Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rebranding, phase 2

As the Chancellor announced in an email sent last week November 21 (pasted at the end of this post), we're off on the second phase of the new marketing campaign, "big things within reach". I suspect this phase will get rather better reviews than the logo, though that of course isn't saying much. Here's one new print ad: 

(Click on the ad to enlarge it.)

Like the other ads in this new campaign, this one emphasizes research, particularly research in the sciences, which is, of course, easier to sell than research in the humanities, though as a humanist I'll go ahead and be slightly offended. Green research is particularly emphasized (though I wonder, without any particular expertise, just how "green" "clean coal" is ever going to be). But emphasizing research is a good thing. Attracting students excited about research is a good thing. Further discussion, including my recurring concerns about this marketing campaign, after the break. 

[One caveat up front: this analysis is largely that of the latest phase in the ad campaign. An analysis of the full "viewbook" released some time ago would emphasize different points, and fill in some of the gaps I find in the much shorter materials used in print and radio ads.]

The overall theme is "big things within reach", where "big things" basically means "exciting research". The goal here is obviously to counter our still prevalent reputation as a party school. "Within reach" isn't so clearly defined, but presumably means "at a school that will accept you", or, slightly more charitably, "at a school where we'll work with students like you, rather than just with elites". Leaving this last bit undefined may be prudent--students may already know that SIUC is a place they can get in to (unlike Urbana-Champaign). Another slogan puts this a bit differently: "all the brains of a nationally ranked research university and all the heart of a small college". 

This is the latest attempt at how best to define SIUC, one straight from Lipman Hearne. Defining this place requires a difficult sort of triangulation, I think:

  1. We are a research university
  2. We serve an inclusive student body 
  3. We have a regional identity

Our central puzzle remains to somehow match up the research university model with our (current and potential) student body, and how best to keep faith with our regional identity without allowing it to define and limit us. Years ago John Jackson came up with (or at least promoted) the notion of a "student-centered research university"; given his decades of experience here, he at least understood the problem of connecting research to our student body.  Other administrations have erred in one direction or the other. Wendler, especially early on, pursued research, pumping money into a few faculty research "superhires", only to realize later that he needed to worry about enrollment. Poshard pushed us back toward undergraduate education, and emphasis on the region, where he has such strong roots. His research credentials are, shall we say, less sterling.  

What are the emphases from Cheng's team? Let's take the three legs of our triangle, one by one. 

1. Research.  Research is front and center in the ad campaign, but doesn't seem to be an emphasis on campus itself. While the Chancellor extolls research achievements (as she should), campus priorities (in part due to external pressures) seem directed toward things like "performance based funding", where performance has little or nothing to do with research. There's still a de facto hiring freeze on the faculty whose research is promoted in the ads, and while I'm not master of all the details, my impression is that the hires that are being made aren't being made with research as a primary consideration. There is some risk, then, of a disconnect between the brand and the reality.

2.  Students. The new marketing is all but silent on this front; we aren't overtly playing up the diversity of our student body, say, or connecting the dots for students who might be intrigued by a research university but worried that they can't cut it. I do find it a bit curious that we are marketing research and saying so little about teaching.  [There is much more about this in the new viewbook being sent out to prospective students, however.] And on campus the Chancellor's team is clearly putting energy and resources into Saluki First Year and University College, efforts to help out students who may not be very well prepared for academic side of things. We'll see whether these efforts bear fruit or not.

3. The region. There have been some efforts to improve recruitment among locals (hence these ads run not only in Chicago and St. Louis but in Southern Illinois), there is nothing on old themes like how lovely our campus and region are. And for the most part the marketing attempts to take the "C" out of SIUC. 

So we've gone from Walter Wendler's "Southern" to Rita Cheng's SIU without a C. "Saluki Way" and "Southern at 150" are yesterday's news. Conspicuously missing here is any attention to the tremendous expenditures on athletics during the last few years; that bet (doubling down on our athletics spending, plus Saluki Way) has clearly not paid off. Whatever else our administrations may be, they are not consistent with one another. 

