Friday, October 7, 2011

Distance Learning

The Chancellor's email on distance learning is misleading. The Chancellor says (and keeps on saying) that she has no intention of forcing faculty to teach distance learning classes. But frankly, reader, I don't give a damn what her intention is: what matters is what's put in the contract, and she and her team have been unwilling to put that intention into contractual language, even if we assume that is her intention. Here's the dialogue:
FA:  Cheng demands that the contract give her the power to make faculty teach DL.
Cheng: No, I have no intention of making faculty teach DL.
You decide which side is being misleading. Not to worry--I'll provide lots of help after the break.

Let us quickly look at her first question:
Q:  Can I be forced to teach a distance education course if I do not feel qualified in the subject area or not technically savvy enough to do so?
I just love how she suggests that the only reason for declining to teach a distance education course is incompetence! Nothing shows your respect for faculty like implying that incompetence is our primary motivating force! Nothing here about a faculty member believing that a certain course could not well be taught over video or the internet. Now to the answer:
A:  The University is currently bargaining issues related to Distance Education with the Faculty Association. Under the Board‚s proposal, distance education courses would be treated in the same manner as traditional classroom courses for purposes of determining course assignments and workload. Per established departmental operating papers, the chair or equivalent meets with each faculty member to discuss proposed workload assignments. If a faculty member does not feel qualified or competent to teach a course, he or she discusses the issue with the Chair in an effort to find a mutual resolution. This would be the same for distance education courses as for traditional on-campus courses. The University has no intention of forcing a faculty member to teach courses for which they are unqualified or unprepared to teach. Clearly, this would not be in the best interest of the University, our students, and our faculty. Furthermore, if a faculty member is interested in learning more about distance education technology and pedagogy, the University currently provides training opportunities and technical support.
Let me translate this briefly.  Can I be forced to teach a distance education course?  Yes.

You can be forced to teach a distance education course if that's what your chair decides to do. The Chancellor grants that it may be stupid to do so, but she still wants the power to do what is stupid. Could a departmental operating paper protect you? Not under the current modus operandi, in which deans can refuse to approve or even act at all on faculty amendments to such papers.

I am disappointed that the Chancellor believes she must mischaracterize the issue at hand. There is a genuine difference of opinion between the FA and the administration here, one on which reasonable people could disagree.

In the FA view, forcing faculty to teach at a distance is an affront to academic freedom, in the same way that telling us how to teach an on-campus course would be an affront.  Johnson, no more Aristophanes in the Greek civilization course: we've heard too many complaints. And you need to show more films, get better images on your power point slides, and provide a battery of online practice questions before every quiz.

In the administration's view, distance learning courses are just other courses, and as one's chair has the authority to tell you that you must teach, say, elementary Latin instead of advanced Latin, the chair can tell you to teach elementary distance Latin instead of elementary on-campus Latin.

I think the FA is right on this and the administration wrong. But I'd agree there is an argument to be had here--the distinction between deciding what course I must teach (an administrative prerogative) and how to teach that course (traditionally my prerogative) isn't completely transparent. They can tell me to teach "Greek Civilization", for example, but does that mean I have to cover 3000 BC to 31 BC, or can I select some shorter time span? And in many programs, individual faculty members must submit to some sort of departmental norm on what a given course should cover, and even how it should cover it. If I cover half as much grammar in first semester Latin as my colleague, but teach my students to pronounce the language beautifully, when her and my Latin students are thrown together in the second semester they will be utterly out of synch. But such norms must be decided on by faculty.

It also strikes me as unlikely that any chairs will be stupid enough to use the power the Chancellor wants, to insist that a faculty member teach a course in a way he or she finds unacceptable.

The one thing I find truly unfortunate, and will hope is due to the heat and haste of the moment rather than to any darker motive, is that the Chancellor is unable to describe the differences of opinion accurately, and instead mischaracterizes both her own position (by telling us she isn't insisting on a power her bargaining team is insisting on) and our own (by implying that incompetence is what is driving faculty).  In a decent negotiation the sides should at least be able to describe their mutual positions accurately. I, frankly, don't find distance education that scary. I do find a Chancellor who can't or won't accurately describe the issue scary.

