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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Highly Relevant Review of "The Relevant University"

As a matter of highlighting and complimenting an incisive and well considered review of the slick, glossy book attributed to Lloyd Jacobs and consultant Eva Klein, the following post had been moved from the comments section to today's front page, where it belongs. Bloggie thanks and salutes this anonymous writer who contributed this review as serialized comments. Also included at the end are reader's comments to the review. Bloggie encourages further discussion--as this blog is the only place any of this important material has apparently, to date, received serious consideration:


Part 1:

I have read the complete book. It is a somewhat inconsistent composition of what apparently five people who would claim they are playing the same music have to say about the future of the university.

The first part is probably written by Eva Klein. In this part we learn that knowledge is something that should lead to human implementation. We also learn that manufacturing should be our future despite so many other countries much better at it than we are. We also learn that the future is about building things. The author of this section goes to great lengths to show that the university was found on concepts of a “place apart” separate from the common society and evolved into traditions that served the workplace. Now they must turn their efforts to community development. But then, unconvincingly after all these arguments, on page 13, the author states that the traditional model of the university is valid and must be preserved! And in the truest sense of “non sequitur” the author states that “the ivory tower is an idea our society no longer can afford.” On this same page, the author lays out a graphical model of taking the supposed “Ivory tower culture” of teaching, service and research and uses an arrow to connote transformation to the “Stewardship and Engagement Culture” of human capital, innovation system and knowledge community. Later, a second author will later transform this in a rectangular graphic where Health Care and Quality of Place replace the Knowledge Community bubble.

This then is followed by a description of the Strategic Plan for Higher Education and the 3rd Frontier for the State of Ohio. It is very interesting to note the following targets stated for this area on page 18 and to later compare these to the directions of the university:

Advanced and alternative energy
Multimodal transportation and logistics
Advanced manufacturing (automotive, energy, and other industries)
Architecture, engineering, and construction

April 23, 2010 6:45 AM

Anonymous said...
Part 2:

Chapter 4 begins to spread out the University Strategy. Most of Chapter 4 is about the “Directions 2007” document. On page 22, the focus is on Direction VI, Outreach and Engagement. Paragraph 10 lists the same industry cluster targets as UT “signature areas.” There does not appear to be much hope for the Education College or the Arts as being targets for UT signature areas. This Chapter is ended by focusing on the motto of the University. Most of the remaining work will be quoted in the terms of “Engaging the Present” and “Creating the Future”.

Chapter 5 is clearly written by another author with views that are not consistent with the first author. One might present that this author is President Jacobs. Here, the three bubble transformation introduced on page 13 is now converted to a rectangle that emphasizes Health Care. The author points out that the controlling themes of the university must be examined from the point of view of its constituencies and that the university needs to adopt an ethic of active responsibility for outcomes that others care about. That author goes on to sate that the over-arching purpose is to improve the human condition.

On page 30, the second author describes “human capital” elevating UT’s involvement of in education beyond post secondary levels to include K-12. The author then goes on to imply that the health care workforce properly belong to “Human Capital” but are “so specific that it is included in the topic of “HealthCare and Wellness.” Then in the description of the “Innovation System,” we learn that

“The resources of a regional innovation system should focus on interdisciplinary knowledge inquiry and investments in business/product responses to mega-trends and pragmatic needs of society, not purely in esoteric research.”

I translate this sentence as meaning, if your research is not useful by a business, a product or a practical need, then it is not worthy of research. The author certainly does not provide for beauty and probably would not endorse the following quote from William James, “The union of the mathematician with the poet, fervor with measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal.” Nor would he endorse the great mathematician, G. H. Hardy, "I have never done anything 'useful'. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world."

Interestingly enough, the description of the HealthCare and Wellness is the shortest of all of the domains of the “box model.” And then the author goes on so say that it is also a major factor in “Quality of Place” which is then yet another very short description.

April 23, 2010 7:27 AM

Anonymous said...
Part 3:

In Chapter 5 (continuing from the commentary of Part 2 on Chapter 5) a chart is given associates the “Engagement Domains” (e.g., the four elements of the box model,) to Directions 2007. Whereas the first author concentrated efforts on activity VI of Directions 2007, this author is trying to find reasons why it is more expansive and applies to everything.

