Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Synergies







reproduced with thanks from:

http://xkcd.com/755/

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

This must be sexist: a woman is attacking a guy!

Anonymous said...

Now that's experiential learnin'

sirLawrence said...

actually, thinking that people with longish black hair are women and bald people are men might be sexist. maybe we are dealing with aging hippies and their parents. i am reminded of one of my favorite cartoons by r. crumb from my berkeley days... all people have the same amount of hair- people with long hair on the outside have more room for brains. people with short hair have it all crammed up in their skulls, leaving less room for brains. no disrespect, anon 10:58 :^)

Bloggie said...

Note. There is such an "other-worldliness" to this following comment that Bloggie could not possibly forego posting it:


Part I.

As someone who has served under 3 presidents on 2 campuses, I continue to be confused as to “how UT gets it wrong?” when it comes to the selection of presidents. As an outsider, the BoT appears to have handpicked internal candidates (first Kapoor, now Jacobs) associated with applied fields arguably “more interesting” and relevant to economic development than the traditional Arts & Sciences. While I have observed 2 ordinary presidents over the course of my 12 year academic career, it is truly exciting when a campus has a leader who balances the needs of all constituencies (internal and external). With respect to the ordinary types, one was a benign status quo type (a hand-shaker with fantastic teeth) and the other an imperious president who liked to travel (did no harm and improved the landscaping).
In contrast to #1 and #2, current president has emerged as a beloved and effective leader. While he assumed the presidency amidst economic crisis, he has gained the trust and respect of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community. Oddly enough he’s gained respect by listening to folks. That doesn’t mean he agrees with the various constituencies (he seldom does and his decisions are not always popular), but he respects all actors and isn’t afraid to alter course or even start over. Indeed, he negotiates, bargains, and seeks out win-“kinda win” situations and he’s not always the winner. As a result of his approach, our campus has engaged in a comprehensive strategic planning process which was driven by the faculty and staff—not the executives. (Note: We’ve planned before, but prior efforts merely resulted in bulleted lists with cool graphics.)
Since the new leader’s arrival, we have also experienced economic trauma including over 100 layoffs and an additional 120 separations as a result of an early retirement program. In large part, I credit the president’s continued success and even popularity with his ability to be humane throughout and to critically examine the scale/scope of the “administration”. The result of administrative reorganization has been a reduction of upper level executives as well as non-instructional staff (middle managers)—and instruction was held harmless. Having said that, the reorganization did result in new titles (several at the AVP level) which symbolically reflect the importance of “X” or “Y” to the entire campus—but the net result was fewer administrators and fewer expenses. Concomitantly, the president made significant and important gestures (in an understated fashion) such as cancelling travel to international partner universities and reducing executive travel while urging deans and the faculty senate NOT to cut faculty travel (and we didn’t). In short, I suspect our current president didn’t plan on being a great president (according to the grapevine he was at-best mediocre at a prior gig); but he understands the importance of the entire campus community. As such, he respected and engaged the faculty throughout crises, reorganization, and strategic planning. One example of his willingness to empower faculty has been impressive reorganizations within and between colleges that were entirely faculty driven (new departments, name changes, movement of existing programs, and new programs). In all cases, proposals were developed at the dept (or program) level, approved college councils, and ratified by the senate.

Anonymous said...

Part 2

In contrast, UT appears to be plagued by leaders that convey the unintentional (or perhaps intentional) message that not all faculty are equal and that administrators have read all the right management books. Specifically, recent actions suggest that CAS disciplines aren’t as important as revenue generators or engines of economic development. Of course, as the PPTs evidence, if A&S were reorganized in such a fashion to explicitly create new synergies with medicine, engineering or other units the former A&S faculty could gain status and commence being “productive” pursuing the interests of the human condition. In the end, UT leaders have marginalized faculty, chairs, and I suspect (or at least hope) a few deans. While English composition may not be lucrative, the instructional costs of music are astronomical, and the relevance of geography may be unknown to the uninitiated (geography seems to be a theme?), the faculty, their disciplines, and shared identity as a college are important. In the end, I hope the BoT is able to recognize that the current “situation” isn’t merely a contrived crisis manufactured by a bunch of whiny A&S faculty with low enrolled upper division courses. Rather, the current leadership fails to recognize the importance of little things like tradition, discipline, and/or the faculty’s primary authority over the curriculum writ large which on most campuses include the organization of academic units.

