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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More on UVa's Management Civil War

At Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik reads some FOIAed emails from UVa's Board of Visitors to suggest that the management struggle I discussed at length yesterday ("All Hell Breaks Loose") took place in part on the terrain of online education. Board chair ("rector")
Dragas used language similar to some of the columns that were being shared among board members, saying "We also believe that higher education is on the brink of a transformation now that online delivery has been legitimized by some of the elite institutions."
In contrast, fired president Teresa Sullivan apparently
had expressed skepticism about the idea that [online] was a quick fix to solving financial problems, and . . . viewed distance education as having the potential to cost a lot of money without delivering financial gains. Sources also said she viewed distance education as an issue on which faculty input was crucial.
Quelle horreur! Jaschik also notes that prior to this communications fiasco, "that board leaders obtained an estimate for 10 hours of 'strategic communication consulting' at the cost of $7,500 (plus travel expenses)."

Back on the business side, Doctor Cleveland at dagblog has a good discussion of budget subtexts and cross-subsidies towards the bottom of his thorough analysis. (h/t Reclaim UC). And Reclaim has a good piece on the public flagship austerity-privatization nexus in which Mark Yudof and Teresa Sullivan have crossed paths and played nonressisting roles.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed gathered a few reactions on "What Teresa Sullivan's Ouster Means for Higher Education."
 Everyone's a critic, except for Richard Vedder,

who writes that the "Faculty Senate's reaction shows confusion about who runs the university. Legally, the faculty work for the board, not vice versa. But the faculty don't consider the trustees their bosses. That demonstrates a major problem: a murky conception of property rights and governance. The faculty believe that, since they do all the teaching and research, they are the university."  Vedder's view is that they aren't, and that "shared governance only muddies the waters.   Executive reach into educational goverance is indeed a core issue where Virginia's board found Sullivan to be insufficiently cooperative. I discussed this /// and note here only the absence of evidence in general that the trustee override of academic administration that Vedder sees as a property right actually improves either financial or academic outcomes.

Other highlights: "The energy and emotion being spent on the fate of a highly compensated, largely conventional executive would be better spent in building an organized faculty voice." -- Marc Bousquet

"This is less a management approach than a move to take the business of the public behind closed doors, to fence off the commons.  . . . Strategic dynamists who want a fly-by-night, profit-driven vocational school with online courses should start their own university rather than steal one." Timothy Burke


Vanessa Vaile said...

Good pieces, both of them, They sent me reviewing the earlier Anderson story and reclaim the UC's. You found Anne-Marie's just a day before I did. Comments aside, it does not seem to have gotten much attention.

My own focus is, naturally, on contingent faculty issues, with most (but not all) of my contingent advocate cohort taking less of an interest than in other stories, more likely to echo Bousquet. The escalating pattern tells me that is short sighted.

So I will keep following this and the next chapter, trying to find ways to explain why it is so important, not to be 'fixed' either with plans for managing the contingent issues or adding tenure lines, not even with funding.

It's structural and the roof will fall on all alike.

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