Saturday, February 11, 2012

Memorial ceremony for Richard McCullough

Friends, family remember former Saddleback College president (OC Reg)

     Splashed across a screen above the stage at Saddleback College's McKinney Theatre were 20-foot-tall images of Richard McCullough, professor, former college president, father and friend. McCullough, who spent more than half his life at the college, died Jan. 31 at age 70 from colon cancer.
     Gary Poertner, Chancellor of the South Orange County Community College District, eulogizes former Saddleback College president Richard McCullough at a memorial ceremony in the college's theater Thursday. McCullough, a beloved professor at the college since 1971, died last week following a battle with colon cancer.
. . .
     Nearly 300 people packed the theater's seats Thursday as a four-piece band performed Glenn Miller tunes, McCullough's favorites. Behind that big smile, people said, was the mind of a first-class scientist and educator, and behind those twinkling eyes was a practical joker.
. . .
     Carol Hilton, the college's director of fiscal services, described McCullough's wicked – but wonderful – sense of humor, recalling the time he said he could tell her how to beat a lie-detector test.
     "And I thought, 'Wow, I really want to know this,'" said Hilton. "And then I caught myself and thought, 'Why do I need to know this?' And secondly, 'The college president teaching the fiscal director how to pass a lie detector test?'
     "But that was Rich, so full of life, so light-hearted, incredibly intelligent, extremely modest and very down to earth. He didn't like a fuss, He took everything in stride with a big smile."
     McCullough, who had a bachelor's degree in biological sciences, a master's in cellular biology and a PhD in psychophysiology, led the effort to build a solar observatory at the campus and designed the college's electron microscopy lab.
     It was the Saddleback College Veterans Memorial, however, that was mentioned most at Thursday's ceremony. McCullough, a veteran, was the force behind the memorial and its oven-fired red-clay walls, silhouettes of soldiers, and bubbling waterfalls – a campus centerpiece.
. . .
     The memorial was dedicated in April 2010. In a ceremony Saturday, it will receive the George Washington Honor Medal Award from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, founded in 1949 by president Dwight D. Eisenhower. The memorial, according to the foundation, exemplifies its ideal of promoting understanding and appreciation of the country’s heritage and freedoms.
     "He agreed with me that it should be an active memorial; it should be something that people use during time rather than something that they walk by and forget about," White said. "And so, you know, I think as that water goes through that memorial, I'll be thinking of him, every time."

On the occasion of McCullough's retirement, 2008
(Skip to 01:46. Rich's lovely speech is at 03:00.)

1/9/08: They look pretty uncomfortable. I don't think Rich held Mathur in
high esteem. Nope. 5/24/04: McCullough speaks briefly at about 05:00.

SEE ALSO Former Saddleback president dies after battle with cancer (Lariat)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dueling TJs?

Young TJ
     A few weeks ago, we reported that ailing SOCCCD trustee Tom Fuentes managed, despite his condition, to swear in his son TJ as an alternate member of the Orange County Republican Central Committee.
     Near as I can figure, TJ is about 26 years old. Pretty young for politics, I’d say.
     But now we’re hearing that Tom is grooming that very kid to take over his seat on the SOCCCD Board of Trustees!
     Evidently, some people (with the initials BH) take this story seriously. I don’t. It’s one thing to have a kid on the OC GOP Central Committee. It’s quite another to put ‘em on a freakin’ college board that spends half a billion dollars of taxpayer money every year! I don’t buy it.
     According to this story, TJ would make his way on the board either through appointment or election.
     If this yarn comes to fruition, we'll have dueling TJs on the board.
Just TJ
     While we’re on the subject of board elections, four board seats are up for election in November: Bill Jay, Frank Meldau, David Lang, and Tom Fuentes. Jay’s been sick a lot lately: missed several meetings. But he’s back, I guess, though he doesn’t say much. He always looks to me like he needs to go home to get some sleep.
     Don’t know about Lang. Why one Earth would he want to remain on the board?
     Meldau has grown comfortable on the board, I think. I suspect (and hope) he’ll run.

Old TJ
     Saddleback College Poli Sci instructor Derek Reeve is in the news again, though only barely (New housing agency's chairman vows to end it):
     In the first meeting of the newly created San Juan Capistrano Housing Authority, City Councilman Derek Reeve was selected chairman and immediately said he will make it a goal to dissolve it.
. . .
     "If you can live with the rich irony that I hope one day to dissolve the agency, if you're OK with that, I'd be happy to do it," Reeve said before the four other council members, who also serve as Housing Authority commissioners, confirmed his chairmanship.
     Guess so. He didn't mention whether, as chairman, he'll plagiarize or ridicule Muslims.

     Former trustee and current Assemblyman Don Wagner is always in the news about something, even if it’s just the opening of a new drugstore in Tustin.
     A few days ago, a woman named Elizabeth Emken joined the crew of obscure Republicans who hope to challenge Dianne Feinstein in November, and she snagged Wagner's endorsement. (See.)

Higher Ed news

Utah Lawmaker’s Bid to Limit Tenure is Defeated (Chronicle of Higher Education)

     … The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Christopher Herrod, a Republican, argued that tenure stifled competition and was unnecessary, because only 42 percent of Utah professors have it….

With long-term consequences, community college students struggle to pass college-level math courses (EdSource)

     Large numbers of community college students are struggling to pass the college-level math classes they need to complete a degree or transfer to a four-year institution, with long-term implications for their futures.
. . .
     According to an EdSource analysis, in the fall of 2010, 45 percent of students taking college-level math courses at California’s 112 community colleges received a failing grade below a “C” or dropped the class before the end of term.

Plans to slash and boost college aid (educatedguess)

     Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker John Perez are heading in opposite directions on college financial aid. Brown proposes to pare back eligibility or amounts of aid for 72,000 of 244,000 low- or modest-income families receiving Cal Grants. Perez on Wednesday proposed a massive scholarship program for nearly 200,000 University of California and California State University students in the solid and upper ranks of the middle class. But then, Perez is counting on an extra $1 billion by eliminating a corporate tax break that Republican legislators say they won’t abide….