We also learn on page 33 that the location of the university is no longer relevant. I guess this is to be interpreted that it is irrelevant that the University of Toledo is located in Toledo and is a metropolitan university? There are so many logical inconsistencies of this type throughout the book that one can say at once, “everything is there and nothing is there.” These inconsistencies cloud understanding the document for later, a case will be made to build/call a region adjacent to UT the “University City.” If one expects the document to be internally consistent as a well written strategy should be, they will be disappointed for it is not.

Also on page 33, the author of this section lays out five hierarchical geographic divisions and attempts to explain UT’s service to each. I learned for the first time that our primary service area is the 12 counties of Northwest Ohio as indicated on a map. Then why are we offering scholarship services to all of the metropolitan areas of Ohio through the “Guarantee” and not focusing more on recruiting students from these 12 counties? Finally a short attribution is made towards diversity.

This concludes Part One of the book which is dedicated to establishing the Contexts of the University. Chapter 6 begins Part Two of the book which pertains to Visions and Strategies. These will be covered in continuing parts of this commentary.

April 23, 2010 7:44 AM

Anonymous said...
Part 4:

Chapter 6 is entitled “Human Capital.” The first statement made is “Human Capital is the new currency of the global economy.” The organization of the Chapter is Definition, Goals, Engaging the Present and Creating the Future.

If I look up in a dictionary the word “currency,” I find definitions such as

“1 a : circulation as a medium of exchange b : general use, acceptance, or prevalence "a story gaining currency" c : the quality or state of being current : CURRENTNESS
2 a : something (as coins, treasury notes, and banknotes) that is in circulation as a medium of exchange b : paper money in circulation c : a common article for bartering d : a medium of verbal or intellectual expression” (from the Merriam Webster online version)

Somehow, none of these definitions gives me a satisfying feeling about this topic. I don’t want to be traded as money, not do I want to be a medium of exchange; nor do I feel that other people wish to be a vehicle for barter. The author is very cavalier in how they refer to human beings. Later on page 36, the statement is made in reference to students “we must take responsibility for the whole “food chain.” I have heard administrators refer to students as customers but never before as elements of consumption!

The 6 Goals of Chapter 6 are expansive on the mission of the University by including elements of education that traditionally have been provided by the K-12 system, Community Colleges and Professional Organizations. The author makes a big push for the university getting involved in K-12 programs. Local School Districts might take exception to what is stated here as it flies in the face of their missions. And the last time we tried to compete with Qwens Community College, we failed miserably as they suck students for our technical programs. The expense of the university education was just to great.

In the remainder of the Chapter, sections of Engaging the Present and Creating the Future are interleaved. In the area of Undergraduate Education, emphasis is placed on “the Academic Journey,” “Experiential Learning,” Integrating STEM2 into the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and to give access to under-represented groups. In the area of Graduate and Professional Education, there clearly is a preference for Professional degrees. Emphasis is placed on Profession Science Master’s and Executive Education. It also appears that the authors intend to focus graduate programs so that they are thematic about health care, alternative and solar energy and industrial arts. The Academic Journey is again reinforced in the sections of Successful Lifelong Learners. There is an interesting strategy on page 43 “13. Transformation of Undergraduate Pedagogy, Technology, and Delivery for All Learners with Special Attention on Moving Adults to Degrees.” UT is to become a “Destination of Choice” for Continuing Professional Education.

April 23, 2010 8:39 AM

Anonymous said...
Part 5:

(Chapter 6 continued)

Folks, I apologize for being so wordy but I never before seen such an assault on scholarship and academic quality as I have from this volume. If this is to be the model of universities in the future, then scholarship is dead. Please let me continue:

On page 43 is a statement “Develop degree completion programs aimed specifically at adults, e.g., “no-frills” model.” Where in our current degree programs do we have “frills?” A group of scholars designed our current programs and certainly thought that what is in the program was necessary. So, what do we drop out?

In yet another statement on page 43, UT is to take responsibility and “ownership” for the lifelong learning of its graduates. Learning is an individual responsibility: while I promote that people need to learn until the die that they die, I do not feel it is the role of government or that of a university to assume that responsibility. Nor is it the role of government or universities to force people to learn.

“Redefine the roles of chairs as academic leaders…” This same administration continues to load Chairs with “adminutia” and take away their ability to lead their programs. Just recently Chairs were forced to change workloads to meet the needs of the Provost rather than use this tool to lead their departments.