This new campaign may be clever or it may be too clever. That is, we are selling ourselves as a first class research university while putting our energies into recruiting and retaining students who wouldn't be admitted to a first class research university. I don't want to be terribly negative about this campaign, as connected our students to our research mission is our central mission, and this ad campaign seems to recognize as much. The materials do look professional enough to me, and promoting research is, as I began, a good thing.

But it is perhaps a bit too clear, to an insider, that our efforts are designed above all to attract undergraduates, rather than to promote our mission in a more general sense (because we believe that fulfilling our mission will allow us to attract and retain undergraduates). Hence we design ads around research to attract students, but on campus we prioritize what are, to put it rather bluntly, essentially remedial programs. Those programs (Saluki First Year, University College) are organizationally distinct from the academic units in which the research takes place, units which have been starved for funds, at least in part, in order to fund the new remedial programs. Call me naive, but it seems to me that we perhaps ought to have figured out who we were, how we were going to connect the three dots in my triangulation scheme above, that we should, perhaps, have completed the strategic planning overview that is now under way, before we outsourced our marketing to a Chicago ad firm.

The Chancellor begins her email by praising University faculty, staff, and students who have been hard at work with Lipman Hearne--any of you out there reading this who have indeed worked with that firm are heartily encouraged to comment. I for one don't know anyone who's worked with them, and suspect the Chancellor is here more attempting to meet the oursourcing criticism than reflecting reality.  But I've been wrong before . . . 

Below, the Chancellor's email from November 21. 

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

As you know, our University's faculty, staff, and students have been hard at work with our marketing partner Lipman Hearne creating exciting new communications for prospective students and those who influence their decisions. I‚m pleased to announce that this week we are launching the next stage of our comprehensive rebranding initiative.

As described on the following link,, in our first phase we revamped many of the key admissions materials used in the recruitment of new students. These include the new viewbook, the re-design of our website homepage and admissions pages, and the road piece for our admissions staff to distribute at college fairs and during high school visits.

Over the next few weeks, we will begin to tell a broader audience about the good things happening here at our University as our new print, outdoor, radio, and online advertisements will be appearing in Southern Illinois, Chicago, and St. Louis. This advertising is designed to help prospective students and their parents understand what is unique about SIU Carbondale and why it‚s an exceptional place to earn an education. 

The campaign‚s core emphases are our outstanding academics, faculty and student accomplishments, and access to „big things within reach.‰ We want prospective students to know this is a nationally ranked research university -- a university where striving for academic success and a focus on the individual are not mutually exclusive.

We know all of these things.  But our research -- which included faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and high school counselors ˆ clearly showed we have not been reaching the audiences that we need to reach.  And that‚s why this entire initiative is crucial to the future of our University.  Thanks to your outstanding efforts, we made progress this fall in stemming the enrollment decline of recent years.  As we maintain our long-term focus on enrollment, we also recognize that the higher education marketplace is extremely competitive. 

„THIS is SIU,‰ our advertising campaign theme, is a means of telling our stories and reinforcing the SIU Carbondale that exists today.  We can‚t expect others to tell our story for us; doing so, as we learned through our research, results in unwarranted negative images of who we are and what we accomplish.

In the coming weeks, we will provide more information about this campaign and how you can help. In the meantime, we expect that there will be considerable response to these advertisements and possibly direct contact from prospective students to your department. It is for this reason that I ask you to take a moment to familiarize yourself with the billboards, print and interactive banner advertisements for prospective students and influencers, radio ads, and new pole banners that will be appearing around campus by clicking here:

Once you have viewed and heard them, I hope you will share in the enthusiasm and pride that has been expressed by your colleagues who worked on this important effort. 

As always, I am interested in your thoughts. Please feel free to contact me at I look forward to sharing further updates with you.

I hope you are able to enjoy a well deserved relaxing and restful holiday weekend with family and friends. Please accept my best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving.


Rita Cheng


  1. Such a strategy isn't without merit. Once SIU [sic] starts posting clips of its cold fusion batteries and its tiger-laser-defense-system on Youtube, it has the potential to produce quite a bit of free advertising. Think of all the potential freshmen watching SIU [sic] invented gizmos on their iPads....

