Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Centralized Advising?????

So this one goes into the “Only At CSU” column. To wit, the centralization of advising at the university. What in the world is the provost thinking? This decision is so misguided that I am at a loss as to where to begin in de-constructing how ridiculous this is. So here we go.
First, the decision to remove faculty from undergraduate advising disregards several decades of precedent. Faculty, as subject matter and disciplinary experts, have provided advising since I arrived on the campus in the fall of 1991. Part of this university’s culture is its faculty-student relationship. CSU has small class sizes and no classes taught by graduate students and advising done by faculty. This inane decision works to undo that relationship and take away one of the key selling points of the institution. That seems odd (or appropriate) given the 30% decline in enrollment overseen by this administration. It is almost as if the regime wants students to leave the university and tell their friends not to come here.
Second, this applies only to undergraduate students. Faculty will still do advising for graduate students until the provost finds some way to screw that up as well.
Third, given the complete administrative incompetence of the provost, I am worried that all of the appropriate paperwork for hiring and compensating the professional advisers will not be completed and somehow they won’t be able to advise in the critical inter-session period. The selection of these advisers also presupposes that they understand the curriculum they are advising on to the point that they can appropriately substitute courses as needed. This function is critical as the administration has cut a historic number of courses, many required for graduation, during the past several semesters. As a faculty adviser, I have an obligation to my discipline and my students. Professional advisers have no such obligation and in most cases limited curricular experience in the disciplines they are advising in.
Fourth, I am curious whether this was a response to the Union’s demand to bargain over faculty being told they must do advising in the advising center. It seems a bit disingenuous for the general counsel to want to talk about this subject all the while the provost eliminating faculty from undergraduate advising. That speaks to how no one in this administration can be trusted to work collegially or in good faith.
Fifth, given the physical construction of the advising space I am curious about the potential for FERPA violations and other privacy concerns. Often advising doesn’t just consist of course selection but includes professional or personal advice. Those conversations can’t be held in that space. So when the administration parrots start chirping about things being “student centered” it is clear to me those are just words with no substance behind them.
I am curious if this is just another in a line of actions being taken by a failed administration in its last days to prove to the incoming president that the university isn’t actually as dysfunctional as it has been portrayed. There seem to be a number of initiatives that qualify as too little, too late. 
Sixth, this comes as registration has been scheduled two weeks earlier than normal. Were advisers ready for this change? Were students ready for a change mid year. Usually when significant changes are undertaken in the middle of the academic year it is an indicator of a systemic malfunction. Sort of like hiring a new president to take over in January instead of in July. It shows something is broken. Or in this case something is being broken by an administration that has no earthly idea what it is doing.
Finally, I was reading a book from a former US Army special operations officer and one of the life lessons he saw repeated over and over in his service was “listen to the guy on the ground.” This is something that this administration has steadfastly refused to do. None of these senior administrators have any experience with our students the way faculty do. Listen to the faculty! In this case, we know more than you do. I realize that may hurt the feelings of thin skinned administrators and that is the reality. This centralization plan is going to fail spectacularly. Faculty can’t do and shouldn’t do anything to change that. Let the provost fail again on her own. We will of course be in the position to say “I told you so.”

51 days

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