Friday, October 5, 2007

The Re-writing of History Continues at BigU

Mr. Bonzo has previously posted on OurLeader's propensity for re-writing history:

"Remember when the geniuses tore down the poor old decrepit - on campus - Memorial Stadium and replaced it with something they now admit was even worse...the downtown Metrodome? And now we're going to replace the downtown Metrodome with? Twin City Federal Stadium, which of course will be right back on campus near... the old Memorial Stadium location."

"Which goes to show that if you wait long enough as a U of M administrator, people will eventually forget your past sins and you can feel free to re-write history. (I was a very strong supporter of the new Science Classroom Building. There is no conflict between teaching and research. I am for stature rather than ratings. I strongly support General College. I strongly support a higher minority enrollment. General College must go. I am against re-engineering. I am for Kotter's Eight-Stage Process of Creating Change. This is a land grant institution.)"

This unhealthy behavior continues with respect to OurLeader's remarks on the strike that recently appeared in a Q & A in the Minnesota Daily.

Although I am reluctant to bring up the strike because of the bad feelings that it will cause, I have decided that this is necessary because the behavior exhibited in this matter by OurLeader is an excellent example of the lack of transparency, openness, and sadly honesty, that has been demonstrated in so many different ways since we first began the administration directed drive "to become one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic]." It is arrogant and patronizing, implying that people, including faculty, do not know the nature of institutions such as Berkeley, Michigan, UCLA, or Cambridge or Oxford, for that matter. The administration's stated goal causes most faculty to roll their eyes and throw up their hands in frustration.

For an older piece on ambitious aspirations, please see the post:

"Can BigU Become GreatBigU?"

{Executive summary: Get real!}

OurLeader is called out by a fellow faculty member:

Given the administration’s generally hamfisted handling of the strike, however, I wasn’t at all surprised to find Bruininks dishing out more platitudes and propaganda. Disappointed, yes. But not at all surprised.

Bruininks claims that his childhood in a union household taught him that “no one, absolutely no one, wins when you have a strike.” But if he’d really learned that lesson, he’d have given AFSCME the same deal he gave the Teamsters. Not “something close” or “essentially a comparable proposal,” but the very same deal.

Bruininks’ description of the administration’s offer to AFSCME “essentially a comparable proposal” to the Teamsters deal is a fine display of propagandistic “weasel words.” It sounds well and good to say these are “comparable” offers, but all that really means is that it’s possible to put them side by side and consider their similarities: not that they’re actually equivalent to one another — much less that such a comparison would demonstrate a rough equivalence between them. By the same token, it’s possible for me to compare “President Bruininks” to “a weasel,” but the mere fact that I can do so doesn’t actually mean that Bruininks is a devious, thieving vermin — much less that such a comparison is fair to the weasel.

Bruininks also speaks compassionately about “reach[ing] out to our employees to see if we can heal whatever wounds are out there.” But he wasn’t interested in showing any such compassion or generosity when AFSCME workers asked for a living wage: he offered them a substandard deal and then refused to budge. He wasn’t interested in healing any wounds when faculty, students, and staff told him — over and over again — that his failure to settle the strike was hurting the University: he simply sent a few form letters to a tiny fraction of the University community who expressed such concerns, and then dismissed the rest of those dissenting voices as “noise.”

I find it appalling and hypocritical that President Bruininks can attach a message to the CFD brochure expressing his desire for faculty and staff to “join [him] in this great tradition and contribute what [we] can” to “the needs of the state and its citizens” when he has so callously turned his back on the legitimate needs of the AFSCME workers who are such a vital part of the University community.

But it is nothing less than galling for President Bruininks to ask faculty and staff (and most especially staff) to embrace a spirit of generosity that he is clearly unwilling to apply to his own management of the University: less than 0.1% of the University’s budget, after all, could have been reallocated in ways that would have averted the AFSCME strike completely.

When President Bruininks can “walk the walk” of giving generously to the community in ways that match his ability to “talk the talk,” I will happily consider giving to the CFD once again. In the meantime, however, my financial generosity will continue to go towards the AFSCME strike fund.