On Page 44, there is a quote by the Provost Haggett, “The University of Toledo is committed to a University wide initiative that engages all colleges in a transformative partnership to develop innovative active environments with pre-k-to-12 education.” Is this the function of a university? Does this not take resources and time away from both teaching university level courses and the discovery of new knowledge? Furthermore, is not a an invasion of the missions of out school districts and in the jobs of our K-12 teachers? “Become a leader in designing, testing, implementing, refining or expanding programs that …” “Online Courses Clearinghouse and Instructional Materials Repository.” We can not even support the needs of our library but we are willing to do this? “The School Setting, Calendar and Resources.” Again where is this the mission of a university? What is worse, is that statement by Provost Haggett envisions this to be the mission of every college to do this!

April 23, 2010 11:17 AM

Anonymous said...
Part 6:

Chapter 7 lays out the Innovation System. It clearly is designed to be innovation for revenue generation. As a result it focuses on the last stages of research including technology transfer and business incubation. This statement from Page 48 clearly identifies the author’s ideas about new knowledge discovery: “Thus, unlike the traditional definition of university research, the knowledge discovery functions of an innovation system are not university centric. Some new knowledge originates in other established R&D organizations (federal laboratories, for example). And, studies have demonstrated that the largest portion of innovations in regions is generated by technology entrepreneurs working in the region and by large, mature companies.”

If I may restate the sentiment expressed, original university research and scholarship are not valued.

Yet the Goals on page 49 clearly desire that UT generate more new knowledge, generate more research funding, and support entrepreneurial activities. Furthermore, the goals envision the creation of new academic structures to support research which is inconsistent with the definitions given.

In the Engaging the Present section for Research, Discovery, Creative Works and Engaged Scholarship, it is pointed out that UT is ranked by NSF between 78th (Physics research) and 148th (life science research). As an afterthought, a four line paragraph entitled “Not Just About STEM2” was added that tokenizes scholarship and creative works. Then in the Creating the Future, growth targets for research are set to double the 2009 sponsored awards by 2012, Medicine, Engineering an Pharmacy are on the hook to provide this doubling. A goal is set to triple the number of STEM faculty engaged in research. And “As a function of the new corporation (Innovation Enterprises, Inc.), employ scientists and technical research personnel who are not university employees to conduct contract research projects…” I hate to be negative but how else can you interpret this section other than as disparagement of faculty research and scholarship?

Chapter 7 is quite long and I can not do justice here to commenting on it. The remaining parts concentrate on expanding incubation and entrepreneurship with focuses on Advanced Renewable Energy, Transportation and Logistics, Biomarkers and Sustainable Manufacturing. It envisions up to 40 more faculty for advanced energy (page 59) $100 million dollars from the University, state and federal funds and an annual $50 million operating budget. An addition $50 million is needed for facilites at Scott Park. In addition, UT is reported to have signed contracts with Bottom Line Resource Technologies as a consultant in this effort. The Logistics and Transportation piece (page 63) envisions $30 million in one time funds and an annual operating budget of $5 million. Biomarkers (page 65) envisions $100 million in one time funds and a $50 million operating budget. I guess there wasn’t any money left over for Sustainable Manufacturing as not budget estimates are given.

April 23, 2010 12:03 PM

Anonymous said...
Part 7:

Chapter 8 is dedicated to Health Care and Wellness. I would suggest that Provost Gold wrote this section as it reiterates a number of items in his speeches on campus. There is not really anything new in this Chapter. Basically, the Heath Care needs stated are more doctors, more Healthcare Workforce, more collaboration in North West Ohio among medical providers, promote wellness, and become a member of the Club of 100. Expansion of medical services are envisioned on page 75. Page 77 brings restructing the region’s medical services. Page 79 brings us expanding health care education by training (NOTE: I DID NOT SAY EDUCATING!) more doctors, amd creating the next generation of world class physician educators {trainers?}. More, more, more…

So I will move to Chapter 9: Quality of Place. I would submit that this section was written by the Poggemeyer Group. (Of course, attribution is given to them on page iii.) This is a rehash and not much new from the Corridor studies that were initiated during President Johnson’s time. It envisions calling the area around the University, “University City” and would include Old Orchard, Secor Gardens, Ottawa Hillside, Bancroft Hills, Burroughs, Highland Heights, Indian Hills, and Scott Park. (Of course, the City of Toledo and the Village of Ottawa Hills is ready to do this.) What was called the Science and technology Corridor is now just incorporated into the Health Sciences Campus.

The goals are to brand Toledo as a “college town,” plan and redevelop the lands within University City, create a 21st Century Mixed use Campus Model, continue to grow Arts, Culture and Leisure, provide for Sports, Recreation and Athletics and to achieve sustainability.

