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!

Voting Problems


A very serious new problem has arisen regarding the faculty poll that could lead to some faculty being disenfranchised. It is crucial that faculty members who believe they have voted return to Employee Link to see whether an "I Voted" icon appears. If it doesn't, the system has not accepted their ballots and they need to vote again.

Faculty members need to check with Employee Link to verify whether their ballots have been accepted. If they have to vote again, they should receive a message saying "Thanks for voting" or "I voted" immediately after submitting their ballot. Even if you receive that message, it would be a good idea to return once more to Employee Link to check that the "I Voted" icon appears on the screen when you log back in.

When I sent an urgent message to my 13 colleagues in the School of Journalism last night, asking them to return to Employee Link, I soon heard from one of them that he had encountered this problem. Since yesterday afternoon I've heard from faculty members in Agriculture, SBS, and Science that this happened to them, so it's not a problem confined to one college.

Incidentally, several faculty I heard from said this problem was not the result of using a colon in the comments section of the ballot. They had avoided doing that because they had heard about the problem. One recommendation might be to use no punctuation except periods, because some punctuation marks or special characters can be significant in programming languages, and could possibly have caused the type of problem that the colon created. Another possibility is that problems could be caused by some browsers, such as Camino. Anyone who had voting problems should use one of the recommended web browsers.

I've alerted the faculty leadership about these issues, as have some of other faculty. The underlying concern, of course, is that the poll is so important that everything possible must be done to ensure that everyone's voice is heard, and that the validity of the poll results are not undermined in any way.

Jacqueline Sharkey
Director, School of Journalism

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Preemptive Budgets & "Critical Areas"

We have been asked to create a new post to accommodate discussion of the following item, received 9/23 as a comment, and which reads as follows:

This is from today's Wildcat (I know, I know, but...):
"[Arizona Board of] Regents' president Ernest Calderon said the university system will have to pursue outside funding to provide for an adequate operating budget.
Gov. Jan Brewer introduced the idea of a temporary sales tax; however, the state legislature has been unresponsive to the idea so far. Other possible sources of outside funding will be discussed at the meeting.
'Our goal is to make sure the universities are adequately funded,' said Calderon.
In addition to approving the 2010 budget, the board will discuss a preemptive budget for 2011. In this preemptive budget, the UA will present 'critical areas' that are in need of funding in order for the university to remain competitive. The preemptive budget will be sent to the governor’s office on Oct. 1.
Following state budget discussions, the board of regents will address Capital Improvement Plans for the three state universities. The UA Capital Improvement Plans will amount to $124.9 million over the next three years and include the stadium renovation and modern streetcar projects, which the university hopes to start next fiscal year.
Joel Valdez, senior vice president of business affairs, said if the plans are approved then the UA could start design work for the future projects this year."

OK, can someone explain what a "preemptive budget" is? Is anyone on this blog involved in such a discussion? Are depts being asked to provide input on this matter? There is talk of "critical areas" for ... investment? divestment?
All of these buzzwords worry the heck out of me...
Any comments????
[Signed "Chicana y que?"]

That comment was immediately followed in our mailbox by this one:

"Wow, is this an important post and question! Note that they are supposed to put in a rationale for funding of 'critical areas.'
To my knowledge, this has not been run by Faculty Governance at all. There has been no discussion of this deadline and nothing has been run by SPBAC or other faculty committees to my knowledge.
There is, of course, the strategic plan, but that clearly did not guide the differential cuts all that much.
So we can only assume that these decisions... what should be funded and, again,what is a 'critical area,' have been made by our administration already. Are those 'critical areas' the same ones used for differential cuts?
Am I wrong? Is Chicana y Que? This is VERY serious and I think it is worthy of a post of its own, Evelyn(s). " [ Signed Anonymous 4:09 pm]

Happy to oblige. Here's your post of your own.

PS - I hope you all appreciated our Wildcat editors' sense of humor - or sense of the absurd - in placing side by side on the front page of today's paper two complementary stories: "Shelton Warns of Further Cuts" to the tune of $50M, right next to the companion piece "ABOR to talk of stadium upgrade" to the tune of $82M plus $35M ( total $117M ) for a streetcar track (1.1 mile extension of the streetcar from Campbell to Park).
Well, yeah! Our leaders know what they're doing, where they're going, where they're taking the University; they know which side their bread is buttered on!
Isn't it time we knew where we're going too?
Read the "Shelton Warns of Further Cuts" story here. And the Stadium-Streetcar story here.
And don't miss the part about "the new, modern scoreboard"!
We're actually going to be posting a Scoreboard of our own, right here, early next week (hopefully Monday) when the results of the Faculty Poll I are announced by the Senate. Why do I keep writing "Faculty Poll I" (you ask)? Because if we don't get there the first time, our successors will, soon after (for more on that, see 9/22-9/23 comments under the "Faculty Poll" post below.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Faculty Poll

After the Poll went live Friday 9/18 at 5:00 and before we could post this (7:24 am on 9/19) seven comments regarding the Poll had already appeared under three different posts ("Deck Chairs," "Deans List," "Evelyn comments...").
To make the comment thread on the topic of the Faculty Poll easier to follow, we have regrouped those initial comments under this post and request that if you wish to comment on the Poll specifically, please do so below rather than under a different post. Since comments can be deleted from a post but cannot be moved from one post to another, we have recopied the initial "Faculty Poll" comments below, in the order received.