After all, if I’m going to donate a portion of my paycheck to the community — and I’m happy to do so — I’d prefer to share the wealth with people who clearly understand what the word “community” really means. And the University administration’s behavior these past few weeks is a clear indication that too many people in Morrill Hall simply don’t have a clue.

OurLeader is called out by a Teamster:

Prez says what?

In the October 3rd article "A Q&A with Bruininks," Bob Bruininks pointed to the Teamsters contract as proof that what he offered AFSCME employees was a fair and equitable contract. As a teamster I voted no on this offer but I know many did not vote at all for going on strike was not an option, for under the current leadership electing Osama Bin Ladin as homeland security director would make more sense. Many Teamsters supported AFSCME fully. For Bruininks to claim a workforce demoralized or impoverished to the point where striking is not an option as proof of our satisfaction is just one more example of the dishonest and arrogant way this administration (human resources) does business. I felt in fairness and honesty I needed to respond to these statements.

Michael G. Kelly

University Teamster

With respect to academic graduation rates of revenue producing athletic programs at the U the StarTribune has recently reported:


A comparison of the University of Minnesota Graduation Success Rate (GSR) figures in key sports compared to Big Ten rivals and the national average for all Division I programs, according to NCAA data released Wednesday.

Sport/ GSR /Big Ten rank/ National GSR avg

Football /49/ 10 /65

Men's basketball /38 /11 /61

Women's basketball /67 /11/ 81

Men's hockey 43/ *5 /84

*Only five Big Ten teams field men's hockey teams.

The GSR rates are six-year graduation rates for athletes entering school between 1997 and 2000. The GSR, unlike federal graduation data, takes incoming and outgoing transfers into account.

So by this measure both the men's and women's basketball team graduation rates are last in the BigTen. This is indeed disappointing. Football is next to last and men's hockey is last, although only five schools still play hockey. I am sure that OurLeader will be taking all necessary steps to see that we are at least in the middle of the pack in the BigTen in these areas, especially because of his direct involvement in the NCAA in a leadership role. He could start by raising the academic bar for enrolling athletes, but then however would we fill Twin City Federal Stadium aka the House that Jack Built?

Will Shapira, that thorn in the administration's side who has been cited by the PT in the past writes to the Daily of this report:

Athletics and the 'U'

The Oct. 4 Star Tribune neatly sums up what's wrong with the University's athletics department: failure to improve the academic performance of our alleged student athletes and their continuing and embarrassing alleged misbehavior off the field.

How long are students, faculty and taxpayers going to put up with total mismanagement of the athletics department by President Bruininks, his rubber stamp Board of Regents and the incompetents in the athletics department? (Not to mention the thousands of brain-dead alumni and bored, idle-rich, self-appointed de facto assistant athletics directors called "boosters.")

Please tell me which is the bigger joke: the pipe dream of returning to the Rose Bowl or becoming a top three research university? And which relates directly to the University's primary mission and which is totally extraneous?

When is the Minnesota media going to take a serious look at the role of athletics at the University and help the public and our government officials explain why millions of our taxpayers' dollars are being wasted on a new football stadium when they could be put to good and proper use in so many ways benefitting academics?

If only we could stop the stadium and channel those precious dollars into academics.

Willard Shapira

University alumnus

The athletic graduation rate is a disgrace. Claiming that things are improving is of little solace. We should demand that these numbers place the U at least in the mid-point of the BigTen with a time stated by which this goal will be attained. No more excuses. OurLeader bears direct responsibility for this situation. It can be fixed and certainly will not be detrimental to our pitiful won/loss record, at least in football. Mr. B. used to naively think that our athletic programs had such bad records because we had such high academic standards. Little did I know...

The University of Minnesota is already a great university in many ways. Let us set as our goal rising again to respectability in the BigTen based on commonly used performance metrics. When the top BigTen public universities are mentioned, let them be Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Let's also commit to being the best land grant university possible - with all the implications of this goal - for the people of the state of Minnesota. I invite the Administration and the Regents to join the faculty, staff, and students in this effort. It is time for OurLeader to get down from the horse and walk with the rest of us.

The smokescreen of becoming "one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic]" has got to stop soon or our remaining seed corn will be destroyed.

Ciao, Bonzo

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