Born in the USSR (Inside Higher Ed)

     The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 meant the end of the Cold War, the dismantling of Lenin statues, and the near-disappearance of the schlocky Soviet stereotype in a certain kind of Hollywood movie. It also resulted in a migration of Soviet scholars, which greatly affected the field of mathematics in the United States, according to two professors who have co-authored a paper called “The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians” to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics….

'We're Losing Our Minds' (Inside Higher Ed)

     …With most critics of higher education focused on rising prices or on whether American colleges and universities are producing enough degree and certificate holders with sufficient skills to keep the U.S. economy vibrant and competitive – the latter known in shorthand as the "completion agenda" – a few analysts are homing in on the quality and rigor of what students are learning (or not) en route to those credentials.
     Last year's Academically Adrift set the tone, providing data suggesting that many colleges are imposing relatively minimal academic demands on their students and that, perhaps as a result, many students do not appear to gain in some measures of cognitive abilities as they move through college….

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The DtB occasional "districtular" quiz!

Test your knowledge of the district and its colleges!

IVC Prez Glenn R
1. Recently, the Saddleback College Academic Senate urged the board to agendize
A. dissolution of the district as a cost saving measure
B. naming a building or facility after the late Richard McCullough
C. establishment of a pumpkin patch and communal garden
D. renaming the “James B. Utt Memorial Library”
2. Of the 20 people who participated in IVC’s “civility” workshop in December, how many were faculty?
A. 1
B. 4
C. 8
D. 20
3. Which SOCCCD trustee (who was paid anyway) has attended only 1 board meeting in the last 10 months?
A. Bill Jay
B. Marcia Milchiker
C. Tom Fuentes
D. Frank Meldau
E. Student trustee Jordan Larson
FA Prez Lewis Long
4. IVC administration hired a Sacramento consulting firm to assist the “civility” workgroup. The firm was
A. Ivory Tower International
B. College Brain Trust
C. Academics ‘R’ Us
D. Acme Consulting
5. The college chose which venue for the workshop?
A. The Duck Club
B. The Buffalo Club
C. The Cosmetic Laser Center of Irvine
D. The Institute for Historical Review Center
6. At the last meeting of the SOCCCD BOT, Chancellor Poertner resolved tensions between the colleges—regarding ownership of ATEP—in a manner reminiscent of the biblical
A. Onan
B. King David
C. King Solomon
D. Beelzebub
Former trustee John Williams
7. Which of the following notorious OC Republican office holders did NOT have an association with the SOCCCD or its colleges?
A. Mike Carona
B. Chriss Street
C. John Williams
D. John Schmitz*
E. James B. Utt
8. Faculty Association President Lewis Long recently wrote IVC administrators about their plans to pursue district policies that would allow
A. discipline of employees, including faculty, with regard to “uncivil behaviors”
B. discipline of employees, including faculty, with regard to “negative publications”
C. managers and deans to discipline employees for “unhinged speculation and irresponsible gossip”
D. termination of employees who fail to attend Commencement
9. Recently, the ACCJC informed Irvine Valley College that its accreditation is re-affirmed. However, the college must
A. promise not to pursue legal action (against WASC/ACCJC) for the next 6 years
B. submit a follow-up report in October
C. submit another complete self-study in 2014
D. rename its new BSTIC building “Miscellaneous”
James B. Utt
10. Recently, DtB tagged the SOCCCD for inappropriately
A. flying the Confederate Flag during MLK Day
B. referring to its colleges’ status as “fully accredited”
C. instituting “opening prayer” during monthly “docket” meetings
D. pursuing a plan involving partnerships entailing the construction of a Hilton Hotel at Saddleback College
1. Recently, the Saddleback College Academic Senate urged the board to agendize
D. renaming the “James B. Utt Memorial Library”
2. Of the 20 people who participated in IVC’s “civility” workshop in December, how many were faculty?
B. 4
3. Which SOCCCD trustee (who was paid anyway) has attended only 1 board meeting in the last 10 months?
C. Tom Fuentes
4. IVC administration hired a Sacramento consulting firm to assist the “civility” workgroup. The firm is
B. College Brain Trust
5. The college chose which venue for the workshop?
A. The Duck Club [of the IRWD]
6. At the last meeting of the SOCCCD BOT, Chancellor Poertner resolved tensions between the colleges—regarding ownership of ATEP—in a manner reminiscent of the biblical
C. King Solomon [Yeah, he split the baby in two.]
7. Which of the following notorious OC Republican office holders did NOT have an association with the SOCCCD or its colleges?
D. John Schmitz [Schmitz taught at Santa Ana College]
8. Faculty Association President Lewis Long recently wrote IVC administrators about their plans to pursue district policies that would allow
A. discipline of employees, including faculty, with regard to “uncivil behaviors”
9. Recently, the ACCJC informed Irvine Valley College that its accreditation is re-affirmed. However, the college must
B. submit a follow-up report in October
10. Recently, DtB tagged the SOCCCD for inappropriately
B. referring to its colleges’ status as “fully accredited” [The district has corrected the error]

*One reader is pretty sure that Schmitz taught for Saddleback about 40 years ago. D'oh.

The next debt bomb?

Bankruptcy Lawyers Warn of Student-Loan 'Debt Bomb' as Client Caseloads Rise (Chronicle of Higher Education)

     More struggling borrowers are seeking relief from their student loans, according to a survey by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.
     In the survey of 860 bankruptcy lawyers, four out of five respondents reported a "significant" or "somewhat significant" increase in potential clients with student-loan debt; nearly two out of five said they had seen their potential student-loan-client caseloads jump by 25 to 50 percent in the past three or four years, and about a quarter had seen caseloads jump by more than 50 percent.
     Most of those borrowers won't have their student-loan debt forgiven. Under federal law, it is almost impossible to discharge student loans through bankruptcy.
     The president of the association, William E. Brewer, Jr., said the results of the survey suggest that student loans "could very well be the next debt bomb for the U.S. economy."


