Thursday, January 19, 2012

Examgate in the DE

Today's DE has a story on examgate.

This is the sort of squabble this place excels in. Both sides agree on the basic goal of the Provost's memo: final exams should be given, as scheduled, during finals week. There would never have been any debate if the Provost had simply written a memo telling chairs to remind faculty of this university policy. Not every university policy requires a cumbersome and intrusive enforcement mechanism. If faculty giving early finals are and continue to be a problem, that problem will come to light from student complaints--especially if not only faculty but students are informed of the university policy. Most faculty offenders, if there are such, would be sensible enough to clean up their acts.

Instead the Provost intervened in a heavy-handed manner, by attempting to impose a whole new level of administrative scrutiny of syllabi, scrutiny which would extend not only to the timing of final exams (where there is no disagreement), but to an individual faculty member's decision about whether or not to give a final exam (where there may well be disagreement). Vague language about "final unit exams" also interfered with a faculty member's ability to do any evaluative work during the last week of the semester. It didn't help matters that the Provost sent out his memo on January 3rd, during a break and just two weeks before the spring semester began, and tried to establish an enforcement mechanism that would begin during the first two weeks of the semester. The result was predictable--especially predictable had anyone remembered the similar brouhaha when Provost Dunn attempted to require "final cumulative experiences" (vel sim.) on scheduled final exam dates. Chaos and dissension: Happy New Year.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Parking Deck Marketing Gone With the Wind

Update (2/10): The marketing signage is going back up around the construction site.  Hooray!

Sorry, but this one is just too juicy to miss. During the deconstruction of the parking deck east of Faner a fence set up to keep folks out of harm's way was decorated with new marketing materials.  "Know No Bounds" and the like, with pictures of earnest but happy students eagerly engaged in research with inspiring professors. Or at least attractive people posing as such. I don't know about you, but I certainly found it inspirational.

Alas, the banners that covered the chain link fence do not seem to have been designed with wind in mind; they did not have those little vents built into them, as more sensible banners do. Hence, during the rough weather we've had the last couple of days they appeared, according to my informant, to be threatening to tear up the fence by acting as giant sails. Certainly the banners are now down, leaving a clear view through the chain link fence of the ruin that was the parking deck, an area cleared in order to make way for the new $34.5 million Student Services Building. According to my sources, the cost for the now discarded banners was a mere $40,000. Just a drop in the bucket.