  2. This makes one want to throw up!

  3. Sarcasm works when it is done well. That was awful.

  4. The UC model is not to help weaker students. It is to force all student to take dumbed down courses. We are bringing in many students who have no chance of benefiting from a college education. These make helping the truly borderline students more difficult! And many of our better students get the message that this place is not for them and transfer out.

  5. Anon: 3:24. This was not sarcasm but an immediate reaction to what Mike has recognized in his following comment.

  6. There is a lot of energy research at SIUC that focuses on issues other than clean coal.

  7. Yes, these new ads and the recent history of SIUC suggest that we are trying to do it all: be a good research university, be a good athletic university, and be a good teaching university; a very confusing message. There was little or no mention, by either `side', of research during the strike, which disappointed me. The admin said things like: its all about the students, students come first, business as usual. The FA said things like: we want to get back in the classroom where we belong, etc. It seemed that the FA were frightened to mention research, no doubt because of fear of alienating more people.

    I don't know what the solution is: I would like to cut spending on athletics and bump it up on teaching + research. But then you need good students, and (at least amongst the first/second yr students) there are not many of those here. So we should raise admission standards first, we may suffer declines in enrollment for a few more years, but in the long run this will help us. It would also be useful if we had a Chancellor + President who are more academic. But I doubt that that will happen anytime soon.

  8. SIUC is not in a position to pick customers yet. If we only pick those students we want, then we should have a much smaller size of university. Faculty size will have to shrink, and resources have to be reduced. No FA members are willing to work hard to teach slow students. My opinion is

    "Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way."
    ~George Evans

    Please stop complaint, FA members. If you are good, please work harder.
    Many good examples are just around you!

  9. Unions protect bad teachers, not students

    During the early 20th century, when working conditions were appalling, employers were ruthless and labor laws didn’t exist in the United States, vulnerable workers formed unions to protect themselves.

    Many unions, however, have outlived their usefulness. Today, they stifle innovation and bully or bribe legislators into getting their ways at enormous taxpayer cost. FA at SIUC is a perfect example of this.

    The FA is possibly the biggest hurdle a student must overcome to receive a degree. To meet every educational innovation is a union leader with a billy club. They are analogous to legalized mafia.

    Faculty members usually don’t have a choice on whether or not to join the union at SIUC. This is why FA hates non-unionized charter schools: especially the successful ones, like Iowa State.

    Union leaders, like mafia bosses, are all about dough. Faculty members shell out hundreds of dollars per year to feed the hungry union hierarchy. Many union leaders earn six-figure salaries, which is exponentially more than many of the faculty they claim to represent. The fewer unionized faculty there are, the fewer dues these leaders can collect.

    Essentially, tenure ensures contract-renewal for mediocre educators year after year. The ability principals have to remove these teachers from classrooms is extremely limited. Principles often cite union power for not firing teachers.

    What happens to mediocre or outright incompetent employees in the private sector? They aren’t awarded raises. They are fired because it would be bad business practice to keep them on the payroll. It is just as bad for students when mediocre teachers are kept on the payroll.

  10. Chancellor Cheng, have I got an idea for you: Don't pay your best employees more, don't ease out your least productive faculty members, and for crying out loud, never fire anyone, not even for the most blatant misconduct on the job. It works for SIUC, doesn't it?

    Actually, it doesn't, but since they're government monopolies, they don't care. They never go out of business. They just keep doing what they're doing, year after year, churning out class after class of students handicapped by a poor education.

    Don't get me wrong -- not all professors are bad. Many are talented and passionate, even heroic. Many turn down better-paying jobs because they want to help kids learn. But working hard for SIU students has to be its own reward, because a lazy FA member is paid just as much as a good one -- more if he has seniority.

    You don't have to take my word for it: how about from a Stanford University professor....

  12. 9:28 PM,

    You raise a fair point, but are missing some key points. We are pushing good students away. Our retention efforts have for years ignored the problem of good students transferring out. We do not merely accept weak students we invest time and resources into getting pathetic students to come here.

    I don't think Evans ever tried to teach calculus to students who cannot do algebra. I have some very good students and I have students who regularly score below 20%. Taking money from the latter is unethical. I have worked hard to get SIUC to improve its placement efforts but have been stymied by the administration.

