The stunningly unacademic choices of one OC college

     Yesterday morning, the Irvine Valley College community received an email from college President, Glenn Roquemore, announcing the college’s 2013 commencement speaker:
     It is my honor to announce the 2013 Irvine Valley College Commencement Speaker Mary Niven, Vice President of Disney California Adventure® Park and Guest Services at the Disneyland® Resort in Anaheim, Calif. It was the request of our ASIVC students that this year’s commencement speaker be an executive from Disneyland.
     The announcement was remarkable for at least two reasons. First, in years past, selection of commencement speaker has employed a process including (1) the identification of recommended speakers—the task of a committee with wide college representation—and (2) final selection by the college president. Usually, this process occurs during the middle of spring semester—i.e., many months from now.
The utterly unacademic
college president®
     Second, the selection process has always been somewhat controversial, and it has been particularly controversial in recent years. Faculty reps (on the aforementioned committee) have often objected to a tendency at IVC to select speakers who do not reflect, and who sometimes contrast harshly with, the values of academia and higher learning. For instance, one commencement speaker, the founder of a well-known restaurant chain, seemed actually to suggest (to our students) that a college education was not necessary for success. ("Why, look at me!" he seemed to say.) Another speaker was a personality/performer in the world of exercise videos; he had no apparent connection to higher learning or scholarship.
     One might say that these choices reflect, in part, the notoriously unscholarly preoccupations of contemporary youth and pop culture. Other choices seem to reflect the limited and stultifying perspective associated with the world of business or the Neanderthalic patriotism and conformist attitudes of Republicanland. Our last commencement speaker—a pleasant fellow somehow selected by the President despite not having been recommended by the committee—actually plagiarized some of his address. (Plagiarism may be swell in the worlds of business, fish tacos, or jumping-jacks, but it is still considered sin #1 in academia.)
"Here, clasp my plastic hand!"
     Owing to a combination of luck and the efforts of determined faculty, decent commencement speakers befitting an institution of higher learning have occasionally been selected. But such occasions have been exceptional, and they have always required much overcoming—an uphill slog up a mountain of unconscious anti-intellectualism and fatheaded conventionalism.
     What is remarkable, then, is that, with this particular history of controversy, the college president has chosen to select the thoroughly unacademic Mary Niven, a horseshit-spouting flack for Disney. And he has done so without apology and with his trademark opacity. How did this selection come about? Was this year’s selection process simply a matter of heeding “the request of our ASIVC students”? By what logic is a professional BSer for a theme park a good choice as commencement speaker?

Glenn, carrying the weight of the world, on his cardboard

     For a tiptoe through the tulips of past IVC “commencement speaker” controversies, please peruse the following:
• Plagiarism is a form of theft, Glenn (but all is well, really) ~ Commencement speakers shouldn't steal, in our opinion
• "Too Political" 
~ Guys in suits don't have politics, evidently.
• That's some leadership, that leadership à la Roquemore ~ the President and the Process. They say Rocky gets animated about rocks and such (he's a geologist). Could be.
• News about Gustavo Arellano, who, again, won't be commencement speaker ~ The NYT praises the Mexican's Taco USA; meanwhile, IVC woos Del Taco
• Irvine Valley College commencement speaker announced  ~ Maxwell, the Geico pig
• The Saddleback College Academic Senate pushes back against Prayer Boy ~ Prez overrules Commencement Committee choice not to have a Commencement prayer.
President Roquemore
• Commencement speaker choices: the controversial and the unimaginative ~ Glenn passes on Gustavo, then UCLA snags ‘im
• Commencement speaker choice a good one ~ A decent speaker, for once
• I(VC) coulda had a V8! ~ Glenn passes on "Gustavo & his Epicureans" in favor of "Jack Scott & the Bromides"; but that's OK cuz UCLA soon snagged the Mexican bandleader for their little fiesta
• Free advertising! ~ According to IVC, Gandhi was an African-American. Odd that.
• Perfect grass ~ Sharon Salinger of UCI squawks like a progressive; Glenn faints into the arms of Mike Carona's ghost
• Irvine Valley College Commencement (2008)
• “Don’t go!”—the 2007 Saddleback College Commencement  ~ I think the speaker was OC dog catcher or something
• What about Gustavo Arellano? ~ Baboons run this district (2008)
• Ouch! ~ Reuben Martinez gets all humane and friendly; Tio Tom Fuentes has an aneurysm
• Irvine Valley College 2007 Commencement ~ Motivational Claptrap
• Pompous and Circumstantial ~ Rebel Girl commentary, 2006. Gentle bombs
Mary Niven starts at 00:50 -- "put on your magical [Mickey Mouse] ears"

Comments

Anonymous said…
Glen is trying to fix a broken process. We needed more time to find speakers. Now we have one.
Anonymous said…
We used to have criteria that we applied to the candidates - and discussions about their merits. The list we often forwarded had a diversity of candidates representing different factions of our community and each with clear ties to the community college or university. that seems to have gone by the wayside. She'd be appropriate for the foundation. Disappointing choice for commencement.
Anonymous said…
I think it's important that the choice be made earlier but this does seem like a poor choice and a poorer process. The cmte should have been reconstituted after last year's fiasco and should have been charged to make a new list or re-rank their nominees. I understand that at least one faculty member on the cmte was supportive of this choice. And yes, more suitable for one of Morely's Foundation events - not an academic ceremony. But it's hustle now. "Let's do the Hustle."
Anonymous said…
Some people like Disneyland.
Anonymous said…
mice and rats like to hang together....
Anonymous said…
is she providing season passes for all?
Anonymous said…
I don't think the question is whether one "likes" Disneyland or not.

