Thursday, April 12, 2012

Faculty survey

This a quick plug for the survey being done by the Faculty Senate's "Faculty Status and Welfare" committee.  The survey is easy enough to take, and will as it happens introduce you to the Desire2Learn software package we will all need to learn to love as it replaces Blackboard next semester. It is not at all difficult to access the survey, even if you've never signed on to Desire2Learn before (as I hadn't) and the survey itself is as painless as you need it to be.  It basically consists of a couple of open ended questions which you can answer at length (my response--surprise!) or very briefly, and a single multiple choice question on morale. Results are to be confidential, something the software should guarantee (you may leave your department name blank to assist in anonymity should you so choose).

Here's the link:  Below the break, the email SIUC faculty should have received from Becky Armstrong.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Faculty Senate vs. strategic plan

This started as a comment in response to someone asking if I raised the points in the previous post during the FS meeting.  My comment went on so long that blogger would force me to cut it up, which I'm taking as a sign that it would be better off as an independent post. Still another comment, by the prolific and well-informed paranoid, linked to the accreditation report that precipitated this strategic plan.

I did raise these points, as it happens, joined by a number of others who were critical of other things. To the extent that a preponderance of intelligent and critical questions and the absence of vapid praise make for a good senate meeting, it was a very good senate meeting. Those answering the questions (Tom Britton and Peggy Stockdale) responded smartly and calmly but also, if I may dare say so, somewhat complacently.

When I made the point that this strategic plan had no strategy, for example, Peggy Stockdale immediately responded that that's just what she had said, repeatedly, in internal deliberations, but, well, that wasn't in the cards. Another senator, however, began the conversation by saying that he preferred this report to Southern at 150 precisely because it didn't outline some unrealistic grand plan. There are indeed worse things than a strategic plan that doesn't say much of anything--one that says significant, imprudent, and impractical things, for example. But I still think this looks like a missed opportunity.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Strategic planning

Below you'll find a link to the draft strategic planning document that is making its way around the Faculty Senate (which will discuss it today) and other campus groups. The plan was, I think, required by our accreditors, who found Southern at 150 in need of revision. I made some sage remarks on strategic planning in an earlier post; this plan and process do not fall into the worst excesses of the strategic planning racket, but the resulting draft plan is rather disappointing.

I'm just working through the plan myself. While my faith in the efficacy of such plans is limited, my initial reaction is that this is a strategic plan lacking a strategy. Love it or hate it, Southern at 150, Walter Wendler's import from Texas A & M, did promote a specific vision for this university; it was probably an impracticable one, and it certainly slighted undergraduate education in the service of high-profile research (at least in my opinion), but it did outline a strategy, with goals clear enough that they required specific means to reach them, and our success or failure in reaching those goals could be clearly measured.

This plan offers a number of ideas, many banal, some smart, some troubling. But there is, as far as I can tell, no attempt here to clearly articulate any overarching goal, new direction, change in emphasis or reordering of priorities. Other than a shockingly frank criticism of the SIUC foundation (more interested in controlling money than raising it), there is no effort at diagnosing our problems and planning to overcome them. If one believes that strategic planning is a real opportunity for an institution in crisis, as this one is, to turn things around, then this is a missed opportunity.
A Strategic Plan Feb 15 2012