PS. This just in from the Arizona Daily Star: "Deans List: Turnover at the Top."
Before you vote, consider this: How many deans have recently been replaced at the UA - one or two?
Or is it eight or nine?
See the update (9/19) on our "Deans List" post below, for a list of the deans recently replaced, and the discussion by Becky Pollack in the online Arizona Daily Star.
Why have that many deans been replaced?
To know why people writing to this forum are concerned (more than 250 comments in 3 weeks, not counting the unprintable ones), please take the time to read the comments they have added to the various posts below.
Initial comments on the Faculty Poll (for later ones, see below)

Anonymous said...
Check your emails folks. A faculty sponsored poll of our current situation is going live at 5PM today.
I have not seen the wording of it yet, but please vote.
September 18, 2009 5:00 PM

Anonymous said...
I voted!!! 
Check your email for the poll issued today at 5PM by the Faculty Senate.

And...I should say...I strongly appreciate our faculty leadership for taking this poll.
September 18, 2009 5:10 PM

Anonymous said...
What does this poll mean? For those who wish a leadership change, I would argue that this could be a big problem. 
First, what does it mean if dissatisfaction or no confidence is shown? At what level must the dissatisfaction reach for anyone do to anything? 55-45? 75-25? On a scale of 1-5, a 1.5 or a 3.5?
If the results of the poll are that there is no confidence, then is this a vote of no confidence or is it just a reason to, yet again, for the hundredth time, demand more transparency and accountability.
Now, let me ask the other side. What if the poll comes out with support? Then the claim can be that there is just no real problem here and that the gripers are in the minority...and we move on. Right?

I don't mean to sound cynical, but there are a host of ways for "nothing to be done" on the basis of this poll. 
I hope I a wrong.
September 18, 2009 6:22 PM

Anonymous said...
IF the faculty want to show the administration that they have any spine at all... WE MUST vote in the online poll.
 If only 80 people vote, it shows the central administration that we are too apathetic to even take that meager step in having our voices heard.

September 18, 2009 8:02 PM

Anonymous said...
I agree, thank you to the faculty leadership for putting out this poll. 
It is now our duty, as faculty, to step up and VOTE! And encourage our colleagues to vote.
 Make your voice heard, loud and clear.
September 18, 2009 8:06 PM

Anonymous said...
If you have looked at the online poll, one question specifically asks if you have confidence in the current administration's ability to lead this university forward.

Vote No Confidence.
September 18, 2009 8:09 PM

Lynn Nadel said...
No poll is perfect. Democracy can be a bit messy. But, let's leave the interpretive questions to later, when the results are in. We tried to create a poll that was as neutral as possible and that would give faculty a chance to express their opinions in a somewhat nuanced way (eg., 1 to 5 rather than yes-no). We wanted it to be short, so that people would do it, rather than much longer and inclusive of many different questions one could ask. We are trying to make things better here, and hopefully the knowledge that is gained from this Poll will do that.
That knowledge will include not only what people say, but how many bother to say anything at all.

Lynn Nadel
September 19, 2009 6:29 AM

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Deck Chairs on the Titanic

To augment this very productive discussion by moving it in a slightly different direction, I am posting here an updated and modified set of remarks I made to the Faculty Senate at their 3 February 2003 meeting. It is depressing, though not at all surprising, that so little had to be changed to make these observations relevant to the situation we face some six years later.

To try to minimize any misunderstanding, I just want to make a couple of prefatory points. First, my fundamental critique is of the corporatist governance model quite generally, and not only of the Shelton/Hay incarnation of it. The problems we in higher education face are structural and systemic, not simply matters of personality of particular “leaders.” I do not believe that our current administration is much worse than others, but on the dimensions I lay out below, they are certainly no better. Second, I advocate more faculty control over UA policy (and not simply through advising administrators). The retort to such a position is always that real faculty governance would be chaos. My response is twofold: 1) that faculty, if given the chance, are much more keenly sensitive to the needs of the university and its place in society than present administrators; and 2) we could hardly do worse than we are doing now. In arguing for more faculty control over policy, I am not suggesting that faculty involve themselves in the day-to-day running of the UA (except if they take on such duties), but rather in articulating the broad visions of what the UA ought to be, and formulating the strategic and tactical mechanisms for achieving those visions. I also recognize that by advocating more faculty involvement with policy, any time spent on such issues is on top of our regular jobs (unlike our professional managers, for whom these activities currently constitute their jobs). This means that we must develop mechanisms that restructure reward systems and time schedules (i.e., eliminate the constantly expanding speed-up to which we are all subjected) to allow faculty the thoughtful participation these matters require. Finally, I would just call your attention to the disclaimer with which I begin my remarks below, and point out that what we now take for granted about university administration need not continue to be the “common sense.” The common sense changes over time, and we can change the present model of UA governance. Here are the (recalibrated) remarks:

My name is Marv Waterstone, and I’m a faculty member in the School of Geography and Development.

