Friday, October 2, 2009

Who is Responsible for the Curriculum?

[Addendum Oct. 3. The post below appeared Friday 10/2, before we received the Executive Summary of the Faculty Poll Comments, sent by e-mail from the Faculty Center that same day. Having read the Executive Summary, we are at a loss for words - except for one: Magnificent.
Being at a loss for words is not usual for us. Our regular readers know that, and they know also that many of the things that were said in the "comments" section of the Poll were also said here, beginning last August. We mention that not by way of saying "we told you so" but to emphasize how important it has been for the faculty to have the "safe space" for discussion we first described in our initial posts. It is less important, going forward, to note who it was who said these things first, and where, than to point out who it was - more than 700 faculty members - who said them best, on the Faculty Poll. The Executive Summary of the Poll comments appear to us now as THE plan for going forward. Everything is there.
Our thanks, again, to the Faculty Leadership group (Wanda Howell, Lynn Nadel, Robert Mitchell, J.C. Mutchler, Michael Cusanovich, Javier Duran), and in particular to whomever it was who put in the hard work of coming up - so quickly - with that clear and comprehensive Executive Summary. That, dear readers, is what leadership is about.
Now, the following comments represent an attempt to synthesize some of the points made in the second FGLF meeting with faculty on 10/1. These comments appear to us now as focused elaboration on just a few of the items presented much more comprehensively in the Executive Summary. For those who did not receive it on e-mail, the Executive Summary is available in Renee Shafer Horton's Tucson Citizen blog, or in the online Arizona Daily Wildcat. ]

“The curriculum” in the broad sense means: everything we decide to teach, and excludes everything WE decide not to teach.
Who decides?
We decide curriculum.
The Faculty Senate homepage features the following statement: “Faculty governance at the University of Arizona functions under the Constitution and Bylaws of the General Faculty.” Article I of the Constitution: "The General Faculty has fundamental responsibilities in the areas of ... instruction and curriculum policy...”

If we have the authority to decide curriculum, then we have the authority to invalidate redefinitions of the curriculum that we did not authorize.

By "redefinitions of the curriculum," we are referring to distribution of budget cuts that result in de facto alterations of curriculum by redirecting resources away from units that can no longer sustain budget cuts without suffering loss of faculty, loss of programs - curricular damage - that may be irreversible.

That’s the thesis. Here are the arguments. We begin with two questions:

1) How do you read the phrase “fundamental responsibilities in instruction and curriculum”?
Does it mean some responsibilities or the responsibilities?
a) SOME responsibilities? (if it’s just “some” responsibilities in defining curriculum, who, in practice, has ever exercised “the others”?)
b) THE responsibilities? (that is, decisive authority, on an ongoing basis, for instruction and curriculum policy)

2) How do you understand the term “responsible”? Is it
a) responsible as in ‘obliged to perform duties assigned by a superior to an inferior, or by a parent to a child’ (as when mom says “you’re responsible for keeping your room clean”)? or
b) responsible in the legal sense of ‘answerable to,’ as in “the faculty is answerable to the executive administration and to the Board of Regents, the legislature and the Governor for maintaining a curriculum consistent with its institutional mission as a state supported land-grant university with responsibilities to (answerable to) the citizens of the State of Arizona?

If you answered “b” to both questions, you’re right. You’re in the right.

You’re right, even if Lynn says, “You’re playing with words.” Even if Robert says “You’re playing with fire.” We say, we’re playing our role. The role of the faculty to preserve, protect and defend the curriculum.
Preserve, protect and defend it against being redefined without the level of faculty responsibility required by our constitution and confirmed by statute.

We’re told, “Yes, but.”
“Yes but you can’t protect it against insufficient funds. Or against hostility from the legislature.”
Yes we can. And we must.

OK, how?

Marv says, “mobilize the students and their parents.” By that he does not mean to ask them to carry signs and write slogans with chalk on horizontal or vertical surfaces. He means let them know how budget cuts and “overcuts” – unauthorized budget re-allocations – are inimical and illegal:
1) inimical : harmful to education, and out of compliance with the statutory obligations of the State universities to provide higher education consistent with their mission;
2) illegal: illegal given the obligation of the legislature to secure funding adequate to support public education in Arizona at the levels of quality instruction in the curricula defined by those with the statutory responsibility and competence to do so, i.e., the faculty – not the executive managers of the faculty nor the Regents nor the JLBC. (Actually, this is part of the arguments made on our behalf to the Regents by the three presidents last week.)

