Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A New DAC for Chicago State University High School--it's one-size fits all (and you had no voice in the process)

Faculty should be aware that an entirely new DAC (much more rigorous) is being implemented for the fall and it is pretty much non-negotiable. 

Of course faculty are gone for the summer and as one of my colleagues has been known to say, "during the summer the Administration can get up to all kinds of mischief." I am hoping that at least some faculty are aware of this summer's mischief. The more feint-hearted or cynical or the apologists among us might even be stirred when they find out what is in store for them. They might think they are returning to a university in the Fall but in fact will find themselves at CSU High.

I'm not sure what the Administration (the sole arbiters of everything everywhere on campus) is brewing in the DACs of the colleges of Education, Business, Pharmacy, or Health Sciences, but the largest college--that of Arts & Sciences seems to indicate an administrative desire for a complete breakdown of all departmental affiliations. The administration has demanded four DACs from the College of Arts and Sciences. The four DACs are not discipline-specific and broken into: 1. STEM 2. Social Sciences 3. Humanities 4. Performing and Fine Arts. WOW, we are back to where we were in the late 1960s before we were even made a university!

So not only does the Principal of this entity, Dr Watson, who is clearly more comfortable with a community college model, get to determine that we needed a new mission statement, but he gets to determine that we will no longer resemble a traditional university. Is this how it is done at DeVry? No, they would probably make data-driven decisions. Too many of our Administration's decisions (demise of the Grad School) offer no data to support their reasons for doing what they do. Why? Because they can. Top-down Administrative decision making,  minimal push back from campus bodies that should be looking out for faculty interests; it is clear there are no longer any formal or even informal checks and balances at CSU High School. The principal rules, end of story.  Sounds downright un-American to me.

Yet in spite of the move to the high school/community college model, the Administration is DEMANDING the faculty do more research to the tune of 3-5 articles for tenure and 1 national conference and an article every other year for post-tenure review--a clearly arbitrary and in fact stupid requirement for members of some disciplines. In the words of my students, "for real?"--more research with a 4/4 (nearly community college) teaching load?

So please tell me that these issues at least crossed the minds of those mandating our new DACs:
  1. Will the Administration reduce the 4/4 teaching load to 2/3 or even 2/2?
  2. Will faculty be given teaching assistants?
  3. Will the service requirements be lowered--all the ridiculous reports we have to generate that no one reads anyway but give cover to HLC or whatever accrediting body is due to visit--will that come to an end?
  4. Will cues be granted to faculty who take on the advisement of that other Watsonian mandate, the undergrad and M.A. thesis requirements? Has any of this been considered?
  5. Will there be regularly granted sabbaticals, not bogus leaves of absence if you can get your own funding or prove to some arbitrary CTRE committee that your project is worthy of funding over and above some current event topic of the day or something requiring a testube?
  6. Will students be encouraged to learn foreign languages so that they can genuinely participate in the research that some of us conduct that requires translation and real use of non-English material? 
  7. Will there be funding for travel for those of us engaged in research that doesn't just navel-gaze at Chicago's this or that?
  8. Will there be funding for every faculty member to buy books they need for their own research? I believe my colleagues at the U of C get $500-800 annually just to purchase books for their own research.
  9. Will faculty be granted borrowing privileges to the University of Chicago or Northwestern University's libraries--the only real research libraries in the area?
  10. Will our own library be invested in as a true research library that includes access to major online and full-text journals? Will there be money put forth for true collection development in specific areas of faculty research? Will the library be more than just a technology arena and dance hall rental?
And may I remind the Administration that if there is a problem with "faculty productivity" they are the ones to blame. As long as I have been here I have been told that it is the Administration who hires and fires, not the faculty. Remember that faculty here are not even permitted to rank candidates in job searches. What "research" institution's faculty would go along with that nonsense?  It is the Administrators, those Deans/Provosts/Presidents who "hired" or in some cases "placed" their favorites into positions around the university or palmed a crony off to a department who need to be taken to task by the faculty. What mechanism is in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening? We've certainly seen it firsthand in Dr Watson's own administrative "hires" and in his own "hiring" by that rump Board of Trustees, sanctioned by CSU's pal, the pol Emil Jones. It's the Administration who bears the bulk of the responsibility for the construction of the CSU faculty we have on campus. If it is such an unproductive faculty then what sense does it make to let those who made such bad decisions in the first place continue to make further decisions about the faculty let alone how to force them to be productive?  Instead of getting us out of the cycle by permitting more faculty to share in the governance of the university, the Administration wants to perpetuate the problems that had been made by inept Administrators.

So Principal Watson and the Administration feels it can make a virtual one-size fits all DAC and that their Administrative knowledge supercedes those trained in a variety of fields --trained, I might add for years. There is not just an absence of shared governance going on here, our academic integrity is being compromised and along with this academic freedom.

After hearing about all the DAC stuff over the past week, I'm wondering, did Dr. Watson lie to the Board of Trustees? When he made his report to the Board at its May  meeting, he said his office had worked "quite a bit toward shared governance." It seems Dr Watson needs to review the AAUP statement on the definition of shared governance. This was also the same meeting where one student spoke up to remind him that he could not steer the ship alone, CSU needed him to work with the faculty.

Dr Watson and the Administration have certainly changed the past practice of how CSU handled DACs when it was a university. In demolishing departmental DACs it signals the demolition of departments and disciplines, a change in working conditions. No faculty, nor the Union, have been party to these decisions. There is no pretence at all: shared governance is not a priority of this Administration nor will they make a pretence of practicing it. 

What's a faculty to do?  

Well, as my father pointed out to little Corday long ago, when people feel they have no voice or no hope, they do the only thing left to them: they take it to the street.

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