Tuesday, August 16, 2016

#CSUclowncar and the Semi-annual Bloodbath

So every semester before the first week of class, the administration in its wisdom cuts classes that are "low enrolled." At first blush this might appear to be a sound management practice from an administration dedicated to the success of its students but a deeper look will show that it is far from that. Rather it is an administrative bloodbath carried out by those now dedicated to preserving the reputation that CSU is the place students go to have their classes cancelled.
Many years ago I first asked the Provost why we engage in this process. I was told it saves money. I asked how much money was saved last semester and the Provost didn't know. I then asked what was the calculus for determining how much money is saved and was told the university had no such calculus. Stupidly, I asked the first question again and the answers repeated. 
There might be courses that need to be cut. The courses that the #clowncar cuts though tend to be the wrong ones. Especially as the university in operating in financial exigency, one might expect that the university bites the bullet and offers what it says it schedules. That way students aren't inconvenienced and the enrollment death spiral can be stemmed. 
Two other things happen when the wrong courses are cut. The Registrar's Office receives the courses that have been cut and immediately removes them from the computer system.That means that academic departments now don't have a record of which students were enrolled so they can't call students to let them know that they will have to find other courses. For some students, an Independent Study course might satisfy a requirement but then the provost cuts all of the Independent Study courses because they don't have any enrollment at the time of the course cuts. But why would they? The need for them has not yet been established so clearly critical thinking doesn't appear to be a skill of this overpaid, under-qualified administrator.
Then, there is the problem of day and evening courses. Low enrolled courses offered in the evening are often cut without the understanding that the university serves two populations. Its evening students typically work full time and schedule classes that they can make given other responsibilities. As they progress toward matriculation, they have less and less flexibility in scheduling and the university demonstrates more and more rigidity in helping them complete their courses of study. This total absence of understanding of the student population should be a firing offense for a provost who continues to make mistake after mistake after mistake.
This semester's bloodbath will likely be made worse by the firings of tenured faculty, the obliteration of the adjunct faculty and the concerted effort by #clowncar to drive the enrollment to its lowest level in more than 50 years. How will they manage to figure out if there are actually faculty to teach courses when they already demonstrated they don't know what courses need to be taught. 
So instead of the provost being involved in minutia of management, especially in areas outside of academic affairs, follow the words of the noted New England Patriots head coach, "Do your job!" Unless of course, you have no idea what that job is. In that case, do the honorable thing, RESIGN immediately as the faculty has already told you they have no confidence in you and just be gone.

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