Here is another post about some personal experiences that I think illustrate changes in higher education:
I recently attended a campus faculty development workshop. The topic? Community engagement. Present were four faculty members, one of whom led the workshop, the provost, an assistant provost, three directors, an assistant director, and two librarians. Given the people in the room, it was clear to me that the university’s administration has identified the expansion of community engagement as a strategic priority and various offices are now trying to coordinate to make it happen. Faculty are largely absent from the conversation because they either aren’t aware of it or choose not to contribute to it.
Many academics complain about the rise of administratively-run colleges and universities and the decline of faculty governance. These complaints assume that faculty are willing and able to govern effectively in matters deemed vital to institutional success.
One Reply to “When The Train Leaves The Station”
My guess = there is already community engagement going on all over the campus. There usually is; faculty are always reaching out in one way or another to their communities. But … such outreach is not something that an administration can take credit for since it usually is occurring without their knowing anything about it. And do they try to find out? No.
Why does this happen? Because to admit that faculty are, in fact, doing a lot of the things that are trumpeted as “innovation in education” (where else would it come from?) would be to undermine the entire discourse of entrepreneurial academic governance. Faculty are “hidebound” or “lazy” or … you pick the MBA gobbledegoop adjective of the day.
Why do I say this? We’ve seen similar initiatives at my college. Did the administration here try to find out what was already going on (and there was a lot). No. When they were informed, did they stop and see what they could do to build on what was already in place? No. Why? Because – one of them actually said this to me – the efforts were “… not in line with our plans.” As I pointed out at the time, they were the ones who were always carping about “building on our strengths” and here was one of them. Response? Crickets chirping, train whistle faintly in the distance.
Don’t get deceived about this.
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