Friday, June 15, 2012

Chains (a delightful romp through our unstoried past)

Another bright idea—thwarted anew by peevish faculty

     I am (indeed) interested in “institutional history,” and so I welcome opportunities to post reminiscences of college or districtular events—especially those occurring in the distant past.
     Here’s something a former denizen of Saddleback (and IVC) sent me today:

IDEA: LET'S CHAIN UP THE COLLEGE ON WEEKENDS

     1977 - …Since you are interested in “Institutional History,” I thought I would reminisce about my first negative encounter concerning the Board of Trustees.
     I was hired at Saddleback College in 1977, young, dumb and oblivious to politics. In my first semester, then-president Bob Lombardi had his VP, Frank Sciarotta, do a study of putting up a locked, chain-link fence around the campus…. [The idea was that] Gates to the campus would be locked at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, and not re-opened until early Monday morning. This, I assumed, was to [keep out] the great unwashed.
     In those days, I spent considerable weekend hours in my office doing lecture preparation, pulling slides, etc. [So] I was really pissed [about the fence idea].
     When the issue came up for Review and Study, I [wrote] a letter—to each Board Member, Sciarrotta, et al.—suggesting that the idea [of locking up the campus] was not only antithetical to an open campus, it smacked of Nazi Overkill, not to mention [its preventing] the obvious things that happen on a campus during the weekend. I even noted that the next obvious move would be giving loaded firearms to campus police (which, of course, happened anyway).
     The following Tuesday, then Dean of Men, Jack Scwartzbaugh [DtB stumbled upon that fellow recently], burst into my darkened morning class and demanded I follow him to his office. I didn’t know who he was, but I told him to shove off and make an appointment with the Division Secretary. After some barking and yelling I shoved him outside and locked the door. I had been there [only] six months—in those days, just 18 months away from tenure.
     When the “meeting” did take place I was severely scolded for writing directly to the Board, not to mention my gross insubordination at my classroom.
     In any event, the [fence] idea never made it to the Board, but an interesting thing did happen. I was politely asked by Jim Thorpe, Bob Doty, and a host of really old dog union guys to talk and test whether I was interested by CTA and Teacher’s Unions? Again clueless, not only did I know nothing of teachers’ unions, I got talked into being the Grievance Chair.
     After three years, I had been Grievance Guy, Chief Negotiator and, in 1982, President of the Faculty Assn. Of course, this was before IVC was even an idea, but wacky ideas go back a long way. –GB
     Of course, an appeal to the importance of maintaining the “chain of command” has been made at other times in our district’s goofy history. Here’s something I found from Dissent 30 (September 20, 1999):

IDEA: LET'S NOT REQUIRE THAT DEANS HAVE COLLEGE DEGREES

"Goo" Mathur: idea man
     1999 - When, recently, the job announcement went out for the Dean of Humanities/Languages and Library Services at IVC, it failed to reflect input from the relevant faculty. President [Raghu] Mathur, who took control of the process, never consulted anyone, as per usual. Unsurprisingly, the announcement was embarrassingly inept, and not only because it failed to require even a Bachelor’s degree!….
     Late in the summer, I mentioned the situation to two Trustees—[Nancy] Padberg and [Don] Wagner—and we began to correspond regarding this issue. Independently, other members of the School of H[umanities] &L[anguages] learned that, during Saddleback’s recent search process for a similar position, the relevant faculty were duly consulted, and, as a consequence, the resulting announcement was pretty decent.
     During its first Fall School meeting, H&L faculty unanimously voted to send their objections concerning the announcement (including the lack of consultation) to President Mathur. Soon, at the instigation of Acting Dean [Howard the Duck] Gensler, a committee (comprising H&L and Library faculty)—I was the de facto chair—was formed to rewrite the announcement; the revision would be sent to Mathur for his consideration. In the meantime, faculty learned that Mathur had been pressured “from the top”—perhaps in the person of Executive Vice Chancellor Gary Poertner—to provide an announcement that at least did not violate Title V!
     The committee met and decided simply to adopt Saddleback’s announcement (mutatis mutandis). The document was then widely distributed among faculty for further input—confidentiality was no issue. Ultimately, I duly delivered the proposed revision to Dean Gensler, who presumably sent it to Mathur. At that point, I sent a copy directly to Poertner via email, since it was my understanding that he was involved in the process.
     Soon, I received a grave letter from Gensler asking if I had “violated the chain of command” by sending the revised announcement to Poertner or others! He instructed me to answer several questions about my actions in writing. Gensler did not say so, but no doubt the letter was instigated by Mathur. That is, Mathur, the violator of process par excellence was offended by my so-called violations of process. Sheesh!
     Mathur, who no doubt seeks to place more of his incompetent cronies in key administrative positions, is balking at the revision’s requirement that the applicant possess a Masters degree in one of the relevant areas. The battle has now shifted to the Academic Senate, which endorses the requirement and intends to advocate its inclusion….
Emoticons instead of grades? (Inside Higher Ed)

     In the spirit of institutional memory, I’ve just posted an old Dissent piece that describes the opening of the 1999 SOCCCD Spring semester:

It's a bad, bad, bad, bad world!


"I wrote a letter"

3 comments:

  1. Surely you're making this stuff up

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is that first one Gregg Bishop?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I believe that he spells his name with two Ps. Yes.

    ReplyDelete

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