Everyone knows this story, or a variant of it, even if it never hits the papers and no one wants to name names. It goes like this: Professor X simply won’t retire. It’s not that he/she (though it’s mostly he) is staying on for themselves, you understand. It’s for the department. If he/she (mostly he) left, there simply wouldn’t be any guarantee that a new tenure line would go back to the department. That position might go to another department … [ Read More ]
In developed Anglophone countries, we basically take it for granted that Universities are run by Presidents (or occasionally Principals) who are not only responsible to a Board of Governors, but are also selected by them. But this is not the only way to select institutional heads. They can be selected directly by the Ministry of Education (which still happens in many places, including China). Or they can be elected, which is the case in much of Europe. Indeed, in much of Europe, the concept … [ Read More ]
I had an interesting discussion on twitter a few days ago about the nature of University strategic plans, and specifically, why they are rarely written in a manner that feels meaningful to faculty. Having pondered it for a few days, I thought it would be worth jotting down some ideas.
The university is, in most cases, a loosely-coupled organization. For the most part, people in Fine Arts could not care less what is going on in the Faculty of Agriculture … [ Read More ]
The President of Iowa State University was recently reprimanded for crashing one school-owned airplane, overusing the other, and charging the cost to the institution. The institution’s Board is asking serious questions: such as “why they were paying for the President to go back and forth to his family-owned Christmas Tree business in North Carolina,” but not, apparently, “why in God’s name does our university own two aeroplanes?” As one does.
As I read this story, I thought “if nothing else, … [ Read More ]
Many years ago – I think it was when I first got elected to student council – my grandfather gave me a copy of a 1908 satirical book on academic politics called the Microcosmographia Academica (available online here) by F. M. Cornford. Addressed to “the aspiring academic politician”, it is still very much worth a read today, especially if you’ve just been elected to Senate or have taken on some significant administrative duties. Not all of it ages well (bits … [ Read More ]