Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday pickings

A few items presented in the classic parasitic link-heavy blogging style for any straying this way over break.

Our new provost, John Nicklow, is profiled in the Southern, which attempts to hook readers by noting that he originally only wanted to stay at Southern for two years. This attitude, right out of Straight Man, isn't perhaps the ideal lede from the perspective of campus morale (though of course the lede is probably the responsibility of the reporter, not Nicklow). Perhaps one way to judge Nicklow would be this: will faculty coming to SIUC in the future also plan/hope for a short stay? Promoting SIUC's reputation for academics is part of his/the plan, after all.

In the story Nicklow manages both to say that Gary Minish's sudden departure from the provost's office, after a week on the job, "has not impacted me or the job in the least" and also to praise Minish. Well, saying Minish's amazingly brief tenure has had no impact is disingenuous at best and ridiculously naive at worst, but give the guy a break.  The Southern also provides a three minute video link to what appears to be the peroration of Nicklow's presentation when applying for the job.  Not exactly stirring, but he comes across as genuine (I do not know him at all, by the way, and what little I've heard about him has been good). Good luck to him.

Jonathan Bean has an update on Health Alliance for those worried about the state's plan to remove that HMO from our health care options.

Kristi Brownfield, the indefatigable chief blogger for the SIUC Unions United blog (and GA United communications person) has been following various local and national stories on higher education.
  • She's got a link to an Amy Goodman interview about the attacks on pro-union faculty at UMSL.  (Goodman just received an honorary degree from MCMA).
  • Another piece covers the recent move by various faculty to get involved in shaping the burgeoning trend of outcome assessment. I don't know about you, but there's nothing that makes me happier than learning that politicians have replaced their interest in funding public education with an interest in looking over our shoulders to make sure we are producing 'outcomes' meeting some corporate model of success.  (This is an excellent opportunity to catch up on your reading by reading Ryan Netzley's earlier piece on this theme.) Here as elsewhere it is important to have unions working for us at the national and state level to try to minimize the damage, I think. Assessment isn't all bad (I for my part have learned something from assessing my core classes), but it can obviously do much harm for reasons Ryan explains.
  • Finally, she's got an update today on a variety of stories about funding for higher ed and the unionization battle at UIC.  
Long story short: if you've enjoyed reading this blog, heaven help you--er, you'll want to bookmark Kristi's Unions United blog, especially as she seems dedicated to keeping things active during these summer months, when others are, ahem, eager to flee from campus and campus worries.


  1. There you go again, Dave! working to win administrative cookies!

  2. Dave:
    In relation to your piece on Nicklow you mentioned “I do not know him at all, by the way, and what little I've heard about him has been good.” Well, the fact is, he only has a little. May be it is a good thing that he only has a little which got him the top academic position at SIUC. I heard he did not even make the first cut for the Engineering Dean position at SIUC just a year ago. Now he is in-charge of hiring Deans for SIUC. I believe he has a unique qualification which many of us don’t; he is a “yes man” and Cheng wanted someone who will not question her. The video clip you mentioned, he just read the notes. Let’s just review his record.

    ****Academic Record***
    Completed Ph.D. in 1998 (13 years ago), Assistant Professor at SIUC 1998 (A total of 13 years in academia), Full Professor in 2007 (Just Four years ago)
    Total Journal Publications – 20
    STEM Grant ($1.5 Million) – Contrary to what he stated in his CV, he did not receive the grant; he was not even a co-PI on the proposal and funded project; he was given this project by the Dean because the original PI left the university. His books have no evidence of peer review (president of the publishing company is a Co-Author)

    *****Leadership Experience***
    Acting Chair for 6 months, Acting Associate Dean for one year (No search conducted for the position), Associate dean for 3 years (only candidate for the position, no one else applied for obvious reasons), Interim Assistant Provost for 10 months (No search conducted). I believe his experience with evaluating P&T dossier, budget, working with faculty and staff is practically nil.


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