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Monday, October 7, 2013

UT Dammerung

You of course realize, Dear Reader, that the Jacobs' Era at UT parallels, frighteningly, Richard Wagner's operatic Ring cycle. Bloggie invites further comparisons, but here are some of the tragic essentials:

In the beginning the Rhinemaidens (faculty) who watched over the Rhinegold (the treasures of education) are swimming around at the bottom of the Rhine River (Maumee?) keeping watch over the Rhinegold, their eternal task.  They are scatter-brained but innocent creatures, and, we must admit, a lot better-looking than most faculty, but there they are, a'singing and a'swimming. This went on for a very long time.

From a fissure emerges Alberich, sometimes described as a slimy sulphurous dwarf.  He lusts after the Rhinemaidens and pursues them, each in turn.

The Rhinemaidens, who perhaps are a bit too artsy and pretentious for their own good, taunt and reject Alberich, who as a dwarf represents the so-called business or vocational model of education, as dwarfs manufacture things and have a very vocational outlook on life, that is when they can't get their hands on any hot Rhinemaidens, and especially after a humiliating rejection.  

Alberich, frustrated, denounces Love and steals the Rheingold. The Rhinemaidens sing "O Weh, Oh Weh, Oh Weh,"  which is about all they have been doing now for the past several years. 

Without attempting to summarize almost 20 hours of operatic entanglement, involving incest, cronyism, searchless hires, a dragon, giants and questionable spending, the stolen Rheingold empowers and justifies various mercurial administrative transmutations of what was once a higher educational mission. Eventually the Gods use it to finance and justify the building of Valhalla, a classy new refurbished administrative palace, a bureaucratic structure that houses at least 40 Gods and Vice Presidents and their minions.  The transmutations include The New Entity, The Cloud University and Strategic Planning for the Sake of Strategic Planning.   

There is even a nifty Rainbow Bridge over which the Gods commute to work.  A Rainbow Parking Lot is under construction. 

Provost and Vice President Loki  (Logi) urges the bereft Rhinemaidens not to worry, even though their Rhingold is gone: After a 72-slide Powerpoint prestentation, he assures them that henceforth they can bask in the newfound radiance of the Gods/adminstrators/BOT.  The  Rhinemaidens can be heard far off singing plaintively, in minor key, "Rheingold, Rheingold, Rheingold" as the glorious Gods pass over the Rainbow Bridge to administrative Valhalla. 

The Rhinemaidens fail at persuading VP Seigfried to return their gold. He refuses and comes to a bad end.

The end of course is Gotterdammerung, Twilight of the Gods, where the funeral pyre of Seigfried catches alight Valahala, and the Rhinemaidens get their gold back. This occurs through no fault of their own,it should be mentioned, and is owing entirely to general administrative incompetence.   


Anonymous said...

He is going to kill the wabbit with his spear and magic helmet!

Anonymous said...

Please tell me, when will the fat lady sing?

Anonymous said...

It's interesting, Dear Bloggie, that George Bernard Shaw also wrote an analysis of the Ring that he called "The Perfect Wagnerite." He parallels the Gods and such to the old stodgy establishment classes and views Wagner's operas as essentially revolutionary. Of course, in your parallel, the Gods and such don't succumb to any revolution, but just fall down on their marginally competent faces like a bear in ballet shoes.

Anonymous said...

Latest on the contract negotiations, from the most recent UTAAUP newsletter.

1. "BOT ... will not consider compensation until all non-economic issues are addressed."

2. "...department merit will be indexed to department behavior...amount of money a department will be allotted for merit will depend upon how compliant its members are with such things as submitting grades within 72 hours of the due date, ordering books 8 weeks before the start of the semester, completing mandatory attendance reports, and posting syllabi online a semester ahead of time. Departments that are not sufficiently compliant will forfeit some of their merit money to compliant departments."

3. "...Dean is given more authority in determining final merit scores."

4. "...sabbaticals will be awarded at the sole discretion of the President."

5. " option for grievance over issues related to Faculty Senate's role in academic governance."

6. "...workload, the BOT's position is that this is non-negotiable according to the Ohio Revised Code."

