Thursday, December 20, 2012

UVic names new President

Below is the text that I'd intended to use for our new President. I can't run it now, because it's Jamie Cassels. He's not an outsider; he's the ultimate insider.

And it'll be disastrous for each and every item in my list of brewing troubles below, because most of those things can be traced in one way or another, and to varying degrees, to his time as this university's Provost.

Colour this faculty member deeply, deeply disappointed with this news.

I'll reflect, and consult, and do the research, because that's what academics do, but .... Good heavens, what has this search committee DONE?!?!?


Well, I for one welcome our new administrative overlords.

These are challenging times for a university's new president, and UVic isn't much different than anywhere else. This blog was born out of my need to critique this university's strategic plan, and while I haven't continued that quixotic task, I continue to feel that it's necessary. My administrating and critiquing have simply had to move on to other targets: collective bargaining (since I'm on the association's Negotiating Team, about much of which I've had to remain fairly quiet), departmental organization (the Department of English, an invariably complicated place at any university), and first-year composition (a battle over tuition fees, and between visions).

For today, I'll say only a polite welcome to [insert name here], who until recently was the [position].

Mind you, I should also say that I look forward impatiently to seeing:

  • if you can exert some positive influence over the last few years' deterioration in the relationship between faculty and administration, and between the Faculty Association and the Administration;
  • if you can slow the proliferation of upper administrative posts (a doubling of Associate Vice-Presidents in the last five years);
  • if you can slow the parallel proliferation of middle administrative posts (such as the impressive staffing increase surrounding Deans);
  • if you can limit the success and reach of the assorted empire-building projects that have always been (and will always be) part of university structures; and
  • if you can get UVic to live up to its long-ignored obligations under the University and College Presidents' Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada. As I've written before, this failure is absolutely characteristic of the current university administration, including its tendency at times toward PR rather than policy.
We'll be watching.

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