Wednesday, February 6, 2013


A short post today: now that this blog is getting a heavier readership, and now that some posts are getting some traction, I'm hearing that some readers are a little worried about me.

Boiled down, the worries come down to, "Aren't you worried about what your school's executive* will do to you for blogging about your school's administrative issues?"

In brief, no.

But before this statement gets interpreted as willing martyrdom or something ("I'm my own hero!"), you need to understand this blog's current mission. All I'm doing at this point is asking for transparency. I want my university's executive to renew its commitment to the principles of collegial governance trumpeted in its strategic plan. This principle has been part of UVic's fabric since the 1970s, and since it was part of the consultant's brief for hiring a new president to start in 2013. That's hardly revolutionary.

Sure, I disagree with some of the executive's apparent goals and methods, and I'm blogging about those here as well, but that's a separate issue. Right now, I'm most upset simply that they won't talk to the university community. Interspersed with this core principle are assorted other disagreements, but that's not an issue. What community doesn't have its dissenters, and what university can't accept polite, reasoned dissent?

People seem especially anxious about my posts about the definition of "administration," about smart growth, and on the question of faculty representation, so let's take as a representative example my post on UVic's smart growth initiative.

The executive hired a consultant on smart growth, David Attis from EAB, who told them many things after (and presumably before!) he spoke with about a hundred different people across campus. One of his key comments was that faculty members needed to be engaged with, or they'd be likely to resist change; this risk has been identified in every change initiative ever undertaken at any university anywhere ever. Somehow, faculty members across campus remained unaware of the very existence of this restructuring process, and indeed the larger university community remains under-informed about, maybe even unaware of, UVic's investment in Smart Growth.

My reaction to the executive's apparent program of change is largely irrelevant to the objections I've made in this area. At bottom, I just want the executive to talk openly about its restructuring process. If they gave us some detailed numbers, explained their vision, and showed a willingness to talk, then we'd be talking about actual issues. They haven't, so we're not.

So, no. I'm not worried about blowback from my executive. I'm affirming here my commitment to a principle of collegial governance that the university's strategic plan describes as integral to the school's future. I'm sure they'd rather all of these kinds of conversations happened inside the walls, so to speak, rather than visibly, but genuine collegiality can't draw those kinds of lines.

I'm going to keep talking, because it's time for a conversation. Join me, won't you?

* And yes, I'm trying to use the term "executive" where we'd be more likely to use or hear the term "administration." A commenter helpfully pointed out that if I'm at pains to distinguish between "the administration" and "administrative tasks," maybe I need to identify more clearly when I'm talking about the executive specifically.


  1. Thank you for keeping us the rest of us informed - it's much appreciated.

  2. I'm with you, brother. Even a, "Hey, keep it down and get the hell off our (now bunny-free) lawn!" would be better than the total indifference (at best) or disregard and scorn (at worst) we have now.

    Dear UVic Executive: TALK TO US, PLEASE.