    These issues really have nothing to do with the FA per se. Opinions in the FA likely cover a wide range. The one FS member who questioned requiring all students to take U101 is in the FSN as I recall.

  13. Mike:

    The FS member to whom you refer is part of the "Silent Majority," but not part of the FSN Executive Committee. It's reasonable to assume that he's FSN, especially if you saw him at the picnic. The FSN is keeping the signature cards confidential, so we don't know for sure whether he's in the FSN.

    On your larger point, the students who regularly score below 20% in my classes are the ones who regularly miss class and do about half the homework at best. They don't come to office hours, even when I send emails or leave notes for them to come. To anonymous 9:28, I am willing to agree with you, but if the student isn't coming to class to learn, isn't meeting with me to learn, and isn't working on his or her own to learn, I'm hard pressed to find a day or way within the semester for that student to learn.

  14. Last week at my department meeting, we had the current director of the University Honors program come and speak with us about developing an honors track. When talking about the retention of excellent students problem that Mike refers to, she pointed out that one of the key reasons why people try to get into honors is they don't have to take English 101/2 (instead they take Honors English). She also pointed out the success rate of the program: out of some 400 honors contracts signed in the past several years, she reported that only 2 students did not end up getting honors (99.5% success rate).

    I think that if we as a university can figure out how to retain these great students a lot better than we are currently doing, a lot of other problems will begin to be solved as well. At my alma mater (SUNY-Binghamton in New York State), average SAT scores have gone up 150 points since the time I was an undergraduate there (to about 1300 for entering freshmen now) and despite the fiscal challenges living in a similar deadbeat state, they are still increasing in their enrollment and attracting high quality students. They admit less and less percentages of freshmen than I was there, to the point where I sometimes doubt whether I would have been admit. And that is despite being four hours away from NYC and even longer from Long Island, where most of the students come from. In other words, like in the case of SIUC, just because your school happens to be in a stranded corner of a large state away from the large city in the state does not doom you to oblivion!

    In history, we participate actively in the Core with huge lecture classes in Lawson that seat 270 students. These classes are a nightmare to teach, in large part because while you do not want to bore the good students, you are often teaching a large percentage of students who need remediation. Do these students belong in college? I think we as a university talk out of both sides of our mouth on that one - we admit students provisionally who don't even meet our supposed minimum ACT scores (which are pitifully low to begin with). Then we put them in large Core classes like History 101A/B and see whether they sink or swim. In the meantime we take their tuition and financial aid dollars.

    I don't know what the solution is to all of this. But I did enjoy seeing those maroon banners around campus earlier this fall bragging about various scholarly and academic things we are doing here, and the more we can trumpet what we are doing right probably is the way to go. That, however, would also require administrators not to talk out of both sides of their mouths. The chancellor can brag all she wants, and I do appreciate it when she does so, about our wonderful scholarly productivity - but when she makes claims about students sending her petitions about desiring their substitutes, I feel she is disrespecting the faculty on this campus, and I highly resent it.

  15. Please stop complaining about the FA at SIUC, and stop posting those moronic youtube videos about unions at Public Schools. SIUC is a University, and is very different from a Public School. We NEED a local union here to counteract many negative things the admin are trying to fact have already done; thus we are trying to limit the damage they are doing to SIUC. These things are too numerous to mention but here are a few: excessive spending on athletics, no spending in recent yrs on teaching and research (the two core requirements of a good research university), excessive spending on admin salaries, as opposed to faculty salaries, creating negative images of SIUC in the press, example: the Poshard plagiarism case, Poshard mentioning (last year) in an interview that `SIUC may have to close down in November', Cheng saying that the faculty here are replaceable, etc, etc. Even having those two people (Cheng + Poshard) at the head of SIUC is a disgrace for a good university, they both anti-intellectuals as was pointed out in a letter to the DE last week.
    And numerous other reasons ..... often mentioned in previous posts.

    I also don't think 9.28's comment:

    "Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way."
    ~George Evans

    is fair either, for the same reason: We are a University, NOT a public school, and the students we accept here should already be competent learners. This may sound harsh, but SIUC can't cater to everyone.