And I think we probably might want to try and deal with the fact that many many campus people don't understand our objection to such choices. They really do not. And we are probably in the minority. However, that doesn't make our concerns less valid. We just need to communicate them more effectively. We're up against an increasingly corporate model of education with corporate values.

But yes, I heard she is giving every one free passes - and jobs too!
Anonymous said…
I wish Glenn could fix--well, Glenn!
Anonymous said…
Glen is working off the list he was given last year. He is following the process. I think Disneyland is great.
Anonymous said…
My favorite ride at Disney land is Pirates of the Caribbean. I like going up the down waterfall.
Dennis Gordon said…
Let me see if I understand the problem...We have selected a Female Senior Executive from a local, well respected, Fortune 100 Company as our commencement speaker. The primary objections seem to be that she is not from halls of academia, but from the public sector. Our students however, seem to be in favor of someone from the private sector who can address issues about the local economy, job opportunities and the business enviornment. These are issues that are critical to our students and their plans for the future. I believe a speaker who can deliver a message that inspires and engages our students to seek success would be welcomed at IVC.
Roy Bauer said…
Gosh, Dennis, do you get paid much for being Glenn's apologist? You seem not to understand the point.
The problem here is not that this woman will be our commencement speaker; the problem, rather, is that, (1) in general, we do not choose commencement speakers who reflect the values of academia. (2) Roquemore continually does things, including this selection, that reflect a failure to respect "process" and transparency. Want a list? It's a long and disturbing one.
When we first recommended Reuben Martinez (MacArthur "genius" prize recipient), Glenn passed on him in favor of what turned out to be an unfortunate choice. Martinez went on to do the commencement of Columbia. Repeatedly, Glenn rejected the recommendation of Gustavo Arellano, who, instead, did the commencement speach for UCLA. And who did we get? The snore-worthy state chancellor, who showed up late and offered predictable bromides.
One woman (now two) in the last twenty years? Is that really something to be proud of? Dennis, do you really not understand our desire to adjust the process more towards Maxine Hong Kingston and less to Mayor Lou Bone and a woman who gets excited about "magic" Mickey Mouse ears? Really?
Anonymous said…
yes.....
Anonymous said…
I'd like to see more speakers who are less Fortune 500...we're not a business school.
Dennis Gordon said…
Roy, I don't think any apologies are necessary. This is a speaker for a student commencement. I believe our students (whether they are business students or not) are interested in hearing about the challenges and opportunities they will be facing once they leave IVC.
It's not about Mickey Mouse ears or Disney Magic...it's about the real world they will be facing.
Anonymous said…
I really don't understand your objective to this. Colleges and universities have non-academic commencement speakers all the time. This is for the students and, if we want more of them to attend graduation, then it's time we give them something to look forward to. At my graduation, the president of a national clothing designer came to speak. Was I a fashion major? No. Did I find him interesting? Absolutely. He provided a dynamic, fun, speech with real-world, business examples. Graduation is not for the faculty, it's for the students. Loosen up.
Anonymous said…
You mentioned you want Maxine Hong Kingston? ok cool, who has the money to pay for her to come out here? How many IVC studentw will want to sit out in the sun listening to Kingston ramble on and on about nothing? How many students at IVC are inspiring writers? 24?
You get what you pay for.
BTW I would rather have Suzanne Collins who wrote the HUNGER GAMES or Stephenie Meyer, who wrote the TWILIGHT SAGA. How many students at IVC have read Maxine's work or know her? How many IVC students have read those books or watched the films? I am guessing 5,000.
Choosing a commencement speaker should begin one year ahead of time. period.
Anonymous said…
I remember when we had that black woman speaker. She came from academia, she was a good speaker, but she came off as a campaign operative for Barak Obama because she couldn't stop praising the guy and his agenda. Are we to always expect politicized speeches with the more academic types? Students should not have to put up with Dem politics shoved in their faces on their special day.
Roy Bauer said…
1:42, the issue at hand (not about the process but about appropriate commencement speakers) is an old one and it is ongoing across academia. Obviously, if we gave students the speakers they want, we’d invite the likes of John & Ken or Honey Boo-boo or, say, Christina Aguilera. When such non- or anti-academic speakers are invited, inevitably, a debate erupts between academics who believe that there are academic values—the embrace of which would yield avoiding louts and Boo-boos and vamps (not that there’s anything wrong with vamps)--and those who wish to make commencement a phase in some unfolding par-tay, ending with the usual Dionysian excesses.
I do not object to the selection of this particular woman per se. Rather, I object to the tendency of the leadership of this college to proceed as though academic values either do not exist or are suspect. Judging by our commencement speakers over the years, IVC is a business college with strong sports programs and a wing dedicated to Ronald Reagan.
Anonymous said…
They should bring in Lindsay Lohan!
Roy Bauer said…
1:56, evidently you are unaware that, twenty or so years ago, Hong Kingston was our Commencement speaker. As I recall, she was very well received, and her appearance was a serious morale booster among at least some of the faculty, who had grown accustomed to hearing from lesser lights.
The point of higher education, of course, is, among other things, to mold and direct students’ interests and desires and objectives—i.e., to create thoughtful and knowledgeable independent thinkers. Accordingly, one hopes that students who start out reading the Twilight Saga (or nothing at all) would end up reading works of more lasting value. I just finished a lecture in which I argued, passionately, for the value of studying the “history of ideas,” which, of course, we have been doing for the past 16 weeks. In my estimation, it is a great accomplishment to take students who regard Rush Limbaugh as their political guru and to show them that one does better understanding politics by studying, first, the works and influence of Hobbes, Locke, Burke, Marx, Mill, et al.
Anonymous said…
Earth to 2:38: just what are you smoking? We've had no such person as commencement speaker. Get a clue.
Rebel Girl said…
Dear Anon at 2:38:

