Tuesday, September 8, 1998

ARCHIVES: Goo's brown bag lunch, 9/98

by Chunk Wheeler

The 'Vine: September 8, 1998

Today (Sept. 3), a friend told me that Mr. Goo had just hosted one of his lunch events. I expressed surprise and explained that I had heard nothing about it. “The announcement is in your e-mail,” she said, grumpily. I looked. I had received no such announcement. I wondered why.

As you know, Mr. Goo’s history with special lunches has been disastrous. Last November, he scheduled a “Brown Bag Lunch” that managed to attract only George McCrory, who showed up with a banana. Under the circumstances, an ordinary human being would immediately drop the matter and never speak of it again, but not our Goo. A few weeks later, in the execrable Laser Beam, he expressed his gratitude to “everyone” who participated in this “very successful” event.

I wonder what it’s like to be able to just lie like that?

You’d think a man who received a vote of confidence from only 24% of the full-time faculty would know better than to host “lunches” of this sort. Not so. My friend reported that Thursday’s event was also an abject failure, despite the lure of a free hot lunch. Later, when I visited my office, I found a note that had been slipped under my door. It said:

“For your info…there were only 4 people at lunch today: Raghu, Glenn, Bob [M]+ ? Raghu had ordered lunch for the first 20 people.”

No doubt, in a few days, we will read an enthusiastic account of the affair in the Laser Beam. “Many thanks,” it will say, “to everyone who came to join us on the 3rd to make the event such a great success!”

I’m told that Mr. Goo’s theme for the lunch was “frivolity” or “fun” or some such thing. Evidently, he had stolen the idea from one of State Chancellor Nussbaum’s communications.

Well, if you’re gonna lie, you may as well steal, too, I guess.

Who was that charming man?

As I said, I did not get an invitation. A mere oversight? Maybe. On the other hand, it is possible that Mr. Goo sought to prevent me from attending in order to avoid a repetition of the unpleasantness that occurred on August 18 during the “President’s Welcome Address.”

Perhaps you missed it. At the beginning of that session, Mr. Goo gave an address in which he urged “unity.” Now, to my mind, it just won’t do for a despot to stand before his victims, calling for unity and harmony, and so I felt that someone needed to say something. I would have waited until the Q&A period to express my indignation, but—surprise, surprise!—Q&A was placed dead last on the agenda, and you know what that means.

At last January’s presidential “Welcome,” Mr. Goo employed a similar gimmick: when, during that session, I asked him why a Q&A was not scheduled, he explained that there would be time for questions at the end of the session. Naturally, time ran out, and, once again, Mr. Goo avoided having to confront his critics in public.

On the 18th, near the end of Goo’s remarks, I stood up and made my objections. I said something like this: “How can you ask for unity, harmony, healing, and all the rest when you attack your own faculty, accusing them of hate crimes? You made that charge [at a board meeting in May] without providing any evidence. Will you apologize?”

In the course of this remark, it became apparent that I had few allies in the room and that, indeed, Mr. Goo’s supporters—all seven of them—were sitting together immediately behind me, holding hands and grunting. Exhibiting uncommon unity of purpose—and more courage than usual--this group shouted and jeered as I spoke. (Perhaps they were not alone—I was at the front of the room and was thus in a poor position to perceive what was happening.) I recall Walter F (or was it Larry O?) repeatedly shouting, “Read the ‘Vine!”, a sentiment so bizarre that I almost turned around to ask him what the hell it meant.

Given these ugly developments, a prudent man would have retreated immediately. I, however, stood there, stubbornly demanding answers to my questions amid the jeers. Goo, who seemed to wriggle at the podium like a bug pinned to a board, sought to cut me off by introducing Glenn, who then walked to the front of the room. He received applause! Undeterred, I said something like, “Gee, Glenn, are you gonna cop to your overscheduling error? Are you gonna explain that, though summer enrollments were up by 14%, the schedule had been expanded by 24%!” The jeers continued. Glenn proceeded to speak. Finally, I sat down.

Later, a friend suggested that I had done what no one else had been able to do: make Raghu and Glenn seem sympathetic, at least to the uninformed in the room. I knew he was right. Ouch.

I should add that, in the end, the “President’s Welcome” session ended without the scheduled Q&A. Further, as far as I know, Glenn has yet to acknowledge his error, which cost the college over $350,000—by his own accounting.

The Good Ship Lollipop

Also during the session, Tom Mucciaro’s former Scoutmaster, David Hood, gave an address. (Evidently, Tom’s mom was instrumental in recently reuniting Scoutmaster and scout.)

Hood’s talk, entitled “Shared Governance,” was intelligent, well-meaning, and even literate. Unfortunately, it was marred by a failure to appreciate two crucial facts about our college: first, that our president is a despot, and, second, that our board is dominated by four stupid thugs. It was as though we were crew members of the H.M.S Bounty being forced to listen to an address intended for crewmembers of the Good Ship Lollipop. “Now, you faculty! Stop being mean to administrators! And you administrators, why won’t you be nice?” Such advice, offered to a faculty that, after years of governmental concord, now confronts a regime that has eliminated shared governance entirely and that routinely violates state laws and district procedures, is insulting.

It wasn’t a complete disaster, though. I understand that Tom finally got his “Citizenship” merit badge for putting this together.

Gooian inanities

Speaking of lollipops, at the presidential “Welcome,” Mr. Goo distributed a handout that presented a brief statement of a philosophy concerning “attitude.” It said

“Attitude is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.”

(Education, shmeducation--it’s attitude that really matters! Wait till I tell my students!)

“We cannot change…the fact that people will act in a certain way.”

(I guess nuclear disarmament is out of the question then.)

“We cannot change the inevitable.”

(Hmmm. Seems sensible, given that “inevitable” means “cannot be avoided.” Among educated people, vacuous statements of this kind are called “tautologies.”)

Of course, were Mr. Goo and his advisors literate, they would know that comparatively sophisticated and insightful doctrines about “attitude” have been developed by various thinkers and traditions for thousands of years. Consequently, Goo would not embarrass himself—and us--by spouting witless and sophomoric New Age crap about “attitude.”

Mr. Goo has a real weakness for this dreck. You’ll recall that, back in March, he distributed a document on “civility” that recommended the following:

:-) Give yourself one compliment per day.
:-) Have a “Brag Buddy” to share successes with.
:-) Say to yourself at least ten times per day, “I love myself” or “I like myself.”
:-) Make a photo copy of the palm of your hand and give yourself a “pat on the back.”

Wow. In a more reasonable world, our president would be ousted for this alone. --CW

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

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Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary