Monday, May 16, 2011

The Tarnishing of the Ivory Tower

Now that graduations are over with and before another set of conferences begins, one can reflect on the academic year that has passed.

At times I wish that the ivory tower was, indeed, ivory to reflect an integrity that one expects of academics.

However, I continue to observe that, at various colleges and universities, it is increasingly not those who have worked the hardest and the most diligently that get the promotions and rewards, but, rather, it is those with the right "political" networks.

I am seeing more administrative appointments without searches; deserving faculty, whose promotions are delayed or stymied or outrightly denied because of egregious falsehoods, disregard to policy manuals, and errors that propagate up the chain of decision-making, and a deemphasis of diversity and equal opportunity.

I know of a teaching award winning faculty member, who is also a member of a minority, who was told to postpone his promotion and tenure decision year so that others could go through the process before him.

I am seeing more searches in which the finalists have no female representation even in areas in which females are well-represented.

I am witnessing rude public firings of directors by other administrators for no reason than to include substitutes that match more closely the one who did the firing.

I am seeing academic positions that are getting filled not by the best as according to the job description but by friends of those in so-called leadership positions.

I know of a female faculty member whose required course was made unrequired midyear and program graduation requirements altered to suit recently hired faculty with students not even being informed.

It appears that, in cases, it is the case that higher-level administrators are tacitly approving the misbehaviors and bullying of others by the lower level administrators.

As a colleague of mine told me recently at one of our graduation ceremonies, and I concurred, individuals know the paths that they have taken to reach their destinations/positions and they have to live with the choices made. I sometimes feel that some may just lack a conscience.

It takes a leader with courage to right the wrongs and I wonder where are the administrators who are up to this task?! Sometimes too much delegation without proper oversight and communications can completely destabilize what a school or college has taken years to build.