Here's the full email.

To the Campus Community,

In spite of multiple efforts to be clear about the role of distance education and the opportunities that it provides to our faculty and students, there are repeated and inaccurate assertions that faculty will be forced to teach distance education and other similar rumors.

Below are a series of questions and answers that speak to the heart of some of the concerns that faculty may have, given the numerous inaccurate statements by members and representatives of the IEA represented groups as reported in the media, flyers and blogs  [heaven forfend! --ed.].

Rita Cheng



Q:  Can I be forced to teach a distance education course if I do not feel qualified in the subject area or not technically savvy enough to do so?

A:  The University is currently bargaining issues related to Distance Education with the Faculty Association. Under the Board‚s proposal, distance education courses would be treated in the same manner as traditional classroom courses for purposes of determining course assignments and workload. Per established departmental operating papers, the chair or equivalent meets with each faculty member to discuss proposed workload assignments. If a faculty member does not feel qualified or competent to teach a course, he or she discusses the issue with the Chair in an effort to find a mutual resolution. This would be the same for distance education courses as for traditional on-campus courses. The University has no intention of forcing a faculty member to teach courses for which they are unqualified or unprepared to teach. Clearly, this would not be in the best interest of the University, our students, and our faculty. Furthermore, if a faculty member is interested in learning more a!
bout distance education technology and pedagogy, the University currently provides training opportunities and technical support.

Q:  Under the Board‚s proposal, does a faculty member have the first right of refusal to teach distance education courses that s/he developed?

A:  Yes.  The proposal from the Board to the Faculty Association contains the following language: The Faculty member who develops or extensively revises a distance education course has first right of refusal to teach said course.

Q:  Does teaching distance education courses count as part of my workload?

A:  Under the current proposal, a distance education course could be included in a faculty member‚s standard workload.  In this situation, it would be in lieu of a traditional on-campus course.

Q:  Can I teach distance education courses outside my normal workload?

A:  Yes, if the unit determines that there is a need for faculty to teach distance education courses and if adequate funding is anticipated for the course, distance education courses may be considered an overload assignment.  In this case, acceptance of the extra course assignment would be at the faculty member‚s discretion.  

Q:  What resources are available to help me learn how to teach distance education courses?

A:  The Center for Teaching Excellence, located on the first floor of Morris Library, is the unit on campus that assists Faculty members to effectively incorporate technology into teaching whether in a distance education course or in a traditional on-campus course.  The Center Staff provide one-on-one training as well as workshops.  They also provide technical assistance in getting courses or elements of courses online or in use of our Learning Management System (i.e., Blackboard or Desire2Learn)


  1. I think we need to teach Cheng what a "fact" means. Apparently she does not know the definition. She thinks that faculty, staff, and students (well, everyone except her) knows nothing and can be fooled.

  2. Since Rita does not know what a "fact" is, she is intellectually unfit to be in charge of a university nor any job involving responsibility. This is another ploy on the part of someone who is little better than a pathological liar.

  3. I agree! Someone on this blog suggested doing a no confidence against her. I think it is time before she totally destroys our university.

  4. This statement amused me most: "...given the numerous inaccurate statements by members and representatives of the IEA represented groups as reported in the media, flyers and blogs."

    It is the media's responsibility to report both sides of the issue, and include FACTS to filter out what's true and what's not true. Is that what Cheng has an issue with?

    And blogs, I believe, are meant to be opinionated but also serve as a source of information. The community, including students, faculty, staff and other administrators, are not required to agree with you. It's not the media's job to serve as PR people for the university (this includes union and non-union blogs, flyers, etc.)

