Feb 5, 2004 2:36 am


Robert's comments about the Deming case are largely on the money from my perspective. As much as that story is about an attack on one faculty member's tenure, it's far more of an administrative horror story (as I noted in the comments section of my original post). The irony, of course, is that I am an associate dean these days, so I suppose I should view these all as cautionary tales. My own guess is that, like the problem of political correctness, the problem of rogue administrators is worst at mid-level state universities (as opposed to top Tier I schools), where it's more likely that you'll find faculty and deans who overestimate their importance both in terms of their intellectual contributions and their ability to make the trains run on time. At a place like mine, a small upper Tier II liberal arts college, these things are less of a problem, I think.

I'm in the third year of a three-year administrative appointment and my dean has just begun a campus-wide performance review. He has specifically asked for letters from folks who work closely with me, and will send out a broader campus call for information shortly. That's one way to get accountability I suppose. In a small place, with relatively few layers of administration in academic affairs, that's probably easier to do. In any case, I don't see the systematic threat to tenure, nor do I see Deming's situation as just being about tenure. It certainly points to other problems in higher ed, as Robert rightly notes.

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