Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Give Dunn a Chance

Now that the autocrat Wendler has finally "returned to his first love of teaching," I have hope that Interim John Dunn will understand the difference between leading and ruling. I dearly hope that Dr. Dunn will embrace Pres. Poshard's desire for greater shared governance. Wendler did everything he could to undermine it.

One big difference between the two: Wendler wouldn't even wear a mortarboard for commencement - it would have dented his coiffure. On the other hand, Dunn can be seen in the summer at Saturday morning Farmer's Market unshaven, in sandals, cut-off shorts, and a ratty T-shirt - talking to other citizens in similar attire (designed to get there before the good produce was gone and before it got too hot). That reassures me that he's a human who's not afraid to be seen as such - instead of a ridiculous caricature.

Now, can Dunn explain to the faculty's satisfaction why he behaved as he did with regard to faculty promotion and tenure decisions? I am hoping that I am right that he was simply following Wendler's orders. I like John Dunn and I hope he can restore a sense of community during his service in this position.


PeterG said...

I feel exactly that way Bill. I like him, though when you call him his use of the speaker phone is truly rude.

Dave, get us some color on this thing. White isn't it. :)

PeterG said...

Hey Dave,

This blog isn't going to be any fun without comments. At the moment you have to have a blogger account to comment. I think there is a box to check to fix it. :)

Anonymous said...

here I am as "anonymous" but this is "bill."

The speakerphone thing: Ben Shepherd used it all the time when he called me, so I thought it was built into the Provost's office.

When John Jackson was Provost, I never heard that "speaking from inside a barrel" sound when he phoned me.

Peter, again my thanks for getting us talking. Usually I blogged in my own name but sometimes it would've been too scary so I went anonymous.

You know the support group for people who talk too much?


I think the answer is to buy a better speaker phone for the Provost's office. (Funny editor - this paragraph originally was a few paragraphs up.)

PeterG said...

The right thing to do is pick up the phone and hold it next to your head. Speaker phones always stink.

I think everyone who doesn't have a source of external income should post without names here. Picking on me is just no fun, but even tenured people can be singled out and bothered.

Anonymous said...

Re Dunn: He told me how at another university they closed down an entire college. He said they just did, where as at SIUC the smallest changes require going through many committees.

But, shared governance is a mixed bag. If you have a bottom rung university, where many professors like they there is not much pressure to produce or teach well, too much shared governance can really slow things down. Here is an example given by Tom Guernsey, Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost in 1999:

My favorite example of this fact ... is something that happened in the Faculty Senate just last year. I was not there, but I have confirmed this story with many who were. A Dean proposed to do away with a department. The department had 5 faculty members and 19 students. The Dean came to the Faculty Senate with a proposal to eliminate the department, moving the faculty to other departments. No faculty line would have been lost. No faculty member would lose a job. Immediately there would be a savings in equipment and other expenses. Long term, as people retired, those faculty lines could be reallocated to other pressing needs within the college. The Faculty Senate voted by a one vote margin against the proposal. One of the senators voting against the proposal was the chair of the department. The administration chose not to close the department. Here is as humane a proposal for internally reallocating resources as you can find and we still can't do it. As Pogo said, "we have met the enemy and he is us."[]

The leadership of the FA - while having faculty interest at heart - mostly wants mediocre faculty to be able to coast by. It has been the Administration that got bigger promotion pay hikes into the last contract and was proposed doubling these is the one under negociation.
The FA could say no, but they really prefer across the board raises.

Back to Dunn: he is a capable administrator and a bettre communicator than W. He has pushed for making the promotion procress more rigorous. But, he thinks everyone should go to college and that we should majically be able to boost their IQs. Under Dunn I have not seen any improvements in academic services to students. Here I am thinking of things like tutoring, avdising, TA training, effective assessment of teaching, or instructional support with classroom technology.

We will see what happens next.