IVC has NEVER hosted an African-American female commencement speaker. Never. Ever. (Just ask Glenn. He'll tell you. We've nominated some but they ahve never been selected.) Your reference to Barack Obama suggests she would have spoken within the last 4-5 years -

2012 - Keith Rhodes
2011 - Martin J. Smith
2010- Jack Scott
2009 - Sharon Salinger
2008 - Rueben Martinez
2007 - John Spencer Ellis

Could you be thinking of Saddleback or another local community college?
Anonymous said…
2006 - Wing Lam, aka the Wahoo's Fish Taco guy

2005 - Lou Bone

2004 - ?

2003 - ?

Other years?

Can anyone help fill in the blanks? In the 80s IVC had journalist Robert Scheer and writer and Berkeley professor Maxine Hong Kingston...
Anonymous said…
Glenn was the commencement speaker at Concoria's graduation at the Bren Center last May and I have to say it was one of the most boring and forgettable commencement speeches I can recall. The buzz among the Concordia faculty was the reason Glenn was chosen was that the Concordia administration thought his participation would be a helpful tool in steering IVC transfer students to IVC
Anonymous said…
I believe anon is referring to the black lady who spoke in 2010 before Jack Scott spoke.
Anonymous said…
I think anon means Sharon Salinger in 2009. Is she black? She did mention Obama throughout her speech.
Roy Bauer said…
Check out Salinger's pic on her UCI profile HERE. If she's black, I'll have to get my vision checked.
Anonymous said…
OMG - now I want to email Dean Salinger at UCI and ask her for copy of her speech just to show you guys. Jeez. Just because someone mentions we have a president named Barack Obama she is suddenly a "shill"? OMG.

This is so embarrassing.

I am not even going to touch the race thing. OMG.

Jeez. It's worse than I thought here. Another reason why perhaps we should have people like Dean Salinger, speakers who can write their own speeches and have something to say beyond plagiarized platitudes.
Arschloch said…
I like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
I don't appreciate Harold Lloyd being smeared by having his picture associated with IVC commencement speakers...
Roy Bauer said…
I'm a big Harold Lloyd fan myself, which is why I occasionally stick these stills from his films onto blog posts. (I do the same for Buster Keaton.)
Did you catch the reference to his "plastic" hand? Actually, the prosthesis was made of rubber and replaced only his thumb and index finger. He lost those digits in a bad accident on the set. Was blind for a while, too. Came back stronger than ever, with a rubber hand.
Anonymous said…
I heard someone say that it doesn't matter anyway because who will really remember what she says but I wonder what it would be like to have a speaker who did not utter immediately forgettable things.
Anonymous said…
"As I recall, she was very well received, and her appearance was a serious morale booster among at least some of the faculty, who had grown accustomed to hearing from lesser lights." Commencement is not for the faculty or the staff. It's for the students and their families.We attend merely to celebrate WITH them. Not because of what we think we may or may not have done. Who gives a rats ass how the faculty felt about a commencment speaker, it's not about them. If the students feel motivated, informed, entertained, or any other positive thing about a speaker they want, good for them! They listened to you all semester. Let them have THEIR time without listening to you bitch and moan.
Anonymous said…
She's hot!
Anonymous said…
Under the canopy covered stage during commencement everyone looks black.
Roy Bauer said…
9:31, the degrees are conferred by the faculty, not by administrators, not by the college, not by the trustees, etc. The notion that commencement is a day for the students' enjoyment--not for the marking of a transition with a particular meaning--is a vulgar absurdity that has arisen only in recent decades. It has the provenance of a used whoopy cusion.
Anonymous said…
The faculty have long been concerned with securing a speaker suitable for the occasion - a commencement - not a job fair or some kind of fundraiser or frat party or comedy stand-up. It's not about WHO the faculty want to listen to - it's who might best speak to the day, the accomplishments of the students and what lies ahead - which is, of course, more study, more education, not less.

If anyone is using the commencement for their own purposes it's the administration.

And yes, the faculty confer the degrees - not the admin or the students. We're part of the day too. It would be nice to get more than just lip service about that.

Anonymous said…
As so often before, I watch and listen from afar, absolutely agog. I'm so sorry that your "leadership" doesn't know a thing about what higher education is for--as you say, Roy, not to give students what they want, but to shape, guide, inform--uh, to EDUCATE. Two years isn't enough time, apparently, if it's true that the students somehow thought that a corporate entity like Disneyland should have anything at ALL to do with their commencement.

This is far more suitable as a topic of vehement protest than is the new (admittedly awful) UC logo.