How specifically?

Specifically, the graduate students are negotiating a “Graduate Students’ Bill of Rights” with president Shelton (see yesterday’s Wildcat). Next step? That’s right, an Undergraduate Bill of Rights insisting that students and their parents be given what they’re entitled to under state law. That they be given what they pay for. That they not be required to pay more and get less. That they not be told “We don’t have enough classes for your requirements.” Or “We’re changing the requirements so it’ll look like we have enough classes.” That students not be further distanced by distance learning, farmed out to cattle-car mega-classes, or told “you can do it online” (just like a video game!) And so forth.

We are aware that many of the views expressed above are shared by Robert Shelton. Where we disagree is on a basic point: our adherence to the principle that the Faculty must not relinquish its fundamental responsibility in matters of curriculum. Regarding the “core mission of the University,” Mike Cusanovich told us yesterday that it would take a lot of work to come to agreement all across campus on the definition of “the core mission of the University.” That may be true on details, but it’s not true of the big picture. On the big picture, the overwhelming sense of the faculty poll suggests that we do indeed agree that we were heading in the wrong direction. Which implies a pretty good sense of who, and how, to decide what the right directions are.
We close with Lynn Nadel's statement on "the essential core of the university" in his 10/2 interview with Renee Shafer Horton on her Tucson citizen blog; our readers may wish to add to what Lynn said, but we doubt that many would subtract from it:

“We become academics because we have a deep sense of what a university is,” Nadel said. “This isn’t an idea that started a few years ago. This is a 700-year-old idea, that a university preserves and enlarges human values. It is the life of the mind, but more. And it is that sense that the university at its core is being squeezed that is causing the angst. It’s fear that the essential core of what a university is, is being sacrificed on the corporate altar. The people who pay our salaries (the Legislature) seem to have a restrictive view of what a university is – as just a place to train people to get jobs. But a university is more than that. And the undercurrent of anxiety and anger is at least part about faculty wanting to know that (Shelton and Hay) are committed to protecting and preserving what a university is.”

The foregoing represents a synthesis of some of the points made at yesterday’s FGLF meeting. Their purpose is to encourage further reflection and discussion. In your comments, we encourage you to state your case forcefully, but not abusively. (Rules & etiquette for this blog may be found among the September posts.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Post-poll Faculty Governance Leadership Forum, Oct. 1

In the meeting this afternoon, new issues were discussed, along with important new facets of old issues, clarifications were offered, initiatives were proposed, all of which would be impossible to summarize here, although we will post whatever recapitulations of important points, followup comments, and new initiatives our readers wish to send in. Recognizing at the conclusion of the meeting the need to "keep the momentum," Faculty Senate chair Wanda Howell flanked by Michael Cusanovich and Lynn Nadel acknowledged that they are indeed in the process of creating a mechanism of their own, in the Senate, for online discussion to facilitate communication between FGLF meetings going forward. In the meantime, we will serve temporarily as a bridge, for those wishing to continue the discussion here, until the FGLF has their own online discussion space.
Readers new to the blog are invited to get their bearings by clicking on the previous post by Marv Waterstone below, and on the "September" archive in the right navigation sidebar for discussion of the issues that led up to the poll.

To Boldly Go

People are still using the Defender for valuable conversation about where the university is going next and how the faculty can be a real voice and power as the UA moves forward. As always, Marv Waterstone has valuable insight into the discussion, so we post his comments here along with the responses that have come in today. Please feel free to continue the conversation, but also attend today's faculty forum and make your voices heard in public, where they can really make a difference.
Also, click here for Renee Shafer Horton's promised analysis of the poll, which
includes an excellent interview with Lynn Nadel. We don't agree with Lynn's conclusions , but we always appreciate the fact that he's in the conversation.

Dear (mostly invisible) colleagues,

I’ve refrained from rejoining the ongoing discussions for a few days to let some events (the poll, the chalking “incidents”) run their course. Now that they have, with all of their ambiguous outcomes, it is time for us to really get to work to make some changes in the short-, medium-, and longer-term. Tomorrow’s faculty forum, hopefully, will be one productive step.