I have a few remarks, and a couple of pointed questions.

Before I begin, I want to offer one disclaimer:

My remarks are going to sound like non-sense at the outset. I mean this in a very precise way. What I want to say today is going to be a deliberate challenge to the taken-for-granted “common sense” of how universities must be managed. By definition, then, any challenge to accepted common sense has to seem non-sensical. As I hope to convince you, it is not!

The current “transformation” is a deliberate distraction from massive administrative failure, and a major extension of the assault on faculty governance.

Let me talk about the managerial failure first.

The budgetary mess we are in is the result of repeated and consistent management failure; it is not, as the administration now claims, an opportunity to reorient our way of doing “business.” It is the result of failing to make a persuasive and distinctive case for the importance of higher education in this state. Our “managers” are incapable of articulating this kind of mission, because they speak only with the truncated, corporatist vocabulary and vision of bureaucrats and bean counters. Because they are now a permanent class of managers, they rarely (if ever) step back into the activities that form the heart of a university. Their imaginations limit the university roles to the market-tied goals of economic development and job training, and therefore position us as just another agency of the state or private sector. Their failure to articulate our unique contributions (as opposed to the mundanities for which they do tout us), forces universities to compete in arenas in which we do not, and often should not excel, and prohibit our being seen for the real values we (and only we) bring to society.

The result (i.e., the track record of this management model) has been at least two decades of declining budgets, faculty disaffection and defection, stagnant salaries, increased workloads, imposition of post-tenure review, and on and on. We’re told that all of this is not the fault of our “managers.” It’s the economic downturn in Arizona. But in fact, this and previous administrations have done their jobs so poorly that even during the relatively better economic years of the mid- late-1990s, university budgets were not even restored, let alone increased! Or alternatively (and simultaneously), it’s the fault of an uneducable legislature. What can our poor leaders do; they’re trying their best. And yet… How does all of this add up to a record of achievement that legitimizes the current form of management? Given this record of abject failure, why should we now trust this model of corporatist, autocratic university governance (and the values it represents) to diagnose our present woes and to prescribe the massive reorganization that we are now being told is not only necessary, but opportune? If ever there was a moment when market fundamentalism and corporate-style management should be held up for opprobrium and dismissal, this is certainly that moment. Even for those who have argued in the past that universities (and everything else!) should be run like a business, the current domestic and international failures of this model should now be beyond question and tossed out on their ear.

We’re told that this is the kind of management that modern universities need in order to respond to the external (and internal) situations that face us. But a big part of our problem is captured in this formulation. The current approach is always reactive. And don’t be misled by the rhetoric claiming “transformation” is pro-active and entrepreneurial. It is first, foremost and primarily a reaction to declining budgets, and represents doing less with less, no matter how our managers try to characterize it. These bureaucrats (our “leaders”) never seem to recognize the enormous power we have to shape the environments in which we operate. We, as faculty, have a unique opportunity through our scholarship and teaching, to shape the minds and critical abilities of our students and to contribute new knowledge to society at many levels. We (the faculty in the trenches and in touch with the day-to-day achievements of the university), and not our out of touch and visionally-impaired administrators should be the ones conveying this message to our various publics. We have the experience, the belief, and the passion to make this case. If, given the opportunity, we cannot make this case persuasively to legislators and others, then we should relinquish our claims to being educators. We should also be more proactive in mobilizing the constituencies we have that should be allied with us: our students and their parents. Instead of hiding the effects of devastating budget cuts (e.g., the ludicrous idea that furlough days, if necessary, should only be taken on non-teaching days), we should be doing everything in our power to make these effects tangible, visible and damaging. We should make clear to our students and their parents that the educational system on which they rely, and on which many base their future hopes and aspirations, is being systematically dismantled. These constituencies, and others allied with them, should be making their displeasure known in Phoenix. But this cannot happen if they don’t realize what’s being done. When it comes time to making budgetary decisions in Phoenix, we must, through our own voices, and through those of our constituencies, make higher education as much of a priority as policing and prisons.