  16. It is I think worth pointing out, in keeping with Joe Sramek's comment, that the administration has been pushing Honors as well as Saluki First Year, and Honors obviously isn't aimed at our weak students.

    The common denominator, of course, is pushing programs outside of regular academic departments.

    Does anyone have a clue as to who in the world is going to teach all of the UCOL 101 courses, by the way? We got an email inviting all of us to come and see what such courses were all about, but I suspect most departments aren't exactly lining up at the trough to teach these courses--and I don't think the administration is going to go around offering faculty overload pay (at one month) to teach these.

    When the choice is between offering a monster 101 course (like those Joe mentions) and offering a 25 student UCOL course, most departments are presumably going to continue to opt for the former, which provide GA work for their graduate students and more efficiently churn out credit hours. And most don't just have "extra" course slots they can allot to UCOL without damaging their own programs. Perhaps (I hope) I'm missing something, but this looks like a train wreck coming.

  17. This is the main reason that we don't need FA at SIUC.

  18. Dave:

    Look at your email,

    "From: University College []
    Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2011 11:42 AM
    To: All Masters Degree Level Staff
    Subject: Invitation to UCOL 101 Informational Sessions"

    Does that give you a clue about who is being tapped for these courses?

  19. Dave:
    It looks like the Admin are trying to circumvent the Departments by asking us (faculty) directly whether or not we want to teach one of the new seminar (=<25 students) seminars. Probably they will get some takers. But I'm not sure they will get 100-150 takers. As you said its not clear how the takers will be paid. Presumably if they stick to the contract they will have to pay the overload pay negotiated there. And if they are unwilling we can file a

  20. To anon 9:41 PM 12/3/11,

    Your statements demonstrate a very faulty knowledge of labor history. I challenge you to cite specific examples and empirical research for comment to back up your claims? Then again that becomes a little harder than just making unsubstantiated general claims doesn’t it?

    If you believe unions have “have outlived their usefulness” please offer an explanation other than the employers ever increasing stranglehold they have realized over their employees as to why real wages in the U.S. have declined since the mid 1970’s. Logic would dictate unions are needed now more than ever to restore the rapidly shrinking middle class that once was a hallmark of America’s strengths.

    Without unions how do you propose to realistically counter employer arrogance, incompetence, and greed? Or do you believe management will just suddenly develop some new found largess?

  21. The revamp of the honors program is good news. One point we should remember is that different administrators have different opinions. While some just toe the party line, others work quietly to advance their own views. We tend to say the "administration wants this or that" but in fact their is some diversity of goals.

  22. However, Mike, we have an authoritarian regime run by Cheng that has ensured that anybody working for her toes the line. One former Provost to his honor resigned quickly. No diversity nor discussion of alternatives can exist on this campus while she and Poshard are around.

  23. However, Anon 7:15PM, we have an authoritarian regime run by FA that has ensured that anybody working for its toes the line. FSN members to their honor resigned quickly. No diversity nor discussion of alternatives can exist on this campus while FA is around.

  24. Regarding U101 and the honors program (and the new requirement that all must take U101 regardless of student preparation or academic strength) I wonder if in the future it might be a good idea to make an exception: that students in the honors program would not have to take U101. Such students are already of low probability for dropping out due to bad grades, and because of their honors status, they will often be pipelined into small classes anyway (so they won't get so easily lost in the shuffle). I wonder if U101 is a waste of time for honors students that could be better spent in other (more demanding) ways.

  25. I completely agree beezer. If anything, students are liable to be bored even in our non-U101 courses without honors contracts or something else.

  26. Re Dave's point, until such time as FTEs don't matter in decisions about whether departments are worthy of new hires, or other largess, etc., I would imagine that there will be greater incentive to more efficiently churn out of credit hours. My productivity goes up the roof every second spring when I teach one of the jumbo courses in Lawson that instructs 270 students and it does indeed provide stipends for three GAs who work under me in that course that we probably would not be able to give them otherwise. Now, is something like UCOL101 worthwhile at a large university? Perhaps, especially if one is aiming at doing something about the alienation problems that students sometimes face in large universities. But unless departments are given the resources (e.g., new TT positions, more stipend money for GA support, etc.), I don't see how we are going to be able to a) continue doing the Core; b) revamp our honors program; and c) do UCOL 101. Not to mention continue serving our normal constituency, which are our majors!