In order to create a mixed use campus, parts of the main campus would be made available for private partner use. (Page 91) The Health Campus would be greatly expanded. I was looking for the light rail that President Johnson envisioned but I couldn’t find it. But they do promote “walkability.” Of course retail on Dorr Street is featured. And the existing railroad tracks are spotlighted for use for logistics.

Then, surprisingly, on page 96 and 97, we find the Arts and Culture. They have to be connected to the STEM2 Disciplines (page 97), and industry. And of course there must be entrepreneurship and tourism. Do the authors really know anything about the Arts and Culture? Have they ever worked with real artists?

The last part of the Chapter is on sustainability and covers the usual “buss words”: plenty of green everything, plenty on environment and energy saving but no real definitive understanding of the costs or the difficulties of doing it. But if you say “sustainable,” I guess the words count for something. At least this does provide recognition for the environmental scientists and connected social scientists and is probably a worthy goal.

April 23, 2010 12:42 PM

Anonymous said...
Part 8 and last part!

I am really getting tired of rereading this document. Chapters 10 on Leadership, Partnerships and Operations, Chapter 11, Business Plan and Chapter 12 Outcome and Metrics forms Part Three entitled Implementation Elements.

It is interesting that on page 104, the authors state that most of the decision making process and priority setting management will be in the hands of existing governance bodies including Faculty Senate. So we should look for a total redirection of leadership on this campus from the current fatwahs of the President and action by the Staff model. They intend to build a Leadership for Change, a “University Wide Way of Thinking and Problem Solving Orientation.” Partnerships and Collaborations are featured. The author also envisions making effective use of university corporations. The university currently has at least five of these listed on page 108. The author envisions the creation of 2 more energy subsidiaries connected with Scott Park.

On Page 110 is a logo for “plug smart.” Remember the comment made earlier about UT have a contract with Bottom Line Resource Technologies? Both Bottom Line Resource Technologies and plug smart are affiliated in some way with Juice Technologies, LLC, a Columbus based company. The common denominator seems to be a Mr. Thomas A. Hurkmans and Mr. Aaron E. Martlage who seem to be electric utility entrepreneurs. It is difficult to state what their place is in this document.

The Business Plan begins on page 114 and focuses on branding, marketing, funding and resource development and land use. It envisions expanding the More and the UT Matters campaigns with added emphasis on relevance and engagement. The funding section states that the changes envision are too great to be accomplished by normally increasing annual resources. So they plan to double their budget! Now how exactly do they plan to do this?
Well page 119 seems to imply, more growth in tuition and fees, more research growth (consistent with the doubling of research by 2012 mentioned earlier but inconsistent in the number used,) growth in clinical revenues and aggressive capital and investment funding. Clearly as a funding plan, this section is not sufficient.

At last, finally the Outcome and Metrics begin on page 124. The goal (page 125) is to develop new metrics… so I guess they haven’t really thought about these.

I would be negligent if I failed to mention the Afterward by President Jacobs. Well I mentioned it. It is not relevant.

Overall, this is the greatest assault on scholarship that I have ever seen published at a university and supported by a university administration. There is a severe lack of depth in understanding the mission of the university and an over willingness to expand the university mission into areas it has no place in except for study. Furthermore, they have no idea of the magnitude of resources needed. It appears that they will bankrupt the university before they realize the impossibility of what they propose. But many of these administrators will be long gone and the remaining faculty will be left holding the bag.

April 23, 2010 1:14 PM

Emeritus Publius said...
Thank you for your anonymous toil in writing this review. I commend your altruism and community spirit.

April 23, 2010 1:29 PM

Anonymous said...
Thank you for your incisive critique of this bumbling document. "Relevant" should be replaced with "Inept" in its title. Klein should return her consulting fees and Jacobs, finally, laughed out of town.

April 23, 2010 2:01 PM

Pity said...
Think how much public money has been wasted on this vanity publication.

April 24, 2010 5:29 AM

Pity said...
A caveat to my previous comment: I am definitely not saying that UT press is a vanity publisher, just that Jacobs abuses his power by using its name to publish his vanity production.

Interestingly, this Relevant University book is designed and printed exactly in the current model of private sector corporate annual reports--lots of glossy paper in four color expensive designed-to-superficially-impress-style--except for the totally missing budget profit/loss statement. Jacobs seems to prefer financial fog when it comes to releasing information on what happens to all the money.