Why speak out right now? This brings me to the second major, and related, concern: the extension of the assault on faculty governance. One reason to speak out is that the changes being proposed currently have enormous consequence (real people are being thrown out of work, programmatic changes that may not be reversible are being set in motion), and are being carried out in a largely unaccountable manner by those who have repeatedly failed us in the past. As I’ve indicated, the failure is not just with this particular administration, but with the whole corporatist model that now governs most universities. It is clear, however, that this administration (and its immediate predecessor) especially relishes the CEO role and the autocratic power that accompanies that “leadership” form. Though invariably cloaked in the language of consultation, Robert Shelton’s clearer sentiments are expressed in his and Provost Hay’s autocratic actions
On what basis is this kind of unilateral authority claimed? Where is the record of achievement that would justify this bald assertion of autocracy? Robert Shelton, like Peter Likins before him, was hired as a CEO, and was hired to run the university like a business. He has. He has run it on the same Likins trajectory, right into the ground. The kind of real leaders we need are ones who not only know that the corporation is not the only organizational model available in society, but who also know and believe that it is an inappropriate model for a university. We need leaders who are collegial, collaborative, consultative, and who rotate back into the faculty on a regular basis in order to stay in touch with what a university is really all about. Only then, will they be able to convey the passion that will convince others of our value, relevance and merit.

Whether your unit has been designated as “core” and essential (only 2% cuts), is not nearly as important as the issue of who gets to decide such matters, based on what criteria, and with what kind of accountability. It is clear, however, that the current designations not only matter (especially if your unit is slated to be eliminated, merged, reorganized or downsized by 7% or more), but that the process that has produced these proposals fits beautifully with a “divide and conquer” strategy. Those units that have been “spared” in the current round of cuts are clearly encouraged to keep their heads down, lest they be next. But a focus on the details distracts us from the enormous, and illegitimate, extension of power by the central administration. Having “been spared” and told that your unit is currently “core,” does not insure continued survival in the future, nor does it insure compatibility with the “bottom-line” set of values that now governs this and other policy processes, whether they are appropriate or not.

We, as faculty, must assert and attain a real, and in fact, dominant say in this process (and in other policy-making as well), and not simply one of advising. As I’ve argued, I do not think the track record justifies the current autocratic, top-down arrangement, no matter what ABOR policies indicate (don’t forget that the large majority of non-student, non-ex officio ABOR members are themselves corporate CEOs). We need to turn the current relationship between faculty and administration on its head. Faculty should be making policy (not simply consulting and advising on agendas set almost wholly by managers with a proven track record of failure). Administrators (who rotate in and out of the faculty) should then be charged with carrying those policies out. I am sure we’ve gone far enough down the corporatist path that this will sound absurd and unrealistic to most of you, but this taken-for-granted, current “common sense” can be changed. Faculty have the power to effect this change. The university can run without permanent, professional managers, it can’t run without faculty and students! If you don’t believe me, try this in your next class: conduct a disaggregated, decentralized general strike by declaring two minutes of your own silence. See what happens in the classroom.

Given the state of affairs our present management model has produced, it’s long past time to admit that this management model is bankrupt and should be scrapped. We can do better. How? We need to invigorate the Faculty Senate to take up a much more activist stance. If the Senate can’t meet the challenge, we need a new, autonomous organization (i.e., a UNION) to mobilize and actualize our power. Our biggest obstacle is ourselves. We (faculty) are mostly acculturated in environments that are largely antithetical to collective action. Most of our reward structures, from graduate school and on through the ranks, are structured around individual achievement. We are also encouraged to think of ourselves as professionals and not as workers. I suggest that the challenges we in higher education are facing require a concerted, unified, and collective action, no matter how much we are inclined otherwise. The entire enterprise is either disintegrating or is being changed so radically that most of us will soon find it unrecognizable as the place that inspired our passion in the first place. Just doing good work, and hoping to be left in peace, when the organization as a whole is being gutted out from under us.

Participation in such matters, as has been noted on this blog, is a chicken/egg question. Why don’t more faculty get involved in “shared” governance? Because most of us believe that under the current “advisory” model, it’s a waste of time and energy. We need faculty to get involved to CHANGE THE MODEL..

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Deans List

One of the original issues this blog began with was the topic of improper firings, dismissals and reassignments of high-ranking administrators (including the Vice President for Instruction and several college deans), along with high-ranking staff members (including budget managers).
Progress has been made in identifying the "who" and "why" in these cases, but more needs to be done, and needs to be done quickly, as the issue of Abuse of Power continues to hang over all these discussions like a pall.
Several names of people who have suffered retaliatory personnel actions have now been mentioned in the press and in this and other blogs.
V.P. Garcia's case has been the one most widely discussed; we are told that internal and external complaints are pending.
Regarding the deans on the list, reports vary as to the degree and type of mistreatment that occurred or is alleged.
In some cases deans and budget officers on the list were threatened and badgered by the Provost more or less publicly (i.e., in meetings with witnesses).
In other cases, we are told that a dean "stepped down" or a budget officer "resigned" - which implies that the action was taken voluntarily, but other sources assert that it was not voluntary at all; rather, the dean or budget officer was pressured, threatened, badgered. Or that the "resignation" deal included a promise not to talk about it publicly.
It is not our job to compile the complete list from the media and blogs, nor to delve into the exact nature of the charges - which in some cases cannot, for legal reasons, be discussed in informal proceedings. But that job must be done. It is imperative that the complete lists (Deans list, Administrator list) be compiled and that the charges be reviewed by a committee of the Faculty Senate, perhaps in consultation with a representative or a commission of the Board of Regents. If they don't do it, the media will. And if that happens, the results will be more messy and more controversial. We therefore urge that this matter be taken up expeditiously by the duly constituted authorities, and that the UA community be given the assurance that the duly constituted authorities are indeed not waiting for all of this to "blow over" or just go away. It will not blow over. It will not just go away.
The sooner we have that assurance, the sooner some of the pressure will be lifted, so that we may proceed with the difficult course adjustments that need to made - openly, transparently - with a renewal of leadership, trust, and shared purpose.