  5. The epithets about the chancellor are more suited to a bar brawl. No wonder the FA has so little public support!

  6. As a non-faculty member of this university community, let me ask a question. Can faculty be forced to teach an on campus class in a particular classroom? For example, if I were a faculty member in Journalism, could I be forced to teach a particular Journalism course in a classroom that only has a chalk board and no video / smart board etc.? If so, how is that different than saying that I have to teach that same class as a distance education class?

    I'm not agreeing with one side or the other here, I'm just trying to understand the issue.

  7. Alum 21: that's a good question. I think a more apt hypothetical might be requiring a faculty member to teach 'glassblowing' or 'chemistry experiments' in that Journalism classroom with the smart board. The necessary, discipline-specific, pedagogical materials are simply not at hand.

    Distance learning is more than a shift in 'venue'--its a shift in "modality" which precludes (or radically alters) the face-to-face, hands-on, physical participation that can be the disciplinary core of one's research and pedagogy. I teach in Performance Studies, for example, where physical movement, group interaction, and improvisations are an almost daily classroom method. While I incorporate technologies as one of several teaching strategies, the learning experience itself cannot be a technological one . . . or it is no longer recognizable as my discipline. And I would proffer my resistance to a wholly on-line performance course as a sign of disciplinary competence, rather than techno-incompetence.

    The matter of choice, then, is not simply having "first right of refusal" to offer a course online, (which presumably then would be re-assigned to someone willing) but the ability to refuse that particular kinds of courses be delivered in a format that is antithetical to their epistemological and pedagogical nature. And as an 'expert' in the field, that's each faculty member's call.

  8. 4:02, you haven't been in many bar brawls lately, have you?

  9. A vote of no confidence should have been taken against Poshard some years ago like SIUE. This did not happen and it opened the door for Cheng and the imposition of DL with all the appalling consequences that Professor Pineau has stated. Remember that he is most likely behind all this

  10. No doubt, he is behind all this mess. Let’s not repeat our mistake. Let’s stand-up and kick all incompetent administrators out and handover the control to leaders who understand faculty’s and students’ needs and understand that the value of university education is a lot more than “meal ticket to middle class.”

  11. Dear SIUC students,
    I am the “fact telling” queen of SIUC. Trust whatever I am telling you. Even if all faculty, staff, and graduate students walk-out, you and Carbondale community will not feel a pinch. I have all basis covered. Go home for the fall break and relax. Tell your parents, that our chancellor has everything under control. Believe me; I know how to run a business. BTW, make sure to bring the next installment of your tuition and fees since the next payment to our branding firm is due soon.

  12. Last anon, you should have added the following:
    Don’t worry. I have a large administration. Although most of my administrators have not taught for several years, they are ready and anxious to teach you. To prepare for the strike, I am in the process of hiring several more administrators.

  13. I tried to post to the thread several times; my apologies if it appears in duplicate.


  14. I really do not understand the heat of this debate over Distance Learning. To my mind, some of the hypothetical examples here border on the arcane--like being forced to teach a performance arts or glassblowing class.

    The larger issue seems to be (and I may be wrong) the abstract notion that faculty in the humanities could be required to teach a DL course. From all the brouhaha under the "Fact Check" post (where I commented anonymously a few times before using my name), there also seems to be a group of faculty adamantly opposed to DL in any shape or form, asserting that it has no place at a university with high standards.

    I have to say that I find it very difficult to sympathize with that position. And here's why.

    I completed a Master of Arts in History through American Military University, via an online program that is both nationally and regionally accredited (a requirement in order to use Military Tuition Assistance). My full-time for one year of this two-year program was learning Pashto. I also had what the Army calls "an additional duty" (a nice way of saying two full-time jobs for the price of one): that of Language Program Manager for about 70 Arabic, Farsi, Russian, Serbian/Croatian, and French linguists.

