Thursday, May 19, 2011

The pension fight

More on the pension issue in an email sent Faculty by Randy Hughes. For those not on his mailing list, I have pasted a copy of his message after the break.

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.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I suspect I won't be the only one not paying as much attention to this blog for the next few weeks, but I thought I should announce that I'll be away from Carbondale for three weeks or so--though I'll no doubt do what I can to keep in touch electronically, and will continue to post, if not quite as obsessively as I have been doing.

Events will likely move at a more stately, dare I say academic pace over the summer. With any luck there will be progress in negotiations; but there will also, unless things go astoundingly well in said negotiations, be conflict, and preparations for greater conflict come fall.  (This is precisely the sort of expert banal analysis you'll be getting less of in the medium term.) And of course there will be other things of interest beyond administration-FA relations.

One good place to keep updated on union matters will be the joint union website.  The FA website is supposed to be undergoing a Complete Makeover, so will be worth a surf too.

At any rate, thanks to all--bloggers, readers, comment writers--for making this a rather more lively and rewarding experience than Namdar and I (or at least I) had thought it would be, back when we got started.