Friday, November 30, 2007

Update on OurProvost’s Blog

Openness, Transparency, and Two-Way Communication

Hold Those Thoughts...

I had hoped that the University of Minnesota community might finally have a conversation about where the university stands, where it is going, and what are attainable goals, given our limited resources and land grant mission.

Earlier today, Sharon Reich Paulsen, the Chief of Staff for Provost Tom Sullivan, informed me via email that the Provost lacks sufficient time for blogging.

She suggested that an experimental blog started by the Daily recently might be adequate venue for communicating with the University community. She noted that Jerry Rinehart would be participating.

With all due respect to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, this does not seem to be an adequate replacement for a community conversation with OurProvost.

Thus I replied:


Dear Sharon Reich Paulsen,

Thanks for your kind response.

I am aware of the blog at the Daily. I don't think this is going to get sufficient traffic to generate the dialog that I feel is badly needed. If you look at the letters to the editor section of the Daily, participation is pitiful for a university of this size. The Daily has even been forced to solicit letters. A far cry from the way things were when I was an undergraduate or even ten years ago.

The Provost's site appeared to be a place where a dialog could be held and taken seriously. From what I have seen, and I have been blogging on University matters for a year, it seems to me that there is a deliberate attempt to deny dissenters a podium. I hope that is not the case.

I am disappointed that Tom does not have time to follow through on what I thought was a very good idea.



ps. Since I have already posted an announcement that Tom's blog was open, and encouraged people to participate, would it be appropriate for me to let people know that Provost Sullivan apparently will not be doing this due to lack of time?


In reviewing the notes in my blogger folder I also ran across the following. It may still be posted on OurProvost's website.

Provost’s Academic Update

September 7, 2007

Since my last academic update in April of this year, you will notice three major changes in our communications.

First, the very abundant and newsworthy academic awards will be showcased in an awards email, which will be sent at the end of each semester.

Second, to set the stage for two-way communication — a key element identified by faculty focus groups in the University culture task force — I will be starting a blog.

Finally, the Provost’s Academic Update will focus on substantive, academic news from around the campus with focused information about strategic positioning impacts.

On September 7 a blanket email was also sent by OurProvost to faculty, staff, and students:

To set the stage for two-way communication--a key element identified by faculty focus groups in the University culture task force--we're also introducing something new. I realized my messages might have more impact if I used a 21st century messenger--a blog. I invite you to read and participate as my blog goes live in the coming weeks.

With best wishes for a wonderful year,

Tom Sullivan
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Julius E. Davis Chair in Law

I trust that other means will be provided to facilitate this key element of two-way communication as requested by faculty. What would Abraham Lincoln do?



1 comment:

Jim Chen said...

Mr. Bonzo:

University provosts can and do maintain blogs. My boss, Shirley Willihnganz, maintains an active link between her office and the broader University of Louisville community through her blog, From the Provost.

For my part, I try to maintain an active blog, The Cardinal Lawyer, as part of my duties as the dean of the University of Louisville School of Law.

Best regards from a fan of yours,
Jim Chen