    For the MA program, it is difficult to compare with SIU's program, but I can make a few observations. All of my 12 courses were at the graduate level, and were writing-intensive, which has helped me in the PhD program. For comprehensive exams, I had to read around 50 books (and I read more than that of my own volition), and I passed them with distinction. Since my German was pretty good at that time (having lived there for 3 years), I was able to do research in the Hessen state and Wiesbaden city archives. That really whetted my appetite for further study, and it would not have been possible for me at that time without DL.

    I am currently a Morris Fellow, and am ABD. I have three published articles/book chapters (four, if you count the one tentatively accepted for inclusion in a volume to be published by University of Manchester Press). I have an active conference agenda and have received some financial support for dissertation research. I have wonderful relationships with my committee members and I regard them all highly. I also regard highly my MA mentors, who I never met in person, but whose feedback, telephone and Skype conversations, and guidance kept me inspired, and hopeful of getting into a history PhD program (and I was accepted elsewhere; I came to SIUC because I was offered the Morris Fellowship). Would that the present debate over DL here was over how to emulate those instructors, rather than argue over the possibility of being forced to teach DL courses or, as in the "fact check" thread, to blast DL as something that has no place at a high-quality university.

    I sympathize with professors who teach courses in the performances arts, the sciences, etc, where movement and space are pedagogical requirements, but I take umbrage with those who would relegate my AMU degree to a lower tier than SIU's simply on the basis of it being earned online. My instructors there (all adjuncts) were full-time faculty at places like University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Northwestern IL, University of Nebraska, Tübingen, and the list goes on. How can you ask me or other graduate students (several of my colleagues teach DL courses, when the crux of your objections appears to be that DL provides inferior education? I disagree 100%. TEACHERS provide high/low quality education regardless of the medium, and students may be lazy or industrious, again, regardless of the format. If you don't want to teach distance courses, fine, I don't really think either the administration or individual will force you to. But please, find some other objection to DL other than spurious assertions of quality.

    Nathaniel A. Davis

  15. I used my name fully aware that some in my department likely disagree with me. Based on present relationships, I have no doubt that any disagreement will remain respectful and courteous. I would just like to know what the real issue behind the DL fight is. I can get behind the FA on the financial exigency issue and anything related to the protection of tenure, but this (DL) is one issue I very much do not understand.

  16. I dont know the specifics of the distance learning and financial exigency issues but from what I can tell it basically comes down to a trust issue.  It appears the FA does not trust the administration to do what it says in the papers when the chips are down and needs it contractualized.

    As one of the NTT activists I can see the point!  To date we have experienced three very vivid examples of why this administration cannot be trusted.  

    In August 2010, the dean of the CoS tried to layoff 4 continuing NTTs in the math department with only 30 days notice using the chancellors mandated 4% budget cut as the justification.  Our contract was very specific (or so we thought) under what circumstances continuing NTTs could be laid off with that little notice and both sides knew the "intent" of that language.  However, that made no difference to the admin and they went ahead with the attempted layoff anyway.

    In December of 2010 they tried to layoff 93 NTTs seven days before Christmas.  The majority of these people were continuing also and none of the criteria for laying them off had been met.  However, the admin cherry picked one sentence out of our contract and applied it completely out of context to justify their action.  Both sides knew what they were doing was wrong yet they did it anyway.

    The most recent incident occured in Headstart.  Last year their admin required the teachers to work over Spring Break for the first time in at least 11 years; it was a clear violation of our workload standard.  We even had TA'd language that made it clear (or so we thought) these teachers were going to be off and that language actually became part of the imposed terms.  However, regardless, of all that Headstart was open last year and they had to work.  And then just to put ising on the cake they are attempting to do it again this year.  I called the admin about it, reminded them of their language in the imposed terms, and got no where.  They still intend to be open.  This admin wont even follow their own imposed terms.

    So, in the end, I can see why the FA is so adament about these issues.  If its not specifically contractualized this admin has shown over and over they cant be trusted.  When a situation comes up and they want to ignore the contract they will use every loophole in order to do it.

