Saturday, August 13, 2011

A speech for the Chancellor

I've been asked, reasonably enough, whether I'd ever approve of something the Chancellor proposes. So here's a suggested speech. I hereby give Chancellor Cheng carte blanche to use it as she chooses.  Neither consultant's fee nor charges of plagiarism shall apply.

We all know that SIUC faces a difficult budgetary situation, and that SIUC faces a long-term enrollment decline. I'm convinced that we need to improve our campus athletics and administrative facilities; to upgrade our marketing by developing a new message and doubling our spending to communicate it to the world; to continue aggressively funding scholarships for our student athletes and other aspects of our athletics budget; to set up innovative Saluki First Year and Saluki Start Up programs; and to put greater resources into more effective enrollment management. And we need to get the best people we can to fill top administrative positions, and pay them competitive salaries.  None of these moves will be cheap: in fact I believe that we must increase our spending in these areas by X million dollars in the next Y years if we are to get ourselves where we need to be in these crucial priorities. But if we do not up our game in these ways we may well face a bleak future.

To fund these priorities we are going to have to hold the line on spending on faculty and staff. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

I thank my lucky stars for our brand new logo

I thought I was done for the day--or even, with luck, for the week.  But precisely at the moment when one wheels out bad news stories (didn't she ask her marketers about this?), our Chancellor has written a welcome back email that spends a good deal of time discussing her new marketing campaign but wastes not a single word on stalled negotiations between her administration and the unions representing thousands of the people receiving her email.

Even if you think the unions are full of it, that they don't represent you, that everyone in the FA is a complete jackass--don't you think she ought to have made at least some passing bland aside expressing her fond hopes to resolve these issues amicably?  Isn't it, well, contemptuous to pretend that there's no problem?

Our brave new branding campaign has its own website, and of course there is a brand new logo, which is "both sophisticated yet familiar" and which is, I believe, the third we've had since I joined SIUC in the late nineties (though I may have missed one or two).

In with the new.

Out with the old.


Apparently "Southern" reeked too much of Walter Wendler to be left as is, and clearly Carbondale has been demoted.  I think our counterparts at the flourishing SIU campus, SIUE, will be pleased as punch to see that we're claiming the shorter SIU solely for ourselves (as the Chancellor repeatedly says she is speaking for SIU, not SIUC).  Apparently those little white shadows in the SIU tell our new story. And the bell tower, which reminded people of stodgy old academic stuff, had to go.

And can't someone fix her damn apostrophes?

Just one more observation. I find it particularly rich that we are all encouraged to join in "critical conversations" about our strategic plan (the effort to revamp or replace Southern at 150), which is obviously still underway.  But our marketers are ready to tell our story even before we've decided what our story is. (Not that I take the strategic planning to be any more valuable than the marketing, but still.)

Okay, enjoy your new logo.

Chronicle Forum on the Future of Faculty Unions

Jon Bean has brought my attention to an interesting July 24 Chronicle discussion of the future of faculty unions. Unsurprisingly, I disagree with his characterization of the debate as entirely one-sided--from the pro-union side. While three of the six participants in the forum are indeed union activists, two others are administrators. At any rate, it is worth a read.

From furloughs to fair share

This post started as a response to an anonymous comment (henceforth referred to as "Anonymous 10:31") made to the prior post.  Because I got so long winded I thought I'd go ahead and promote my comment to a new post here, to call this debate to the attention of readers not obsessive enough to be following the lengthy comment stream from the prior post.  This ramble will culminate in a paradoxical claim: that the moderate and consistent position is for the faculty to stop arguing about whether the FA represents us or not and decide once and for all whether we want a union to represent us. My guess is that the majority of the faculty has yet to make up its mind on that rather crucial issue.  It's time to do so, folks.

Anonymous 10:31 argued that the FA was willing to "throw faculty under the bus" by allowing layoffs. The FA opposed both furloughs and layoffs because neither was required, in our judgment (I helped form it), by the fiscal situation; either, in other words, would be an administrative decision to shift money from faculty to other priorities (Saluki Way, "professional non-faculty" staffers, etc.--check out the FA White Papers). So this wasn't the only move possible to balance the budget—which is how it was presented to us. The FA thus rejects the premise 10:31 relies on.  Whether furloughs or layoffs were necessary because the administration was going to get them come hell or high water is of course another issue--which the level of faculty support for the FA will largely determine. If you think the administration should be allowed to determine what is necessary, including shifting resources from academics to other things, without negotiating with the faculty, then the FA is indeed not for you. 

In other words, we're trying to stop the damn bus, rather than urging everyone to jump in front of it in the hopes that all of us will escape with only a broken limb or two. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Inside Job" Sunday at 2:00

[Two updates:
1.  Rich Whitney will be the speaker at the post-film discussion Sunday.
2. This innocent announcement has generated a lively comment thread on the possibility of a strike.  Click on it at your peril.]

A reminder about the Film Series:

The SIUC Labor Coalition, representing all four IEA locals on campus, will present the film "Inside Job" at 2:00 on Sunday afternoon, August 14. This is the second in our film series entitled "Viewing Issues of Labor and Capital." All screenings will be held at the Varsity Center for the Arts and will be followed by discussion and refreshments in the community room at the Varsity.

Click on the picture to go to the film's website.
Our hope is that the film screenings can create a community space where we can gather to discuss the current labor crisis at SIUC, its broader social and political context, and the history of labor of which it is a part.

Republicans hold on in Wisconsin

As you'll have likely heard, Republicans held on to enough state Senate seats to retain control of that chamber, bad news for the liberal and union activists who aimed to roll back Republican Governor Scott Walker's attack on collective bargaining. Sometimes satire is the best solace for bad news. Try the clip below; it begins with a little inside joke about Colbert's own "Colbert Super PAC" (which he set up to show the rigor of our public financing laws), then we move on to Wisconsin.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Wisconsin's Recall Election & Americans for Prosperity's Absentee Ballot Typos
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Morning Conversation

My "morning conversation" with Jennifer Fuller is up on their webpage, though I haven't had the guts to listen to it yet.  This post can serve as a forum for comments.  Given that I've critiqued what Poshard and Cheng have said on the radio, it's only fair to leave a place for others to critique me (though I'll probably feverishly respond to critiques in the comments, as has been my wont).