Friday, December 12, 2008

Meaningful Change Versus Nickle and Dime

This week, academic and support staff had the first of many conversations to come about budget and vision for our Faculty. I hope that we can continue to have open and civil conversations about the many changes that are needed, and indeed may become possible(!), given the current economic situation. I am delighted that "all options" are on the table -- from trimming back on unnecessary expenses, to the bigger issues of staff and faculty workload and reworking programs, to the idea of exploring options for revenue creation and growth. I believe in judicious cost cutting along with sustainable revenue building in line with our primary objectives - world class research, excellent teaching in both teacher preparation and our graduate programs and collegial governance.

I appreciated the open call to civility -- in the past few months, I have become very discouraged by the "open season" declared on faculty and the permissive culture towards bullying faculty in certain divisions. I have been very discouraged by the hall-way back stabbing and open season declared on past leaders and recent volunteer leaders who are doing their very best for this faculty - curious thanks for taking on the difficult task of leadership in these trying times. I hope that future discourse can recognize and support our present and past leader's achievements and efforts and personal sacrifice, rather than the opposite.

I love this faculty and I believe it can have a powerful future. I have been here for 20 years, first as an undergraduate, then as a graduate student and now as a faculty member. I have invested my heart and mind in this Faculty, in my colleagues and especially in my students. I work with people who have the brightest minds and best hearts in education and I am thankful for this privilege. I also believe that as a whole, the members of this faculty can do better -- we can be better with and to each other as we chart uncertain territory in the coming days.

I believe that we need to continuously review, revise and renew programs in the Faculty of Education. I hope that this period of transitional instability will yield meaningful change - I see the current upheaval as an opportunity to examine what we do and to make difficult and needed changes - changes that we might not have had the appetite for if we weren't in such perilous economic times. I hope we take advantage of this opportunity for meaningful change rather than hanging on by our fingernails to stagnant and entrenched programs that have become impervious to new ideas.

My Christmas List:

1. I sincerely hope that members of our faculty can put aside individualistic and selfish concerns, and work together on great solutions that benefit the entire faculty.
2. I hope that the faculty and support staff can continue to have open and civil conversations about the many changes that are needed, and indeed may finally become possible(!), given the current economic situation.
3. I hope that fresh ideas and innovative solutions will be welcomed, and that members of this faculty will (re)engage and be heard.
4. I hope that the benefits and burdens of any changes are shared by all faculty and support staff. Plums should not be hoarded by the few, nor should the sticks be imposed upon the more vulnerable members of our community.

A graduate student and I were chatting about the concept of mutual vulnerability yesterday. When complex systems begin to fail, the reverberating effects are felt by everyone. I do not believe we will get where we want to go in this Faculty unless everyone picks up an oar. Now is the time to figure out how we can get and keep everyone on board. Let's utilize all of our diverse and particular talents to build a common vision and hammer out an ethical and effective plan for action.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope the people who read this and talk to you are inspired. I believe that, with more professors talking like this, more students will follow suit and work together towards greater knowledge and better relationships.