  17. Excellent points Keith. The main reason FA and other unions exist at SIUC is because of administrations vicious “intentions” and demonstrated actions. These are incompetent leaders who do not even sneeze without talking to legal staff. You must have a legally binding document to deal with them. Don’t fall for Cheng’s facts and her intentions. You will end-up begging for your rights.

  18. The Administration regularly frames this disputed aspect of negotiation as "for vs. against" DL. The Administration also positions themselves as dragging a reluctant faculty into the 21st century. This could not be further from the case.

    However, many on the Faculty who support DL are against (for simplicity's sake) a University of Phoenix approach to DL in favor of a more academically and pedagogically sound approach. The bottom line for me is that if our primary motivation for DL is generating revenue, we will likely be doing it wrong.

    It has taken a long time to convince the Administration that DL courses be counted as part of a regular course load. I applaud them for their movement on this point and submit that this more than anything else has delayed our competitive development of DL. I am a little more skeptical about their transformation of Instructional Support Services into the Center for Teaching Excellence with little more than a name change -- this implies that the source of pedagogical excellence lies primarily in technology.

    Imagining that any other instructor can take my materials for online teaching and teach the same course as effectively is about as insulting as imagining that there are enough "substitutes" in the community and administration to cover all of SIUC classes if there is a strike. Both reveal a toxic Administrative attitude toward what is actually involved in the work.

    So, I think the continued hammering out of our vision for DL at SIUC is necessary, and firming up key elements of that in clear contract language is wise. I am impressed with the movement on this point, but disappointed by the reductive and insulting framing the Administration uses to discuss this element of our negotiations. Further evidence of their shaky grasp of the concept of "fact."

    An element not on the negotiation table but worh considering: to be what the Administration has in mind, we need considerably more investment in our technological infrastructure including but not limited to something better than the cheapest versions of Banner, Dare2Learn, and outsourced servers. It is not the faculty's willingness that has held us back with DL, but a lack of planning with our IT. We only just started submitting grades on line; our current online teaching platform is the cheapest of the cheap and way out of date. So consider this: to do this right will take revenue we do not, by all accounts, currently have. Is the Administration really committed to quality DL? Or are they leading us down a path to a kind of DL that even now is generating more negative press for the for on-line universities?

    To answer that last question, consider that the Administration does not want to count online enrollment in the contract language about faculty-to-student ratios. What does that tell you about how they value online students or the labor of teaching online?

  19. I tend to disagree with Keith that it’s all about trust. I think it’s all about systems. Elaborating on Elyse’s point, I think there at least three interconnected issues, all poorly articulated under the banner of “being forced to teach distance ed.”

    The first is one of logistics and funding, which Jonathan Bean has ably described in various comment streams on this blog: does the institution have the resources and organization to scale up distance education in a way that will preserve quality?

    The second is one of the long-term consequences of an effectively scaled distance education system, particularly for the university professoriate (aka, long-term self-interest). Or to put it somewhat crassly, who owns a course? Distance education promises some efficiencies by increasing the number of paying students that one can put into a course, but there’s still only so much grading one professor can do. The distance learning structure makes it possible, conceivably, to extend the size of a course indefinitely, so long as one can staff it with graders and teaching assistants. Moreover, embedded within lecture and discussion capture is the idea that at some point a lead professor is no longer necessary, that an already structured course with programmed content and a robust collection of responses to typical student questions can be run without professors or content providers. This is not necessarily a nefarious conspiracy on the part of distance education advocates, but it is what the technological system makes possible and it is the logical outgrowth of a system designed primarily for its economic efficiency. It’s not exactly robots coming for your pills, but it is a structure whose efficiencies require an army of deprofessionalized graders to run the course (or even an automated grading system). Now one might object that that’s no worse than large lecture courses, but that’s to perpetrate the fallacy of small numbers and to ignore the possibility that maybe we shouldn’t be teaching large lecture courses either (see issue three). Even the notion of a right of first refusal implies that there will come a day when the online course will be offered without its developer’s leadership.

