Saturday, April 17, 2010

Who will bell the cat?

Perhaps the Faculty Consultative Committee

Has to Speak with More Candor to

Board of Regents

at the University of Minnesota?

From a recent meeting of the Faculty Consultative Committee with the Regents Professors, the following is reported:

Professors Gonzales and Oakes reported that they have been pressing the President and Provost for strategic plans and scope of mission discussions and have worked on the fiscal crisis the entire year. They have no idea what the plan is. That is a problem, which is one reason why the Regents Professors were invited to join the Committee today.

One must be concerned about the decline in the sense of the collective and commitment to the University. It is difficult to get buy-in for a University-wide program, and when one cannot get feedback from central administration, one gets the sense that faculty are tolerated on campus, for the work they do, but the administration appears outcomes-oriented and seems not to welcome participation. If the Faculty Consultative Committee cannot make headway, who can? This situation represents a decline in a sense of the University shaped by the faculty, not just one where faculty members are employed by the University.

What will be the faculty participation in the presidential search?
One hopes that the Bruininks/Sullivan regime will be gone; the University needs new leadership. It is not getting leadership with the central educational mission at the heart of the concern, so this will be a smaller and weaker university. The effort to strengthen the core mission of the University has been bureaucratized to death because of what the central administration has been preoccupied with, such as the stadium and "Driven to Discover." It is not clear how effective faculty governance is—if this Committee can't get plans out of the administration, who can?

The President’s communication to the University regarding the budget cuts insist that quality will not be sacrificed, which can be read to suggest that the institution has been wasteful, which hardly seems to be the case. At what point do claims about steady-state quality (demonstrably untrue) in the face of repetitive severe cuts become counterproductive (for example, in the eyes of the legislature)?
It appears that the University's response is that it will have a lot less and at the same time somehow get better.

And yet, only a month ago, the chair of the Faculty Consultative Committee delivered this message to the Board of Regents:

Perhaps Professor Konstan's admonition to the President (step up or step aside) applies also to those FCC members responsible for faculty governance?

Has the time come for candor with the Board of Regents?

1 comment:

momo said...

Fairly sharp minutes for an FCC meeting!