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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Random comments

In viewing responses to my previous post it appears some folks have no real interest in answering questions but rather in venting.  In no particular order responses deal with Jacobs, the BOT, negotiations, our students and whatever qualifies as postmodern something or other.  While I understand the anger at Jacobs I'm not sure anyone is listening anymore.  I believe it is more important that the BOT be held to account for what is taking place now as in the search for a new president and negotiations with the union.  The BOT seemed eager to record our comments in public meetings but seems less than eager to allow us into the discussion.  I find that a little more than just bothersome.  Their attitude toward negotiations also seems to not take into account their role in the finances of this institution for the last eight years.  As to the quality of our students I'm not quite sure where the stats came from but I do know they will vary by major.  I will note that as long as I have been in higher education (35 years) faculty have complained about students.  I think we would be better served to dance with the ones who pay the tuition.  These are the students in our classes let's figure out how to teach them.  That is what I told the Search Committee back when we had those meetings.  If you want to be something, you have to work at it until people from the outside recognize that you're good at it.  I believed we should have been working toward being an excellent undergraduate institution with an ability to help first generation and ill prepared students.  I realize this doesn't give any university president bragging rights at cocktail parties but frankly I don't care.  I am much nearer to the end of my career than the beginning and I'm tired of the jargon spewed forth by some administrations and I am really tired of being treated like the serf who came with the land given to the duke.  The BOT needs to step up and include the faculty in a more forthright manner than it has to this point.


Anonymous said...

I know this is off topic and venting, but I can't resist posting this quote from The Blade:

His predecessor, Lloyd Jacobs, was a brilliant man but known for an acerbic bluntness, if not arrogance, that chilled many a conversation. One friend told me that, after a single meeting with Mr. Jacobs, he resolved that, “I would not meet with him again if it were to save the world.”

Anonymous said...

What the Blade editor didn't comment on was the arrogance of the Board as well! The trustees assume that their business experience (which in many cases is quite dismal--think about Rick Stansley!) means they understand everything about running a university!

I should think that the trustees' experience and business networks could be valuable to a university, particularly in the area of fund raising; however, this seems to be the last thing to which trustees and university seem inclined to devote their time and efforts, at least at UT. Instead, they cover up their inability to raise money by dabbling in academic issues about which they apparently know little. Their interference in academic issues leads to much time and money squandered on "the next big thing."

So, UT trustees and interim President Naganathan: if UT is so short of money, perhaps you could raise some extra funds for us. That will not happen through business incubation and collaborations with Schoolcraft. If we are in such dire need,please find some donations and endowments! Surely Vern Snyder can help with this. Surely Sharon Speyer with her banking connections can help with this. Surely Jeff Cole with his Dana connections and Steve Cavanaugh with his ManorCare connections have something to offer.

Anonymous said...

Here’s another quote from the same article.

“He dared to breach the thorny questions of declining enrollment and “national reputation” — the lack thereof. He disclosed that as many as 50 new faculty hires could be made in the next three years and that the window for almost all those hires will be the full three years. UT will have three years to get every hire right. If a search process comes up with only a second or third choice after one academic year, the search can be paused and resumed the next year.

"Again, not rocket science to anyone in Rocket Nation. The way to make UT world class is to recruit better students and teachers and then retain them.”

Isn’t it funny how outsiders often have a more accurate, perceptive and sober view of UT than those who draw a paycheck at 2800 West Bancroft, a hard truth that the faculty, as the guardian of UT academics, has ingloriously ignored for years?

Anonymous said...

UT is driven by a board appointed by the Governor, a Board that appointed Jacobs. I am so sure what role faculty would have had in stopping the forced changes and decisions over the last decade and I doubt many of them ignored what was happening, just that faculty had no power to influence such decisions as long as the public supports a state government that cuts state funding to higher ed and empowers a Board to mess with the finances and economics of UT there is nothing for faculty to do about it. Same is happening at public institutions all over Ohio and the country, look how many have had budget cuts, reduced faculty, programs removed etc.. do you think the faculty there were all also ignoring what was happening?

Anonymous said...

Numerous postings here conveniently ignore the fact that tenure track and lecturer faculty are bound by contracts. Faculty cannot simply walk out of their classes in protest, go on strike, etc. Before anyone simply lambasts faculty, they should make a careful read of the contract first. Additionally, the addition of the Medical College increased the splits within an already fractured faculty. The only thing that unites faculty is a presumably shared goal regarding teaching and the contract that the AAUP negotiates. Otherwise, faculty are focused on their own turf, which they all too often bicker over, much to the public's amusement and disgust. Also, everyone needs to understand that the legal options open to faculty are extremely costly and time-consuming. Jacobs seems to have had a strategy of bankrupting the AAUP, drawing out arbitration, forcing the AAUP to go to court on numerous occasions, etc. Your average arbitration hearing will take 2 years or more! And at the end of it, you may just have the arbitrator infamously declare to Jacobs, who lost: 'Please don't do it again.' My finger pointing is not directed at some mythical group called "faculty" but directed at chairs and deans, who it seems to me could have simply refused to increase workloads, for example, or resigned in protest, returning to the teaching ranks. I've personally never heard of a chair or dean resigning in protest during the Jacobs years, but would welcome knowing at least one chair or dean did it.

