… in the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the most charitable description of what’s been going on at the clubby University of Minnesota medical school would be “bizarre.”
Monday, August 2, 2010
Putting it to Provosts
(From Inside Higher Ed)
George L. Mehaffy, a vice president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, opened a meeting of provosts here late last week by projecting on the video screen overhead the bold commercial that Kaplan University has used to promote itself -- in large part by not-so-subtly dissing traditional colleges and universities like those that belong to AASCU ("It's time for a different kind of university," the professor at the lectern tells students apologetically. "It's your time.")
"It is our time," Mehaffy told the public university provosts when the commercial ended, "time to get serious about the process of change in American higher education. It is important that we resolve to make substantive changes -- major changes, not changes around the margins -- and that we do so with a fierce sense of urgency."
But collaboration will be key, said Sally M. Johnstone, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Winona State University, in Minnesota. "One big lesson that seems obvious is that anything that I think of is not going to be anywhere near as good as that that we can come to collectively."
"If we don't think we're going to have to reinvent ourselves, we are delusional," said Liz Grobsmith, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northern Arizona.
[Gak - how I hate that phrase...]
As is true of many meetings of academic administrators, discussions about bringing about change on campuses frequently turned to the faculties, and in some cases provosts described instructors on their campuses as being stereotypically, almost preternaturally predisposed to oppose any kind of progress or change.
Johnstone of Winona State described her efforts to get leaders of the university's faculty union "really up to speed" on the "constraints that are going to be facing the entire university," and getting their advice on "how I can move forward at a pace this campus has never seen before."
"They get it," Johnstone said. And where a few years ago, the faculty was an obstacle to change, "now it has really become an opportunity, a way to move forward," she said. And that's essential, she added, because "changes have got to come from the faculty. You cannot change the campus without changing the culture."
Added Abe Harraf, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Northern Colorado: "Faculty want to come along. They just want to be participants instead of just being told" what they have to do.
Time matters, said Selase W. Williams, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Southern Connecticut State University. Given the rapidly changing demographic pool of the students who will be entering higher education in coming years, dominated increasingly by those who are academically underprepared, "if we're failing American higher education today, we will fail even more miserably then."
"The challenge will be greater then than it is now," he said. "We've got to get this right."
And how NOT to do it has been demonstrated more than once by our own provost at the University of Minnesota.