MAH
Anonymous said…
At my college where the administration seems to understand and respect the faculty a bit more and recognize that commencement is more than just a time to flatter local pols and business-types (YAWN), we have an unofficial rotation among the schools and departments so each field of study promotes a suitable candidate, sometimes a former student who did well (no, not in a Fortune 500 way), sometimes a prof from the local university in one of the most desired fields, etc. This way the students (and their families) get a glimpse of what the future might be and our programs are promoted and affirmed - as is our teaching. Our commencements are now distinctive in ways they didn't use to be. We use to have these speakers and they reminded me of the kind of ministers for hire who do funerals for people they don't know.
Anonymous said…
At Fullerton College they had Sylvia Mendez of the Mendez vs. Westminster education case. A bit of O.C. history with national ramifications. Nice choice.
Anonymous said…
Saddleback once had historian and then-state librarian Kevin Starr as a speaker.
Anonymous said…
Chapman U had Dr. Lucy Jones, that earthquake specialist one year. She was great. I think it's a terrific idea to have different schools or departments forward names of specialists from their fields so that what we do here is somehow represented. That would make commencement even more collaborative - and interesting! These store-bought canned speeches, no matter how well-delivered, are quite embarrassing. Last year's was the worst. Plagiarized. I'm sure Glen's friend will do fine this year but I am also sure it is a speech that she gets paid to deliver elsewhere throughout the year, just dolled up for us here. Our students deserve better.
Anonymous said…
Lucy Jones! That's an innovative choice. I like the ideas here. Somehow there isn't leadership that allows ideas like these to grow - instead things are quashed and the mediocre status quo continues. I can only imagine what's happening with the scholarship program. everyone complains that there is no time for these things but isn't it someone's job to make it all work and to make it work responsibly?
Anonymous said…
Did you hear? Our new commencement speaker is influencial! ::groan:: So much for being an institution of higher learning.
Anonymous said…
She's probably a very nice lady and all, but she's been "influencial"[sic] apparently in food services at D'land. This does not seem to comport with the idea of a distinguished speaker at a college commencement.

And why, because a few student government types want someone from Disneyland, of all places, is that to be the final determination of a speaker's credentials?
Anonymous said…
Doesn't anyone counsel the students about this? What do they think, that they're going to get jobs at Disney because their commencement speaker was from Disneyland?

Again, it's supposed to be a COLLABORATIVE, COLLECTIVE process. Last year Glen went beyond the finalist and picked his own plagiarizer. This year he just did what he wanted to and hid his decision someone's notes from last year's rushed, poorly facilitated meeting and ASIVC's crush on Disney.

I am sure she's nice and perhaps even "influential" (gee, if OC Metro says so it must be true!) but could we do better? Obviously. nice ideas here, by the way, if Glen is reading (I am sure he is - that's why he sent that email, right?)
Anonymous said…
Glen is hiding behind the students. This is what he and Morely want.

Roquemore and U of Phoenix

From Clueless IVC Prez Glenn Roquemore smiles as he makes nice with the enemy DtB, 8-26-14

Vice President, Western Region, Workforce Solutions/University of Phoenix, Chuck Parker, President, Irvine Valley College, Dr. Glenn R. Roquemore

Members of the Irvine Valley College community just received this gushing email from the President:

Irvine Valley College Signs Memorandum of Understanding with University of Phoenix

Irvine – Irvine Valley College (IVC) administration, faculty and staff held a formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Phoenix, Inc. (University) on Wednesday, August 20, 2014.

Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore said, “This partnership will expand the many transfer opportunities available to the IVC students and staff. One of the major benefits of the MOU is the tuition discount."

Irvine Valley College students transferring to University of Phoenix into an undergraduate baccalaureate degree program … will be considered as having satisfied the general education requirements for the breadth of the liberal arts degree program….

IVC students get 10% off Phoenix tuition, which is way pricey.

Evidently, President Roquemore is not aware that entities such as the U of Phoenix exist to make huge profits by taking advantage of students who typically receive federally insured loans, putting them in serious debt. Those students, upon graduating, typically fail to find the work they were expecting and often default on their loans, forcing the taxpayer to pay. (It's a massive bubble that, one day, will pop.)

You’re fine with all that, are you Glenn? You're a Republican, aren't you? Yeah. I see you smiling with those vets you claim to love!

Alas, the "predatory for-profits" problem is especially egregious in the case of Vets, who pay their way via the new GI Bill:


GI Bill funds failing for-profit California colleges

(Desert Sun)

The ever-clueless Glenn R

Over the last five years, more than $600 million in college assistance for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has been spent on California schools so substandard that they have failed to qualify for state financial aid.

As a result, the GI Bill — designed to help veterans live the American dream — is supporting for-profit companies that spend lavishly on marketing but can leave veterans with worthless degrees and few job prospects, The Center for Investigative Reporting found.

. . .

Financial records analyzed by CIR show that California is the national epicenter of this problem, with nearly 2 out of every 3 GI Bill dollars going to for-profit colleges.

The University of Phoenix in San Diego outdistances its peers. Since 2009, the campus has received $95 million in GI Bill funds. That's more than any brick-and-mortar campus in America, more than the entire 10-campus University of California system and all UC extension programs combined.

. . .

The school's large share of GI Bill funding reflects more than just the number of veterans enrolling. The programs are expensive. An associate degree costs $395 a credit, for instance — nearly 10 times the cost at a public community college.

The University of Phoenix won't say how many of its veterans graduate or find jobs, but the overall graduation rate at its San Diego campus is less than 15 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and more than a quarter of students default on their loans within three years of leaving school.

Those figures fall short of the minimum standards set by the California Student Aid Commission, which dispenses state financial aid. The commission considers either a graduation rate lower than 30 percent or a loan default rate of more than 15.5 percent clear indicators of a substandard education.

No such restrictions govern GI Bill funds. And nearly 300 California schools that received GI Bill money either were barred from receiving state financial aid at least once in the past four years or operated without accreditation, CIR has found.

. . .

Of the $1.5 billion in GI Bill funds spent on tuition and fees in California since 2009, CIR found that more than 40 percent — $638 million —went to schools that have failed the state financial aid standard at least once in the past four years.

Four of those schools were University of Phoenix campuses, which together took in $225 million….