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Big (Faculty) Sleep; downtown corruption club; a letter to the Opacity Twins

 “The girl gave him a look which ought to have
stuck at least four inches out of his back.” 
     It’s been quite a day.

     PROP 8 STILL UNPROPPED. It was a huge day for advocates—including, of course, DtB—of gay and lesbian rights. As the Times explained, “A federal appeals court panel … threw out a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage passed in 2008, upholding a lower court’s ruling that the ban, known as Proposition 8, violated the constitutional rights of gay men and lesbians in California.”
     I look forward to watching this story unfold. I have high hopes.

     A (TEMPORARY) VICTORY FOR THE MACHINE. It was known that the appellate panel would release its decision today. And so it was no accident that, also today, we learned of John Williams’ agreement to retire from the Public Administrator’s office as per his original agreement in March. Whatever else might be said about Williams’ and the County’s “settlement,” it ensures that the public will never see Special Counsel Michael Colantuono’s “highly critical” report of Williams’ performance.
     Many of us believe that the Supes fear releasing the report because it reveals, well, too much about how things work in the County.
     You know. After a dozen years of Fuentes, you know. Unless you’re brain dead.
     Could be. Hello?
     So I’d have to say that Johnny’s Big Bye-Bye counts as a defeat for the Good Guys, a victory (but a close call) for the Bad Guys.
     Meanwhile, Williams will get $25,000 to help the County make the painful transition to competence. No doubt, one of these days, Johnny will show up again at the district to receive some resolution or award. I'd like to staple it on his forehead.

     MASSIVE FACULTY BALL-DROPPAGE. At this point, some of the dust is settling after the curious appearance last week of the draft report of the “Civility” workgroup. (It appears that administration does conceive the report that way, whatever members of the workgroup might think.)
     In the last two days, several people have suggested to me that faculty members on the workgroup really dropped the ball on this one. Why did no one insist on Faculty Association (union) representation? Why have we not heard from these faculty in the four or five days since the appearance of this report—a report that pretends to speak for the group and that includes obnoxious elements of an Orwellian nature?
     I still can’t figure out why a guy like Erwin Chemerinsky didn’t stand up in the middle of this Duck Workshop and squawk, “What the fuck do you people think you’re doing?!”

     FACULTY: ADRIFT, ASLEEP, APATHETIC. IVC faculty are, I think, enduring a shameful period—after years of focus and attainment, owing, to a great extent, to fine leadership and the usual fortuities and alignments of stars.
     It is plain that the faculty’s present leader, Texas charmer and Academic Senate President Lisa Davis Allen, has long been angling for an administrative position (Dean of Fine Arts, no doubt).
     (Obviously, I do not object to such ambitions per se. I do, however, object to conflicts of interest.)
     Almost from her first day at the college, she has made no secret of her ambition to become an administrator.
     It seems to me that her behavior as Senate President suggests allegiance, not to faculty, but to administration. She needs to please them, and so she does.
     Consider: faculty have expressed consistent strong skepticism about the college’s absurd Early College Program. LDA has at best tolerated the Senate’s efforts to push back to the modest degree that it has. When administration’s notion of IVC ownership of ATEP ran into rough weather (i.e., Hurricane Burnett), LDA was there to steady the ship for Rocky and His Friends.
     Last week, years of work to reform and improve the deliberations and values of the Commencement Speaker Committee were, well, simply tossed away—with the blessing of our Senate President, who somehow placed herself there. (Is there a committee that she isn’t on?)
     —“Good grief! Only one female commencement speaker in the last twenty years!?”
     So what, says the leader of faculty.
     “No intellectuals or artists sent forward? Back to businessmen, fish taco entrepreneurs, and exercise gurus!?”
     Well, as far as LDA is concerned, that’s well and good.
     (Where are faculty? Are they even awake?)
     Near as I can tell, LDA did all that she could to be a team player for administration in its efforts to deal with the Accred’s warnings and recommendations. But, in truth, there really are serious problems at this college—low morale, poor communication, lack of transparency, bullying managers and administrators, incompetent leadership, etc. But LDA—and faculty at large—have done virtually nothing to deal with these very real problems.
     No doubt our Accreditation efforts secured a favorable accreditation outcome. That’s important. I get it.
     But what about those very real problems that remain? (Let's face it: the accreditation process is one thing; actually recognizing and solving our problems is quite another.)
     Don’t count on the Academic Senate even to recognize them. Reminds me of the time one of the Byrds was interviewed and, when asked about all the changes since the 60s, he said, "We're all Republicans now." May as well shoot ourselves in the head.

Major Kong, aka Slim Pickins
     IT’S THE FACULTY, STUPID. I don’t mean to lay all this on LDA. She is what she is, and she’s pretty open about her values and intentions (a think she had a close personal relationship with Slim Pickins). Faculty have allowed her to go in the directions she has gone. They could have resisted her, slowed her, diverted her a bit, but no. (And, yes, I attempted to be Obstacle Man, but, it seems, to no avail.)
     Consider the benighted “CAFÉ” idea. Why, exactly, did we do this?
     Did you know that there is a sign on the door of the CAFÉ that says that no students are allowed? Yep.
     Remember the CAFÉ’s first (and, as it turns out, false) opening in August? The flier that announced and advertised the event made clear that only “full-timers” were welcome. Nobody seemed particularly bothered by that. How come?
     It’s no secret that classified, or a healthy proportion of that crew, do not require much coaxing to perceive elitism and high-handedness in faculty plans and projects. By late summer, a perfect storm of negative perception prevailed. And then….
     Sorry to be so negative.
     Some very good things have come about in the last two years. The various speakers’ series sponsored by the Senate have been great. Other things, too.
     Here’s a big positive. When union Prez Lewis Long learned of the draft report re “Civility” yesterday (I had sent it to him; it had originally been promulgated in a fashion that seemed designed to achieve oblivion), he saw the problems immediately. He wasted no time firing off a letter to the Opacity Twins. No fucking way, said Lewis.
     Boom. Just like that.
     And I have every hope that he’ll prevail, too.