April 24, 2010 8:02 AM

Anonymous said...
The whole thesis seems to pre-suppose that our university was somehow "irrelevant". On the contrary, UT has been remarkably engaged with business and community since its inception and despite the current regime, continues to be so. The whole idea sounds very arrogant. Why should I be surprised.....

April 24, 2010 8:40 AM

Bruce said...
Good work, Jim! This may be the silver bullet we've all been praying for!

April 24, 2010 11:14 AM

Anonymous said...
"UT has been remarkably engaged with business and community since its inception and despite the current regime, continues to be so"

I thought the problem was UT was too business-focused. I was surprised to read those who think this admin has diminished interactions with business when I'd thought the focus on economic development at the expense of academics was the problem.

April 24, 2010 6:00 PM

Anonymous said...
Dear Anon, 6:00PM,

This administration has been contradictory about our interactions with business. Verbally, they have promoted a more business like stance. And they have been proactive in forming businesses to use, for a price, university assets. However, this has caused many of our actions with businesses to wither because the business owners and executives have felt that the university was in competition with them.

As an example that is not too far from the actual circumstances but without revealing the participants, a particular company came to the College of Engineering for help on one of their products. The company owned the patents on the product and it was one of their revenue producers that needed some upgrading. A team was formed with a Chemist and a Chemical Engineer to redevelop the product formulation to improve its properties. As develop continued, a slight reformulation was made in the chemistry which gave the product the desired properties. The company wanted to put the reformulation under their patent; however, certain people at the university insisted that the complete product was now a university patentable development. As a result the company immediately stopped working with the university.

The new requirements for University intellectual property and the delays and changes to contracts being enforced by our legal department regarding the applicable law, the applicable locations of the law and indemnities are making work with local and national businesses almost impossible as companies are terrified of losing their intellectual property.

In fact, I have a couple of ideas that I will not develop until after I retire because of the fear of losing my intellectual property to the university. This is based on what I have seen the University do to the companies that I have worked with in the past.

April 25, 2010 7:49 AM

Anonymous said...
To Anonymous at 6 PM:

You are falling into the killer dichotomy trap re business. A problem is that the current administration, in its intellectual state of bankruptcy, wants all "business" (as they misunderstand it) and does not value liberal arts which they seem to see as impractical (even though they make money for the university, so the administration doesn't even understand this) . The College has always had business ties because liberal arts are VERY practical and indispensable to life-which is in part business. It's a question of balance and moderation.

They seem to think turning UT CAS into a low class degree mill is their good business.

April 25, 2010 9:33 AM

Anonymous said...
Are there examples of current ties between liberal arts and businesses in the community?

April 25, 2010 10:47 AM

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The morning line

While Gold remains the even money favorite to take over as the next big cheese of the Milky Way, others are now in the running. As a public service here are the odds:

4-1 Tom Brady
6-1 Any past or present member of the Board of Trustees
8-1 Carty Finkbeiner
15-1 Dean Nina
20-1 Attila the Hun
25-1 Anyone with MD after their name

Or, you can bet the field at 50-1. The field includes: J. Barlowe, B. Pryor, B. Patrick, the entire faculty of the medical college, several astrologers and anyone past or present who has picked up the president's dry cleaning. My name was just removed from the field list. The bookies said I was a worse bet than the lotto.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Visioning Process

New Provost

Provost Haggett is taking her act on the road to Texas. Las Vegas has Gold as even money to take over. They'll name him interim; give him a big raise; then, next year at this time name him the permanent big shot. He who has the gold makes the rules.

ASU Model continued

Since one of the erstwhile leaders of the blog published my previous post in mid-sentence allow me to continue my ASU comments. My friend at ASU was very positive for the most part in his evaluation of the reorganization. He did, however, point out several items that I believe matter to us here at UT. First, they are a school with a real name, "The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism." It carries more cache than say the Dave Tucker School of Insulting Administrators. Also, they have a dean who reports directly to the provost. As I understand the school structure envisioned here, there will be directors who report to the dean who reports to the provost. The school at ASU still requires leadership at what used to be the departmental levels. Someone has to get together faculty who teach in generally the same areas and do the scheduling.

One other interesting point was made in his e-mail to me. Faculty from all over the university may apply to teach in the Cronkite School. This includes directing theses and dissertations. He said his old "territoriality" began to creep in. He is not sure how this will work but does not automatically think it is bad. He has viewed the changes at ASU in an extremely positive light.

