Monday, October 7, 2013

Is it a Machiavellian or Orwellian world at CSU?

It's always gratifying to find that the upper administration's plaint that but for "a few disgruntled faculty" (read "white" depending on their audience) the majority of the university community is ok with the leadership is complete hogwash. Late last week someone had taken the time to leave this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education in my office. I'm posting it here  below because I think it is worth sharing and it may have been anonymous' intent. The original is at:

http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/10/02/a-machiavellian-guide-to-destroying-public-universities-in-12-easy-steps/

Dr. Watson's "listening" tours (sic) --especially to departments laden with adjuncts or faculties who are still hoping that if they keep quiet he will favor them with some kind of advantages personal or departmental--allow him to believe his own rhetoric. Any administrator in this Orwellian world of newspeak and doublespeak who has the guts  to speak honestly finds themselves a non-person--disappeared into the shadow of firing (this notably happens to the ones who are really effective--see Meeks, Hines, Butler as examples). The City Colleges "team" that now rules over us are well paid for their participation in the Orwellian world. In spite of a bellicose faculty senate meeting in September in which representatives from around campus complained about the great waste of time and money that they and their colleges spent on last year's faculty searches that reaped NOTHING but vetoes at the Presidential hand, Provost Henderson could say with a straight face to this same body at its October meeting that she had not heard any complaints from the departments about the hiring decisions (or lack thereof)...

Well, whoever is heading up the university's side of the monitoring report to the HLC on communication and shared governance has their work cut out for them. The situation does not simply remain unchanged from last year on this campus, it has gotten worse--more voices than the usual cadre are starting to speak out. Before it can do anything effective, the university's ad hoc administratively-driven shared governance committee needs to explain where and how shared governance exists on a campus where the President will not even share power with the Board of Trustees and Emil Jones holds the governor by the you know what?

So, in the article below my vote is that nos. 4-9 really sound like us, but nos. 4-12 identify us very well with the camp of a public university that is unravelling.

Thanks again to anonymous who left this for me to read. Below my picks is the whole article.

(4) Install new public-management tactics borrowed from public-interest theory to wrestle control from faculty governance systems. However, to quell widespread discontent, keep university senates in place as giant, irrelevant “suggestion boxes.” Be sure to talk a lot about the importance of shared governance as these tactics are introduced. Label the faculty cynicism that will undoubtedly emerge as “consensus.”

(5) Put into place various “oversight instruments,” such as quality-assessment exercises, “outcome matrices,” or auditing mechanisms, to assure “transparency” and “accountability” to “stakeholders.” You might try using research-assessment exercises such as those in Britainor Australia, or cheaper and cruder measures like Texas A&M’s, by simply publishing a cost/benefit analysis of faculty members. If you run out of ideas, just contact the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

(6) Increase the reliance on part-time faculty members and one-year contracts to teach most courses. Those faculty members are more vulnerable and amenable to administrative control (you should also drastically increase the number of administrators in order to manage those disempowered professionals). Afterward, criticize the quality of college graduates. This will enable even more managerial oversight and assessment.
 
(7) Scream about the high cost of higher education and increases in tuition. Blame the increases on greedy, overpaid professors rather than on the withdrawal of state support, the techno-gadget mania promoted by edu-businesses, or the administrative bloat caused by increased auditing practices and assessment.

(8) Promote narrow vocationalism and STEM areas to show that you are in tune with the demands of the new “knowledge economy” and will no longer tolerate puffy and useless subjects like history or literature. If students are interested in those subjects, they can do Civil War re-enactments or join a book club. Such areas are superfluous in the new, pragmatic age of economic determinism and global competition.

(9) Limit the contractual rights of faculty members. They still “cling to the collective” and need to be forced to face the dawn of a new day. In the end, they will thank you for the liberty, freedom, and opportunity you have brought them.