Union President writes to administration: this is "more than a little disturbing"

From: Lewis Long
Sent: Monday, February 06, 2012 2:52 PM
To: 'Glenn Roquemore'; 'Craig Justice'
Cc: 'Lisa Davis Allen'; Allison Camelot; 'Bill Hewitt (Bill Hewitt)'; Diane Bales (FA); 'Lee Haggerty (Lee Haggerty)'; 'Loma Hopkins; 'Paula Jacobs'
Subject: FW: Proposed Final Draft of ["Civility"] Report

[IVC President] Glenn [Roquemore] and [IVC VP of Instruction] Craig [Justice],

I have been reviewing the forwarded attachments and minutes from the Civility workgroup, which contains a so-called “final draft.” As I was working through the documents, I noticed that there were several faculty members participating in the workgroup. However, I respectfully suggest that this faculty representation has a rather serious omission, which makes the results of the process subject to questions and doubt: none of the faculty representatives were appointed by, or appear to represent, the designated bargaining agent responsible for the faculty’s working conditions, the Faculty Association.

IVC Prez, Glenn Roquemore
Even though this workgroup is a response to an accreditation report, I would suggest that “civility and mutual respect” are essential elements of the overall climate of the campus, and thus part of the working conditions of faculty, and thus within the domain of the Faculty Association. Since the discussion involves “acceptable” and “unacceptable” behavior, and asks what the campus can do when supposed “acts of incivility” do occur, it is obvious that evaluation of the behavior of members of the campus community, including faculty, are under discussion, and some form of remediation for violations is being considered (“training the recidivists” and “progressive discipline” are particularly disturbing phrases among the recommendations!). The following sentence appears among the final recommendations from the report, “Supervisors should call attention to uncivil behaviors of persons they supervise, and when necessary, note such behaviors within with the processes of evaluation or progressive discipline” (emphasis added). If violation of the policies developed by the workgroup results in any sort of reprimand, censure or negative evaluation, or even a stern talking to, for a faculty member, law would require that the Association be involved, and should have been involved from the beginning of the process.

That no one even thought to ask if the Association would be interested in participating is more than a little disturbing. Any time that a question comes up in which the welfare of the faculty is a consideration, the Faculty Association should be on the short list of contacts. However, at the end of the report, this sentence appears among recommendations: “Create a civility statement, obtain approvals from key entities (e.g., academic senate, classified senate), . . ..” Although the list is obviously not meant to be exhaustive, the omission of the Faculty Association as one of the “key” entities is obvious from the process.

Please be aware that the Association will be represented on the Board Policy and Administrative Regulation Committee which considers the recommendation of the working group, and will be presenting some very serious misgivings and reservations regarding the recommendation, which may have been easily avoided had we been included in the discussion from the beginning.

Thank you,
Administration: team IVC (Roquemore, Plano, Justice)

Williams & the County settle

Set for life
Settlement reached with locked-out public administrator (OC Reg)

UPDATE 2: The Reg has added this verbiage:
     Those original terms include the possibility of Williams being retained as a consultant to the county for transition purposes. Williams is to be paid $25,000 for the consulting work, said John Moorlach, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.
     Williams “got nothing new by this perturbation of the universe that he caused in the last week or so,” said Supervisor Bill Campbell, who was chairman last year when the terms of Williams’ departure were first negotiated. “We’re going to honor what we agreed to last March.”
UPDATE: The Reg has added this verbiage:
     “Mr. Williams has agreed to honor the terms of his original March 2011 resignation, which became effective Jan. 23, 2012,” Page said in a written statement. “A letter reaffirming his resignation is on file with the Clerk of the Board.”
     Those original terms include the possibility of Williams being retained as a consultant to the county for transition purposes.
     We went to the Clerk of the Board’s office and obtained a copy of Williams’ letter, dated Monday. “This letter shall serve as my resignation as the Public Administrator of Orange County effective at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012,” it says.
Original article:

     A settlement has been reached in the case of locked-out public administrator John S. Williams.
     Williams sued the county after the Board of Supervisors held him to his statement that he planned to retire as of Jan. 23.
     When he didn’t, the locks on Williams’ office were changed, and a battle over whether he would stay or go began.
     Leon Page, deputy county counsel, said a dismissal of the case with prejudice — meaning it can’t be re-filed — will be filed this morning.
     County spokesman Howard Sutter said he didn’t immediately know the terms of the settlement, but we’ll try to get you details on that as soon as possible.
     Williams’ attorney, Phil Greer, declined to discuss terms. He said he met with supervisors Bill Campbell and Shawn Nelson and came to an agreement “in best interest of the county.”….

     — Interesting timing. — BvT

Best comment so far:
I hope part of the settlement is not allowing the Register to continue posting that stupid smug picture of this guy.
• John Williams, Ex-Public Administrator, Finally Agrees to Leave Office (Navel Gazing)
• OC Public Administrator John Williams Retires (Voice of OC)

Prop 8 decision expected today

UPDATE: Court Strikes Down Ban on Gay Marriage in California (New York Times)

Ruling expected on constitutionality of gay marriage ban (LA Times)

Reporting from San Francisco – A federal appeals court is expected to decide Tuesday whether California's ban on same-sex marriage violates the federal Constitution, a ruling that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court next year….
Nearly four years ago, Dissenters celebrated the day the first marriage licenses were granted to same sex couples in California. It was a post that inspired a record number of comments. Going to the Chapel...

