Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday news roundup

Below the break, annotated links to stories in the DE and Southern. I've learned that posting them here can provide a forum for discussions in comments, even when most blog readers will have already caught the stories in their original venues.

DE: "Contract clauses could end tenure, terminate professors".  I particularly like the sound of "terminate professors", like the insects that they are. Lots of quotes from our friend Randy Auxier (whose name, tellingly, appears in the url of the DE story!).

Important administrative searches are under way on campus, including searches for the deans of Liberal Arts and Engineering (the latter covered on this blog via a much commented upon link to Randy Auxier's letter to the DE criticizing administrative interference with the search committee). I've been too busy with other stuff to give either much attention but will call your attention to today's DE story, in which the final two candidates for provost, Laurie Achenbach and John Nicklow, are quoted saying positive things about shared governance and employee relations. Money quote (or at least paraphrase):
Improving the relationship between the administration and the faculty and staff is an issue that needs to be improved, she [Achenbach] said. She plans to do that by encouraging transparency, including faculty members in decision making and by respecting them, she said.
The Southern covered Tuesday's Faculty Senate meeting, at which the Chancellor said (quoting the story, not the Chancellor) that "preliminary enrollment numbers for new and transferring students for fall are not at an ideal place", and blamed this on students having difficulty securing financial aid. The Chancellor also made an appeal for "respect and civility" on campus and said that SIUC "must change and must move forward". While not present to hear her full remarks, I'll be so bold as to detect a certain tension between "respect and civility", as I understand them, and the frequent use of "must".

Speaking of respect and civility, a prominent advocate for those qualities, Ken Anderson, was unsuccessful in his bid for the presidency of the Faculty Senate, which instead went to a candidate my sources identify as a moderate, William Recktenwald, lecturer in the School of Journalism. Hooray for moderation. Ken's piece on this blog, by the way, has received rather more "page views" than any other, as well as many comments, most critical and some not a civil as he may have wished.

Finally, I must call your attention to today's wise and incisive editorial in the local paper of record, which boldly calls for an end to rain.
Southern Illinois is preparing wisely for major flooding, but the most-needed action is a long-term break in the storms and drenching downpours.
Prayer is the means recommended to secure this end.


  1. I can assure everyone that, to paraphrase Achenbach, "improvements in faculty-administrative relationships will not be improved" by making her the Provost. She has been consistently the most clueless and the second most aggressive member of the Board's bargaining team. In my opinion, the basic and needed grey matter is lacking in this one.

  2. And you wonder why you are ignored... Perhaps these types of public statements?

  3. To the former Anonymous poster. Is Professor Auxier's post worse than the attitude of a Chancellor who has "ignored" community in-put, placed the lower paid members of this university at economic risk, threatened everyone with the loss of tenure, and placed her stooges in positions of power? The first "most aggressive member of the Board's bargaining team" during the last session has already received his reward.

  4. I am aware that my communication style upsets some people. But I think there is a great difference between upsetting people and hartming them. Academics often lose their perspective on things like that. If you want a world in which you are never upset, you want too much. With that said, my honest opinion is that this person who has put herself forward to be the leaqder and academic exemplar for this campus is, in my personal experience, among the least impressive of academics I have known during the 24 years that have passed since I began my career. If she is hired, you will have an opportunity to learn what I learned sitting across the bargaining table from her. I think I would rather speak plainly and upset people than let this pass.

  5. L.A. has played a very constructive role in COS. Our dean as some of you know has had contentious relationships with certain departments and LA has been helpful in smoothing things out. I did not even know she was on the Admin Bargaining Team so I can't comment on her role there.

    Randy: I agree with those who think your communication style is not always optimal. Calling an accomplished scientist stupid is ..., well let's just say it is not the best way to win people to our side. It would be more productive if you reported on problems you have faced during the bargaining process rather than speculating on peoples' IQ's. See you at Yellow Moon.

  6. Randy Auxier is one of the few people on this campus who has the courage to hold onto principles and speak his mind. In my 25 years or more of experience at this university, I have found that many if not most people at this university, including tenured full professors, simply say what is convenient and what will please their bosses (i.e. the administrators). Change/progress on this campus can never happen if people keep quiet.


I will review and post comments as quickly as I can. Comments that are substantive and not vicious will be posted promptly, including critical ones. "Substantive" here means that your comment needs to be more than a simple expression of approval or disapproval. "Vicious" refers to personal attacks, vile rhetoric, and anything else I end up deeming too nasty to post.