Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Not so random thoughts

So a few bits and bobs have tumbled around in my head during the past few days and I thought I'd share them with you loyal readers.
* I have been thinking about the memo sent out from the administration about the university’s termination policy. It was an interesting memo. Because it didn’t apply to faculty I viewed it as a disinterested third party. The portion of the memo that struck me was that some behaviors were so egregious that immediate termination was warranted. Since this was a termination policy memo, I assumed that meant ending the employment at the university permanently. The problem I had with the language of that section of the policy was that it completely disregarded the constitutional protections of the 5th and 14th Amendments of equal protection and due process. Because an administrator says an employee has done something warranting termination doesn’t make it so. Whatever egregious behavior is accused still must be proven in some sort of process.  Every state employee below a certain level has rights. The policy should have been corrected to provide for suspension pending a termination procedure but to leave the impression that an administrator or supervisor would be able to be judge, jury and executioner is inappropriate and legally incorrect.
* I was amazed by the number of university employees that are paid $90,000 per year or more. Thirty of those are faculty, while the other sixty are administrators. Save for the academic administrators, which the regime is working vigorously to reduce the numbers of, what exactly does a $150,000 Vice President for Enrollment Management do? I am curious what warrants a level of pay slightly below the chief academic officer of the university..
* The Board of Trustees finally had enough members show up to form a quorum to approve the FY 2012 budget. After a cancelled meeting on October 10th where only three trustees were in attendance for a Special Board meeting the Board met on October 13th. The lack of attendance for a meeting to conduct university business begs the question why the Governor hasn’t replaced the three board members whose terms have expired, who incidentally were three of the four who didn’t show up for the meeting. The Governor seems to have made good choices for the recent appointments as three of the four most recent appointees were in attendance.
* I invite the regime to put to rest the spreading rumors that the next chief academic officer of the university is to be the current Vice President for Enrollment Management. If the rumor is true it would be unfortunate to appoint a Provost with no terminal degree, no publication record, no experience as a university tenure track faculty member, and no experience as a university dean. It is likely to raise red flags with accrediting bodies, the IBHE, and other agencies. A simple acknowledgment that this appointment is only a rumor would put this issue to rest.
* It appears the City College Re-employment Program is in full swing. Is a recently retired employee from Kennedy-King on her way to CSU for a little of the Illinois double dip?
* It is good to see that as the university “right sizes”, the official residence is getting a new driveway. I would assume this would be necessary for all of the potential donors seeking to share their corporate largesse with the university. This sort of infrastructure investment is better used at the official residence rather than in repairing the campus parking lots. Technically, I would suspect that the money for this is in a different account than the money to repair parking lots. Or maybe it is simply a matter of priority setting.
* Given the top down, ill conceived restructuring that has been occurring under the regime, I suggest that faculty in each college form a College Structure Committee to address how academic units should be organized. In response to the question of whether faculty can do that, I consulted the Collective Bargaining Agreement and found no prohibition on the faculty in participating in shared governance. So faculty, take the lead from the Graduate Council committee that is reorganizing the Graduate School. The business of the academic life should be the first priority of the professoriate. Consequently, being more proactive could lead to a more productive work environment. Leaving it to the professional juco administrators is likely to lead to reduced productivity.
* And on a final note, it’s that time of year. Yep, it’s Ethics Training time again. Thankfully, faculty can make their annual digital sojourn to remind them to be ethical for another 12 months. Given all of the opportunities the faculty has to be unethical and steal from the public treasury, an annual reminder to resist giving in to the lesser angles of our nature is probably a good thing.  Don’t forget to do your Ethics Training.

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