Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quelling A Persistent Rumor & Other Thoughts

So loyal readers many of you have inquired of me as to the veracity of a persistent rumor that our President is taking a leave of absence. The persistence of this rumor characterizes a major institutional dysfunction, namely the absence of an effective communications culture. In organizations where rumors are rampant, you most often see an organization with little effective formal communications channels and no effective informal communications systems, save for the rumor mill. Though the infrastructure may exist, the dysfunction rests with decision makers who intend to not communicate. CSU typifies that type of institution. So as your humble narrator sought to quell this persistent rumor, it occurred to me that something else may be in play. What, you may ask would that be?  
Imagine, for example, that you were an unpopular chief executive who had made numerous mistakes at a troubled institution during your tenure. Imagine further that you were about to implement some particularly odious policy that ran counter to past practice and might even be a contractual violation. To mitigate against resistance from those who would be impacted, you plant a rumor about your impending departure. For those who hold you in low esteem, it is likely that they would be hopeful, thinking they could wait you out and that the damage you would cause wouldn’t be significant because you would be gone. In the bliss of imminent departure, they would likely not pay attention to mounting any opposition to you. You then get what you want without a fight because they have been lulled to sleep by the illusion of your rumored exit. These are, of course, imaginings and I have no data to indicate this is what is happening. Though let me state for the record, that unless a leave of absence is based on medical grounds, it would raise red flags for an accrediting body if the chief executive left within months of the team’s visit. Stability at the top of an organization is critical, especially at an institution that has lost more than 600 students, received more than 30 audit findings and has more interim, acting, provisional or otherwise impermanent appointments than it should in its ranks. 
So, loyal readers, put to rest any illusions that you may have that a change in executive leadership is imminent. It is not. What is changing or not is the level of patronage, intrusion in academic matters and ineptness in the administrative ranks. Unfortunately that change is for the worse.  
The ongoing "discussion" about the Departmental Application of Criteria process is but one of a string of ill thought through, data-less decisions made by an administration with limited or no doctoral degree level university experience. The performance art masquerading as consultation with faculty has been worse than insulting. These perfunctory meetings which result in nothing substantial have long since grown tiresome. It strains credulity to believe that faculty can be wrong 100% of the time about matters that they have the institutional expertise in and responsibility for. So consultation with faculty by the regime is no more than lip service and administrators wonder why faculty don’t wish to be involved in their bureaucratic charade. 
How about we stop the madness, accept that we are actually a university not some high school principal’s personal fiefdom, and act like a university, where faculty tends to faculty business, and administrators stay in their lanes and out of the business in which they have no expertise?

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