Last Friday (25 Sept), I met with the Committee of 11 (or at least a significant subset) to propose some concrete actions that might be taken under their auspices in each of the appropriate timeframes. Given the wide variety of existing faculty governance mechanisms available, the C11 seemed to me the most appropriate, given their charge. At the meeting, those present were receptive to the ideas, and I believe these issues will be taken up again at their next meeting on 9 October.

Here are some steps that I suggested merit our collective reflection and action. I have posted most of them on this blog in one form or another, but I’m hoping that they can now generate further action. They are all inter-related, but they can be prioritized:

Short-term: in order to stop the budgetary hemorrhaging we need to mobilize our most critical constituencies—our students and their parents—by alerting them, in the most specific ways possible, to the actual effects of the cuts so far and the likely impacts of any further budgetary excisions. In order to accomplish this, we need several kinds of data. First we need concrete data on increased class sizes, decreased course offerings, changes in time-to-degree, documentation of increased tuition and fees, and losses or decreases in ancillary services. I suggested this as a task that the C11 might take up. Second, and consistent with a recommendation made by an earlier commenter on the list (which also demonstrated our capability in this area), we need a district-by-district analysis of our allies and enemies in the legislature, and their political vulnerability. Once mobilized, our constituencies need to be able to engage in effective actions to change the complexion of the legislature by supporting those who support us, and by opposing those who do not. In the short-term, legislators need to be compelled to understand that cuts to higher education will carry a political price.

Medium- to longer-term: it is time, as many on this blog have noted, to face up to certain facts. Nearly ubiquitously, the support for higher education within the general public is generally low (just look at some of the comments that accompany campus stories at the Arizona Daily Star). We must make the attempt to change those views, or we will continue our ineluctable slide into penury and irrelevance. Again, some data may be helpful here. It would be worth our finding out if other, comparable public universities have been/are faring better than the UA. If so, we should endeavor to understand the reasons they develop and maintain more favorable relations with their constituencies than we do. I proposed to the C11 that some comparative information would be useful in this regard.

These data will take us only so far, however, and at best may suggest some tactical and strategic lessons that we can learn. In addition, we must now be much more proactive and effective in making a persuasive case for our existence and healthy viability. To make that case we need to accomplish two difficult (though by no means impossible) tasks. First, we must think deeply and carefully about the DISTINCTIVE AND UNIQUE contributions that a university (as differentiated from any other element of the educational enterprise) can and should make to society. What are the things that we, and only we, can do, and why should anyone care if they are accomplished? If we cannot make this case (and a member of the C11 raised this exact question), then we probably should drift into becoming an ITT tech with a middling football team, or a loosely connected set of corporate-funded (and owned) patent-seeking enterprises, and be done with it. But I think, if given the chance, we can such a case. Many of us have already thought long and hard about these matters, and strive to put our ideas into practice as best we can in our own pedagogy, scholarship and creative work. It is time to try to make those individuated efforts the heart and sole of our collective endeavors, and to transmit our passion and commitment to our various “outsides.”

Which brings me to the second task. We must change the relationship between faculty and administrators so that those of us at the “core” of the enterprise, rather than those who make the UA one of several transitory stops in their professional managerial resume construction (and who, necessarily reflect the corporatist, privatizing, bottom-line enhancing mentality that has failed us demonstrably and repeatedly all across academia), are responsible for articulating the appropriate vision, and for transmitting this message.

I have some additional specific ideas about some future actions, but since I’ve taken up enough of your reading time here, I’ll save them for tomorrow’s forum.

sandra said...

Thank you, Marv! Your voice gives me some hope. While I extremely disappointed at this moment with our faculty governance leadership for their lack of vision, I find in your voice a reason to want to stay here. You put it so well--the upper leadership is passing through, but we are the ones who live here. I think some polls have suggested, as I said somewhere above, that people in the state generally support education. In fact, one poll showed that people in Az would be willing to pay higher taxes in order to save education. I think that includes K-12. Some of their ambivalent attitudes about the university have to do with misconceptions about what we do and about things like tenure. People frequently like to sound off about that. The university spends little time trying to educate the public, though they do spend a lot of money hanging bill boards around town saying things like Pima Cotton Invented Here. We need faculty leadership. I mean real leadership--not apologists for the approaches of the status quo.

Lynn Nadel said...

Bravo Marv and Sandra. These are just the kinds of discussions we need. And Marv spells out the sorts of data we will need to bring to the discussion. He is absolutely right to stress that unless we can make the case for what a university, and only a university, adds to society, then we are lost. Let's get on that task immediately. I believe a shift in power between faculty and administrators would follow -- if and only if we accomplish the first task.