Update 9/19/2009 : NEW DEANS LIST
Arizona Daily Star, "Deans List : Turnover At the Top at UA"
How many deans have been recently replaced? One or two? Or was it at least 9 ?
That’s the count Becky Pollack of the Arizona Daily Star came up with by comparing the current lists of Vice Presidents and Deans (from the Provost’s website) with the list of Deans in 2007-2008. Her conclusion: “Among the vice presidents there have been eight changes and four have stayed the same. Among the deans, eight are the same and 11 are new (not counting deans of UA South, admissions and Honors).”
The list of 11 dean changes tabulates as follows:

------------College ----------------2007-2008------------ current----
Agriculture & Life Sciences..... Colin Kaltenbach......... Eugene Sander
Architecture & Landscape Arch. Charles Albanese... Janice Cervelli
Engineering.................... .Thomas Peterson.............Jeffrey Goldberg
Fine Arts..........................Maurice Sevigny................. Jory Hancock
Humanities......................Charles Tatum..........Mary Wildner-Bassett
Law ................................Toni Massaro............... Lawrence Ponoroff
Medecine .......................Keith Joiner.................Steven Goldschmid
Nursing.......................... Marjorie Isenberg................. Joan Shaver
Soc & Behav Sciences..... Edward Donnerstein......... Beth Mitchneck
UA Outreach College...... [name not listed]......... Michael A. Proctor
UA South ................................................................Gerald Jubb, Jr.

Since the above table was posted, our readers have informed us of the following :
1) "Colin Kelenbach was dean only when [Eugene] Sander was interim Provost."
2) "[Marjorie] Isenberg retired. She was not pushed out . [Keith] Joiner was removed..."
3) "Peterson took a very prestigious job at NSF; he was not removed or pushed out."

We will continue to update this list as we receive information from our readers - so please continue to send information that will allow the University community, as well as the press, to know which of these replacements may be considered unproblematic.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hay’s and Shelton’s Breach of Trust

This came in as a comment. It presented such compelling insight into the way decisions are made in the "tower" that it deserved "post" status. The UA Defender again calls for world-class leadership for our world-class institution. The situation described below illustrates that we are not getting such leadership from Shelton/Hay. This posting has been modified to reflect Garcia's correction that the $436,000 was taken from the Diverse Faculty Initiative in spring 2008 to fund gen. ed. courses scheduled for fall 2008, not spring 2008.

This past weekend the U of A celebrated Hispanic Heritage day. To do so the administration paraded out folkloric Mexican dancers and mariachis onto the football field to symbolize their commitment to diversity and the Hispanic community. The president’s office also continues to spew out data that shows increases in “minority” enrollment, which is meant to convince us that they are committed to progress in this arena. But numbers without substance are meaningless. That is indeed the case when it comes to this administration’s record on diversity.

Let me describe the most recent series of events that illustrates the lack of substance and commitment to diversity by the U of A central administration, despite their continued propaganda. In 2007-2008 the President initiated the Diverse Faculty Initiative as a way to increase the number of women in STEM fields and faculty from underrepresented groups. He allocated $1 million for the Initiative. In spring 2008, Meredith Hay used over $436,000 from the $1 million allocated for this Initiative to fund fall 2008 classes. At the time of this action, the central administration was holding on to $16 million in over realized tuition, which they could have used to fund additional seats in general education. Instead they took from the poor.

When Shelton funded this Initiative he assigned me to administer it, so you can imagine my surprise when Hay took $436 K from this fund without notifying me. In 2008-2009 the Initiative was again funded by Shelton. During the spring of 2009, he was asked by members of the Diversity Coalition and the community advisory groups on diversity what effect the budget cuts would have on the funding for the Diverse Faculty Initiative. He responded that it was in the most difficult of times when our values were truly tested, and that his commitment to the Initiative and diversity remained unchanged. In meetings held in the spring of 2009 with these groups he again touted the importance of this Initiative and said, in effect, that he wanted me, Juan Garcia, to come to him at the end of the year and inform him that he has “overspent” on the million dollars allocated for this program. After a meeting with the African American Advisory Committee he spoke to me outside the Ventana Room and asked me to “get on the backs of the deans” to identify and recruit more minority faculty. I informed him that I was doing that very thing and that we had some outstanding possibilities developing.