Now for a few of my comments. They have a highly involved dean in a fairly narrow area. I don't see that as part of the organizational plan here. They have money. The dean plans multiple events for faculty and students in the school on a weekly basis. They are rightly proud of their school and its accomplishments. This is not the same vision I am getting from our Provost or the document described below.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Relevant University?

Per suggestion of an ASC Forum reader, Bloggie has created this post as an invitation to discuss The Relevant University: Making Community and Economic Engagement Matter by Lloyd Jacobs and Eva Klein. Here, slightly abridged, is the reader's suggestion/comment that engendered this post:

If you read the book "The Relevant University: Making Community and Economic Engagement Matter" by Lloyd A Jacobs and Eva Klein [distributed at the recent presidential address] you quickly find that their understanding of knowledge is flawed. It seems that knowledge has to result in implementation in order to be knowledge by their definition.

In addition, you also find that the authors cannot distinguish between The meta-definitions of engagement (Human Capital, Innovation Systems and a Knowledge Community) and health care as a discipline of knowledge at a university. I would suppose that they would claim that Education, Engineering, Law, Business, the Arts and the Sciences are not "transdisciplinary domains" whereas Helth Care singulary is by their statements on page 31.

Since this was meant to be a short comment and it is now not, I will reserve more comments about this book for future comments. I would recommend that the moderators of this blog set up a separate thread for commentary and critique of this volume.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

ASU Model

Having now listened to the provost, talked to an acquaintance at ASU and talked to a close friend at James Madison, I would like to now comment on the possible nether world of integrative programs, schools and associated bureaucratic structures. So, is this something to be feared or embraced? The answer is, as usual, "it depends." The acquaintance at ASU is a full professor in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. They offer MAs and will offer a Ph.D. starting in 2011. This is not our Communication Department. He thought the school structure was good for several reasons. First, the school has a dean who reports directly to the provost. This gives the school access that individual departments did not have. He said the school gives the students an identity. They are excited and proud to be in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. The faculty are excited as well. He said they have few problems with getting the technology or resources necessary to run a top flight program. And, make no mistake, this is a top flight program. He praised their dean for making the school exciting for the students. They have

To be continued....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Report From ASU Faculty

Here is a bit of intelligence collected from ASU. More will follow via subsequent postings as information becomes available:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Trojan Footfalls

Annotated Critical Version of Trojan Footfalls

Due to popular demand and some apparent misunderstandings of the cartoon, here is the authoritative gloss.

Panel 1. Business as usual at College of Goats and Sciences. Goats are dancing. The references are to popular songs "I Feel Good" (James Brown) and "Mustang Sally" (Wilson Pickett). No additional meanings. These goats like to dance.

Panel 2. Goat #1 sees something and says in surprise (Gott in Himmel), which means roughly, "Oh my God." Idiom expressing surprise. No other religious or social meaning

Panel 3. The something is a stuffed armadillo, a sort of white elephant souvenir that tourists used to sometimes bring back from Arizona. Sometimes these things are gifted and re-gifted, like many purchases that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Panel 4. Goat #2 issues a warning. The something seen might be a "Trojan Armadillo"--a reference that anyone should be able to understand, alluding to the famous Trojan Horse--the hollow wooden horse by which Greeks gained access to the City of Troy. By means of the Trojan Horse subterfuge, the Trojans, unbeknowst to themselves carried the hidden inside Greek warriors into the City of Troy. The Greeks exited the Horse that night, opened the gates of the city to admit the Greek army, and the city of Troy was destroyed thereby. This is called metaphor. It is the only metaphor in "Trojan Footfalls" and refers to the Arizona State model, (hence the Armadillo) as a Trojan Horse, a strategic device that could through subterfuge lead to the sacking and destruction of the College of Arts and Sciences, Specifically--what is hidden within the ASU model that the College may rue?

Panel 5-6. Goat # 1 does not understand the Trojan Armadillo metaphor. He is confounded and thinks only of the modern day meaning of the Trojan shown in panel 6.

The cartoon refers to no person whatsoever, anywhere, at any point. Nor is there any other metaphor hidden within it. Attempts to impose other metaphors are unauthorized.