I also agree with Sandra's analysis of the tenure and exigency issues. I've just been too busy this week to think straight and expressed myself in oversimplified ways in recent posts.

Hope to see as many of you as possible at the Forum this afternoon.

Lynn Nadel

Anonymous said...

While I understand the sentiment that the University could not exist without faculty, as a staff member, I feel I need to make a few points. While EDUCATION could exist without staff members, the UNIVERSITY could not exist without staff members. Those of us who order your supplies, type your memos, create payroll, set up the technology for your classes, advise and process the graduation of the students in your major - the "little" people who help make the processes of the University work on a day-to-day basis - are also the ones who have been terminated in droves. The argument for the creation of CLAS was, besides the "logic" of it, the savings over $2 million dollars by centralizing services and eliminating University College (which was entirely staff members). As is apparent to anyone who has actually looked at University College's budget, the elimination of "little" people, and the salary increase Dr. Ruiz received (along with the costs of new signage, new letterhead, and the other ancillary costs of new schools), the net savings of all the changes is minimal. However, terminating all those "little" people has engendered fear and anger across campus among all the other "little people".

Is there anyone on campus who has examined the non-cuts to positions in the Admin building. Besides Dr. Garcia, has anyone making over $100,000 been "transformed"? Also, while we are discussing cuts to academics constantly, what has happened in student affairs? Besides the debacle of merging the cultural centers, renaming units and eliminating "little" people in the units (which has impacted the availability of programming for students), there seems to be one primary difference from a year ago. There are now new positions that have been created there - associate/assistant vice presidents, and associate/assistant deans seem to have sprung up overnight.

ALL efforts of the University must be examined, student affairs and academics. And they should be examined in totality - not separately. While I'm sure that the administration will argue that has happened, from the outside, it would not appear so. I do not believe there can be any sacred cows. Do there really need to be 4 biological science majors (with 2 separate departments) in the College of Science? Should the Outreach College and its administration really need to be a college? Is the existence of UA South and all its accompanying administration justified by the few hundred students in its 3 majors? How many Associate/Assistant Deans of Students and Associate/Assistant Vice Presidents of Students Affairs does the UA really need? Politically, these issues may be "off limits" - but if the entire University and its mission are being questioned, these should be discussed as well.

While cutting education is a much easier path for the state, cutting staff is the same easy path for the University. I am not proposing wholesale cuts to student affairs (as it is an invaluable unit in the University's effort to keep and retain students) or the elimination of more colleges at the UA. However, all that has been discussed on this blog is faculty - and there is much more to the cost of running the University than that.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Faculty Poll Results

We wanted to get to get the results of the faculty poll and Robert Shelton's comments up immediately. Feel free to comment.

The raw numbers are below. Here is our first overall view of the poll results. The tally figures are here.

On the questions assessing "confidence" or "no confidence" where 1 = "no support" and 5 = "full support," the range 1-3 defines the range going from "no support to neutral." Everything shy of 3.0, the midpoint, is negative to neutral. Votes of approval or support are those higher than neutral 3.

Here is our tally of percentages in the "not supportive (neutral to negative) range":

#1 ... the way the President has carried out the Transformation process: 77% not supportive (neutral to negative)
#2 ... the way the President has handled the recent budget cuts: 69% not supportive
#3 ...the way the Provost has carried out the Transformation Process: 86% not supportive
#4 ... the way the provost has handled the recent budget cuts: 82% not supportive
#5 ... the principle of differential cuts: 43% not supportive
#10 How much confidence do you have in the ability of central administration to lead us through the tough challenges we face now and in the forseeable future? 80% in the neutral to negative range.

To: General Faculty

From: Wanda H Howell, Chair of the Faculty

Lynn Nadal, Chair of the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee
Robert P Mitchell, Vice Chair of the Faculty and Presiding Officer of the Faculty Senate
J C Mutchler, Secretary of the Faculty
Michael A Cusanovich, Chair, Committee of Eleven

Javier Duran, Vice Chair, Committee of Eleven

Re: Faculty Poll

We report below the results of the faculty poll held last week. Given the nine-day timeline, we ran into some technical issues carrying out the poll. We gratefully acknowledge the outstanding efforts of the Faculty Center staff and UITS, who rose to the challenge at a time when they were already dealing with a major transition. Although a small number of faculty experienced difficulties voting, the majority of these problems were resolved within the voting period.

