Blaise Pascal, Penseé 347: “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this. All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.”

Monday, April 23, 2012

"All in, Mr. Bond"

Today, we can hope, the resolution on "Cohort Hiring"--really, a resolution on the source of funding for all tenure-track hiring--will come to a vote in the Academic Senate.

By itself, passing this motion is important. As part of the larger picture of what kind of university we want, its importance cannot be stressed too much.

This method of hiring fits into the bigger picture we've seen "unveiled" this year: the centrally-managed university that treats faculty as employees who carry out management decisions about how to teach and what to teach, rather than as the members of a university community, the members who have the greatest expertise in teaching and curriculum development, and whose traditional role, in the past, has been rightfully recognized and relied upon by administrators.

Let's review the others pieces of this jigsaw puzzle:

1. The attempted elimination of Arts & Humanities and Social Science as separate schools and the attempted elimination of the College of Science and Mathematics: consolidation, central control, and the subordination of the core sciences and humanities to professional schools;

2. The creation of an appointed Budget Task Force to accomplish the above, thereby by-passing the faculty-elected committee, the University Budget Committee, which should have been involved;

3. The Provost's charge to the Budget Task Force that they should be discrete in sharing information with anyone--resulting (and no surprises here) in no information being shared with anyone, including the University Budget Committee;

4. The implication--which took a month and a half, and three meetings to completely refute--that the chair of the University Budget Committee was somehow a liaison between the UBC and the Budget Task Force;

5. The withholding from the UBC, the Budget Task Force, and the university at large, until February, that the university had a $65 million carry-forward from last year;

6. The klutzy $1.8 million spend-down at the end of this year, while we have been running classes (designed "W" for a significant writing component) at around 300 students;

7. The strong implication by the Provost at the March 19 senate meeting that Dean of Arts & Humanities Vida Samiian was in favor of the concept of centrally funded cohort hiring.

8. The subsequent denial of Vida Samiian of the above at the last Senate meeting.

9. The "unveiling" of the new logo, with no Senate consultation, but the public spin about how much consultation had been conducted.

10. Red Balloon and its obvious connection to a push for on-line education supplemented by teaching assistants--much more easily controllable through Long Beach.

11. CSALT's attempt to treat us like elementary school teachers and to impose elementary school / high school models of education on a university faculty.

12. CSALT's insulting, condescending language, which perhaps tells us as much as anything how the administration of this university and the system in general see faculty.

13. The creation of faculty / instructional positions that report directly to the Provost.

This list is not exhaustive, there is more I could say, but it is enough. What we have been seeing is a determined administrative push toward a centrally-managed university where faculty have little or no say in anything of importance and are treated like children.

Is this the way we want to go into the 21st century?

We are really voting on that question today.

"All in, Mr. Bond."

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