Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bits & Bobs

So fair readers I am taking this time to share with you some of the things happening on our lovely campus. First, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has opened a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in the lobby of the Jones Convocation Center for citizens impacted by area flooding that occurred a couple of months ago. It is the only DRC on the South Side and CSU has graciously agreed to host it for the next couple of weeks. If you know anybody in need of assistance as a result of the flooding please don’t hesitate to send them to the DRC.
Second, the Senior Thesis discussion continues. The Board of Trustees was informed last Friday that the Senior Thesis requirement will reach full implementation by Spring 2015, not Fall 2010 as initially reported. I suspect there were a plethora of administrative, logistical and curricular details that weren’t considered until consultation with the faculty occurred. I guess this could be a lesson in why faculty consultation at a university is important. One of the Trustees expressed a concern that if the Senior Thesis was to be applied, every discipline should have a writing requirement. That means that the Senior portfolio in Art would still be required as would a substantive written project. As the Senior Thesis is a work in progress, there will be more questions answered and details addressed to stay on task for the 2015 implementation date.
Third, your humble reporter was informed by the University Police Chief that he was over-trained in the area of Emergency Management. And by over-trained, I imagine that means that having a faculty member who is accredited by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency as a Professional Emergency Manager. I plead guilty to that qualification. I have made several comments to the BOT about my concerns about the university’s absence of preparedness in the event of a crisis or major event. The Chief informed the Board that the university had met the ‘minimum requirements’, leading me to conclude that the university is minimally prepared. The disturbing thing about those remarks is some belief that meeting the minimum should be satisfactory or acceptable. That somehow striving for excellence in this area is anathema to the administrative mindset. I fear this administrative belief, not refuted by the CEO, permeates the administrative fabric of the institution and in some substantive ways prevents the university from breaking out of the rut that it appears to have been in for at least the last twenty years. I would hope that an astute CEO would definitively repudiate any implication of minimalism in this educational setting and demand excellence and not just meeting the minimum standards. It sends the wrong message to the university community, especially in the area of preparedness and safety.
I suggested to the BOT the university consider a Green Initiative. It involves moving our diesel powered vehicle fleet to bio-diesel, creating an urban farm and composting program and implementing an E-Recycling program to recycle computers, printers, fax machines, and other electronic devices that have reached end of life. Currently, State of Illinois property control rules and regulations require that equipment be turned in and moved off campus to be warehoused. I proposed that the university, under a pilot scheme, seek to have those rules suspended for the purpose of E-recycling. There are companies in the private sector that take the property and refurbish it for use in other markets, often overseas. It would of course require that the university exhibit some leadership and do something not done before. Or would it? The Board was informed by the University’s Chief Information Officer, that this was a bad idea because in 2-3 years the use of technology will have obsoleted computers as we know them so there would be no need for electronic recycling. Who knew that CSU was moving so fast in the technology world that in a scant 2-3 years we would do most of our computing on mobile devices?
And on a final note, rumors abound about CSU students selling their recently gifted I-Pads, only weeks after getting them. Upon hearing that I became concerned about the property control implications. State property purchased with appropriated funds being sold by students can’t possibly be good for the university. Is that an audit finding waiting to happen? Thankfully, I was assured that the I-Pad which retails starting at $499, is considered a consumable and not equipment. Therefore, no property control requirements exist. If the university were ever challenged on why it used state tax dollars for technology that was sold by the users, the institution would be justified by citing the rules and therefore suffer no damage to our institutional reputation.

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately for the students who allegedly are selling their IPads, the devices don't belong to the students until they have completed their junior year. If they are selling them, they are selling property stolen from CSU. My understanding is that each IPad can be identified and tracked to guard against theft, which should make it easy to recover any that have been stolen. The most constructive thing we can do if it is indeed the case that some students are selling them is to arm them with the facts and to refer them to information about who owns the IPads posted in Cougar Connect under the student tab.