Eligibility to vote is described in Article II of the Constitution of the General Faculty at

and includes

a. Faculty members who hold half-time or more tenured or tenure-eligible appointments,

b. Academic professionals who hold half-time or more continuing or continuing-eligible appointments,

c. Lecturers (including Senior and Principal Lecturers) holding half-time or more multi-year appointments,

d. Clinical professors, research professors and professors of practice holding half-time or more multi-year appointments.

In the spirit of shared governance, we have communicated the results of this poll to the President and the Provost. We are in the process of reviewing the hundreds of comments and will release an executive summary as soon as possible, no later than the end of the week. The full text of the comments will be posted on the Faculty Governance website at by the end of the week as well.

We would like to thank our colleagues for their engagement in this process and their active participation in shared governance. We would also like to encourage even more faculty to participate in the days to come. In that regard, we remind everyone of the next Faculty Forum to be held on Thursday, October 1st, at 4:00 p.m. in Family and Consumer Sciences 202 (campus map

September 18-25, 2009 UA Faculty Poll Participation:

Eligible Voters: 2754 (includes approximately 750 emeriti faculty)

Ballots cast: 858 Percentage of eligible voters: 31.1%

Participation by

College -- Eligible Voters -- Votes Cast -- Voter Rate

CALS: 377 -- 106 --28.1%

CALA: 32 -- 1 -- 3.1%

EDUCATION: 104 -- 15 -- 14.4%

ENGINEERING: 179 -- 38 -- 21.2%

COFA: 156 -- 55 -- 35.3%

COH: 185 -- 104 -- 56.2%

LAW: 53 -- 16 -- 30.2%

COM: 380 -- 60 -- 15.8%

NUR: 72 -- 5 -- 6.9%

OPT SCI: 41 -- 5 -- 12.2%

PHARM: 46 --13 -- 28.3%

MEZCOPH: 39 -- 6 -- 15.4%

COS: -- 473 -- 144 -- 30.4%

SBS.: -- 335 -- 176 -- 52.2%

ELLER : 123 -- 58 -- 47.2%

NON-COLLEGE: 158 -- 56 -- 35.4%

September 18-25, 2009 UA Faculty Poll Results:

Question 1. Do you support the way the President has carried out the Transformation Process? On a scale of 1-5, 1=No Support, 5=Full support


2... 206

3... 198

4... 128

5... 64

Question 2. Do you support the way the President has handled the recent budget cuts? On a scale of 1-5, 1=No Support, 5=Full support

1... 212

2... 199

3... 178

4... 167

5.... 95

Question 3. Do you support the way the Provost has carried out the Transformation Process? On a scale of 1-5, 1=No Support, 5=Full support

1... 483

2... 142

3... 106

4.... 73

5.... 42

Question 4. Do you support the way the Provost has handled the recent budget cuts? On a scale of 1-5, 1=No Support, 5=Full support

1.... 444

2.... 130

3.... 114

4...... 93

5...... 61

Question 5. Do you support the principle of differential cuts? On a scale of 1-5, 1=No Support, 5=Full support

1.... 152

2.... 75

3... .135

4 ....168

5.... 317

Question 6. Do you believe that the central administration has communicated adequately concerning recent changes at the UA? On a scale of 1-5, 1=Do not agree, 5=Agree

1.... 338

2 ....196

3.... 142

4.... 112

5.... 63

Question 7. Do you believe Open Forums would be important in improving communication between the central administration and the campus community? On a scale of 1-5, 1=Do not agree, 5=Agree

1.... 91

2 .... 155

3 .... 264

4 .... 172

5 .... 165

Question 8. Do you believe More Email and Other Digital Messages would be important in improving communication between the central administration and the campus community? On a scale of 1-5, 1=Do not agree, 5=Agree

1.... 164

2 .... 141

3 .... 243

4 .... 175

5 .... 124

Question 9. Do you think central administrator should be more visible on the University Campus? On a scale of 1-5, 1=Do not agree, 5=Agree

1.... 67

2.... 75

3.... 218

4.... 200

5.... 287

Question 10. How much confidence do you have in the ability of central administration to lead us through the tough challenges we face now and in the foreseeable future? On a scale of 1-5, 1=No confidence, 5=Full confidence

1.... 311

2.... 204

3.... 168

4.... 98

5.... 75

TO: Campus Community
FROM: Robert N. Shelton, President

Many people on campus are frustrated. Many feel that they have not been heard. Others feel that the Provost and I should have provided more detail on how we planned to approach the differential cuts that most (though not all) believe are the best way to tackle the enormous challenge before us. For some, personality and personal communication style are the issues.

