Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: she [didn't get] $35,000

     During a colleague’s class today, students somehow referred to events and features of the college that might strike one as odd or noteworthy. My colleague slyly asked students if they were looking forward to the upcoming IVC “homecoming.” Many students responded with quizzical looks. “I thought colleges don’t have that sort of thing,” said one student.
     Indeed.
     The subject of student government came up. “You know,” said one student, “one advantage of being in student government is that you get priority registration.”
     “Really?” asked the colleague.
     “Really?” I asked, when said colleague told me this story.
     “Really?!”

     A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking with a colleague who shared stories with me about a certain nakedly ambitious instructor whose notoriously assertive and superior ways have left a lengthy trail of disgruntlement and annoyance among the ranks of the classified to the administrative, with several passes through the instructional, both adjunct and full-time.
     That instructor, the colleague reminded me, took on a special project, producing a series of pricey “installations.”
     “Yeah, I remember,” I said. “Once, I joked on the blog about the title of one of the installations—a sculpture in the A-Quad—and she reacted as though I had tried to destroy her program and her career. I was amazed. All I did was explain the allusion of the installation’s title! Who did she think she was, anyway?”
    “Hot shit, that’s what. You know how much she was paid for that project?”
     “Nope. How much?” I figured my friend would give a figure like three or four thousand dollars. Over the years, lots of special projects have come and gone, and that’s the usual size of a stipend. Chump change.
     “$35,000,” she said.
     I stared at her.
     “Did you say $35,000?”
     “Yep.”
     (We retracted the suggestion that the instructor received this kind of money on Feb. 13.)

I'm from Texas!
     Bullies do well at IVC. They find out that they can shove and push and scheme their way to what they want, and so they do, and nobody gets in their way. Certainly not the college president, who is busy developing addled "civility" policies: be civil or we'll fuck you up.
     The aforementioned instructor’s pushy and self-serving ways are, unfortunately, a good fit with IVC’s culture of bullying and mystery administrative careers (MACs)—by which I mean the pattern of inexplicably lengthy tenures among some outstandingly questionable administrators and managers.
     The man who presides over this curiously F'd up regime—Glenn Roquemore—provides a good example of a MAC. College Presidential tenures are traditionally short. A project gets done, and then the prez immediately becomes a short-timer. He or she has got to go.
     But Glenn Roquemore, who got his administrative start by catching a corner of Raghu Mathur’s slithering star, has managed to keep his job as Prez for nearly a dozen years now (August 2001), despite his utter dearth of leadership abilities and his manifest incompetence. What does he stand for? Who the hell knows. What is he doing? That’s hard to say. What has he accomplished? Well, I'll have to get back to you on that.
     Consider IVC’s current financial crises. In the middle of last semester, we were told about an unfortunate long-term trend in our finances—namely, that expenses keep increasing while revenue remains flat. Oddly, despite the longtime availability of this data, in mid Fall, an atmosphere of “emergency” suddenly materialized. Unless we do something soon, we were told, we’d be in trouble. What to do!?
     Roquemore panicked. He made, or prepared to make, a unilateral cost-cutting decision—namely, to cancel the planned hire of nine faculty. It was the truth writ panicky: at IVC, shared government is an illusion or less.
     Fortunately, faculty leadership caught wind of his apparent disposition and squealed loudly. The upshot: a new committee was formed and charged with looking into the possibilities of new revenue and cost cutting. By the time the committee got up and going, the HR due date for advertising new hires had passed, for Roquemore had dithered. Academic Senate leadership put a fire under Roquemore's ass, and, finally, some new positions were sent down to HR to pursue advertising. As things now stand, if we hire at all, we’ll do so belatedly, and at a disadvantage relative to competing colleges.
     Nice going, Glenn. (Meanwhile, Saddleback College, despite the burden of a similar fiscal "crisis," is pursuing lots of full-time hires.)
     At one senate meeting, a committee member told us that when inquiring minds asked administration how certain budgetary decisions had been made, the response was, “we don’t remember.”