Profs Criticized for Insufficient Love of Reagan (Inside Higher Ed)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Roquemorean tales

An oldy but a goody.

IVC’s “civility” initiative: "make things nicer!"

Part 4 of a series


     It seems that my attempted “heads up” to the campus community—regarding IVC’s “civility initiative” and the associated “report”—has inspired strong reactions in some quarters.
     Certainly, many readers have reacted strongly. (See Readers have lots to say.)
     And, I learned today, one important player among district governance groups (to whom I sent the report) is—not to put too fine a point on it—hopping mad. Why weren’t they invited to be part of the "Civility workgroup"? WTF!?
     They especially reacted to the following element of the report’s “Statement on Civility and Mutual Respect”:
Supervisors should call attention to uncivil behaviors of persons they supervise, and when necessary, note such behaviors within … the processes of evaluation or progressive discipline. (See Report, attachment 3)
     Golly. I wonder if the faculty members of the workgroup are aware that such language made it into this proposed statement—a statement supposedly inspired by the group’s reflections on Dec. 16?
     And that ain’t all. But I’ll let things unfold in their own time and in their own way.


     As I suggested yesterday, IVC’s “civility initiative” raises some obvious issues—aside from the “representation” problem: not all groups were represented on the “Civility workgroup”—e.g., the Faculty Association, adjuncts, et al.
     Two of the three I mentioned yesterday were (1) that bullying really does occur at IVC and (2) the worry that administration (et al.) might exploit this initiative to pursue policies and other instruments that can be wielded against critics and dissenters.
     Late last week and again today, I walked around campus and spoke with several employees, trying to determine whether and how they see their situation as blighted by bullying.
     I encountered classified employees who communicated a remarkable degree of fear. So great is their fear, they told me, that they are unwilling to participate on committees.
     But who do they fear?
     Let’s just say that they fear very senior administrators. I’ll have more to report about that in future.


     Call me cynical, but I now suspect that powerful people (indeed, bullying people) are indeed planning to use the civility initiative to create instruments to control or silence critics. You might want to go back and read the Report, attachment 4.
     I have a special interest in that sort of thing. As you know, the district has tried to wield policies to silence me before. Back in 1998, a letter was placed in my personnel file according to which I had violated the district’s workplace violence and discrimination policies. Evidently, Raghu Mathur really thought that I was going to drop a “two ton slab of granite” on his head. And my moniker for Mathur—“Mr. Goo”—well, wasn’t that an allusion to “gook”?
     I was ordered to seek anger management counseling.
     I refused. I secured a lawyer (the estimable Carol Sobel) and went to court.
     From the start, jurists (first Judge Manella, then Judge Feess) looked at the facts and saw things just as I did: The district was wielding questionable policies questionably* just to silence a critic. What they were doing to me was nothing short of “Orwellian” (Manella). No reasonable person would be threatened by Bauer’s writings of “slabs” and graphics of crashing Messerschmitts (Feess). No, contrary to the district, Bauer is not the cause of the colleges’ accreditation woes. Yes, Bauer does have a right to offer vigorous criticisms of leadership. Etc.


     At one point, the district’s lawyer noted that I had actually disobeyed an express order! I had been directed by my college president, Raghu Mathur, to embrace niceness and harmoniousness. Yup, that was in a letter I got. And what did I do? Well, I continued publishing the Dissent.
     I had refused to embrace niceness, embracing criticism instead!
     Sound familiar?
     Well, here’s what happened in court**:
MR. LARSEN (the district’s lawyer): …[T]hese are a clear insubordinate violation of a direction that was given in evaluation by the president and an attack upon the president—

THE COURT: You mean a direction of, you know, "Make things nicer"? "Make this atmosphere more harmonious"? Is that the directive that you're talking about?

MR. LARSEN: That's [it] in essence. The directive was to cease being negative and destroying the organization itself through negative comments and the very types of comments that exist here….

THE COURT: Maybe [that directive is] a First Amendment violation in and of itself, to tell [that to] a tenured professor of the college. I mean, look, this is a college campus. If people can't speak their minds on college campuses, I don't know where they can speak their minds. It is supposed to be the bastion of free speech and discussion!
Um, well, yeah!

*Judge Feess judged that these policies were unconstitutional (in themselves) and were unconstitutional "as applied." But in oral arguments, he backed away from declaring one of the policies as unconstitutional (in itself).
**US Central District of California, The Honorable Gary Allen Feess, judge presiding, Los Angeles, CA, Monday, October 25, 1999, 9:46 a.m.

From actual court transcripts: verbatim

“I celebrate your staggering wrongness!"

     Over at Confessions of a Community College Dean, Rebel Girl unearthed a vintage post on the perils of constructing a "civility code."

     This story in IHE made me laugh out loud. Apparently, a community college in New Jersey briefly floated a policy to encourage 'civility' that was anything but. The provisions were:
1. Honesty, integrity, and respect for all will guide my personal conduct. 2. I will embrace and celebrate differing perspectives intellectually. 3. I will build an inclusive community enriched by diversity. 4. I am willing to respect and assist those individuals who are less fortunate. 5. I promise my commitment to civic engagement and to serve the needs of the community to the best of my ability.
     Yes, they overshot. I'd say, comically so. (Number 2 is my favorite. “I celebrate your staggering wrongness! I embrace your breathtaking, fundamental category error!”) But there is some value to the idea of civility that apparently animated the original idea. If we understand civility as something like “the rules for participating in the organization,” then it seems reasonable to me to go beyond “I know it when I see it.” The mistake wasn't in trying to write it down; it was in absurdly overreaching.