    I really do appreciate these attempts to turn around our enrollment, as I am sure others do as well. But there needs to be resources for them. Otherwise, departments are liable to opt for what is best for their own particular situations. In a department such as mine, where we have shrunk nearly a quarter in the short time I have been here (I am the last TT hire in 4+ years), I would bet that we will continue being active in the Core. Nobody I have talked to seems eager to swap a UCOL101 course for one less course that he/she might offer instead to our majors.

    In short, a strategy amounting to 'Let a thousand flowers bloom' is okay at first to see which programs might work and which do not. But as a long-term strategy, I fear we are more likely to be banging our heads against the wall in a few years unless there are resources behind the good intentions.

  27. U101 should be for at-risk students only and it should not be for college credit. It used to be required for the "special freshman" but advisors were told to recommend it to the regular freshman too, but then they would drop it once they saw how useless it was. Some students would benefit from just taking 4 courses instead of 5 their first semester, but then we wouldn't get as much of their money.

    But we cannot just blame the administration. The FS approved this.

    We should have a goal, over the next few years, of reducing the percentage of freshman admitted below the regular admission cut-off to around 10%.

  28. "What happens to mediocre or outright incompetent employees in the private sector?" -- Anon 9:41

    They get to be President of the United States -- at least if the last guy is any precedent.

    They get fat bonuses even during a recession -- at least if the architects of our current financial melt-down are precedent.

    Sorry. Couldn't resist. But really, now is not the time to be looking for fiscal or moral guidance from the private sector. They ain't doing so hot, despite the shrill rhetoric on the Right that the "invisible hand of the market" should still guide us.

  29. The invitation says pay is $500 OTS.

  30. Students?

  31. America’s education system is in crisis. Test scores show us that students across America are performing at levels far below their peers overseas. In addition to test scores that aren’t up to par, graduation rates are shamefully low. There is no doubt that America’s students deserve better.

    In a rapidly changing world, our students are not being taught the basic knowledge and skills they need to succeed. It’s time to get to the root of the problem.

    Faculty union at SIUC is the most organized and powerful voice in campus politics. Faculty union continues to block reforms needed to improve SIU by putting their focus on faculty rather than on the students they teach.

    SIU education system is in desperate need of reform and it’s time we stop letting FA stand in the way.

  32. According to FA, to pay better faculty more money is “naive and shortsighted. “what do we do about pay? There isn’t enough money there. The pie that’s available to distribute to teachers, it’s going to have to be bigger.”

    Ah yes. The typical union solution: spend more money! FA also criticized proponents of merit pay for implicitly wanting to keep ineffective teachers in the classroom — a pretty rich criticism for a guy who runs an organization dedicated to keeping ineffective teachers on the job.

    Is merit pay “naive”? Here’s a better question: Was Einstein right when he said that doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different outcome (i.e., pouring more money into the black hole that is our education system) is the definition of insanity?

  33. I'm struck by the diversity of anti-FA positions expressed in the last two posts (Anon 8:20 and 8:25). For both, the FA is the problem...but for very different and conflicting reasons.

    To the first, how has the FA actively blocked efforts to improve students and make them competitive with overseas education? Better still, what efforts has the Administration made (either blocked or unblocked) to make these improvements? Is it your opinion that the Administration's increased subsidizing of athletics, increased focus on First Year Experience, and increased efforts at recruitment without increasing standards for acceptance are good strategies for improving student education and keeping our educated populace competitive with the world?

    To the second, would a greater or exclusive focus on merit pay increases really keep ineffective teachers out of the classroom? Although each department designates merit differently, the general trend of this university is to reward merit for scholarship more than evidence of effective teaching. You might assume that there is a one-to-one correspondence of prolific scholarship to effective teaching, but I am suspicious of that equation. Certainly, I think good college teachers are usually good and current scholars, but I don't think the opposite is always true. Similarly, as the Administration continues to use overload to get special programs (Ucol, DL, etc.) taught, would a focus on merit pay increases only not encourage those without merit to supplement their income through more overtime? Would that not put more poor teachers in more classrooms with the additional burden of excess teaching? Does that benefit the students?