An Enemy In Common? The Case Against For-Profit Colleges

(Cognoscenti [NPR Boston])

… As Americans, we should all be concerned that veterans are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous profiteers. As taxpayers, we should be aware that we are paying for this disservice. Approximately 85-95 percent of the for-profits’ revenue comes from taxpayer-supported benefits….

For-Profit College Investigation--Is the New GI Bill Working?: Questionable For-Profit Colleges Increasingly Dominate the Program

([Senator] Harkin newsletter)


…Senator Harkin's HELP Committee investigation found:

. . .

  • Most for-profit colleges charge much higher tuition than comparable programs at community colleges and flagship State public universities. The investigation found Associate degree and certificate programs averaged four times the cost of degree programs at comparable community colleges. Bachelor's degree programs averaged 20 percent more than the cost of analogous programs at flagship public universities despite the credits being largely non-transferrable.
  • Because 96 percent of students starting a for-profit college take federal student loans to attend a for-profit college (compared to 13 percent at community colleges), nearly all students who leave have student loan debt, even when they don't have a degree or diploma or increased earning power.
  • Students who attended a for-profit college accounted for 47 percent of all Federal student loan defaults in 2008 and 2009. More than 1 in 5 students enrolling in a for-profit college-22 percent-default within 3 years of entering repayment on their student loans....

Hey-Diddly-Ho, Neighbor!

Oldie but Goodie [2012]: See Senator Harkin’s For-Profit College Investigation: U of Phoenix

Glenn Roquemore, the Pacifica Institute & women's "primordial nature"

Glenn Roquemore, the Pacifica Institute & women's "primordial nature" May 21, 2013

Delivering factoids for

Turkish anti-feminists

Here’s a curious factoid. I came across the following press release, evidently dating back to April of 2008. It was posted by the “Pacifica Institute,” which has a dozen or so offices, including one in Orange County (Irvine):


Glenn R. Roquemore-Irvine Valley College President Speaks at PI - Orange County

Today Pacifica Institute hosted Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore. Before this luncheon forum in Irvine , New Zealand Consul General Rob Taylor and Irvine Mayor Beth Krom were the keynote speakers. Consul General Rob Taylor spoke about Welcoming Diversity as a Path to Peace and Mayor Beth Krom’s topic was How to Create a Balanced Community. Dr Glenn Roquemore’s topic is the Role of Community Colleges in Higher Education.

Dr. Glenn Roquemore is President of Irvine Valley College….

Dr Roquemore gave very important statistics of the Community Colleges in California….

You’ll recall that, in the past, we’ve kidded Roquemore over his tendency to approach speaking always as an occasion to dispense the merest of statistics as though they were astonishing jewels. "Two percent of our students," he'll say, "sport a vestigial tail." Huh?

What’s the matter with ‘im? Dunno.

But just who are these “Pacifica Institute” people?

According to PI’s website,

Pacifica Institute was established in 2003 as a non-profit organization by a group of Turkish-Americans. Pacifica Institute designs and executes projects covering social welfare, education, poverty, and conflict resolution issues in collaboration with scholars, activists, artists, politicians, and religious leaders-communities….

. . .

The Institute seeks to …[engage] in a variety of civic activities and [seeks to invite] others to generate and share insights, thereby removing barriers to confidence-building and trust….

Gosh, it sounds as though that illiterate pseudo-educator, Raghu Mathur, may have had a hand in writing this stuff.

Elsewhere, PI presents “Frequently Asked Questions about Pacifica Institute and Fethullah Gülen.”

One naturally assumes, then, that Mr. Fethullah Gülen and his ideas are important to PI. Sure enough, in the Q&A, Gülen and his movement are central:

Fethullah Gülen

Q: How is the Pacifica Institute involved with the Gülen movement?

A: Some of the founders and donors of Pacifica Institute are participants of the so-called Gülen, or Hizmet movement. Pacifica Institute was inspired by the movement’s philosophy and goals….

. . .

The Gülen/Hizmet movement is a values-driven social movement and following a philosophy that advances interfaith dialog, education and community service as tools to build a better and more harmonious society. The movement was inspired by the philosophy and teachings of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish scholar, author and advocate….

. . .

Q: Who is Fethullah Gülen?

A: Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish scholar, preacher, thinker, author, opinion leader, education activist, and peace advocate who is considered by many to be one of the world’s most influential religious thinkers. He is regarded as the initiator and inspirer of the worldwide civil society movement, the Gülen Movement, which is committed to education, dialogue, peace, social justice, and social harmony….

Well, I’ve done a little looking, and this Gülen fella is mighty controversial, in some circles at least.

I skimmed a couple of sites, which suggested that Gulen is, among other things, a conservative and a vocal opponent of feminism (although I ask that readers judge for themselves based on his writings--and the writings of his mouthpieces).

So I went to the Fethullah Gülen website. There, I searched the term “feminism” and that brought me to a page with links to various relevant essays, evidently by Mr. Gülen, including The Gülen Movement: Gender and Practice.

I clicked on that. That essay includes this passage:

Although he promotes equality between the sexes, Fethullah Gülen's views on gender can indeed be described as complementary. He sees women and men as having equal value but inheriting different roles and characteristics due to physical and psychological differences. He classifies men as "physically stronger and apt to bear hardship" and women as "more compassionate, more delicate, more self sacrificing" (Gülen 2006: 1). Although he does state that women can be involved in any field of work he idealizes the mother as the pure educator (Gülen 2006: 2) implicitly implying that the man should be the family provider. This may open up for critique on behalf of Western feminists or scholars of religion and gender. According to this relatively new academic discipline[,] gender is a social construction. Human beings are born with different sexes, but social roles and expectations of fulfillment of these are constructed and emphasized by the norms that prevail in society.