     My proposed code of civil conduct for higher ed, or speech code, if you prefer:

     I will separate the speaker from the speech.
To read the rest, click here.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Readers have lots to say about the "civility" initiative

     [UPDATED--I neglected to include the 12 earliest comments! In brown below.]
    Well, there’ve been lots of comments about our series on IVC’s “civility” initiative and the report draft that was distributed last week. Here they are (as of this moment):

Anonymous said...
   I notice that "the blog" made the civility list of problems.
   4:32 PM, February 02, 2012
Anonymous said...
   Kudos for whoever had the courage to include this blog as a cause of incivility in this district. IT IS! It is simply a bully pulpit. [?] Hopefully, he'll cross the line with all the new cyber-bullying laws, be sued, fined, and shut down. This blog is a black eye on the district. Talk about fear of retaliation and retribution. Cross DtB and see what happens!
   5:36 PM, February 02, 2012
Anonymous said...
   Certain administrators should make the incivility list ..... And the incompetence list.
   7:34 PM, February 02, 2012
Anonymous said...
   To 5:36, bullying? a black-eye on the district? You're kidding, I hope. What about the First Amendment? Don't read this blog if you dont' like it. I respect your right to voice your opinion, however.
   9:45 PM, February 02, 2012
Anonymous said...
   I haven't finished reading the report but I wonder, during this time of cutbacks and belt-tightening, how much they paid the consultant Spevak to facilitate. He's from the College Brain Trust up in Sacto.
   7:48 AM, February 03, 2012
Anonymous said...
   In response to certain administrators making the incivility list, one in particular, should make the no confidence list. Come on faculty, wake up. Maybe we'll all be more civil when we get the bull out of the china closet. We need a serious change in the senate leadership.
Anonymous said...
   Dtb is a bully pulpit [?] for demonizing conservatives, of who make up probably a super majority of the community the colleges serve. Not good for PR to have a highly polemical community institution.
I wonder what would happen if some employees at the DMV or the unemployment office were doing something similar? Certainly something to ponder...
   3:45 PM, February 03, 2012
Anonymous said...
   I do think the blog is something of an "community institution," I like how it talks about issues on and off campus. I like the t-shirt too. Where can I get one?
   3:49 PM, February 03, 2012
Anonymous said...
   5:36, this blog is a "bully pulpit"? You might want to consult your dictionary. A bully pulpit is the use of one's office or position as a platform to express views and opinions. It is my understanding that neither the college nor the district has anything to do with the production of this blog. It is simply the freely expressed (and constitutionally guaranteed) views of a few faculty at IVC.
   And I for one find it to be very informative; certainly more so than anything coming out of A100. I imagine that if you dislike what is expressed here you don't have to read it.
   And regarding civility, if there is anything uncivil expressed in this blog, it comes from its steady stream of trolls and detractors, not from its authors. In fact, BvT regularly deletes the uncivil comments.
   Thanks, DtB!
   4:12 PM, February 03, 2012
Anonymous said...
   wooly bully! wooly bully!
   4:18 PM, February 03, 2012
Anonymous said...
    Looks to me 3:45 meant bully pulpit in zeitgeist form rather than literally.
   I also find dtb informative, but it only diminishes it's academic credibility when different points of view are routinely squelched, and ridiculed; it's just reduced to an echo chamber with a clear agenda.
   5:16 PM, February 03, 2012
Anonymous said...
   Different points of view "routinely squelched"? 5:16, you haven't a clue what you're talking about. I'd be hard-pressed indeed to find someone as open to others expressing opposing arguments and views as BvT. That doesn't mean he needs to publish racist, moronic, puerile comments that would, indeed, diminish the academic quality of this fine blog. --MAH
   8:04 PM, February 03, 2012

Anonymous said...
   Respectfully, I think you are wrong and attempting to downplay the role of this blog in contributing to the problems remaining at IVC. Your posts about faculty and administrators are ill-informed and rude. Note the number of times you have posted a "story" and then had to correct it because you were wrong. Your erroneous posts create a culture of distrust. This blog is the primary reason the college is not moving on. You are stuck in 1997, replaying old tapes, and retaliating against faculty and administrators by smearing them all over the internet. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of watching you smear good folks because you are still mired in the '97 Big Sloppy. See a therapist. Get on meds. Move on. Retire! You obviously hate teaching and you hate the college. RETIRE!
   8:22 PM, February 03, 2012

B. von Traven said...
   Thanks for your input, brave, brave ANONYMOUS.
   9:03 PM, February 03, 2012

Anonymous said...
   When I read the civility report, I thought the same thing. We all know who is vengeful and retaliates. We all know why there is fear and a lack of trust. We are all frustrated because top management won't acknowledge nor work on this problem. We've all seen the seemingly schizophrenic changes on campus without meaningful participation in the "open and transparent" decision making system we claim to have.
   A civility committee sends me the message that we should shut up and be polite. Looks like your last anonymous poster agrees. At least with the blog, we have a place to post our opinions without fear of retribution. You retire, 8:22!
   9:04 PM, February 03, 2012

Anonymous said...
   My, my, 8:22 needs to read the civility report for guidelines. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
   Ahem. Most of the people I know understand the spirit of the blog and appreciate its wide coverage of issues -- even, really -- if they don't agree with all of it. How is this possible? How can they value something with which on occasion they disagree? Well, they work at a college and recognize discourse.
   However the colleges they work at do have a long history and one that continues today (really it does -- not as bad as it was but there it is) where knowledge isn't shared and processes are not transparent -- that's why the blog is read and valued -- even yes, when people disagree with it.
   Of course one reason the blog thrives is because there continues to be a lack of consistent communication and an absence of true exchange of ideas about programs and processes that impact the workplace and learning conditions of our students.
   For example, the coverage a year or so ago about the situation at the Lutheran High School was eye-opening -- as is the continuing discussion about the Early College Program. As well as the planning processes about the new buildings on campus.
   9:05 PM, February 03, 2012

Anonymous said...
   PS - people who don't like the blog shouldn't steal Roy's photos from it and use them to promote the college.
   Everyone knows he takes great pics and makes the college look cool.
   I find it odd, dispiriting even, that some people equate criticism with hatred.
   9:11 PM, February 03, 2012

Anonymous said...
   I cringe sometimes at the comments I read in this blog, but I appreciate the forum.
   As for the civility report, consider the source. The idiot probably can't begin to see he is the problem.
   Never thought I'd be defending you, bvt. You are spot on on this one.
   9:13 PM, February 03, 2012

Anonymous said...
   This topic will blow up the blog. Lack of transparency, retaliation, fear, MRC, Cafe . . . that about sums it up. Catch a clue, Rocky!
   9:20 PM, February 03, 2012

Anonymous said...
   8:22, respectfully, the college can't move on in an atmosphere of distrust and fear. The blog didn't create the problem, it just reports on the problems.
   9:23 PM, February 03, 2012

Anonymous said...
   I don't agree that this blog is so powerful that it has led to the current problems at the college. Nope! Lack of action on the part of the Prez, lack of integrity on the part of the VPrez, lack of manners and management skills by another ahole, and lack of loyalty (to faculty) on the part of the SenPrez. Nobody has the backs of the classified. Those are the problems. Tell me I'm wrong.
   9:32 PM, February 03, 2012

Anonymous said...
   Much ado about nothing excerpt people got to go to the Duck Club and have a nice lunch and some guy or guys were paid a lot of money to utter platitudes.
   This is already covered in other policies.
   Perhaps though this is supposed to gild Glen's lily so he can begin to position himself for Chancellor. He will knight himself as the one who restored civility to the colleges. Of course, it easy for him to be civil because he doesn't say much or have much to say.
   8:07 AM, February 04, 2012

Anonymous said...
   I do think the issues this new Initiative is trying to cover are already covered in policies that have been on the books for awhile. Some of this stuff usually gets struck down in court.
   3:17 PM, February 04, 2012

Anonymous said...
   When we need a consultant to tell us we lack transparency (at least as seen by some obtuse administrators and self serving one might add), we have a problem. Faculty and staff, after our last King Tut Mathur, not only found life at IVC and SC bearable but actually enjoyable. Faculty and staff at both colleges ARE civil in discourse. Both colleges have less than competent top leaders. One wonders where the talent really is and why we have so little of it.
   5:48 PM, February 04, 2012

Anonymous said...
   I LIKE how issues are discussed on the blog, though I know some take issue with some language. At least on the blog issues are taken seriously, with robust debate. I think there is a healthy skepticism here that isn't present elsewhere (meetings and forums). If it was we wouldn't have had to deal with so many problem in recent (yes recent) years -- which comes from the leadership incompetence that others have spoken about and a knee-jerk response to protect people at the expense of the college and students.
   Transparency might be asking too mush -- I'd start with some openness, some acknowlegement.
   6:56 PM, February 04, 2012

Anonymous said...
   It's so typical of our administrators to initiate this exercise rather than confront the perpetrators. We know who the bullies are, we know who engages in passive-aggressive behavior, and we know the ones who aren't doing their fair share and get paid enormously more than those who are doing the work (usually female managers). I'm talking about administrators and managers and not faculty.
   It will never stop unless the ones who are doing it are confronted. This exercise is pure bullshit and will solve nothing.
   8:29 PM, February 04, 2012

Anonymous said...
   OMG, GR is the invisible man. Smile, look good, nod, never say anything, never do anything, and let Godzilla destroy this nice little college.
   8:29 PM, February 04, 2012

Anonymous said...
   He's too busy with Astounding Inventions. What good that does the college I have yet to figure out.
   8:31 PM, February 04, 2012

Anonymous said...
   Isn't this whole civility issue a result of the accreditation process? Isn't a distrust of the district what started this ball rolling? So, we'll do some workshops and declare ourselves cured. Seems the problems with top admin at IVC are deeper than the issues the accreds noted. I hope Edwards was at that Duck Stop.
   9:55 PM, February 04, 2012

Anonymous said...
   Confront the uncivil ones? Are they f-ing serious? That puts the "complainer" under the district microscope, and gets the ball rolling to get rid of you for doing a formal complaint. It's org. security 101. This report is just a continuation of the status quo of absolving management of their responsibilities.
   I thought this stuff had to be resolved before accred. was restored?
   12:41 AM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   Accreditation isn't really restored yet. They dinged Glenn with another October 15 report, including recommendation 6, "communication." This time the faculty needs to speak up. The problem is simple--no "civility" focus group needed--and can be fully capsulized in one word: Justice, the vicious dictator who has poisoned all wells. The board needs to can the sob, period, and the ACCJC needs to hear that message loud and clear.
   1:10 AM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   So the dist. basically wasted who knows how much cash (probably tons!) on that College Brain Trust firm and accomplished absolutely nothing. Where does one find out exactly how much was squandered?
   6:18 AM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   12:41, I think you actually agree with 8:29, who was saying that the administrators should confront the bullies. I don't think they were saying that those who are being bullied should do the confronting.
   11:53 AM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   You [BvT] are correct. The top admins are not taking ownership of the fact that they are guilty of incivility (threats, retaliation, discrinatory behavior, fear, lack of tranparency, poor communication), instead they are turning the tables so they can create a policy document with teeth so they can use to punish and thrwart their critics. They will start with this blog. This should be a very interesting first amendment fight. I hope you have your finger on the delete button so you can erase all possible IP addresses.
   12:10 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   I hope that civility report goes to the accreditation commission. It speaks volumes about the communication issues at IVC.
   12:27 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   "Irvine Valley College supports a culture which encourages and sustains civility and mutual respect. Within its commitment to excellence and academic freedom, the college values the dignity of each person, frequent and accurate communication, transparent decision making, and the importance of treating all members of the college community with honesty and respect."
   --Steaming pile of BS.
   12:31 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   I don't know anyone who yells. I was actually surprised to find that on the list. Perhaps it happens in other areas.
   12:57 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   It is also interesting that of IVC's 705 employees, over half, 371, are adjunct faculty (see Yet, from what I can tell, not a single adjunct was on the civility committee. That is a big chunk of the IVC population left out. Were adjuncts even approached about the possibility of participating?
   5:36 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   I don't see what good having a student on the task force does. It's always been about employee issues.
   5:56 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   Oh, I think it's important to have students on the task force. There are real issues involving civility in the classroom.
   I refer uncivil teachers - for the uncivil students we have a Code of Conduct.
   Students often feel a distinct lack of support or response from administration when they complain about inappropriate remarks made (often of a racist or sexist nature) or poor treatment by instructors. I have had students tell me that they are told "There is nothing that can be done." We all know certain people have been "protected" for years - it is an "open secret."
   6:16 PM, February 05, 2012