7. "... UT-AAUP must not encourage any action that would conflict with BOT operations or programs."

8. "...redefine the academic year to include any 2 semesters: fall and spring; spring and summer; or summer and fall... [faculty] would be expected to attend meetings, advise students, and assess student work during the time between assigned semesters.

9. "...[faculty] must not engage in activities that interfere with the member's full-time job responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

The article in today's Blade about the psychology department's bad behavior certainly tees up points 2 and 3. Point 9 is easy and is obviously right. Point 8 should be laughed out of the room unless they want to convert all faculty to 12 month contracts and paid them accordingly. The workload is similar to other universities provided there are course releases for service and research.

Anonymous said...

There was a UT Alert: "There is a dangerous situation reported near Old Towne Apt. Robbery reported..."

Considering the seven-year ongoing robbery of faculty and staff by El Gordo and his junta, I'm surprised this warrants mention.

"Some will rob you with a six-gun; and some with a fountain pen."

Anonymous said...

I'll weigh in. Yes, nr 8 is peculiar. Obviously, the intent is to save money by eliminating summer pay, but to continue offering summer classes by making summer teaching mandatory for some faculty. If it's taken at face value, the BOT wants to turn all faculty contracts into 12 month contracts without increasing salaries. If this is so, it would actually reduce yearly income for a good chunk of faculty, since many faculty have gotten accustomed to picking up extra $$ during the summer. It would also reduce retirement benefits, because I think that summer pay also includes retirement contributions.

I'll also comment on 1. The BOT does not want to negotiate health benefits because it's going to demand some big across the board increases in faculty contributions. If this demand was included with the so called "non economic issues," the BOT would have a revolt. Faculty would do the math and see the bottom line and actually come close, if not actually, doing something proactive.

The bottom line is the BOT wants faculty to teach more, teach bigger classes, contribute more to health care, take no or some puny pay increase, give up the right to strike, give up the right to shared governance, and convert faculty from 9 month to 12 month contracts. For the vast majority, it will result in a yearly salary reduction in the thousands and long term serious reductions in retirement monies.

As things stand, it's better for no new contract to be negotiated. Summer teaching remains in effect, health benefits remain the same, contributions to retirement the same, etc. The bottom line, right now is, if the BOT sticks to its demands, faculty will lose more with a new contract than by sticking with the old one.

Anonymous said...

#8 doesn't seem realistic to me. More like a demand they include and then "compromise" on and remove.

#3 I have to wonder if the Dean's are thrilled at the prospect of having even more work, and grunt work at that, sent their way.

#1 Agree. When we see the BOT demands on health care contributions, the feces will hit the fan.

#4 Hasn't this already happened?

#5 Losing that arbitration case seems to have really annoyed them.

#9 I think this is more or less already in the contract.

#2 What merit money? "sufficiently compliant"? Seems like another admin job in the making, the "Provost of Compliance"

Anonymous said...

Any guesses how long til Jacobs retires?

Anonymous said...

"#2 What merit money? "sufficiently compliant"? Seems like another admin job in the making, the "Provost of Compliance"

I don't think this is about institutional compliance. Jacobs and his Board (horde) of turds have corrupted too many government officials and politicians to worry about that. This is about faculty compliance with this regime's bullshit. The next board of turd retiree will be that Provost of Compliance...

Anonymous said...

When will the Blade do a story on another UT graduate program that is soon going to be in major trouble with its accrediting agency?

Anonymous said...

Not a peep on the blog about the President's picnic or the latest scheme being floated by the Provost - $3 million + simulation center and games division in the School of Education...

Anonymous said...

"Please tell me, when will the fat lady sing?"

When Jacobs starts cross-dressing...

Anonymous said...

"Any guesses how long till Jacobs retires?"

Dictators do not retire, they expire. He might be like Pinochet--somehow earning some idiot's sympathy due to ill health. Did Pinochet ever care for his victims' ill health?

The Hot (horde of turds) Club of Toledo -- also known as the BOT -- will decide when Jacobs earns their sympathy. I hardly think he will meet Khadaffi's or Saddam Hussein's fate...

Anonymous said...

