Thursday, July 19, 2012
I have just returned from the presentation/discussion with the second provost candidate. As with the first, I have gone in cold. I did not read the resume or talk to anyone who had spoken with her. I wanted a true first impression. On the plus side there was no formal power point presentation. She just spoke. While this appeals to my aestetic public speaking side, it did not give us the same amount of information the first candidate did. While this is probably unfair, the first candidate seemed to have done a lot of thinking about universities and where he thinks they are going. I admit to being biased in that I am not really all that happy with his conclusions. He still seemed to imply that I was in a service discipline. Candidate two has probably done the thinking, but it was not as apparant in the presentation. She did seem more interested in the liberal arts as real disciplines. She also seemed to have a lot of first hand experience in trying to make the university "relevant" to its community and the outside world. The question to which I believe I already have an answer, is whether this administration has any real interest in spending real money on non STEMM disciplines. The answer, from the previous four years is NO. I just don't believe candidate two will have any more luck changing the spending habits of this administration than did a previous provost. Candidate one will probably not be interested in changing where the money flows. As a result we in those "other" disciplines can probably expect little change with him as provost. At least that's the way I see it at 4 p.m. on a warm Thursday afternoon.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
I attended the provost candidate's presentation Tuesday at 10:30. I believe the spelling of his name is Montamagna but I'm sure someone in the administration will correct me if I'm wrong. What I'm going to relate are truly first impressions. I have been out of town and Tuesday has been my only contact with the man. I have not even read the resume. My first impression is that he seems to have actually thought about issues not merely memorized the correct verbage and talking points. Second he has actually tried some things at his present post. Third he seems to have actually been a faculty member and not just a career admistrator. On the downside he used terms like economic engine and referred to the wonderful job the Jacobs' Administration has done here at UT. Of course, to expect someone to criticize the person who is responsible for hiring the new provost is a little over the top on my part. One item did bother me. He was asked what role he sees for the Humanities in the new university. His response was the humanities should help to create an environment (Toledo and surrounding areas) so that the really important folks (doctors, engineers etc.) who are creating real jobs will want to remain here. It was one of those yea you're in the plan but only from a superficial and roundabout perspective answers. Again, I liked that he has spent a great deal of time thinking about how you keep students enrolled, but he was working with engineers. I do not know, and neither does anyone else, how this translates into an open enrollment university. I have noted on this blog that to enroll a student who has no real contact with a university through the experience of friends or family and then expect that marginal student to succeed is just wrong on our part. It is a problem that will be confounded when we are not allowed to teach remedial classes. It becomes a throw them in the deep end and see who can swim and who can't issue. With the state looking at retention rates for funding models the challenges become quite large for the next provost and for the faculty. It is probably the kiss of death for his application, but I actually liked the guy.
Friday, July 13, 2012