    There are clearly limits to what a dogmatic anti-FA ideology can do for us. It's nice to have a clear "villain" to blame, but in this case the cape and extravagant mustache just don't fit.

  34. Is merit pay necessarily the best way to attract better faculty into the classroom? That’s the bottom line here. It would undoubtedly make the profession more enticing to those who are motivated by working in a professional environment. As it is, the FA wants to treat faculty like interchangeable cogs, paid more for earning seniority or across the board (neither of which has an impact on teacher excellence) while ignoring the advancement of students. As Terry Moe puts it in Special Interest, this “bears no resemblance to the way doctors, lawyers, business managers, and other professionals are paid” and “undermines the productivity of schools: by paying good teachers and bad teachers the same, wasting huge amounts of money on criteria that are irrelevant to student performance, and restricting what teachers do in the workplace.”

  35. Let’s look at the FA’s proposed solution. If we spend more money on faculty, will the problem of ineffective educators protected by tenure and an endless appeals process just go away? It’s hard to see how: Over the last 50 years, adjusting for inflation and enrollment, spending on education at SIU has roughly tripled. Pouring more and more money into a broken system doesn’t seem to have done us much good. Recent strike is a good example.

  36. Anon 9:14' I don't think you adequately answer your opening question. If merit rewards research and scholarship more than teaching (and often exclusively), how does that "undoubtedly" entice better teachers?

    And before someone casts me as anti-merit, let me assure you I am not. I do see COL, equity, and compression as important issues to address for a variety of systemic reasons. But these are not mutually exclusive to merit. A comprehensive salary increase includes all. The FA has supported merit in the past. The Administration never offered merit this time around. So, if you insist on costuming this issue in black and white, put the right clothes on the right people.

  37. We had merit pay in the previous contract. I hope we can get merit pay back in the next one. As an FA member I will push for that. And you can still go to your dean with a competing offer and ask that it be matched.

    The FA has nothing to do with admission standards or designing remediation programs. So, I have no idea what reforms the FA is blocking.

    One downside to having a union is that is sucks up a lot of faculty time and energy during negotiations. It would be ideal if that energy went into improving the university by doing research or designing educational programs instead of defending ourselves from the administration. Unfortunately we will likely need a union to protect ourselves for the foreseeable future. I wish it was not that way, but it is. I suggest we take a small step here and argue/debate about how best to serve our students and how to get reasonable students here rather than expend our energy on pointless union bashing.

  38. Collective bargaining processes address work-life quality and pay for one subpopulation of the university, without explicit concern for institutional effectiveness or the fundamental goals of the university, such as providing a superior workforce for future generations to help maintain an acceptable standard of living for the broader community

    Faculty are certainly not 'overworked' in modern day sweatshops. The productivity of education in general, and higher education in particular, is nil. As witness to that, examine the trend in tuition costs as compared to the cost of living indices. The only aspect of our economy with such a similar disastrous record is healthcare.

    The results of the collective bargaining process are contracts for a predetermined term that describe wages, working conditions, benefits, safety, overtime, and grievance processes. What they do not produce are statements of vision or organizational purpose. Those responsibilities are ceded to management.

    In a shared governance process, all parties work to diminish distinctions between labor and management. Not so in the collective bargaining process. Here distinctions between labor and management are increased and a wall is erected between the two, so that each tends to its own interest.

    The assumption in the case of shared governance is that incorporating different points of view strengthens an organization’s ability to meet its overall goals. In the case of Yale University, the issues were about providing the best educational experience for students. Collective bargaining processes address work-life quality and pay for one subpopulation of the university, without explicit concern for institutional effectiveness or the fundamental goals of the university, such as providing a superior workforce for future generations to help maintain an acceptable standard of living for the broader community.

    Confusion may have been exacerbated by the NEA in a 1987 statement regarding shared governance, and further, by the AFT in 2002, by not distinguishing clearly enough the different processes. Whether this omission was by design or default, it must be addressed.

