Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sprint to mediocrity

So today was a memorable day. There was shouting, anger, tears, disbelief and finally an admission by the bored trustees that the process was fixed. The candidate whose name emerged a year and a half ago was officially named. The meeting could be summarized by the words of the University President, oh I mean Board Chairman, Leon Finney. This is “not a choice between two great options but a choice between two lesser options.” No truer words have ever been spoken. The search process notwithstanding, the university is now in a headlong sprint to mediocrity. The decision of the bored trustees signals the death knell for this institution. Of course the optimists and apologists will shout 'give him a chance' and some faculty will go into exile and others into hibernation. Other faculty will resist this sprint to mediocrity which includes the risk of losing our NCA accreditation due to the BOT's incompetence and ineptness. When I see students shedding tears about the Board's choice to appoint a political insider, I am angry. Our students have invested so much in changing their lives and to have the thieves on the BOT act with the petulance and impunity that they have displayed is galling. The theft that I refer to is the stealing of dreams and aspirations. This university needed a leader not a political hack of the Daley machine. When the post mortem is done on this chapter of our university history, I am sure there will be enough blame to go around for the institution's demise. Through all of this I got the briefest of glimpses into the South African liberation struggle against apartheid. My South African friends who lived through this have tried to convey what it meant. I am beginning to understand at the most rudimentary level what that oppression cost and the lives that were devastated by the oppression. The army has not been mobilized yet. And we, the faculty, are the army. It is time to mobilize and do the next right thing which is protect the academic integrity of this institution. We owe that to our students, the community and ourselves.

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