Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Rot and Enronification of Universities: Part 4: The "New" Rule

In the first of this series of posts I noted 5 characteristics of institutions for higher education and have discussed two of the -- the captive legal staff and the obsession with fighting transparency. I also tossed in an old post I wrote about why faculty are too self interested and cowardly to speak up.

Somewhere in all of this goes the "new rule" strategy. That is, an administrator is caught at best just being incompetent or at worst playing favorites. When asked about it, the administration announces the new rule that applies in that situation that no actually knows about.

The worse instance of this came several years ago and involved the worst dean. After a year or two, people began to notice that without any explanations the teaching loads varied. Repeated requests for information went unanswered until the dean said the leaves were research leaves. We already had a sabbatical program so it was puzzling. When pressed about how one applied. . . well, there was no actual procedure. Asked about how the program had operated, there were no answers. Evidently we had a research leave program known only to the Dean and his buds.

My school has a policy that full teaching load is 12 hours but you can request 9 hours if you more or less promise to do research. Most people ask for and get the 9 hour load. Very recently, though, some even lower loads popped up. So, again, a request goes down to the office for an explanation of how one teaches less that a nine hour load. After an extended delay the answer comes that the 8 hour load is a result of the policy that if you teach a 10 hour load you get a 8 hour load the next semester or will teach 10 hours in the future. The problem is that none of the people with the light loads taught 10 hours and many people who have taught 10 hour loads have never heard of their entitlement to the lower load the next semester.

Here is the part that takes the cake. The administrator who announced the rule could not say whether it had ever been applied in the past. Huh?? I think I know why -- there was no rule until one had to be created to explain what made no sense.

Was Enron any less arrogant?

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