Tag Archives: administration

The blogging VPAA?

I was thinking over the session coming up at Blog Indiana by John Oak Dalton titled “Chancellor 2.0” which promises to address “existing and emerging obstacles of CEO-grade context” [sic? Was that supposed to be “content”?] for Twitter. In other words, it sounds like the session will be about how to get your college’s upper administration up and running with blogging and tweeting. I’m curious to see what Dalton makes of this, because his home institution seems to have embraced blogging and Twitter at a scale you don’t normally see from a university. Even the chancellor tweets.

I’d love to see more college administrators blogging or twittering, using their real names, making no secret of their institutions, and writing honestly about their successes and struggles in the work that they do. There’s no faster track to giving higher education a measure of transparency that it badly needs than this. That transparency is needed both inside and out.

On the inside, faculty benefit from having a window on what the administration is doing, rather than having an administration that lives and works behind a wall of separation. Students, for whom college administration is especially important but also mysterious, would benefit too. And as faculty have a tendency to objectify administrators and turn them into lay figures to complain about — a mirror image of what many students do to faculty — anything that administrators can do to show people their human side (up to a point, of course; there’s still such a thing as “too much information”) helps the organization operate better.

On the outside, the general public has cultivated such a distrust and dislike for higher education — and can they be blamed, the way we act sometimes? — that giving them that same window on administrative operations would be an honest, unilateral step towards reestablishing the trust that ought to be shared between town and gown. And if I were a parent with a child about to start college, the administrator and faculty blogs would be a valuable source of information about what the college is really like.

If I were a college administrator (not that I’m looking to become one), not only would I be blogging and Twittering regularly, I’d encourage the people who work under me as well as faculty to do the same. I’d be trying to make sure the resources are there to make it happen — dedicated server space for faculty and staff to have their own WordPress installations, and so forth — and most important to make sure that they have permission to speak freely. Imagine what it would be like if your official college blog posts or tweets could be used for your benefit towards tenure.

Are there other college administrators out there who blog or tweet? Or any administrators out there reading this post who don’t, and would care to explain why not?

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Filed under Academic freedom, Blogging, Higher ed, Life in academia, Social software, Technology, Tenure, Twitter, Web 2.0

If I were the university president… (v. 2)

…then I might be driven to drink because of the job stress, but I don’t think I would drive around drunk either:

The president of the University of Evansville was arrested for driving while intoxicated Wednesday evening.

Stephen Jennings, who has been president since 2001 at the dry campus, was driving with a blood-alcohol content nearly twice the level at which a driver is considered intoxicated, according to a probable cause affidavit posted online by the Evansville Courier and Press.[…]

“I have obviously made a very serious mistake, and I apologize to the campus community and the community at large,” Jennings said in the statement. “I will take every necessary action to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Jennings pleaded guilty to two counts of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated Thursday morning via video from the Vanderburgh County Jail, according to court records. He was allowed to enter the deferral program because it was his first offense.

If Jennings successfully completes the program, the charges against him will be dismissed.

According to the article, Jennings was pulled over after weaving his car between lanes on a major highway. Then, after police “immediately smelled a very strong odor of alcohol beverages” and noticed his “bloodshot and glassy eyes”, Jennings refused a field sobriety test; then he claimed he hadn’t been drinking; then he admitted to having two beers. Then they found his blood alcohol content to be 0.14, which is way more than you’d get after two beers. Unless those two beers were in addition to a bottle of scotch.

The trustees at UE are rallying around Jennings:

“The board feels he has done a wonderful job for this university and this community,” board Chairman Niel Ellerbrook said in the statement, “and it is our intention to do whatever is needed to help Steve.”

That’s nice, but if I were a trustee and not just a university president, I’d have to think that raising money and representing the institution to the public — which are two of the main jobs of the president — are going to be a lot harder when you’ve been arrested for DUI.

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Filed under Higher ed, Life in academia

If I were the university president…

UPDATE Monday, July 7: This blog post was picked up by the student newspaper at the University of Toledo. I welcome all the readers who might be visiting CO9s from that newspaper article. Unfortunately, despite my requests and the reporter’s assurance to the contrary, the newspaper article contains the name of my employer and the rank which I hold at my college and identifies me not as the blogger at Casting Out Nines but as a professor at my college. I want to reiterate: Casting Out Nines is a private blog which is in no way affiliated with my employer. I do not speak for my employer on anything here, and my opinions are my own. The fact that my rank and affiliation were “outed” at the Toledo article was the fault of the editors there and was against my wishes. I have submitted an email of protest to the reporter and the paper about this in which I ask for my rank and affiliation to be removed from the online version of the article, and from the print version if possible.

…and I had a Dean working under me that was highly unpopular and received a no-confidence vote from the faculty, I’d find that situation difficult to deal with. But I don’t think I’d handle it like they did at the University of Toledo:

In an April 27 e-mail, for instance, President Lloyd Jacobs indicated that he would be open to getting rid of the embattled dean if he didn’t think that doing so would validate faculty critics.

“For several days I thought the best thing to do was to throw [Lee] under the bus and get on with our agenda,” Jacobs wrote to Rosemary Haggett, the university’s provost. “Maybe thats [sic] still the best thing – input please …

“However, we probably can’t do that because we can’t reward the bad behavior that the [Arts and Sciences] folk have displayed, I think.”

Sounds like Pres. Jacobs not only needs to work on his people skills, but he and the Provost also forgot the First Law of Email, which states that whatever you put into an email will become public information at the worst possible moment.  Administrators everywhere: whatever it is you really want to say about somebody in an email, don’t.

The same lesson about people skills could be learned by the UT faculty who put up the Arts & Sciences Council blog. I’ve never seen a semi-official outlet of a public university take such an publicly antagonistic stance towards administration, and it’s shockingly unprofessional. Faculty may have a legitimate bone to pick with administrators — all faculty do, and it’s just a question of how frequently — but putting up a blog to publicly vilify your president can’t be the best possible way to deal with it.

Makes me glad I don’t work there.

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Filed under Higher ed, Life in academia