Inhabitants of the Ivory Tower

A conversation about issues in higher education

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Corporate Mind and Academic Integrity

A significant number of our faculty, including myself, have been engaged in a running battle with the central administration over a wide variety of issues since not long after we acquired a new president about ten years ago. Most of these issues could be fit under the general umbrella of shared governance, which we don't have in any form resembling that endorsed by AAUP. The priorities and actions of the administration have been viewed by many faculty as seriously detrimental to the academic function of the institution and its future. The administration, on the other hand, have viewed the faculty as trying to interfere with or take control of functions that they see belong under the direct control of administrators -- which is, in effect, everything.

Here are a few examples of what has the faculty upset...
  1. The president set about extablishing an empire through the establishment of degree centers at two-year schools in the region. He now bills himself as president of a "system;"
  2. This forces faculty to teach through a primitive compressed video system to multiple sites, effectively trashing anything resembling good pedagogy and increasing the student per faculty load by two or three times without additoinal resources - in fact, canniblizing graduate assistant assignments;
  3. Running a multi-million dollar athletic buget deficit while charging off half of it to academics;
  4. Transferring athletic scholarships to academics to reduce the apparent size of the athletic budget deficit;
  5. Hiring consultants at 50 or 60 thousand dollars a whack while the expertise resides within the existing faculty on campus;
  6. Building buildings at astronomical costs, including a parking garage that nobody wants to use because of exhorbitant fees while squeezing staff (forcing the purchase of permits) and faculty by eliminating parking on the residential streets of the campus fringe in an effort to fill the garage nobody wants to use;
  7. Increasing the number of administrators by nearly 300 percent and increasing administrative salaries by nearly 100 percent while the number of faculty positions remains the same over the last decade.
These are just a few of the annoyances that have faculty angry. Everythig is run under a profit motive and essential academic programs are punished individually with reduced budgets when enrollments slip below the previous year's body count, even though enrollments in other programs are way up and pay for the punished programs several times over.

This kind of thinking is not hard to understand: It's just difficult to understand why the leaders of a public institution would compromise its covenant with the people.


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