UT Dammerung??? Is this a glimmer of hope that this is the last of the cyclical abuses of power by Jacobs and BOT (you can call this clique the "Ring"). Tell me to dream on...

Or is this a disastrous conclusion to real higher education as suggested in Götterdämmerung? Read the news: the leitmotifs (one for Jacobs, one for each of the administrators, board of turds, faculty, staff) are everywhere, subtle or obvious...

The cycle of abuse ends while the performers (Jacobs, BOT, Scarborough, etc.) move on to suck someone else's blood. Like the good MSU professor William Penn said, just on the micro level: they rape an institution, then move on to rape another one.

This would make Wagner turn in his grave -- I do not believe he wrote operas about rape... let alone tea baggers!

Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding me. This blog is degenerating into a 'how to' manual for buffoonery. No wonder no one posts any real news about UT or tries to have a discussion here about issues pertaining to UT anymore. Pinochet, Khadaffi, Saddam Hussein... what complete and utter nonsense. This poster and the other one who rants about PoMo have turned this blog into a pathetic joke. The admins start to look better and better in comparison to the idiotic posters on this blog. Just knowing this post will be in the same thread as the 'dictator deaths' post is embarrassing.

Bloggie said...

Then why don't you contribute something?

Anonymous said...

Given that you can probably see the IPs of posters, Bloggie, you can check what I post. I regularly post info from the UTAAUP newsletters for example, most recently the info on contract negotiations. That elicited 2 or 3 responses, before the thread was taken over, yet again, by the same puerile ramblings that have been taking over all the threads in this blog. The poster who wrote about the psych department meltdown got one response. Contract negotiations, departmental infighting, kicking departments out of Tucker to create Honor's dorms, these get little or no comments here, and when they do, they are quickly blown up by the ramblings of the narcissistic. My best guess is that few people who actually work at UT post to this blog anymore, since rumors and news specific to UT don't elicit many, if any, replies and there hasn't been a single UT specific topic that has had any "legs" on this blog in a very long time.

Anonymous said...

Maybe all of the construction on campus, even though we have less students and faculty, is due to the many connections of the BOT with construction companies and banks that deal with that sort of thing....

Anonymous said...

"The admins start to look better and better in comparison to the idiotic posters on this blog. Just knowing this post will be in the same thread as the 'dictator deaths' post is embarrassing."

To Anon. October 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM:

Let's make this clear:
1) UT administration will not look any better at any time; anyone attacking academic freedom covertly or overtly is against civil society and, therefore, democracy. You may decide to be their door mat, that is up to you to let them walk all over you.

2) discourse can take many forms: from literal to metaphorical (such as the dictators' death), and may sometimes sound like rants or POMO material.

To Anon: October 20, 2013 at 10:09 AM

1) Perhaps the blog should be renamed to be more relevant to a current community: A&S is no longer around, so the dynamics are different. Nonetheless, the bitterness of Humanities and Social Science faculty is valid and appropriate to this forum.

2) The possibility that outsiders, not faculty, are posting here may be good -- but not seeing much national outrage over UT's predicament indicates that the posters are not outsiders.

If the anonymity of postings bothers you, remember that the dictatorships in the socialist countries were brought down by highly visible leaders (e.g., Walechsa) and millions of anonymous fighters together. There is a strong statement in anonymity -- something that Jacobs and BOT cannot stand but pretend to ignore.

As for IP address: those in the WP dashboard maybe associated with posters on this blog, but they are really just domain-level addresses, not individual ID numbers. In fact, many people from a region represented by a node (to which the IP address belongs) may appear with the same IP address in the blog's dashboard. In reality, some hackers may even exploit what is called 'open relay' and post through such channels. IT security and listserv managers will affirm that.

Bloggie and the others may approach the host managers with complaints about abusive, inappropriate, or threatening content, and the hosting service will deal with the user. I believe it is possible to block messages from specific IP addresses, but that may also prevent benign postings to appear.

If this blog is to honor freedom of speech (as long as relevant to the topic) then the right thing in Civil Society is to tolerate speeches that are constructive, critical, and illustrative of democratic values....even if they sound like rants to you. Have you been to Hyde Park in London????

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