Another link takes one to an essay entitled Women Confined and Mistreated. Here are some excerpts:

As a reaction to all the injustice done to women … a movement to claim women's rights emerged, particularly in the West. Even though this movement is considered an awakening of women, it occurred as a reaction and was doomed to imbalance like all other reactionary movements and ended up in extremism. Although the starting point was to defend women, in time it deviated from the original aim to the degree of being full of hatred towards men and to feeling a grudge against them. The movement named feminism, which was born from the idea of protecting women and providing them with rights equal to those of men, has only left behind longing, sorrow, and wreckage as a movement of discontentment….

. . .

According to Islam, women's role in this world is not only restricted to doing the housework and raising children. In fact, as long as it does not conflict with her primordial nature or with observing religious requirements, she is responsible for carrying out the duties that befall her in every area of society and making up for shortcomings where men fall short in social life. However, this reality was ignored in time, even among Muslims; rough understandings and crude thinking upset this system based on women and men's mutual assistance. After this upset, both family life and the social order were also upset. Different peoples' perception of their own historical heritage as a part of Islam, their seeing and reflecting their folklore and traditions as essentials of religion, and making judgments pertaining to this issue at certain periods all resulted in the usurpation of women's rights; they were pushed into a more restricted area day by day, and in some places they were totally isolated from life without consideration of where this issue leads. However, the source of mistaken thoughts and deviations in this matter is not Islam whatsoever. The mistakes belong to those who misinterpret and misapply the religion. Such mistakes in practice must definitely be corrected.

On the other hand, while correcting these mistakes, approaching the issue from a feminist standpoint will upset the balance again and an opposite extremism will replace the former. For instance, just as it is very ugly to see women as merely child-bearing objects and is insolence towards them, it is equally unbecoming and unnatural to build a society where women are unable to bear and bring up the children they wish for, or for a woman to feel a need to rebel against marrying and to avoid bearing children in order to show that she is not a machine. As a woman is not a dirty dish, her place at home is not confined to the kitchen with the dirty dishes. However, a woman who claims to have no household responsibilities and thereby turns her home to a quarters for eating and sleeping is far from being a good mother, a good teacher, and a good spiritual guide to her children.

Besides all this, it is another form of oppression to make women work under difficult conditions, such as mining and road-building. It contradicts human nature to push women into heavy tasks like agricultural manual labor, or military field operations, and other harsh pursuits, just for the sake of proving their equality with men; it is nothing but cruel torture. It shows ignorance of women's qualities and conflicts with their primordial nature. Therefore, just as an understanding which imprisons women at home and takes them completely away from social life is absolutely incorrect according to Islam, likewise, depriving women of financial support, preventing them from bearing and raising children in security, and forcing women into the labor force to do uncongenial work is also oppressive. A woman, like a man, can have a certain job as far as her (and his) physiology and psychology are taken into consideration; but both women and men should know that a good life consists of sharing and division of labor. Each should assist the other by doing tasks in compliance with their nature.

Yikes.

I’m in no position to judge this “take” on feminism relative to the various Muslim communities (e.g., in Turkey) and the possibility of discourse within them. But it’s pretty plain that Gülen’s philosophy, as expressed here, is antithetical to some of the core tenets of Western feminism, broadly understood. It seems clear that Gülen is not likely to gain many adherents or followers among contemporary Westerners, with their commitment to the ideal of equality, as they understand it at least, between the sexes.

The Wikipedia article on Gülen is alarming—if, that is, it can be trusted. It asserts that

...Gülen's views are vulnerable to the charge of misogyny. As noted by Berna Turam, Gülen has argued:

"the man is used to more demanding jobs . . . but a woman must be excluded during certain days during the month. After giving birth, she sometimes cannot be active for two months. She cannot take part in different segments of the society all the time. She cannot travel without her husband, father, or brother . . . the superiority of men compared to women cannot be denied." [35]

Berna Turam, Northeastern

Wikipedia is quoting Berna Turam, a serious academic at Northeastern U. She herself seems to cite a work from 1996 entitled Fethullah Gulen Hocaefendi ile ufuk turu (Aktuel kitaplar dizisi). It is written in Turkish.

One should be careful to note that the superiority that Gülen is discussing is physical, not moral, or at least that's how I read it. Even so, his remarks are mighty offensive, at least to these Western ears.


Gosh Glenn, you really oughta be more careful who you hang out with. Philosophically, these Gülenites are a problem, at least relative to most of our community on these shores.

I'll see if I can shed more light on the Pacifica Institute and what it means for the likes of Glenn Roquemore and Beth Krom (a Democrat) to be hanging out with 'em.

Votes of "no confidence" - 1999

from the Dissenter's Dictionary, Dec. 3, 1999


MATHUR, RAGHU P.



In April of 1997, in an action later judged a violation of the Open Meetings law, the Board Majority appointed chemistry teacher and campus joke Raghu P. Mathur as Interim President of Irvine Valley College. At the time, Mathur had no experience as a full-time administrator. Five months later, through a process that violated board policy, and amid strong faculty opposition, the BM appointed Mathur permanent president. That action, too, was later voided owing to violations of the Brown Act. Two years later, despite his miserable record, which included a vote of no confidence and the palpable contempt of nearly all IVC faculty and staff, the board majority renewed Mathur's contract, giving him a raise and a $200 a month "security stipend."

