Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ask the Deans

An old Pink Floyd song has been running through my head all day and though the context in which it was written is different the words seem to apply in the midst of this Summer of Wayne.

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell
Blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Principal Watson has lived up to his reputation from his 10 years at the Chicago City Colleges (appointed there by Little Richie Daley). A former colleague and employee of the old Chancellor summed up his m.o. for us at the time of Dr Watson's "interview" on this campus in 2009: "to come in, create chaos, and then exploit it." Well no one now can deny that there hasn't been chaos on this campus for the past two years, nor that the exploitation of it hasn't worked. And now, tenure as we know it, especially on the Arts side of the College of Arts and Sciences, what was once considered the heart and soul of any university worth its salt, is being strangled. Ask the Deans across the University why they let it happen.

Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?

The DACs across campus are to be standardized because Dr Watson couldn't make heads or tails of them and a few examples of the most outrageously weak ones were read out at the DAC Workshop as if all were like that. Actually, we had much simpler DACs 10 years ago or so, but Faculty were told they needed more "specificity" by the Contract Administrator and the higher powers. So, we gave them more specificity. Now, the problem for the Administration is that they are confused. Specificity in my discipline might not be the same specificity in your discipline--so the documents are messy, not nice and neat and categorizable like only a grade school or high school teacher could want. But this is academia (supposedly), not a business, not a primary school. So, instead of a faculty-driven process which for all its irritation it was in the past, the new stadardized DACs are Administratively-driven. Chicago State University High School: Where Flawed Process Becomes Flawed Outcomes. Come nosedive with us.

And just who is this lot doing the driving? Career educationalists and politicians. The entire DAC process was hijacked by the Administration this spring on a legal technicality and not one department to my knowledge, not one single DAC, received a rejection slip in writing as per the Union contract from the President explaining why it failed to meet his "standards."

Standards. What would happen to our university if Dr Watson was the model for our "standards"? As I've mentioned before, at his "interview" in 2009 he bragged about not having a scholarly publication record of his own and he was even lionized for it in such august bodies as WVON back when this record of non-achievement was under review. He should be ashamed of the hypocrisy of the situation. Ask the Deans who shared in his actions why they did not call him out on this and demand faculty representation, not just chairs, at the workshops. Ask the Deans.

Did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

Tenured faculty need to wake up and ask some serious questions of their Deans and Chairs. Why is the Administration calling in some external "advisors" (cherry-picked by them, no doubt) to review these ridiculously impossible, school-marm persnickity, imposed DACs, and claiming some kind of objectivity of process by comparing them to what other universities do BUT giving no primacy, NO PRIMACY to the opinion of its own faculty? Ask the Deans why they are going along with this, why they are letting the tail of the university wag the dog?

Since the meeting with the Union President and the aforesaid trio of upper Administration, Dr Walter, UPI President, said that faculty are promised time for us to comment on the External evaluators comments, 30 days worth of commenting on the DACs at some point. What a joke. Why should we even bother? Waste our time (while we are not even on contract) to submit our objections, offerings of "advice" and considerations that will no doubt be ignored?
  • The history of our "advisory only" status has shown that it has netted us no voice in the presidential search process of 2009 that was so trumped up by the politicians who keep CSU as their own little football to pass around that the entire Faculty Advisory Board quit.
  • There was no faculty voice for our "comments" on the presidentially-mandated senior thesis imposition a year ago.
  • It netted us no changes at all when a committee of faculty were told to submit a report on what to do about the presidential decision to terminate (i.e. disorganize, there's that chaos-thing going on) the Graduate School and its Dean? Not one section of it was incorporated into the Administrative plan. 
  • Departments this year have submitted faculty personnel actions to the president for approval after they have been through faculty interviews, chairs, deans, the provost has seen the candidates only to have the process be upended and be told that he is the decider and he wants to see all the portfolios of the personnel searches because he is concerned about the lack of "diversity" in our hiring (now there's a lawsuit waiting to happen). No faculty consideration there, no consideration of faculty voice in the hiring of their own people.
So, in good faith, following directions from the Union and the Administration, faculty DAC committees spent time this spring bringing our DACs up-to-date with the new contract only to have them rejected en masse as not up to the principal of our school's standards. And Drs Westbrook, Moses, and Mr Cage say our comments will be taken into consideration? Puh-lease. The Deans know what the Administration thinks of the faculty, ask the Deans why we need to waste our time playing out this charade?

And, have you even seen your DAC yet? Dr. Watson is claiming transparency of process and "shared governance," and he may even fool the Board of Trustees (now down 2 members) into believing him, but I doubt the HLC will be completely bamboozled by these ploys, they may not fuss as much about the shared governance part as some of us would like, but I wonder where they stand on setting unfair and impossible standards as criteria to judge faculty without lowering the teaching load? Not to mention the failure to get faculty buy in to the standards that are being imposed on them--or in the words of the tedious Assessment process we must endure for our programs--"faculty ownership of the process." Ask the Deans how they think HLC will interpret all this.

There are interviews this week and next for the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences ask the candidates how they would stand up for faculty. I wonder what would have happened if every single one of the Deans and and Chairs present at the DAC workshop farce would have gotten up and walked out? What if even half of them did? Whoever will be the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences should remember that even our last Dean who thought she would be able to protect faculty in some way by bending far and far enough down for her master president and conformed herself to a lot of distasteful stuff still found herself unceremoniously dispatched when she finally said enough and stood up to him. I think she thought she could outlast him. I bet she wished she'd walked out earlier.   
(A propos the Deans at CSU, the name of the song is "Wish You Were Here")


  1. "We're two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl
    year after year. Running over the same old ground. What have we found? The same old fears. Wish you were here."