Sunday, October 9, 2011

College Reorganizing Rationales

So I find myself disappointed, either for not understanding some greater administrative wisdom at play or at some of my colleagues for their unquestioning acquiescence to continued missteps by the regime.  During a College of Arts & Sciences meeting, the interim dean relayed the corporate double speak from the regime about increased efficiencies, improved communications and reduced unit size as being the rationales for reorganizing the College into what clearly resembles a junior college. I was dubious as this was explained because some fundamental questions had not been answered.
First, what problem was the solution of re-organizing into a juco solving? If the answers were size, efficiency and communications, where was the data to support those conclusions? The organization chart of the College could have been reconfigured with only minor adjustments providing an Assistant or Associate Dean for each of the three areas, Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences. Each of those Assistant or Associate Deans could be faculty appointed part time to oversee those areas and free up the Dean to not have to supervise chairs from more than 15 departments.  Having part time administrators drawn from the faculty ranks who serve and then return to faculty raises the probability of the faculty not being captured by the mindset of administrative aggrandizement. A three year appointment should suffice in spreading the joy of administrative duties to those who would want to serve.
If size were a justification for reorganization what were the standards that were exceeded that warranted the disruption this reorganization created? Much larger universities than this one have not found a need to reorganize because of size. The University of Illinois at Chicago for example, have 22 departments and programs with 350 tenure track faculty who teach 9,300 undergraduate and 1,200 graduate students. As the largest college at that university, it appears that they haven’t been directed by their chancellor to disrupt the educational mission based on some unsubstantiated corporate speak. Since no data was presented and the rationales only in a cursory fashion I can only imagine it was spun from mid-air like many of the changes foisted upon the university by this regime. Ill-conceived and poorly thought out, this idea lacks any rigorous examination and unfortunately would not stand up to any intellectual scrutiny. Thus I am left with the belief this reorganizing has some other, unspoken more insidious agenda behind it.
Second, why is faculty being included in the discussion of how to manage an academic unit when the plan has already been implemented without them? This perfunctory inclusion is insulting and continues to demonstrate the contempt the regime holds toward faculty, regime apologists notwithstanding. Was the first reorganization based only upon the termination dates of chair contracts? An examination of chair contracts from the College of Arts & Sciences reveals a very interesting thing. The planning for this reorganization has been underway at the highest level since May 2010, as evidenced by appointment letters with language like “...During the coming year, we may revisit the organizational structure of various units, which may involve your unit.” So if the regime was planning reorganizing the academic units, why were faculty not substantively involved for 17 months? With the first, still unannounced/unacknowledged reorganization still causing confusion with students and faculty, I ask why is the regime reluctant to send out a written memo of its decision to ignore faculty (and the faculty contract) and reorganize the university’s largest college roughly a year before the university’s accreditation visit.
It is intellectually lazy to make statements like increasing efficiencies or improving communications without operationalizing what those corporate speak terms mean to highly skilled academicians. What efficiencies emerge when department chairs have more work to do and less help to do it? What efficiencies are realized when departmental offices are dispersed and students find it difficult to locate the appropriate office. What improved communications are generated when disciplinary compatibility are considered less important than operating the City College Re-employment Program.
If the interim Dean is to be taken at his word, then the plan for reorganizing will be left to the faculty. I doubt that since it is past behavior that is the best predictor of future conduct. In that case, the re-organization is already done. It just hasn’t been imposed on the faculty and students yet.

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