Concerned Alum

Anonymous said...

Why is the BOT covering up their own evaluation of Jacobs?

It seems hidden.

Maybe they don't want everyone knowing how "beloved" the great man really is.

I wish I had a dozen paid PR people to write anonymously in my praise.

Anonymous said...

Now, I am totally confused!


Who by name “emerged as a beloved and effective leader”? Is the author talking about the University of Toledo or a different university? He claims to be an outsider so I suspect that he is describing a very different leader than the one that the University of Toledo has. In part 2, I think he makes this clear.


As an ancient that has taught at four different universities in my career and seen 12 different presidents at work, the current President is by far the most hated and the least ineffective President the University of Toledo has had since I have been here. And I think this includes Vic Kapoor who was also hated.


Before Dr. Jacobs, MD, arrived, I looked forward to extending my career well past my earliest retirement age. I once loved being a Professor at the University of Toledo. Now, I can not wait until I am eligible to retire. Before Dr. Jacobs arrived, I was full of energy and willing to tackle almost any new research or project. I loved teaching and teaching the most difficult courses. I never lacked for students either in my research or in populating my courses. I enjoyed going to the various team sporting events. I think my blood ran blue with the university’s colors.

Now, I mope all day thinking about the disaster that I am in and having no real way of changing its course. I am seriously depressed. I worry whether or not I can survive until either the day I retire or the day when this President is gone. My teaching has gone down hill. I no longer want to put the effort in. And when was the last time that I wrote a journal paper? Even my research is now a drag. I haven’t renewed my season tickets for sports in two years. One man and four+ years has really destroyed my love of teaching and research.

What is worse, most of my fellow faculty seem to have the same feelings. I don’t think that we as a faculty are teaching as well nor researching as well as we did five years ago despite the administration claims to the contrary. As a university, we have moved down to where many of us go through the motions even though we have difficulty believing that we are doing the right thing. . I did not know that universities could be like this.

And it affects the students as well: one of my recent Ph.D.’s basically said the same thing in explaining why he did not want to go into academia when I asked why he did not apply to several different university job offers. What he saw here in his four years as a graduate student jaded his views of being a professor.

Sad, sad situation.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that we as faculty care too much about our university. Being a professor is a calling not just a job. And we react when our senior administration refuses to see that. We all want the University of Toledo to be the best it can be. But our senior administration is hell bent on trying to force their corporation and small business mold onto us. There must be bosses and there must be employees. And the employees have to be forced to work. These Taylorian concepts of scientific management just do not apply to the university because we, as professors, do not see our positions as jobs. We do not do what we do for a paycheck: we do it because we love what we do and we do it because we think it is the right thing to do. Until our administration understand this, the is university will continue to suffer because we will fight each other rather than work together to find the best ways forward.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you really let others control your life to a degree that sounds unhealthy. You only enjoy your career and your interaction with students while you like the president? Bizarre.

Anonymous said...

I was NOT referring to UT...or Jacobs. I was merely providing an account of a different campus experience...perhaps otherworldly? Unfortunately, someone assumed it may have been an anonymous marketing attempt by Mr. Burns.

Concerned Alum

Anonymous said...

Hey Bloggie, wanna give credit for that xkcd comic?

It's licensed under a Creative Commons License, which means you can reproduce it, but you have to tell where it comes from -- as it says here: http://xkcd.com/license.html.

Anonymous said...

Um, my comment isn't enough. You should edit the original post with a credit line and the permalink to the strip. Here's the permalink (you're welcome): http://xkcd.com/755/

Bloggie said...

Thank you.