In response to my call for more colleges to take advantage of the Initiative, I received proposals from several units in SBS asking for funding to recruit faculty that they had identified. The units did due diligence and conducted their respective searches according to the guidelines and procedures established by their college and the university. The end result was that six faculty were identified, 5 of whom were from underrepresented groups (2 African Americans, 1 Hispanic, 2 Asians, and one STEM faculty. All six of these faculty are women. To hire these stellar women to the U of A meant that we would need an additional $350,700 per year of bridge funding using the Diverse Faculty Initiative. Under normal circumstance I would have written MOUs to each of the units approving the hires because the dean in SBS agreed to pick up their salaries using permanent funds once the temporary funding from the Initiative ended. However, when all of this was occurring I was in the midst of being non-renewed, so I wrote a memo to Shelton detailing the faculty recruited and the funding required. I wanted to make certain that these obligations to the SBS departments were not lost in the transition following my non-renewal by Shelton. Shelton did not deign to respond to my memo. Instead Meredith Hay inserted herself into this matter and summarily decreed that we had “no funds” to support these hires. She then added insult to injury by declaring that I had “overspent” the funds allocated, and that I had no standing to do so. To this I say “yes I did overspend the amount allocated” because that's what Shelton told the advisory groups he wanted me to do.

When the heads that had recruited these faculty learned that the funding for these hires was not forthcoming, they were, and remain, enraged and betrayed. In June, the SBS heads and director formulated a proposal that would not have involved any funding from the Strategic Initiative for AY 2009-10. The only financial commitment would have been $30K for spring 2010, to bring on the tenured associate professor, who was willing to come at a reduced FTE for the semester. The other five women were willing to wait until AY 2010-11 to start at the university if they had contracts. The heads met with Meredith to discuss the matter, and again Hay characteristically proved intractable.

The plan set forth by the heads had the support of Beth Mitchneck, Interim Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Joaquín Ruiz, Executive Dean of the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science, of which SBS is a part. Beth and Joaquín said they would work with the heads and director to find the $30,000 for the associate professor’s spring 2010 salary.

This meant that no funding would be needed from the Strategic Initiative until AY 2010-11, when $104,000 was available. In addition, the SBS heads and director said they would ask for only two years of salary support (for AY 2010-11 and AY 2011-12) instead of the usual three years provided by the Strategic Initiative. At this point, the provost presented to Ruiz and Mitchneck another reason for not hiring the six candidates: she said the former SBS dean, Ed Donnerstein, had overcommitted the college's funds for faculty hires, and the college was in deficit. Therefore, the college could not afford to take over the salaries for the six diversity hires at the end of the three-year funding period. The provost refused to approve the hires.

Hay’s transparent lack of commitment to integrity and diversity was no surprise. But for Shelton to abdicate his responsibilities in this matter and allow Hay to completely derail all of the effort and good faith that had gone into recruiting these faculty is both unconscionable and irresponsible. In essence, the departments, SBS, and the faculty being recruited had met the standards and requirements of the Initiative guidelines. There is nothing in the guidelines that allows the Provost to deny Initiative funding after all of the requirements have been met by units under this Initiative.

Even if you do not agree with diversity initiatives, the fact is that this action by the Provost and President is unacceptable for the following reasons:

  • It will damage the credibility of the U of A nationally in recruiting any faculty because the commitment to hire faculty will be questioned by applicants. It will make our university appear as a second-rate university that does not honor its commitments.
  • The failure of the administration in fulfilling its commitments further erodes the trust of the academic community on campus.
  • It again penalizes the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences by denying them even the most meager of resources to improve on the quality and number of their diverse faculty.
  • It is unmitigated and demeaning micro-managing on the part of the Provost in the affairs of SBS and other colleges.
  • It contradicts Shelton’s pledge to the community advisory committees on diversity. This has the potential to again alienate this important constituency and undo all of the work that has taken place to win their trust and support.

As for the advisory groups—they must not allow this breach of trust on the part of Shelton and Hay to go unchallenged. The pledge to hire more diverse faculty was made to them personally by Shelton. Demand that he live up to his promise. The argument that they do not have the funds to approve these hires is specious and untrue.

For example, in August 2009, the Provost announced that the university would allocate $12 million to promote the hiring of excellent faculty in environmental studies and translational medicine. She also announced an allocation of $300,000 to promote scholarship among faculty in Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences (three of the four units in the newly formed Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science). What this indicates – in light of the 7% budget cuts allocated to Fine Arts, Humanities, and SBS – is that there is a massive centralization of resources, with reallocation of funds to favored colleges and fields. In short, the cuts are financing a massive expansion of resources in the sciences and medicine. Meanwhile, despite the continual press releases and president’s statements about the UA’s commitment to diversity, the university has refused to fund six faculty candidates in SBS with excellent research agendas, all of whom are women and five of who are members of ethnic minorities.