     As you know, probationary faculty go through a defined process that yields their being granted tenure—or not. For each probie, there is a Tenure Review Committee (TRC). I’m on one or two of them.
     During the crucial third probationary year, a probie’s TRC makes a recommendation re tenure, and that goes to the college President. The recommendation then goes down to HR at the district. From there, it goes to the trustees. As I understand it, the process is underway and the trustees will be asked to approve recommendations late this month.
     It’s an important process. It is important that it not be abused. But at IVC, with its bully-friendly culture and inexplicable embrace of The Incompetent, complacency is always a mistake. People who are used to throwing their weight around might throw it, well, here, in the Tenure Review Process, in a manner contrary to the spirit of fairness and due process.
     I sense the opening of a new era of litigation for the district. Listening, trustees? (Not likely.)

     Did you know that one of the current probies is a close personal friend of the college President? Gosh, I do hope everyone is on their best behavior. It will be interesting to learn who'll get tenure and who won't.
     —Well, maybe not "interesting."

SEE ALSO Tenure Time

22 comments:

  1. In what chapter of your book will this stuff go?

    Because if you're not, like, writing a book, then a lot of great material is going to waste.

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  2. Students who are involved in student government get priority registration over someone who isn't because they work full time in order to feed their families? Is this really true? At a time when people have to wait 1-2-3 semesters to get a seat in a writing class?

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  3. People should get compensated for their labor but that amount does seem a bit, uh, high. (gulp)

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  4. Are you sure this is right? About the money? maybe it came from the Foundation or something?

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  5. I thoght the foundation money was supposed to support the students with scholarships and such.

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  6. The Foundation can do what it wants with its money. If they decided this project was worth funding to the tune of $35,000 they could fund it. I think paying the artists and the set-up costs would run pretty high.

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  7. I never said the Foundation paid the $35K

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  8. If the Foundation didn't pony up the 35K, where did it come from? And again, the figure is large but if it paid for the artists and installation costs, then it isn't.

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  9. My source told me that the $35k did not pay for the artist or the installation costs. She also said The foundation did not pay it either.

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  10. Glenn takes all probationary faculty on vacation to Hawaii.

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  11. What is the justification of giving ASIVC reps priority registration? I don't get it.

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  12. Such stipends are subject to rigorous review. The applicant must justify the amount of money requested. While this figure may seem large to us, it is line with the kind of money laid out for this sort of task in industry.

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  13. I find the amount of that stipend hard to believe and would like to see some proof. Perhaps this report is exaggerated.

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  14. I'd like to go to Hawaii. If I got $35,000 maybe I could.

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  15. The information I have is that the $35K was essentially payment to this faculty member for finding the sculptures for BOSI. According to the info I have, between $60-80K was spent on the installations, including purchase of some pieces, etc. Don't know where all the money came from, though some of it came from the general fund. This instructor at one point went to the Foundation to ask for $60K or so for the BOSI stuff, but was turned down.

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  16. That's a lot of money. I feel bad when I go over my xerox allotment.

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  17. Academic tenure needs to be abolished. It serves no useful function in a progressively liberal learning environment.

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  18. 11:01, DtB is a college blog. You need to do better than to issue bald assertions. Provide reasons, arguments.
    You say that tenure "serves no useful function," but of course it does serve a function, which explains its existence. Do I need to spell it out for you? Are you unaware of the rationale for academic tenure and academic freedom?
    You say that tenure serves no function "in a progressively liberal learning environment." Are you suggesting that, in, say, a "progressively conservative" learning environment, things would be otherwise?
    I know it's hard, but do try to be clear. You're not making much sense, and your remarks are offered sans argument or justification. Do better.

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  19. yeah? Well you dress funny!

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  20. While this would be a questionable foundation expense, it's definitely a questionable general fund expense. Can anyone find out how the 35k was funded? How did the Prez get away with this?

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  21. I don't understand why this would be questionable if the process was followed, whether it was foundation money or general fund or both. We should all get compensated for our work here.

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