Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hiring Pause,

Thinking Freeze

(Thanks to a friend for the title)

OurProvost recently sent out another one of his padding out the old resume pieces. Sometimes these are called dialogues or even conversations, but no one is fooled.

They are the kind of things to write if you are a university president or want such a position. People who are good at this sort of thing, say Mark Yudof or Drew Faust, can get their pieces into the Chronicle or the New York Times, but OurProvost has to settle for the U's website or the University News Service or, on a good day, the Daily.

An earlier post has appeared on one of OurProvost's efforts: "Inspiring Words at the University from OurProvost."

I haven't done this again because Margaret Soltan, aka Scathing Online Schoolmarm (SOS), owns the game. I've also noted before that OurProvost, although pleading otherwise, isn't really interested in a conversation with the community. Requests for public dialogue and discussion, instead of his monologues, have gone unanswered.

Spam production goes up in Minnesota during hard economic times, both in Austin and Minneapolis. Although the products are different there are similarities - both are canned and hard to digest. And neither one allows discussion with the customers about the contents. Or would that be stakeholders?

So resistance was futile. As Geraldine used to say: "The devil made me do it."

First came the teaser - actually, the Novocain. As the dentist says: "This might hurt a little."

Provost's Academic Update

There is no question but that the extraordinary economic challenges currently facing the University require our utmost dedication and focus. At the same time, we must relentlessly continue our commitment to academic excellence and to the essential work required by our University mission. We all are involved, as a University community, in important and vital academic work that we must continue to advance. We can, and will, strive to lead and to be innovative during these difficult financial times.
This paragraph would be a lot shorter if Orwell red-penned it. "There is no question but that" "extraordinary economic challenges currently facing" Sounds like McCain during his campaign suspension. "relentlessly continue" "essential work" And what exactly is our University mission, Tom? It seems to shift and to depend on the administrator currently talking. Is it ranking or stature today?

"important and vital" "We can, and will" "strive to lead and to be innovative" Seems almost poetic, but what exactly does it mean? The Gettysburg address didn't merely sound good.

Recently, the University developed a new copyright policy with important and exciting implications for our entire University Community. The new policy represents an opportunity for the University of Minnesota to take a leadership role among other leading universities nationally.

Continuing in the above vein: "important and exciting" "leadership role among other leading universities." Is the man being paid by the word? Who's teaching legal writing in the law school? Is the "University Community" like the "Gopher Nation"? And only nationally? Why I thought we were aiming higher than that, Tom. Wasn't there some slogan about the third greatest public research university in the world?

In this message, I will share some thoughts with you on recent initiatives regarding the stewardship of our intellectual resources. As many of you realize, we live in a knowledge-based economy in which our fundamental mission as a University must be deployed in service of the broader transnational learning process. For the full text of this message, please click here.
"share some thoughts" "recent initiatives" "stewardship of our intellectual resources" "knowledge-based economy" Sounds like the output of a computer program that strings together random adminspeak buzzwords. The phrases roll off the tongue like the patter of a State Fair turkey leg hawker.

"our fundamental mission as a University must be deployed in service of the broader transnational learning process" What the hell does that mean?

If you have a masochistic streak, I have activated the link above for further flagellation. You have been warned.

Mercifully, the message ends. but not without the coupe de grâce:

This message was approved by the Senior Vice President and Provost of the University of Minnesota and sent to all Twin Cities students, faculty, and staff.

If OurProvost wrote this doesn't it imply that he approves? Does this mean that OurProvost didn't actually write this stuff, but merely approved it? Is he running for office? Has he been watching too many campaign commercials?


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