Search This Blog

Saturday, March 27, 2010

From Silo-Babble to Departmental Dissolution and Merger

Provost Haggett has launched an insidious campaign of “silo-babble” across our main campus academic forums. Flunkie spokespersons for the UT Strategic Plan Committee (last seen slouching towards Bethlehem) are meanwhile busy spreading this manure pile across the main campus. The “silo” meme in academic discourse derives from a business-model notion that disparages “information silos” for impeding structural changes perceived as necessary to accomplish managerial efficiencies, mainly cost-cutting. See here:

The prime and targeted examples of her perceived “silos” impeding the rapid progress of business-like restructuring at the University of Toledo and in the College of Arts and Sciences are its traditional academic departments. "These have to go!" she decrees. This means that the deliberate dissolution of existing departments through mergers into “schools” by administrative fiat is on the near horizon. Gird your loins. The battle is upon us. It’s now or never. Actively resist all silo-babble and its intended consequences. Unite and fight to save our institution of public higher education, our College of Arts and Sciences, our academic departments, and the vital flesh, blood and voice of an empowered and free-thinking tenured professoriate to teach quality-conscious students in our main campus classrooms.


Anonymous said...

For more insight into the entrenchment of silo-babble in the carefully orchestrated rhetoric of the Strategic Plan Committee, see here:

Anonymous said...

I challenge you to provide one, just one, example of Provost Rosemary Haggett engaging in this so called "silo-babble"! You can't just make up these sorts of accusations you know!

Anonymous said...

My response to “the challenge”:

Fair enough. Please access the Strategic Plan Committee document titled “Transforming the Community: The University of Toledo’s Advanced Engagement Model” here:

Scroll down to “Chapter 10. Leadership, Operations and Partnership.” Continue to scroll to this item:

“LOP.2 A University-Wide Way of Thinking

Continuously consider how trans-disciplinary and internal shared contributions of knowledge and efforts may be the key to many of the engaged university’s accomplishments—in that the world has problems, not departments. It is considered an important characteristic of the 21st Century Engaged University that it does not operate in silos so much as it takes advantage of its many knowledge disciplines to enhance problem solving and create and apply new knowledge.”

Note that silo-babble is part of this statement. Then note the quotation on the right-hand margin of the page accompanying this statement:

“A Lesson from Academic Agriculture

“In my former work in a College of
Agriculture, we had a saying:
‘We have departments. Farmers have

Dr. Rosemary Haggett
Provost and Executive Vice President for
Academic Affairs, The University of Toledo”

Viola! Since I know who you are and you know who I am, you owe me a beer and a conversation.

Anonymous said...

Here's another response to the challenge of providing "just one example of Prov. R. Haggett engaging in this so called 'silo-babble'":

"Transform the classical university structure (colleges/departments) to schools that reflects [sic] 21st century “grand challenges”, not classical discipline [sic].
Create distinct interdisciplinary centers and professional preparation units focused on priorities and areas of excellence
Restructure curricula in each school to merge previously autonomous areas of study
Cluster multiple areas of studies and specializations into larger transdisciplinary “faculties”"
from slide 10 of her presentation to the BOT earlier this month.

I'm also puzzled by "just-in-time learning" mentioned on slide 13. This is obviously a rehash of "just-in-time delivery/manufacturing/training". Please note: we are not producing widgets on an assembly line; we are not delivering car parts. We are educators. The fact that the provost is challenging us to becoming "learning-centered" is offensive. Most of us have been doing that for a long time. Do we have new things to learn about teaching and learning? Absolutely. So let's talk about those things rather than try to impress the BOT with business-jargon. I'm not interested in repackaging or rebranding or giving the appearance of doing something new.

Again to Anonymous who issued the initial challenge and concluded by saying: "You can't just make up these sorts of accusations", I would say this: please show me where UT faculty have been falling down on the job and have not been engaged in developing learning-centered materials. Where is the evidence that says that UT's budget crisis is due to ineffective teaching? Is the increase in student numbers the proof? Are you saying that the work our students do is horrible? Are you saying that their achievements are of no consequence?

How much of our current difficulties are due to generations of mismanagement and current administrators who need to deflect attention from their own inadequacies, incompetencies and lack of insight, along with the worst economy in generations? It's easier to blame the faculty than to look at the way money has been misused and is misused.

And speaking of money, why was Chuck Lehnert in Dubai last week? Is there a plan to pursue joint ventures with Provost Dan Johnson at Zayed University in Dubai? How much money is being spent on these initiatives while the UT campus is constantly being threatened with prioritization and reallocation?
Let's make sure that the students on this campus are the priority.

yo, duh! said...

Thanks, Diogenes, for calling our attention to this and reminding us we simply have to keep our eyes and ears open with this administration and not just swallow what they try to get past us.

Anonymous said...

So, does the administration have a Plan B if this one doesn't work? What's their fall-back strategy?

The easy part is tearing things down. Building something in place of what you've destroyed is the real challenge, especially with tenured faculty who may have little-to-no experience in the new structure. And, what of the students who will be on the receiving end of this experiment? And, it IS an experiment with no guarantee of success.

If the administration's grand design for a new UT doesn't pan out, how much time and money is it going to take to correct their mistakes? Oh, they and "bored of trustees" won't have to worry. They won't be here. Just the faculty and the students, as usual.

Anonymous said...

This will be called disestablishment as it unfolds ... like at AS