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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Paranoid?? Me??

Some have asked that this blog attempt to explain what's going on to those who are "not in the know." I don't know how to break this to everyone, but I'm generally the last person to know much about anything. However, as you all know, lack of the knowledge has never stopped me. So, here is the take of someone who admits to being looped, sorry out of the loop, about the goings on. I have been here for 23 years and been in higher education for 31 years. I have watched shenanigans from McComas to Jacobs and dare to say this is the most spin I have ever experienced. That scares me. Allow me please to explain. When an organization spends as much time and effort (round tables, transformative force, etc.) as this one has and it results in as little as this represents so far, I keep waiting for what's really going on. When an organization blames a faculty union for wanting its rightful role in reorganization and refers to the faculty as standing in the way of progress I keep waiting for what's really going on. Anyone who believes that this modest reorganization is in any way transformative or sets new trends in higher education is nuttier than a fruitcake. So again, there must be more. The question is what constitutes more. There are several possibilities some of which have already been listed by readers of the blog. The first of those is divide and conquer. There is some plausibility to this argument because more layers of bureaucracy have been created between upper administration and the rest of us. Shared governance then becomes more difficult because you have a variety of voices rather than one council. It also makes threats more real because you are part of a much smaller entity. Along these same lines, there is supposed to be another committee that will analyze all of the departments and programs that were a part of the old college. The goal is to see who best fits with whom. Actually the goal will probably entail decisions on downsizing. Remember, you already have a smaller college so you have less power to prevent whatever they think should be done to you. Also please examine next year's projected budget problems and this piece of paranoia actually makes some sense.

This leads into the second issue--the budget. Remember the good old days when one could actually see the budget in the library? Now you have to know exactly what you want and then request that. Perhaps the Gods will then condescend to send you some of it. As a taxpaying citizen of the great state of Ohio (I also vote--early and often) I believe I should have access to how the money is being dispersed by our administration. The budget issue is a bit like reading the Bible back in the middle ages. If you could not read you had to trust those, the priests, who could about the content of what was in the Bible. That practice helped lead to the Reformation. Today, we are supposed to trust those who have access and therefore can read the budget as to what is in the budget. I have no idea where that will lead.

The third explanation we received is that the reorganization is going to make programs more visible and hence help our students. We as faculty need to understand what a wonderful thing this is and merely shut up and accept it. I guess the administration doesn't think much of programs in HHS because, following this logic, they are about to become less visible because they are being merged. What's good in one case must not work in the other. It has been my experience that what benefits students is access to good faculty and good facilities. The actual organization rarely affects them.

Downsizing, the budget, and shared governance are my initial three. There are undoubtedly other reasons behind the reorganization but this is enough paranoia for one entry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I would like to point out that rearranging deck chairs does not constitute transformational change. The Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Act all were and are transformational. This is not. Ohio State puts together a College of Arts and Sciences; we take one apart. Whoopie. But, as they say, that train seems to have left the station. Understand what will now happen. Anything good that transpires over the next millenium will be credited to the change; anything bad that happens will be charged to laggards unwilling to accept change. That's PR folks.

Perhaps someone can explain this. I heard the BOT passed a resolution that allows them to toss cash into an employee's tax free account without really having to call it a raise or tell many of us that they're doing this. Sounds like a great way for someone to claim that they too are taking the financial hit the rest of us will be asked to take while the BOT tosses them some extra cash. I'm just asking for a little guidance here. Afterall, I am a taxpayer and would like to know how my money is being spent. Along those same lines, it would sure be nice if the budget were back in the library. Again, as a taxpayer, why do I not have the right to see the entire budget for a state institution? All I ask is a little guidance.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Synergy Boots

Newspeak move over! You can't make this stuff up:

. . . President Lloyd Jacobs said the proposed plan will build synergy and creativity and is a student-centered plan for a student-centered university.

“If we do this, the synergy I believe is great,” he said. “The energy will make it worth it. The creativity will make it worth it. The ability to hear voices in the organization will make it worth it.”

And below find even more.  Perpetual strategic planning?   

From: Jacobs, Lloyd 
Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 11:19 AM
Subject: Implementation of Board Direction

Yesterday the Trustees of The University of Toledo pointed us in a new direction.  They clearly stated their resolve and commitment to excellence and their willingness to take risk for its achievement.  It is now for us to carry out their mandate.   

I wish to reiterate that Institutional Structures are about human relationships and are one tool for the implementation of strategy.  As we begin implementation we must recognize “Directions 2007” and “Directions 2010” as our clear guide(s) to the creation of our future. 

There are literally thousands of decisions ahead of us.  What are the first steps?   Who will be appointed to leadership roles? How will they be chosen?  What will be the milestones, the metrics, and the deadlines?  When will former structures cease to exist?  How will we attain unity of purpose?  When will we know when we are finished? 

I think we need a pause to reflect and think.  I plan not to take any significant implementation steps for the next month.  I would like to have some initial personnel actions and other steps ready for the December 6 meeting of the Board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee.  In the interval I invite your input and action. This should not be seen, however, as an opportunity to reopen the debate on whether or not the university should reorganize its academic structure. 

Individuals, students, faculty, and staff; ad hoc groups, college counsels, The Senate, Deans, Chairpersons, Vice Presidents; please think about the best way to implement.  Send your ideas.  But, most of all perhaps, you can say “here’s a way to do this and I or we will get it done.”  Let’s try for not only action items, but action itself.  Everyone is empowered to “just do it.” 

In so doing, keep in mind our institutional values; read the current draft of “Directions 2010” and the HLC Self Study.  Remember we must be fiscally responsible. Remember our commitment to diversity.  But feel free, indeed I urge you to move ahead.  Attached please find a listing of the Colleges and Schools which now exist by virtue of the Board’s Action yesterday. 

Finally, I urge the College Councils and the Faculty Senate to become implementors.  Where Administrative action is needed please call or visit.  I promise I will keep an open mind for the month’s moratorium.  Thanks.    lj  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Arts & Sciences Council Votes Unanimous No Confidence In Jacobs Partition Plan

The resolution as passed by Council on Oct 5:

Resolved that the Arts and Sciences Council has no confidence in the reorganization plan proposed by President Jacobs on September 24. Its most serious problems are that it:

  • was developed without input from elected faculty representatives
  • was developed with little input from departmental chairs
  • was developed without input from students
  • was presented without calculating the costs
  • will make interdisciplinary cooperation more difficult
  • will set the sciences, languages & social sciences and arts in competition for resources
  • will threaten the writing across the curriculum program
  • will harm international preparation by threatening the study of foreign languages
  • will endanger reaccreditation in 2012 by the North Central Higher Learning Commission
  • lacks data to show it will improve learning
  • lacks clear goals, objectives and benchmarks to assess its success or failure