Mathur was hired as an instructor in 1979, and he quickly established a reputation as a schemer and liar who would stoop to anything in order to secure an administrative position. Owing to his manifest unsavoriness, however, that ambition was consistently thwarted both inside and outside the district.

His intrigues soon gained him the hatred of Ed Hart, IVC's first president. In 1986, Hart retired, and the college adopted a "faculty chair" model, partly for fiscal reasons. Soon, Mathur "ruled" the tiny school of Physical Sciences as its chair. During the "chair" era, he was, without doubt, the chief abuser of that office, engaging in endless machinations while arranging a lucrative schedule that netted him a salary far in excess of the college president's ($124,000 in 1996-7).

During this period, Mathur continued to seek administrative positions. When he was passed over, he played the race card, charging everyone in sight with "discrimination," apparently on the sole grounds that he had not been selected.

Mathur's habit, as chair, of circumventing the governance process eventually yielded an official censure of him by IVC's "Instructional Council' in April of 1994. Earlier, the IC membership had all agreed not to go outside the process--particularly with regard to the selection of the IVC presidential search committee chair. During an IC meeting in March (of 94), Mathur was asked whether, despite the agreement, he had presented a petition, urging the selection of a particular faculty member, to the chancellor. He answered that he had "not forwarded" a petition to the chancellor or anyone. In fact, he had and, apparently on that basis, the chancellor did appoint the faculty member as (co)chair.

When this came to light in April, Mathur was censured. According to the minutes of the April 5 meeting, "Instructional Council had agreed that no one will work outside of the IVC governance structure and agreed-upon processes. They felt that Raghu had lied to the Council...[One member] made a motion to censur Raghu Mathur for lying to the Instructional Council regarding the petition and the presidential search process and for misrepresenting not only Instructional Council, but also the faculty...Raghu Mathur stated that he did not lie to the Instructional Council. He said that he was asked if he had forwarded the petition to the Chancellor and he said he had not. He did admit, however, that he had shown the petition to Chancellor Lombardi...Raghu felt that the members of Instructional Council were making too big of a deal out of the situation...The question was called and the motion passed with 8 ayes, 3 noes, and 4 abstentions."

Classified employees, too, have at times found it necessary to complain about of Mathur's conduct. For instance, in August of 1995, IVC administration received a letter from Leann Cribb, Executive Secretary (and formerly secretary for the School of Physical Sciences), in which she wrote: "Mr. Mathur routinely revises facts and manufactures innuendo to suit his objectives." During the January '98 Board meeting, classified employee Julie Ben-Yeoshua explained that Mathur was the reason she was seeking employment elsewhere: "Since you first appointed Raghu Mathur as the interim president, the atmosphere at IVC has changed drastically; morale is in the gutter...[Mathur's] inability to tell the truth is so natural that I have come to gauge everything he says and writes by believing the complete opposite...."

By the mid-90s, Mathur had come to regard Terry Burgess, then-VP of Instruction, as his nemesis, and, in 1996, he tried to discredit Burgess with the board. In the spring of '96, a student sought to enroll in a chemistry course without enrolling in the concurrent lab, and the matter came before the chair--Mathur. Though the student provided documentation proving that she had done the equivalent work at UCI, Mathur denied the request, whereupon the student asked for a review of the decision by the Office of Instruction. Mathur agreed to go along with the Office's decision.

Later, however, he accused Burgess of signing the student's admittance card despite non-approval by the instructor. Mathur convinced his school to send a resolution of complaint to the board (and also to the senate and the union), appending the student's transcripts, without her permission, an action that violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and district policies. When then-IVC president Dan Larios learned of this, he requested an opinion from the district's attorneys regarding the legality of Mathur's action. The opinion, dated March 18, 1996, indicates that Mathur acted improperly, violating FERPA and board policy 5619. Larios was fed up.

Realizing that Larios now planned to deny approval of him as chair of his school, Mathur, as per usual, scrambled to lobby board members for support. On March 29, Larios met with Mathur; he explained that he had lost confidence in Mathur and that Mathur had better "change." In the end, Larios wrote a memo (May 14) expressing his serious reservations about Mathur's leadership, owing to his repeated circumventing of established processes and his violations of board policy, and placed him on probation. If there were any further violations of process, wrote Larios, Mathur would be removed as chair.

In the meantime, Mathur asked the senate to censure Burgess. It declined to do so, citing Mathur's misdescription of crucial facts. Larios, troubled by Mathur's misrepresentations, sent out a memo explaining that Burgess had in no sense acted improperly.

In December of '96, the Board Majority era began, and Larios sensed that it was time to move on. Normally, the VP of Instruction—Terry Burgess--would serve as interim president, but the BM blocked his selection, and, in March, Lombardi was chosen as a sort of compromise. But in April, Frogue presented another one of Mathur's petitions--this time, an “anonymous” petition urging Mathur's selection as president. On that basis, Mathur became IVC president.

Mathur's outrages while president are too numerous to recount here. Suffice it to say that in the early months of 1998, the IVC academic senate instituted a Special Inquiry into “abuses of power.” By April, it became necessary to abandon the investigation, owing to the number and the complexity of the charges against Mathur. Said the committee’s chair: “It’s like bailing water out of the Titanic with a tea cup…Every time we put an allegation to bed, another one jumps up” (Voice, 5/7/98). Soon thereafter, Mathur received a 74% vote of no confidence by his faculty.