While I was gone

The problem with being gone is when no one notices. I spent Wednesday to Sunday last week at the Broadcast Education Association convention in Las Vegas. (Due to some unwise decision-making I will continue to work until I'm eighty.) While I was gone LJ gave his state of the university address and laid off more staff. So I want to get this right; everything is being done brilliantly here but these folks have to go. And, ignore the big fancy brochures that must have cost the university a mint and will have no useful purpose. I wonder if the group being laid off got a copy? Along those same lines our fair provost took an entourage to Arizona State for a day. Again, I'm just guessing here, but I'll bet the people who got laid off were not among those who got to go on the trip. Some seem to spend like drunken sailors and then tell others to tighten their belts. I assume my bonus is in the mail.

The Provost is coming to the A & S Meeting today. I wonder if she'll tell us where all our departments are going to land or will she hold that off till we leave for the summer. For a university that talks in such high tones (transformative force and all that), we sure do treat people like cogs in a machine.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Submission/Query from Reader on Dotty UT Relevance Logo

The following was submitted by an ASC College Forum reader:

Could we get some discussion about that cute graphic (attached) that
always accompanies announcements of Jacobs' upcoming throne speech?
What are all the dots? There are a bunch in Florida, one in Algeria,
a few in Central Europe, none in Canada. I'm mystified, but the
esteemed A&S faculty might have some creative ideas.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Owens students to interview presidential candidates

This article, on the search for the new President of Owens, was in yesterday's Toledo Blade, pp. 1-2 of the Second Section:

Semifinalist to lead Owens resigned post as V.P. in Arizona

Here's the link:

Notice especially the third paragraph from the bottom:

"After Monday's interviews, the three finalists will be interviewed by students and the public in town hall-style forums April 26-28, said Brad Meyer, college spokesman."

So Owens Community College is allowing its finalists to be interviewed by students and others directly affected by the choice! Gee, UT could take a lesson from that, eh?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Hubris and arrogance can often masquerade as genius and insight. Real genius is rare; real insight is rarer still.

Busting the Jacobs Bubble: Comment Contest

Tony Goltstein stands last week by the bubbling manure lagoon at his farm in Winchester, Ind. Some fear popping the giant methane bubbles could result in an explosion.

The following article is taken from Wall Street Journal and is submitted here neither as parable nor as moral lesson. You will have to connect the dots yourself as to how this applies to the University. Bloggie suggests you offer your personal definitive gloss on this application in the comments section below. The best comment will receive a yet-to-be-determined prize, maybe, following Mr. Goltstein's plan (see below), a gas mask, a small boat and a Swiss army knife; we will first have to ask Mr. Scarborough what the budget will allow.


WINCHESTER, Ind.—Like many of his neighbors, farmer Tony Goltstein has to deal with the aftermath of the dairy bubble.

But besides his mounting financial troubles, Mr. Goltstein also must contend with bubbles the size of small houses that have sprouted from the pool of manure at his Union Go Dairy Farm. Some are 20 feet tall, inflated with the gas released by 21 million gallons of decomposing cow manure.

But he has a plan. It requires a gas mask, a small boat and a Swiss Army knife.

The saga of Mr. Goltstein's bubbles, which are big enough to be seen in satellite photos, began about seven years ago and traces the recent boom and bust of U.S. dairy farmers.

Mr. Goltstein, 43 years old, had moved his wife and their three children from the Netherlands to Winchester, population 4,600, about 90 miles east of Indianapolis. They planned to build a dairy farm with 1,650 cows on 180 acres.

He had installed a black plastic liner to keep the manure from seeping into the ground during the flush days of the dairy business, when prices and demand were growing.

The plastic liner has since detached from the floor of the stinky, open-air pool, and Mr. Goltstein says he can't afford to repair the liner properly. But he says he's game to pop the bubbles before the manure pool overflows and causes an even bigger stink.

His neighbors aren't happy with the plan.

"If that thing back there blows, God help us all for miles," said Allen Hutchison, whose corn and soybean farm is next door. He and other neighbors worry that puncturing the bubbles could cause an explosion of manure and toxic gases.

Not to worry, said Mr. Goltstein as he stood at the edge of the manure pit, puffing on a cigarette and gazing at the bubbles glistening in the sun. "I have no fear popping them."

When the neighboring Hutchison family first learned the Goltsteins were planning a dairy farm right next door, they worried the operation's manure pool would foul the air or groundwater. Mr. Hutchison petitioned state environmental officials to deny the Goltsteins an operating permit.

It's normal in farm country to see vast brown pools filled with manure slurry from dairy cows or hogs. These lagoons, as they're commonly called, are supposed to safely store animal waste until the manure is sprayed on fields as fertilizer. Federal and state laws govern how the pools are maintained.