    The third issue is one of pedagogical effectiveness, both in general and for specific courses and disciplines (see Elyse’s post): i.e., does this work as well as other pedagogies? Of course, there are plenty of studies out there to confirm precisely this effectiveness, but then we’re back to the old assessment saw: effective at what? Cary Nelson and that crew who want to insist that teaching transcends assessment are just mystical romanticists. The problem isn’t that assessment tries to measure the unmeasurable. It’s that it attempts to manage the unmanageable. In disciplines with content (and not just skills as their outcome), it is simply impossible to apply managed evaluation in any efficient manner to a college classroom: there simply aren’t enough managers to observe, catalogue, and evaluate what goes on in every classroom. Thus, assessment, by turning to a manageable system of objectives and skills actually ask students to learn less, not more. But this is an old story and boils down to the fundamental fight over how universities are structured. Are professors experts in their field, both in content and in form, which includes determining how pedagogy should occur within that field, while administrators take charge of managing the books, the buildings, and keeping the lights on? Or are professors fonts of knowledge, but inept, overpaid, asocial bunglers on the pedagogy front who need leaders with a bevy of management skills to show them the way to be more efficient at handling their tasks?

  20. If I were a prospective faculty member and had a job offer elsewhere, why on earth would I come to this toxic campus? Thirty years of hatred, distrust, loathing? No thanks. I'll encourage any one who asks about SIUC to consider alternatives...

  21. A brief response to 10:44. There are many times when I'm sick of it all and have decided that the whole place is "toxic", and that I should just go off and tend my own scholarly garden. But surely most of the comments in this comment stream are not evidence for any such toxicity. They are rather evidence that this is a campus on which real, substantive debates are taking place about how this place will deal with the challenges awaiting us. These debates aren't always pretty--and blog comments, especially anonymous ones, do not always bring out the best in us--but they are real and, thanks to our collective bargaining rights, they are meaningful.

    It is indeed too bad that it has taken a strike vote to get the administration to genuinely negotiate about matters like financial exigency and our approach to distance learning. You know where I place the blame for that. Of course I'd rather work at a campus where administrators believed in shared governance and didn't have to be threatened in order to genuinely listen to faculty. But there are worse sorts of places to work--say those where faculty effectively have no say about what happens on campus.

  22. The reason why this campus is "toxic" is because of decades of bad administration, of which Cheng's is the culmination. Faculty in the NEA and other unions want to make this a better place, both academically and professionally. To submit to this version of "She who must be obeyed" (.H. Rider Haggard) who attempted to fire 93 NTT faculty, has imposed a contract virtually abolishing tenure and forcing DL on those who have genuine objections to it, represents submissive humiliation to corporate managerial rule which the supposedly genteel ideology behind those who wish to decertify the NEA at this very crucial time really support.

  23. Good luck, ya'll. I'm tenured faculty at her previous post (UW Milwaukee) and am sorry, but not surprised, to hear about your problems with Rita Cheng. I watched her rise through the administrative ranks, where she started as a decent person of little vision, and ended as a person with little vision. She was known for a lack of imagination in her dealing with faculty, and people that I know (in humanities) were quite happy to see her leave.

  24. What are the current means to appeal or grieve a teaching assignment given by one's chair? I think we need to find a compromise on the DL issue. I don't think faculty should be able to reject a teaching assignment for frivolous reasons, but those who have substantive objects to DL should be able to appeal a DL assignment.

    Frankly I think a chair or director would have to be pretty stupid to assign someone to teach a DL course who was against DL. The course would clearly be a disaster.

  25. Mike,
    There is no shortage of those stupid chairs, deans, and directors at this campus. Looks like you never had to work with one of those. I have. If they are not stupid, Cheng’s will force them to make stupid decisions. She has demonstrated this time and again.

  26. 12:40,

    I have been fortunate to have good dept chairs. Our dean fired our last chair for refusing to be stupid, so I do see your point.