Furthermore at a Team Provost meeting earlier last spring Gene Sander, Dean of Agriculture and VP for Outreach, was bemoaning the loss of faculty at the U of A. Meredith stated that this is the time we should be out recruiting the best faculty possible, to which Gene responded how could we when there was a hiring freeze and the budget situation was dire. Hay replied, just go out and find them and we will find the money to hire them. Well, a group of heads has done that—so where is the money, Provost Hay?

Finally, someone has just put together the statistics and data on the U of A's record in terms of hiring women and faculty from under-represented groups. They are abysmal. I will ascertain whether they can be placed on this site, so that you may come to your own conclusions. (They have been. Please see below.)

I challenge the community advisory groups to demand what was promised to them by Shelton with great fanfare. And do not forget what happened under this administration last spring when they (Vito and Hay especially) dismantled the cultural centers, despite your concerns and protests. Do not continue to be misled by data shoveled out by the central administration or by the hollow rhetoric and promises of Shelton.

So let’s go back to the symbolic meaning of Hispanic dancers and mariachis on the football field last Saturday evening. In light of this administration’s actions regarding the cultural centers, the Diverse Faculty Initiative, and the almost complete absence of members from underrepresented groups on Team Provost and the president’s cabinet, it is not surprising that they have compartmentalized their commitment to diversity in terms of celebrations--although I do not see much to celebrate about. As long as this administration continues to rely on numbers rather than substance, it may keep their shallow demonstrations of inclusion that are paraded out annually in colorful costumes to entertain and amuse them. It once again demonstrates to me the utter lack of understanding and appreciation of how groups from diverse and different backgrounds have come together to shape who and what we are. A world-class leadership would have tapped into that deep reserve of knowledge and talent. The current administration continues to demonstrate through their actions that they are second rate when it comes to leadership.

Juan R. García

Click here for "Diversity Graphs for UA Faculty 2003-2008."
Click here for "Highlights of Diversity Graphs 2003-2008" (September 2009)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Evelyn Comments on the Daily Wildcat Podcast 9-11-09

Congratulations to Arizona Daily Wildcat Managing Editor, Shain Bergen, for his insightful analysis presented in the Daily Wildcat podcast of Friday, September 11 of the ever growing controversy surrounding President Shelton and Provost Hay. Bergen, during an interview with Wildcat Online Editor, Bryan Roy, concludes that there is less and less support for Shelton and Hay on the UA campus and that opposition to their continued leadership is gathering momentum. Bergen states during the interview that many faculty and staff are talking to him off the record about their displeasure with the Shelton/Hay administration, but fear that going on the record will result in retaliatory dismissal from their positions at the UA. Interestingly, Bergen also reports that their have been some calls that have been supportive of Shelton and Hay, but these people have also expressed fear when asked to publicly comment. One might speculate that there is such an overwhelming lack of confidence in Shelton and Hay that those who still support their policies are unwilling to step forward for fear of ridicule and condemnation. That is unfortunate, because we at the UADefender believe that the conversations we're currently having online and those we're beginning to have in departments around campus are valuable and will lead to careful and thoughtful decisions about next steps for the UA. We point out that if President Shelton and Provost Hay had allowed and sought the type of discussions we see on the Defender instead of making insulated decisions and rulings by decree, they might have made different and better decisions and they certainly would have made those most impacted by their decisions, the students, staff and faculty, feel heard and perhaps even valued and empowered. That moment has passed for President Shelton and Provost Hay and it is now time for them to move aside and allow us to find the "world-class" leadership this great university deserves.

On Faculty Governance and Shared Governance [revised 9/13]

[As the topic of faculty governance - more accurately, faculty participation in shared governance at the UA - is at present receiving the most comments - and the most constructive comments - we are re-posting at the top of the blog, with minor revisions, the original post dated 9/9/09.]

Reports that UA faculty governance is dead have been greatly exaggerated, and are premature - according to the Faculty Senate organizers of the "Faculty Governance Leadership Forum" held on September 9th.

Their message:

1) The President and Provost have failed to provide the “transparency” they promised in the most important aspects of implementing the Transformation process.

2) Faculty members present at the meeting were seriously upset about this.

3) Faculty Governance at the UA is not dead, nor even in hibernation; it just needs more support and participation among the faculty as a whole. Faculty must participate. If you don’t participate, don’t complain.

So, coming soon: a Faculty Senate poll of all the faculty, asking whether the faculty as a whole supports, or does not support, the way the President and the Provost have been conducting the Transformation Process.

Exact wording of the poll and the logistics of its implementation will be taken up by the Committee of Eleven in the Faculty Senate.

