at the highest level will trigger the implementation phase. The recommendations will be prioritized. An aggressive timetable will be set.

Any implementation strategy for transforming A&S College based on Report recommendations will involve administrative interpretations of the Report, to be used as a transformative tool. The Report is vague in all aspects, and invites abuse. It was supposed to articulate clearly an identity, vision and strategy for A&S College but failed to do so. It is fair to ask:

Is this Report a sophisticated instrument appropriate to fine-tuning the A&S College in its aspirations to achieve top-tier ranking? Or is it a crude hammer?

Two proverbs come to mind immediately:

1) “One of the quickest ways to break something is to fix it when it ain’t broken.“

2) “To the man (sic) with the hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

I believe that the Round Table process might have created a “sophisticated instrument” of a Report – if it had been “entirely faculty driven.” But it was not. This crude hammer of an implementation plan was always administrator-driven. Most faculty involved held administrator rank. The results were predictable: It is well documented that the Jacob’s Administration from its beginning trumpeted that the Arts and Science College is “broken” and that President Jacobs’ personal goal is to fix it. This hostility quickly manifested as the Zemsky TLA Roundtable, micromanaged from the outset to destroy the College rather than build it taller upon solid foundations.

Yet, in spite of all that is amiss with this RTIC Report, the consensus voice of Chairs at last Thursday’s retreat generally echo one emphatic and recurring message regarding the Report’s “action items" and which is: We have been doing this all along!”

The Report as discussed thus firmly establishes that the A&S College was not and is not “broken” and it seems obvious therefore that the majority of the Report’s “action items” can be accommodated within modified and updated existing A&S College delivery systems and structures. My advice to A&S faculty members, students, staff and alumni is to demand the right to democratically vote their approval or disapproval of this dangerous document before it heads on up the implementation ladder and beyond their reach to recall.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So neither the council nor the faculty at large will be permitted to vote on this so-called plan. Does anyone know of a university that achieved a reputation for excellence by insulting and marginalizing its faculty ?