While we have attempted to be as transparent in this process as possible, it is apparent that we need to do more, both in sharing details of the monumental budget dilemma that we face, and in engaging our faculty in the search for solutions.

To that end, we are planning two immediate steps. First, I have asked our faculty leadership to schedule a Presidential Forum with the faculty of each college. This will provide an opportunity for me to hear from and engage the faculty in each area of our University. I expect those to be frank conversations with no topic off the table. It will also afford the opportunity to discuss how we, as a University community, can confront the very real political obstacles that all of us in education face in this State.

Second, Provost Hay has already begun planning to meet with smaller groups of faculty leaders to discuss the continuing actions that are being taken to deal with the cuts that we have already received from the state (approximately $100 million). Even more critical will be talking through the possible options for dealing with what will undoubtedly be more devastating cuts in the coming years. How we go about decentralizing unit budgets and implementing a tuition funds flow model will be critical components of those conversations.

Issues that we face in this state are not only about money, but about our values. Partisan state politics intrude on both of those areas on a constant basis. In virtually every corner of the country there has been a shift away from state support for public universities. This trend is probably most evident in Arizona, where over the past two decades the portion of the state budget dedicated to higher education has decreased by half. By all accounts that trend will continue, and how we as a University replace those revenues is critical to the future viability of our institution. I cannot emphasize enough that the status quo will not hold.

Let me conclude by saying that I take the comments that were shared in the poll to heart. This has been a frustrating time for the administration as well as the faculty. We want to do everything possible to sustain the greatness of the University of Arizona. Finding the right path in a time of historic revenue reductions is not easy, and not everyone is going to agree on whatever path is chosen.

As I have said many times, in the face of these state budget cuts we cannot continue with business as usual nor do everything that we have done in the past. That is a sad reality, but it is the reality nonetheless. How we arrive at a model that will preserve the University as the type of
institution we all want it to be will take time and enormous effort. I very much welcome the best thinking of everyone on campus to help inform the approach we take. I will work hard in the months ahead to seek out those ideas, and I pledge to greater engagement of faculty leadership at the stage of taking quantitative decisions.

The Jacob Miller / Evan Lisull affair

This item was originally posted 9/25. It has moved to the top of our site as comments continue to pour in.

[Original intro, 9/25]
Is the fact that a student was arrested and charged with a crime while publicly protesting education cuts yet another sign of this administration's autocratic and heavy handed character? One poster asked that the shameful arrest of a Geography graduate student for using chalk art to protest should be at the top of our posts, because "we have let a grad student take the fall for our feebleness". Read, and see if you agree that the faculty should take some action in defense of this student:
EBH Team

[Original Post ]

The UA defender has not yet completed it mission. As many of you know, at Thursday's rally a grad student was arrested for a chalking. A rather, spurious and arbitrary charge meant simply as a scare tactic against any further public attempts at voicing concern (I wish I could say opposition, but I haven't seen that yet in daylight, and probably won't after this). And too few people were there to do anything about it (and I was there from start to finish). Unfortunately, I didn't stay long enough to see the arrest.
So I say that faculty apathy has now instantiated another consequence: we have let a grad student take the fall for our feebleness. This happened Thursday, and it was on the news that night. To what department does this student belong? Why have we not heard from the outraged faculty from this dept? Why have we not seen a draft of a statement that responds to this abuse of power, written by faculty from that department, so that other outraged faculty may sign off on it, in support not only of this particular student, but in support of all students's right to speak? This is a despicable turn of events. At any other university with any sense of social consciousness, not only would a statement have been immediately isssued by that student's home dept. on Thursday, but by Friday we would also have seen statements of solidarity issued from other universitites deploring this action against a student. Neither has happened. The chickens have come home to roost. and worse yet, we should be ashamed.