Mathur has sought to rule through intimidation, punishing his critics in every way available to him. In early November of 1999, the IVC academic senate released the results of a survey of full-time faculty (78% participated). 90% disagreed with the statement, "I can express my opinion about issues at the college without fear of retribution or retaliation." The 90% figure will likely go up soon, for Mathur intends to fire an untenured instructor--a critic--for his involvement in the act of naming the plot of dirt next to the Life Sciences greenhouse. It was named the "Terry Burgess garden."


Huge Vote Against College Chief (LA Times, May 18, 2004 | Jeff Gottlieb)

Faculty in the South Orange County Community College District overwhelmingly voted no confidence Monday in Chancellor Raghu Mathur.
Of the full-time professors at Irvine Valley and Saddleback colleges who cast ballots, 93.5% voted in favor of no confidence, and 6% were against the union-sponsored measure. One person abstained.
Out of 318 faculty eligible, 246 -- 77% -- voted, according to the district faculty association….

Clueless IVC Prez Glenn Roquemore smiles as he makes nice with the enemy - August 26, 2014

Vice President, Western Region, Workforce Solutions/University of Phoenix, Chuck Parker, President, Irvine Valley College, Dr. Glenn R. Roquemore

○ Members of the Irvine Valley College community just received this gushing email from the President:

Irvine Valley College Signs Memorandum of Understanding with University of Phoenix

Irvine – Irvine Valley College (IVC) administration, faculty and staff held a formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Phoenix, Inc. (University) on Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore said, “This partnership will expand the many transfer opportunities available to the IVC students and staff. One of the major benefits of the MOU is the tuition discount."
Irvine Valley College students transferring to University of Phoenix into an undergraduate baccalaureate degree program … will be considered as having satisfied the general education requirements for the breadth of the liberal arts degree program….

○ IVC students get 10% off Phoenix tuition, which is way pricey.

○ Evidently, President Roquemore is not aware that entities such as the U of Phoenix exist to make huge profits by taking advantage of students who typically receive federally insured loans, putting them in serious debt. Those students, upon graduating, typically fail to find the work they were expecting and often default on their loans, forcing the taxpayer to pay. (It's a massive bubble that, one day, will pop.)

○ You’re fine with all that, are you Glenn? You're a Republican, aren't you? Yeah. I see you smiling with those vets you claim to love!

○ Alas, the "predatory for-profits" problem is especially egregious in the case of Vets, who pay their way via the new GI Bill:


GI Bill funds failing for-profit California colleges

(Desert Sun)

The ever-clueless Glenn R

Over the last five years, more than $600 million in college assistance for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has been spent on California schools so substandard that they have failed to qualify for state financial aid.
As a result, the GI Bill — designed to help veterans live the American dream — is supporting for-profit companies that spend lavishly on marketing but can leave veterans with worthless degrees and few job prospects, The Center for Investigative Reporting found.

. . .

Financial records analyzed by CIR show that California is the national epicenter of this problem, with nearly 2 out of every 3 GI Bill dollars going to for-profit colleges.
The University of Phoenix in San Diego outdistances its peers. Since 2009, the campus has received $95 million in GI Bill funds. That's more than any brick-and-mortar campus in America, more than the entire 10-campus University of California system and all UC extension programs combined.

. . .

The school's large share of GI Bill funding reflects more than just the number of veterans enrolling. The programs are expensive. An associate degree costs $395 a credit, for instance — nearly 10 times the cost at a public community college.
The University of Phoenix won't say how many of its veterans graduate or find jobs, but the overall graduation rate at its San Diego campus is less than 15 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and more than a quarter of students default on their loans within three years of leaving school.
Those figures fall short of the minimum standards set by the California Student Aid Commission, which dispenses state financial aid. The commission considers either a graduation rate lower than 30 percent or a loan default rate of more than 15.5 percent clear indicators of a substandard education.
No such restrictions govern GI Bill funds. And nearly 300 California schools that received GI Bill money either were barred from receiving state financial aid at least once in the past four years or operated without accreditation, CIR has found.

. . .

Of the $1.5 billion in GI Bill funds spent on tuition and fees in California since 2009, CIR found that more than 40 percent — $638 million —went to schools that have failed the state financial aid standard at least once in the past four years.
Four of those schools were University of Phoenix campuses, which together took in $225 million….

An Enemy In Common? The Case Against For-Profit Colleges

(Cognoscenti [NPR Boston])

… As Americans, we should all be concerned that veterans are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous profiteers. As taxpayers, we should be aware that we are paying for this disservice. Approximately 85-95 percent of the for-profits’ revenue comes from taxpayer-supported benefits….

For-Profit College Investigation--Is the New GI Bill Working?: Questionable For-Profit Colleges Increasingly Dominate the Program

([Senator] Harkin newsletter)


…Senator Harkin's HELP Committee investigation found:

. . .

  • Most for-profit colleges charge much higher tuition than comparable programs at community colleges and flagship State public universities. The investigation found Associate degree and certificate programs averaged four times the cost of degree programs at comparable community colleges. Bachelor's degree programs averaged 20 percent more than the cost of analogous programs at flagship public universities despite the credits being largely non-transferrable.
  • Because 96 percent of students starting a for-profit college take federal student loans to attend a for-profit college (compared to 13 percent at community colleges), nearly all students who leave have student loan debt, even when they don't have a degree or diploma or increased earning power.
  • Students who attended a for-profit college accounted for 47 percent of all Federal student loan defaults in 2008 and 2009. More than 1 in 5 students enrolling in a for-profit college-22 percent-default within 3 years of entering repayment on their student loans....

Hey-Diddly-Ho, Neighbor!

Oldie but Goodie [2012]: See Senator Harkin’s For-Profit College Investigation: U of Phoenix