Tuesday, September 1, 2009

No, Robert. No Meredith. That's Not How it's Done

The editors of UADefender decided to post this comment from J.F. as a post rather than as a comment:
To the editors: I would like to request that my comment be added as a “new posting” under topic 3 of your opening statement: “Administrative Infringements and Usurpations.” If I may, I would like to suggest that my comment be posted with this title: “No, Robert. No, Meredith. That’s not how it’s done.”

I would like to offer a comment under topic 3 in the list of “areas of greatest concern,” namely “Administrative Infringements and Usurpations.” But before I do, I would like to thank the editors of this web-site for giving all of us the opportunity to comment on these important issues. I know I speak for many of my colleagues when I say I'm grateful to whomever it was that organized this “forum” and gave us back our voice, and a place to speak where we are not under the watchful eye, and not under the boot, of the Administration.

Regarding illegal usurpations of Faculty rights and powers which the Administration has lately taken to arrogating unto themselves, there is only one thing to say: No, Robert. No, Meridith, that is not how it works.

Let me refer specifically to General Education, which accounts for 90-95% of undergraduate tuition dollars. The General Education (Gen Ed) program at the UA was designed and implemented by the Faculty. It has always been overseen by the Faculty, through the University-Wide General Education Committee (UWGEC). Last year, the UWGEC was told by people working in the Provost’s office that Gen Ed courses, because of the “revenue streams” they “generate,” needed to be beefed up, revved up, pumped up, changed from 3 units to 4, and new courses needed to be added, with enrollments in the hundreds, and taught on-line, or in large auditoriums, or in Centennial Hall.
Several members of the UWGEC expressed reservations. They said, “We understand the problem. But you’re going too far.” So last Spring (April-May), the UWGEC was told that it was being abolished. Some members of the committee protested. So next we were told that the committee was not being abolished; it was simply being relieved of its decision-making authority in the contested matters regarding design and delivery of Gen Ed, which would henceforth be handled by the Provost’s office. The UWGEC committee would still be allowed to offer advice to the Provost’s office on these matters, and could still retain its power to review new Gen Ed courses for appropriate design and content, and periodically review existing courses. But its real mission had been moved to the Provost’s office. This is wrong. It is illegal. It will not stand. You do not take over Faculty space –the space where academic decisions on curriculum are made— by Eminent Domain.
Many of us on the UWGEC have taught and served at the UA for a long time, 20, 30, 40 years or more. We have seen provosts and presidents come and go. Meredith Hay rode into town a year and a half ago and set out with unprecedented aloofness to restructure the University her own way, by removing rather than working with people and committees who disagree with her. Let’s be clear: That’s not the way it’s done. It’s wrong, it is illegal. It will not stand.

By “illegal,” I am referring to the “Blue Book,” or UHAP Manual (University Handbook for Appointed Personnel), referenced already on this web-site, with a link to the on-line edition. The UHAP is the “law of the land” for this University, and clearly sets forth the division of labor and responsibilities (or balance of power, if you will) between Faculty and Administration. It comes down to this: Administration manages resources and logistics, Faculty decides curriculum. Period. That’s how it’s done.

The Administration does not take over curriculum. If Administration does try to take over the responsibilities entrusted by statute to the Faculty, if Administration impinges or infringes upon or usurps the decisions and authority reserved by statute to the Faculty, then it is not only the right, but the duty, of every member of the Faculty to say No, that is not how it’s done.

In conclusion, let me be direct. No, Robert, No, Meredith. Illegal actions harmful to this University will not be tolerated. Will not be tolerated by the Faculty, Staff, Students, Community, and Regents, your direct superiors.

[originally posted 8/30/09 ]


  1. I would like to applaud the creator of this particular entry. The illegal actions of the President and Provost go on and on. It goes against all priciples of academic freedom. If you're faculty or staff or administrative personnel on this campus it's time to stand up and take action against these two.

  2. Given similar 'erosion' of faculty responsibility for curriculum at ASU over the past few years, I'm not so sure that ABOR interprets UHAP like the writer (and many other faculty) do.

  3. Faculty responsibility for curriculum has "eroded" at ASU and UA only because faculty have not chosen to exercise their rights in curriculum issues. Obviously Administration will step in if faculty capitulates and leaves a decision-making vacuum. But the faculty rights and responsibilities are there.
    Meanwhile, along with the Wildcat's 9/1 front-page story about "Centennial Hall's supersize TRAD class" the online Wildcat has posted a video on "UA's mega classes." http://wildcat.arizona.edu/news/the-mega-class-1.347431

  4. Where is Wanda Howell in all this!?!

  5. Does anyone know what happened after WH publically asked MH to give back some of her salary? That got a lot of local coverage.