 
A Machiavellian Guide to Destroying Public Universities in 12 Easy Steps

Chronicle of Higher Education, October 2, 2013, 1:24 pm


As a general rule those who wish to win favor with a prince offer him the things they most value and in which they see that he will take most pleasure; so it is often seen that rulers receive presents of horses, arms, pieces of cloth of gold, precious stones, and similar ornaments worthy of their station. So, in my desire to offer myself to Your Magnificence, with some proof of my obligation to you, I have found nothing among my possessions that I cherish more or value higher than I do my knowledge of the actions of great men, gained from long experiences in modern affairs and continual reading on ancient ones. Having for a long time thought over and examined these matters with great diligence, I have finally put them into a little volume, which I send to Your Magnificence.

—Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

In order to destroy public universities, it is important to:

(1) Denigrate public education, and public institutions in general, as drains on private wealth and “job makers” to the point that no one would dare ask for increased support. This will assure that public universities are relegated to second-rate status with inferior facilities and loads of part-time faculty members, and will forever have a negative stigma placed on them relative to private universities.

(2) Take advantage of economic downturns to instigate “taxpayer outrage” in order to remove support from public universities so that they must either raise tuition or cut back on their programs. Afterward, condemn those institutions for raising tuition in order to support lazy, socialist professors teaching irrelevant subjects like anthropology and philosophy.

(3) As state support recedes, encourage a student-loan system that will create a “market for higher education.” Saddling students with lots of debt will make them enterprising and rational consumers of educational products and will encourage them to safeguard their economic interests. Refer to these changes as “empowering students.”

(4) Install new public-management tactics borrowed from public-interest theory to wrestle control from faculty governance systems. However, to quell widespread discontent, keep university senates in place as giant, irrelevant “suggestion boxes.” Be sure to talk a lot about the importance of shared governance as these tactics are introduced. Label the faculty cynicism that will undoubtedly emerge as “consensus.”

(5) Put into place various “oversight instruments,” such as quality-assessment exercises, “outcome matrices,” or auditing mechanisms, to assure “transparency” and “accountability” to “stakeholders.” You might try using research-assessment exercises such as those in Britain or Australia, or cheaper and cruder measures like Texas A&M’s, by simply publishing a cost/benefit analysis of faculty members. If you run out of ideas, just contact the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

(6) Increase the reliance on part-time faculty members and one-year contracts to teach most courses. Those faculty members are more vulnerable and amenable to administrative control (you should also drastically increase the number of administrators in order to manage those disempowered professionals). Afterward, criticize the quality of college graduates. This will enable even more managerial oversight and assessment.

(7) Scream about the high cost of higher education and increases in tuition. Blame the increases on greedy, overpaid professors rather than on the withdrawal of state support, the techno-gadget mania promoted by edu-businesses, or the administrative bloat caused by increased auditing practices and assessment.

(8) Promote narrow vocationalism and STEM areas to show that you are in tune with the demands of the new “knowledge economy” and will no longer tolerate puffy and useless subjects like history or literature. If students are interested in those subjects, they can do Civil War re-enactments or join a book club. Such areas are superfluous in the new, pragmatic age of economic determinism and global competition.

(9) Limit the contractual rights of faculty members. They still “cling to the collective” and need to be forced to face the dawn of a new day. In the end, they will thank you for the liberty, freedom, and opportunity you have brought them.

(10) Bring in outside consultants such as Bain & Company or McKinsey & Company to convince boards and administrators of the urgent need for “disruptive innovation” or other ideas championed by Harvard Business School gurus. Those may be slogans without substance, but no one will pay much attention, particularly if the consultants have a colorful PowerPoint presentation.

(11) Introduce a “competency based” education model that allows students to bypass many of the traditional requirements of the university. The old-school liberal-arts requirements get in the way of the “on the go,” cellphone-laden student consumer of today. If professors protest, simply state that no one could possibly resist competency except the incompetent.

(12) Finally, use public-relations and advertising campaigns to divert attention from the nasty consequences of all of those reforms. A Web site showing happy people doing great things goes a long way here. This is, after all, a postmodern age. Spectacle and simulacrum trump substance.

And if, from the lofty summit on which you stand, Your Magnificence will sometimes turn your eyes to these low places, you will perceive how undeservedly I endure the great and continual malice of Fortune.

—The Prince

Steven Ward is a professor of sociology at Western Connecticut State University. He is the author of Neoliberalism and the Global Restructuring of Knowledge and Education (Routledge, 2012).

 

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