Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Rube Goldberg Organization

So I always enjoy when students complete their homework and am doubly happy when colleagues do what they say they will do. To wit, the Provost provided me with a copy of the university’s organization chart, dated January 19, 2012. It would be understatement to say I was taken aback by this document both in form or presentation and in substance. It is poorly designed and a closer inspection reveals that the institution is poorly organized. For example, the recommended span of control is exceeded by the President. An ideal span of control (number of direct reports) is between five and nine. The chart shows eleven, hence the need for a chief of staff. Might a less expensive alternative been to reorganize more efficiently with an eye to lines of supervision that more closely mirror a university?
I had several questions about this chart and some concerns. First, why is the Counseling Center not reporting to the Provost as all of the Counselors are Unit A Faculty members. I find it appalling that any Unit A member would report to non faculty, in this case the Dean of Students and the Vice President for Enrollment Management. I would choose to believe that my faculty colleagues in the Counseling Center would prefer to be treated like faculty by people who can effectively evaluate faculty performance.
Second, why does Physical Plant report to the Chief of Police? This is an odd configuration for such an important job. Does the current police chief have some background as an architect or operating engineer that we didn’t know about? If not, the university should hire a Director of Physical Plant who has the requisite experience.
Third, why in the world is Institutional Research in Enrollment Management? It is much better situated in Academic Affairs as research seems to be the province of the academic side. Oh, but that would mean that the Provost would hire the person to manage the enterprise and might not employ the City College Re-employment Program standards in hiring. That the university should suffer to ensure the continuance of the CCRP is unconscionable.
Fourth, I think I understand now why the regime has such difficulty in communicating effectively both internally and externally. An examination of the org chart reveals an Associate to the President for Communications & External Relations, a Director of Public Relations & Communications, and a Director of Marketing and Communication with the latter two positions residing in the division of, you guessed it, Enrollment Management. Which of these three wrote the now retracted communications policy? Which of the three speaks for the university officially, like a Public Information Officer or Press Secretary? Apparently none, since anonymity is the order of the day. How many memos do you receive from the regime that actually have a signature on them. Are lower level functionaries prohibited from signing missives that they issue?
Which brings me to my final concern and that is the cancerous growth of the division of Enrollment Management. If you notice the light blue area of the org chart you will find all manner of departments reporting to enrollment management. A curious thing is that the Registrar reports to this division through an Associate Vice President. Curious because the Registrar should report to the Provost as the Chief Academic Officer since the Office of the Registrar is solely about protecting the academic integrity of the institution, not a position suitable for on the job training as we currently have. I believe some “right sizing” in this area would address any number of institutional ills including enrollment, communications, and access to institutional data. You will find posted my suggestions for restructuring the institution to place functions in logical reporting lines, not in lines that make the President “comfortable.”
And to think, there has been no public conversation in the press about the university’s 34 audit findings. I guess there is something to be thankful for.
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