  27. Thank you, Anonymous 11:51, for confirming similar reports and rumors from Chancellor Cheng's previous employer.

    I think there is no better example of a lack of imagination that results in a patronizing and demeaning attitude toward faculty (and other employees) than the subtitle to her email above: "DISTANCE EDUCATION IS NOT THAT SCARY!"

    No, Chancellor Cheng, I am not scared of Distance Education. But I am wary (and with good reason!) of HOW you intend to further it here.

  28. I found this in the 2006-2010 contract in Section 8.01. on workload and it seems to be the same under the imposed terms:

    "In addition to the foregoing contractual provisions, in making Faculty workload assignments (i.e., the assignment of teaching, funded or unfunded research/creative activity, and service), the Chair (or equivalent) will consider the following primary factors: students’ needs; the unit’s needs; the Faculty member’s expertise, interests and development needs (including a Faculty member’s interest in seeking tenure and promotion); and the equitable distribution of workload within the department."

    What if we inserted after "Faculty member's expertise" a clause like: "including his or her professional pedagogical judgement"? Might that then be a basis to grieve an inappropriate DL assignment but not necessarily give faculty cart blanch to avoid DL 'just because'?

  29. Looks like my full post got caught in the spam filter?

  30. Mike,

    I really much like your suggested compromise on this issue. I don't know how it has been in other departments. I also have only been at this university four years. But under three separate chairs already, I have NEVER been forced to teach a single course other than the two courses that are clearly specified in my contract which I signed when I arrived here. (And those courses are shared in rotation throughout the entire department so there is no reason, other than being completely uncollegial in temperament, which I never seek to be, why I would refuse to teach those courses).

    Now perhaps the History Department and CoLA for that matter are different than other departments on campus as far as the degree of collegiality and respect for professor's academic freedom that I have witnessed every day since working here. Surely, there should be SOMETHING in the contract about DL, but to be completely alarmist about it seems to me (IMHO) to be picking a fight for the sake of picking a fight.

  31. Mike,

    Your proposal could be a step in the right direction, but "consider" language is, when push comes to shove, not worth very much. It reminds me of a little joke I used to make with my kids.

    Kid: Daddy, can I get an ice cream?
    Me: No.
    Kid: Pretty please?
    Me: Okay, let me reconsider . . . no.

  32. Dave,

    I see your point. But it is hard to reduce all decisions to an objective formulas. In practice it would depend on the integrity of the appeal/grievance mechanism. I have not had much experience in that. In tossing out ideas here I realize that this is all I am doing. Details have to be ironed out in the bargaining sessions. I do feel this is a useful forum for exploration.

  33. I am surprised that some seem to suggest the need to regulate the assignment of workload to a degree that doesn't require the trust of your Chair. If your Chair is not responsive and equitable in doing what is a major function of their job, use your operating paper to replace them with someone in your department that can and will do it properly an fairly. None of us should expect the upper parts of our University to work well if we can't demonstrate it ourselves at the departmental level.

  34. To anonymous 5:23. I think most faculty are relatively happy with administration at the departmental level--that at any rate was the result of a survey we did some years ago. Unfortunately, not all are, and as faculty have control neither over their operating papers nor their chairs (who serve at the pleasure of deans), we can't totally rely on departmental governance. The FA would empower faculty to revise their operating papers and override administrative objections (by a super-majority vote). That proposal would make your suggestion still stronger. The FA recognizes that different departments have different workloads, and is willing to allow differential workloads to suit those different missions--so long as faculty aren't at the mercy of administrators at any level.

  35. Schools, like Art & Design, have directors who at not elected. I am not sure why that is.

  36. Presumably "directors" are treated more like deans in that respect.


I will review and post comments as quickly as I can. Comments that are substantive and not vicious will be posted promptly, including critical ones. "Substantive" here means that your comment needs to be more than a simple expression of approval or disapproval. "Vicious" refers to personal attacks, vile rhetoric, and anything else I end up deeming too nasty to post.