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.


  1. Poll just released. The mode on most questions relating to confidence is "1" or "no confidence".

    Eyeballing the numbers, I suspect even "means" are going to be in the 1-2-ish range.

    The results were significantly worse for our Provost than the President, but our President's numbers don't look good either.

    Wanda Howell had hoped for 500 total votes. There were over 800 or 30% +.

  2. After the headlines reading "No Confidence," and the heated discussions in the media, the question "Where do we go from here" will be addressed by the faculty leadership Thursday Oct. 1 in FCS 202 from 4:00 to 5:30.
    FCS (Family & Consumer Sciences) is located just south of the Social Sciences Bldg.

    "Please share this announcement with your colleagues, departments and departmental listservs. All Faculty Members are invited, indeed encouraged, to attend to voice their
    opinions and ask their questions in a frank and open setting. Members of the Central Administration and Deans will not be present."