Monday, April 11, 2011

"Cheng to Go Through Chancellor Installation"

From this morning's Southern.  The headline caught me, perhaps because I supplied an additional preposition: "Cheng to go through with installation."  The lede is bizarre:
Chancellor Rita Cheng will have her traditional installation this week but don't expect it to be Woodstock.

I'll leave it to you to imagine Rita Cheng at Woodstock (hell, perhaps she was there, for all I know, with her union friends).

I wasn't there, and probably wouldn't have worn my academic regalia had I been there, what with the mud and all.

"Traditional installation" is what gets me.  When's the last time a SIUC Chancellor was "installed" with a ceremony?   Yes, President Poshard got inaugurated, but I suppose he had a (scant) justification for that in reaching (way) back to Delyte Morris.  Sam Goldman naturally didn't get a ceremony just because he eventually got "interim" dropped from his name.  Trevino didn't last long enough for me to remember his first name, much less have a ceremony (but he didn't plan one, either, to the best of my knowledge).  Walter Wendler didn't have one, did he?  I don't believe Jo Ann Argersinger did (another short stint--though she got unceremoniously fired for doing too much rather than too little).  That's as far as I go back.  Before that everything is a haze of sex, drugs, and rock & roll.  

So this ceremony is no tradition here. And some traditions are more honored in the breach than the observance.  Still, if Cheng weren't furloughing employees and insisting on terms of employment that pave the way for layoffs, I wouldn't begrudge her her vainglory.  Sure, no State Dollars were harmed in the production of this event--as if no donor who anted up money for this ceremony would have been willing to put that donation toward a purpose less pompous and circumstantial.  But it's the symbolism, not the cash, that really counts: you're locking out employees and refusing to negotiate, and you want us to get all dressed up for your party?  Good luck with that.  


  1. I find it strange that they refer to this as Cheng's "installation"! Makes one think of installation of machines, computer programs and the like.

  2. Private monies are always touted on flyers or in newspaper articles whenever administration feels the need to spend money on events or projects that the university really can't justify spending because of the "continual budget crisis." (I'm so used to there being a budget crisis year after year that I wouldn't know how to feel if one year (just one year) administration would proudly announce that we made a profit; go ahead and enjoy a raise!) To me, spending priorities are skewed to the max. Our constant fiscal nightmare will not cease to exist unless someone is hired that can truly manage money. If you don't have it; don't spend it. This is not "Field of Dreams." If you build it, the money won't necessarily come. And, you most certainly do not take away from your most valuable resource, your employees. The lack of respect shown to all employees by the current administration on this campus has stung enough. Many of us aren't really in much of a celebratory mood for most anything, let alone an installation ceremony of a leader who values us the least of all.

  3. "I'm so used to there being a budget crisis year after year that I wouldn't know how to feel if one year (just one year) administration would proudly announce that we made a profit; go ahead and enjoy a raise!"

    In fairness, even if they aren't willing to proudly announce that we made a profit, they were willing to provide raises in the last contract. The university FINALLY went from paying faculty much less than peer institutions to providing something resembling competitive pay.


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