Anonymous said...

Yet I know of many chairs and even a few Deans that protected many faculty teaching loads during the efforts of a few years ago when the upper administration put great pressure to greatly increase teaching loads in some colleges and departments. And a chair or dean resigning would simply replaced by someone else that would find themselves in the same place of having to work with or accept administrative decisions. At least now with the current interim arrangements, deans and chairs are being given back more authority over programs, faculty and budgets including hiring. It may surprise many faculty, including those here on this blog, to know that in many cases deans and chairs did what they could to at least minimize the impact from many of the poor and often crazy decisions of senior administration. Chairs in particular are very protective of their departments, programs and faculty, a point the previous upper administration did not appreciate and often attempted to undermine.

Anonymous said...

Good morning class.

It’s pop quiz time again.

Here today’s question: With the end of the fall semester just around the corner, the minutes of how many meetings of Faculty Senate have been posted?

Answer: One

Glad to see that the group, which likes to boast that it does the real work of the university, is so strongly committed to transparency and that providing timely information to the university community about its activities is such an important priority.

Whatever the Faculty Senate’s excuse for its untimely posting of meeting minutes has my sympathy.

My gradebook get their F.

Anonymous said...

So are we to infer that UT is having a difficult time attracting presidential candidates?

Lazarus said...

Academic life has remained at a zombified standstill at UT in the wake of the Jacobs Inc. neutron bomb.

Did you all receive the request from the Carlson Library Task Force today to take a year's sabbatical in order to make a list of "All" your library research needs in order to function again as a productive researcher and teacher?


I dashed off a hasty reply to the Task Force -- but then thought twice about mailing it off. Why comply with the survey? Or explain why it seems another bureaucratic farce?

Perhaps they have good intentions but their hands are as yet bound in the razor-wire of a BOT- enforced austerity rhetoric.

I will, however, share my thoughts with you here:

"To the Library Collections Task Force: Before the “Great Disruption” under Gaboury/Pryor, we had a highly efficient and research faculty-friendly Carlson Library (and staff) that centered on and respected academic books and journals.

Now you are requesting/instructing each faculty member to list “All” the essential library resources that were once available and accessible -- prior to their removal and destruction by these two carpetbagger nincompoops.

It took one hundred years to build the Carlson Library collection before Jacobs arrived on the scene to launch its mindless meddling with Carlson Library. The result was a failed experiment in privatizing our state public university.

Due to that tragic fiasco not only are most of the journals I rely on in my research and teaching no longer accessible in Carlson, but most of the hard-bound back-copies are long-gone from the shelves. And the book collection built up over the past century, with many rare and beloved items donated to Carlson for “safe-keeping” by loyal alumni have since "gone missing."

I believe the sacking of our Carlson Library facilitated by the above-named anti-faculty iconoclasts was a crime (underline that) and that the current administration cannot possibly replace one-tenth of what was lost, if that.

Now your Task Force has sent out this comprehensive survey which will take an immense block of time and effort for any overworked and underpaid faculty member to complete.

Completing the survey brings with it no promise under the current budgeting scenarios of any eventual satisfaction or reward. This adds insult to injury.

The Carlson Library landscape from a scholarly perspective and perceived “after the plague” is akin to Italy in 1352 and Detroit in 2014 – wastelands: both vast empty spaces where there was once vitality and productivity. The UT campus seems a "city of scholarship" no more.

In sum, Carlson Library was once a centripetal intellectual force on this campus, a magnetic force bringing students, faculty, alumni and staff together in a creative collaboration. Now it is a centripetal force and sends everyone searching for a ill-defined, uncharted and likely bogus learning experience off campus and into cyberspace.

There is no repairing or reversing the losses Carlson Library and its learning community have experienced over the past decade.

So: Good Luck Carlson Library Task Force -- but please leave me alone to attend to what is left of my hamstrung yet determined teaching and research agenda.

Anonymous said...

So after criticizing the previous admin for destroying the library, you'll show this admin your rage by not participating when they ask you for your thoughts about restoring the library. Brilliant.

Clearly representing the intellectual heft our students deserve. It seems that not only do you enjoy being unhappy, you actively seek it out and seem to crave it.

Virgil Ante said...

Lazarus is too kind. Writing with "rage" reads more like this:

1) "The rape of Carlson Library under the watchful eyes of callous mismanagement;"

2) "Carlson Library plowed under with salt in the wake of Jacobs Inc. ...".

Fact: The dirty deed was done.
Fact: The perps escaped unscathed.
Fact: Hyperbole in search of Justice abides no bounds.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous et al
focus on what's happening in the libraries now
the one who continues to screw up the curriculum is now making the previous deans look good
she made a mess of the registrar's office and she's making a mess in the libraries
what's this --- is she getting a raise?

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