Some struggling farmers in the recession have neglected lagoon maintenance while others have abandoned their farms altogether, leaving states to clean up the mess.

Barbara Sha Cox, who has a farm six miles from the Goltstein farm, recently wrote to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, asking him to support rules that would require farmers to put up money so the state wouldn't be liable if a lagoon spilled manure or was abandoned. A spokeswoman for Mr. Daniels said, "on the rare occasions that there has been a need for a cleanup, the state has the ability and does seek cost recovery and that approach is working."

The Goltsteins agreed to install a plastic liner and received their permit. These liners often are used in landfills, but Mr. Goltstein said his was among the first to be used on an Indiana farm. It cost $150,000.

The first small bubbles began poking up in the fall of 2006. "I thought, 'This doesn't look right,' " he said.

In July 2008, about the time milk prices plummeted amid weak global demand, one of the bubbles ripped open and revealed solid matter inside. A state environmental inspector visited, and the state fined Mr. Goltstein $2,125 for failing to properly maintain the lagoon.

The Goltsteins filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month; their bank began foreclosure proceedings. Mr. Goltstein said repairing or replacing the lagoon liner could cost him more than $200,000—money, he said, he doesn't have.

How Much Manure Does a Dairy Cow Produce?

148 lbs. per day
1,036 lbs. per week
4,440 lbs. per month
54,020 lbs. per year
Indiana's Department of Environmental Management said there was no sign that manure from Mr. Goltstein's lagoon was contaminating the local groundwater.

But Mr. Goltstein said he loses sleep worrying that his lagoon will overflow. Warmer weather appears to have made the bubbles grow, he said, and the pool has been inching higher. To prevent a spill, the Goltsteins have been paying to have manure pumped into tanker trucks and dumped at another farm.

This month, Mr. Goltstein asked state regulators to let him pop the bubbles. He said he and his 19-year-old son would slice them open with a knife from a paddleboat.

Bruce Palin, assistant commissioner for the office of land quality at the state environmental agency, said officials were considering the idea. But, he added, "not knowing how much volume of gas is there and how much pressure is on it, we're concerned with just cutting a hole."

Last year, a hog farmer in Hayfield, Minn., was launched 40 feet into the air in an explosion caused by methane gas from a manure pit on his farm. He sustained burns and singed hair.

Mr. Goltstein's attorney, Glenn D. Bowman, acknowledged that the potential existed for an explosion: "We're aware of that sort of common physics issue," he said.

If and when the bubbles are deflated, state officials said, they will be there to keep watch.

That's little consolation to many of Mr. Goltstein's neighbors.

"If they don't do it right..." Mr. Hutchison said, shaking his head as his voice trailed off.

Mr. Palin, the state official, said, "Obviously you don't want to be smoking a cigarette when you open this thing up."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


For those of you who remember the old envelope joke, we have arrived at the second envelope. We are now reorganizing. Actually, I have misspoken. The Provost is reorganizing the University. The faculty and students ( in other words those who will be most affected) have no idea what this means. We have no input as to where we or our programs will end up. We have no idea as to why this reorganization is even being done. Perhaps it's hubris. Perhaps it's resume building. Perhaps they even have a real reason that actually makes sense. If they do it would be nice to hear it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Problem? What Problem

In Communication we teach a class called, "Information Analysis and Synthesis." One of the first lectures in this class has to do with operational definitions. If you claim there is a problem you have to define the problem so that anyone reading your work will know what it is you think you are fixing. Way back when the Round Table first met I asked, "What problem is it we are solving?" I never received an answer. As we are approaching the end of another academic year and reorganization is now the new buzzword I am going to ask again, "What problem are we solving?" The enrollment is up; why change what is working?

"Sustainability" = Pablum for Airheads

“How quickly our once-proud academic campus was transformed into a sleazy degree mill during that stormy economic squall of 2010. The ruthless and conspiring Jacobs Administration emboldened by self-delusion and embracing its BOT-endorsed business model unexpectedly threw its befuddled faculty members and student body a single lifeline branded “Sustainability.” It proved to be a bankrupt concept and just another faddish euphemism for “economic growth” without any ethical compass. Within a decade the entire enterprise captained by corporate greed and administrative incompetency had drifted onto the shoals of failure, there to founder.” Diogenes, Bitter Recollections of the Scuttling of Public Higher Education at the University of Toledo (Google Media, 2025).