UA defender, this student arrest is major affront to the university, even if (better yet, precisely because) it a consequence of our own apathy, and its deserves it own place at the TOP of the blog to remind us that failed to defend a student. So before we start thinking about life "post-poll" we should start thinking about life "post-grad student sacrifice" because that will be our legacy, and we deserve it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

After the Poll. Where we go from here.

The UA Defender was called into existence by a crisis of confidence. We presented the main features of that crisis as we saw them, and asked for your help in refining the picture. As the days went by, the picture came more clearly into focus, our readership grew, and our discussion joined with that of the Faculty Senate leadership, eventuating in the Faculty Poll.

We have now come to the reckoning we requested. Not the final reckoning – on that point we agree with Marv Waterstone and all of you who, like Lynn Nadel in his most recent comment a few minutes ago, have stressed the need to continue discussions and actions.
We have been active.
The results of the poll, promised Monday, will certainly tell us more than what we knew a month ago. And for that we can thank you our readers, and Google, the EBH team, and the FGLF - Faculty Governance Leadership Forum.
We are also grateful for the decisive intervention of the press, the intrepid journalists and bloggers inside and outside our walls. We acknowledge in particular the sharp and alert reporters at the Daily Wildcat, the Tucson Citizen, the Desert Lamp, the Daily Star. Our thanks go to all of you, for whom truth and facts matter more than the presumed authority of the names of the people reporting the facts, and telling the truth. For those in the Tower claiming to “rise above the cacophony” aloof in your isolation, know this: The media will not go away. And they will not be duped.

What will have come out of our joint efforts, for the faculty, is a renewal of confidence. We will have shown that we CAN make our voice heard. And that a campus-wide faculty poll is not a hard thing to do (notwithstanding a few bugs yet to work out). And that it is a good thing to do. Sparingly. And that in the future we need not wait for a crisis before asking the faculty as a whole: "What do you think?" Directly. Without mediation. Without hearing the president or the provost report to the press that "the faculty says this" or "the faculty says that" when the truth of the matter - as we know so well from this blog - is that We the Faculty (plural) say a lot of things. We need not rely on the administration for paraphrases (spin) that serve their interests more than ours. A well-focused poll is far more reliable for finding out what “the faculty” says.

We wrote on 9/23 that our job at the UA Defender “was to clarify some issues and bring questions to a wider audience, in as forceful a way as we decently could. That purpose has been served and we now await the results of Faculty Poll I." And elsewhere that same day: "What we see shaping up in the near term is a movement more toward the center ... in the faculty forums that Lynn Nadel has proposed. The UA Defender has baggage, and connotations - we are referred to as "disgruntled," and "whiny," and "dissident," which makes it easier [for the administration] to be dismissive of us than to discredit a faculty group that will have grown out of the Faculty Governance Leadership forums, ... with the cachet of legitimacy attached to that body. Any and all of those who have gathered here can also attend the meetings of the forum (which Lynn Nadel has proposed but which remains unnamed - maybe it'll still be called something like FGLF (fig leaf!) for Faculty Governance Leadership Forum).”

Or maybe just call it "Faculty Governance" - whose blog might be called "UAfacgov" to allow "UADefender" to recede gracefully into post-crisis oblivion. Not to disappear entirely nor immediately, but to curtail its activity in the hope that ever-growing support and unity will gather around a senate-leadership group with the wherewithal, and, we hope, the will, to secure stronger, better-focused faculty involvement in an effective, productive relationship with the president and provost, whoever they may be, going forward. That can happen. And it must be done. By drawing on the collective wisdom and experience of the world-class faculty that is ours at the University of Arizona.
For it to happen with Robert Shelton, the onus would be more on him than on us. That much we have made clear. Regardless of the poll numbers, the very existence of the poll has made that clear.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Response to Shelton-Hay editorial 9/24

Our response is here. We don't want to take up room on the blog at the moment since it's more important to deal with the verification issue (check for your "I Voted" icon) in the Faculty Poll (see "Voting Problems" below).
The Shelton-Hay op-ed in the Star is here. Please help amplify or refine our response by adding your comments below. Remember that our readers include people from within the University and outside.
Also check out Renee Schafer Horton's 9/24 Tucson Citizen report here. One of our readers says below "She's doing better reporting for free than those who are getting paid."
And here for the perceptive, incisive commentary of Evan Lisull in the Desert Lamp. Evan's commentary is sometimes hard to penetrate, sometimes brilliant - but we always enjoy reading in his posts things we can't say - or haven't thought of yet!