In a gesture of good will, faculty should consider chipping in to buy flack jackets for our trustees. ($400+, used, on Ebay.) After all, when they signed on for this cruise, I’m sure they didn’t expect this many incoming rounds. It probably looked like a pretty cushy ride--consent agenda, most of the work done out of the public eye, Dr. Y feeding them all of the necessary info to make everyone look good on paper. The pay isn’t good, but the position looks great on a resume, there are some nice travel perks, you get STRS points, and the professional development might come in handy. Besides, they all have a vested interest in making higher education work in our tri-county area—the same thing we are interested in. Ka-duh!
But, if our trustees want to see that happen, they need to step out of that comfy fox hole that Dr. Yowell has constructed for them. They are going to take some direct hits and they are going to have to find their own way back in the dark without a lot of guidance, since all of the old maps are looking pretty faulty. So, where to start, if you are uncertain of your way?
1) You gather information, 2) you trust in your own critical thinking skills instead of propaganda, and 3) you ask for help when you need it.
You talk to the faculty, the deans, the vice presidents. Talk to them off the record, in private conversations, where they can speak their minds without fear of recriminations. And if you think that people are not afraid, just walk around our campus. You can see it in faces across the desk, in students who are unsure if they will have a program to come back to, and you can see it in the way our deans and vice presidents maneuver conversations so they do not have to discuss the horse that is chowing down in the pantry.
And where will this inquiry lead?
1. They will find out that we are not a vocal minority. We represent the majority of the employees at Edison, many of whom are too reticent or too afraid to speak their minds.
2. They will find that there is a whole college full of talented, well educated people, ready to step in and help, if they are assured of respect for their work and opinions. We are after all, a college! The things that faculty do best are exactly what Edison needs—we are research oriented scholars with expertise in business, finance, marketing, technology, engineering, public relations (ya think we could use this one?), communication, and critical thinking. We don’t need a think tank—we are one!! Together we can get Edison back to the optimistic, challenging workplace that it used to be when so many of us left other careers because we wanted to teach.
3. They will see that it is time for some of our leadership to move on. Regardless of their good intentions, they are no longer leading. (Yes, good intentions. It is time for some healing here, folks.) We need to thank them for their efforts and make it possible for them to decide how they want to be remembered at Edison.
In the best interest of our college, change has to happen very very soon, and we are depending upon our Board to see past the smoke screens, the incoming rounds, the bitterness created by strong arm tactics, and make Edison the strong, optimistic workplace that it used to be. Our enrollment is growing, the community needs us, and the Edison academic mission is strong. We just need a workplace that will let us work.
(I will be happy to sign this post if requested, but I would prefer my pen name until I see how our administration and Board are going to respond. Once burned.... )