In the meantime, we will continue to consider comments from readers who write in response to the “core issues” that have defined this site since its inception (way back last month), provided the comments are written in accordance with our rules for civility and evidence.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Death Panels"

Has push come to shove? Are the gloves coming off?
President Shelton, in his memo of Sept. 9: “Across the board cuts would be the quickest route to mediocrity.”
We agree.
But who are you going to let define “mediocrity”? Meredith Hay?
Has she now clawed her way up to mediocre? By what standards? By what evidence? World-class university provosts are distinguished by their qualities of leadership.
President Shelton in his memo of Sept. 9: “From the very beginning, our commitment as a campus has been to ensure that in these dire financial times we protect and strengthen the University of Arizona's world-class programs. That principle has provided the underpinning for all our budget decisions."
We agree. Who could disagree with protecting world-class programs and, we would add, world-class scholars, even if they’re housed, as is often the case, in programs that may, overall, fall short of world-class.
But who do we let decide what qualifies as world-class, mediocre, and everything in-between?
Shelton and Hay tell us “You decide.” Meaning us. The decisions should be made, we are told, at the level of each academic unit in consultation with its dean.
A Death Panel in every department.
A panel to review the files and say, “This one is terminally mediocre; he has to go.” Or “This one is borderline; we’ll give her a year to show signs of life or we’ll have to pull the plug.”

Horrible idea? Guess what, it’s already in effect. It’s called Annual Performance Review and Post-Tenure Review. The law is there, it just hasn’t been applied.
Don’t ask for peer-review, don’t ask for shared governance, if you’re afraid to use it. Meredith and Gail are not afraid to take over the power we’re afraid to exercise and defend.

Solid, objective assessment standards do exist. We have them in our university-wide guidelines for P&T and annual performance review. Those standards have been worked out with all the clarity, detail and faculty input you could ask for. We just don’t apply them.
Or sometimes we don’t. And sometimes we apply them badly. We find excuses to disqualify standard assessment criteria, or make exceptions, or substitute bogus criteria for real ones. Take the example of Suzie (not her real name).
“Suzie was elected President (by a small clique of mutually-supportive mediocrities) of a prestigious professional society (that no one ever heard of) on the basis of her outstanding research and publications (that no one has read, not even her mom, anymore), published in the most respected venues in her discipline (but which have had no impact on anything—except her career management).
Instead of pulling the plug on Suzie, she gets a promotion, a raise, and eventually maybe a high administrative post.

In contrast, the UA really does have plenty of genuine world-class programs and authentically world-class scholars, measured by authentic standards, the only ones that count – external standards which overlap with the internal ones (referred to above), national and international standards and even the global standards of the ARWU (Academic Ratings of World Universities).
So when they ask for volunteers to the Death Panel in your department, go for it. Just don’t call it a Death Panel – call it a Sustainability Panel, because that’s really what we’re talking about.
After review at the department or program level, files go to the next level up (dean’s-level committees in most cases) where peer-review can be more exacting and more objective.

But wait. What’s wrong with this picture?

Hold on. Before you sign up for service in Sustainability or waste management or whatever you want to call it, we need consistency and reciprocity if this exercise in shared governance is to have credibility and teeth. If Robert Shelton’s and Meredith Hay’s criterion for program “protection” at the UA is world-class quality, then before buying into their plan, we must insist that they, too, submit themselves to the same criteria and the same standards.
And that they provide world-class leadership.
Not the mediocrity of acquiescence papered over and whitewashed, but excellence.
Excellence measured by evidence, results, and positive outcomes.
Positive outcomes means gains, not losses – losses measured in how much you give up, how much you give back, how much you cut.
Cutting is the easy way out. Don’t quibble about differential cuts or cuts across the board; losing is losing.
World-class presidents and provosts are the ones who don’t lose – or who lose the least.

[The views expressed in this post are those of one member of Team Evelyn and do not necessarily represent those of the whole Team.]

PS. This post was written before we saw the opinion piece in the Arizona Star by Regents Professor Oscar Martínez entitled "Poor Leadership, funding is bringing down the UA."
  • Click here for Prof. Martínez's statement.
  • Click here for the Tucson Citizen blog (Renee Schaefer Horton) reporting on that story.
  • Click here for the view of the UA Graduate Student organization "Gradstudents for Change in Arizona.
  • Click here for the Arizona Daily Wildcat update (9/11). Brian Roy and Shain Bergan (Managing editor of the DW) have published a podcast on the "UA's budget crisis, unrest within the faculty, and a vote of 'no confidence' in Shelton and Hay that staff have said may come in the near future."
  • And here for light on the story from the Arizona Desert Lamp, written by Evan Lisull, a UA undergraduate and former columnist for the Arizona Daily Wildcat.
Postscript 9/14. We have been informed that a Faculty Senate colleague, whose opinion we respect, considers the title of this post to be not in the best of taste. As we are not morbid by nature (and though one recent comment refers to "deadwood" and no one doubts that the business at hand is deadly serious), we have added hedge-quotes to our title, in deference to our readers' right to disagree.

Post-postscript 9/15. Evan Lisull has posted a rare photo of an actual UA Death Panel. Read his commentary here.