  39. In a collective bargaining environment the force of labor law, guided by the National Labor Relations Act, supersedes many concerns that a faculty senate might have regarding the university and the work that it carries out for students.

    Faculty senates are becoming less central to university policy setting. Direction is increasingly being set by unions represented by professionals from outside the educational environment whose interests may not be compatible with those of the institution. One faculty union leader told me, “You can’t name an issue important to the university that is not part of the working conditions for which we bargain.” But universities are not instituted for the benefit of employees and faculty.

    Employees, faculty and administration are brought together to serve the needs of students and the larger community. It is a noble purpose to which we commit our efforts, and while methods for reaching it should be negotiated and crafted with input from diverse constituencies, that ultimate aim itself must never be compromised in the name of expediency.

  40. Assertions that forming a union will somehow improve the faculty's role in governance are also inaccurate. The subjects of collective bargaining are wages, hours and working conditions -- not shared governance, educational policies or program initiatives.It is highly unlikely that SIUC will become an elite institution if the FA maintains its current position since it does not concern about the customers of the institution - the students, those who provide students financial support, and the governments that provide financial support.

  41. I thought I recognized the style of the previous two comments. They are from

  42. Another cut and paste job with SIUC and FA substituted. See

  43. Does have no right to say something here? I respect Walter Wendler and he was an excellent leader of SIU.

  44. Well, FA leaders do not like Walter Wendler. Thus in order not to let FA people mad, please don't mention him and his opinion. Academic freedom dose not including this flexibility no matter you like it or not. This is FA's rule. You can join the FA if you want your voice can be heard, otherwise, keep silent.

  45. Walter Wendler is of course welcome to comment here and folks are welcome to quote him as well.

    But I think it is also worth pointing out the source of comments. Citation problems have come back to haunt an administrator or two around SIU, after all.

  46. One thing people are forgetting is the poor quality of many of the Freshmen we get here, its hard to teach them...........I'm trying this semester..its very easy to blame teachers for bad results, when perhaps we should be looking elsewhere. Also what makes a `good' teacher nowadays? Nowadays I feel you are a `good' teacher if you make things easy for the students, eg., give practice Exams, (if you do make sure the real Exam is similar, or they will complain). If you are more demanding, you will get bad evaluations at the end of the semester. I think our students expect more for less, they certainly are paying more!

  47. And Sheila Simon's emphasis on graduating students with no thought given to the fact that many do not belong in a university at all is merely the tip of the iceberg. This is the beginning of the end for what we know as genuine university education.

  48. Simple way to fix this mess. Cut tuition rates then raise admission standards and give up on the idea that

    a. We are an economic engine of any sort.
    b. Enrollment is the measuring stick for SIU.
    c. We can be a factory that turns out ill-prepared students and be OK.

    All three flawed assumptions need to be taken out of the culture at SIU if it's wants to survive.

  49. @ Lightsaber:

    I can see your point. Simple shifts in the age-structure in our country mean that there will almost inevitably be fewer students than there were during the 1970s university boom-town days. Do you know of any examples of universities that have *successfully* down-sized?

  50. @ Lightsaber: I fail to see how a public regional university can gain resources from Springfield (however truly meager they are) without being an economic engine of some kind for the region. And enrollment numbers are likely going to still be the key metric when politicians decide how to appropriate state monies that pay my salary and yours.

    Long-term we need to figure out how to get back to emphasizing good quality undergraduate education. That probably means avoiding frittering money away on gizmos like state-of-the-art rec centers and football stadiums. Students don't come to college for a rec center! Or at the very least, I don't want to be teaching students who *do* come for such a reason, because they are likely not to be serious. Once down that path, it probably is very hard for administrators to give up their addiction to such quick fixes.

    Put money behind good solid quality undergraduate education, however, and I believe the students will come.

  51. You may be right Joe but that shouldn't be the primary motivating factor of SIU's existence either. Our purpose should be to teach, serve, and research. Moving to performance-based metrics of funding are on the way.

    As far as Saluki Way, that was a one time shot for the next 40-50 years. Look at SIU's history if you want a guide.

    I think we're on the same page with undergraduate education.


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