B. von Traven said...
   [A response to 5:48, Feb. 4:] Burnett was hired, despite his lack of qualifications, because of his connections with the Governor. Roquemore crossed over into administrative ranks because he is the consumate opportunist, and, when Mathur became Prez of IVC in 1997, Glenn decided to "play ball" with him (he was working with IVC administration to get Mathur unseated as chair of his School until then; Roquemore was angered that Mathur maintained a stranglehold on that job). He was VPI when Mathur "ascended" to the Chancellorship in about 2002 or 2003. Roquemore then became IVC Prez, but he grew weary of the heavy thumb of Mathur, and he gradually aligned himself with the anti-Mathur (or suspicious of Mathur) trustees, especially Wagner. Glenn gained some support at IVC because he was the enemy of our enemy, Mathur. Glenn got lucky when, as it turns out, Wagner turned against Mathur and, in the subsequent Fuentes v. Wagner struggle, Wagner prevailed. Glenn is incompetent and Justice runs the college, though his ruthless style has caused much demoralization. The trustees can't get a clue about this to save their lives. I'm gonna try skywriting next. Pretty soon, Roquemore will be Chancellor. That's his goal.
   6:42 PM, February 04, 2012

Anonymous said...
   I've never heard anyone yell or scream at another person at the college. I hope that doesn't happen. Students should always be treated with the utmost respect, everyone really. But, that shouldn't inhibit free speech and one's right to express an opinion.
   6:54 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   A former admin in A/R may be guilty, but I can't say for sure. I've been on the receiving end of horrendous emails from said person.
   6:56 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   There's more to bullying than yelling and screaming. There's intimidation, demeaning behavior, passive-aggressive behavior, icing people out, etc. Happens all the time.
   7:11 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   I actually think faculty are pretty ignorant about the working conditions of others on campus.
   7:18 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   OK, so why haven't concerned community members been showing up at board meetings in large numbers demanding that something be done about Mr. Justice like they did with Raghu? I see there has been a few confidence/no confidence polls done. Why not take this issue straight to the board?
   7:18 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   I heard the folks at HR once told an employee that bullying is perfectly legal (while smiling). This, I believe, is the root of the problem. Just because it's legal, doesn't make it acceptable, especially in an institution of higher learning.
   7:29 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   I think that has to be paraphrased.
   7:42 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   7:11, I think the worst kind is from afar, i.e. someone who routinely makes the rounds planting their negative seeds & talking smack about others. The person being slandered doesn't even know it's happening until the damage is done. Their destruction of someone else's character is threefold; it satisfies their sadistic pleasures, backfills their utter lack of self esteme & enables them to get ahead on the job.
   7:51 PM, February 05, 2012

Anonymous said...
   Agreed, 7:51. In fact, I was trying to think of the word that encapsulates what you described.
   8:24 PM, February 05, 2012

The "civility" initiative: just saying "no" to wider participation?

Part 3 of a series

     Since Friday (i.e., here and here), I’ve posted a series of pieces on IVC’s “[in]civility initiative,” which, as we’ve seen, given what emerged during the December workshop, should probably be called the “bully [bullies?] at IVC” initiative—combined with “[lack of] transparency” and “poor communication” initiatives.
     Last week, IVC Vice President of Instruction, Craig Justice, distributed a “report” concerning this initiative composed by facilitator John Spevak (of consulting firm College Brain Trust). He says he wants us all (faculty and other members of the IVC community, I suppose) to read it.

     The REPORT comprises
• An account of the genesis and planning of the workshop re “Civility” held in mid-December
Attachment 1: Responses to Questions Posed during the Irvine Valley College Workshop on Civility and Mutual Respect
Attachment 2: Informal Evaluation of December 16 Workshop (from unsigned index cards completed by participants at workshop’s end)
Attachment 3: Spevak’s initial draft of a possible IVC statement on civility and mutual respect
Attachment 4: Spevak’s draft of possible items which could be included within an IVC action plan on civility
     Thus far, my posts have concerned the first three elements (up through attachment 2).
     Attachment 3 is, again, Spevak’s initial draft of a possible IVC statement on civility and mutual respect.


     That Spevak composed this “statement” suggests that Roquemore and Co. do not plan to throw a wider net over the IVC community to acquire input—about the episodes of incivility (and poor communication, etc.) that, evidently, inspired this initiative (with the help of the Accreds).
     Yesterday, I noted that, among the suggestions for improving the “workshop” provided by participants was participation of others (students, more faculty, et al.) in the initiative. That is, at least some participants suggested that the process should seek greater representation of the IVC community and its groups.
     I guess Glenn is just saying “no” to that suggestion.

     Here’s attachment 3:

     This is a concise statement drafted by workshop facilitator John Spevak, which incorporates those ideas and suggestions which the participants in the December 16, 2011 IVC Workshop on Civility and Mutual Respect seemed to consider most significant. This draft can be considered a first step in Irvine Valley College’s possible development of a statement on civility and mutual respect.
Irvine Valley College: Statement on Civility and Mutual Respect

     Irvine Valley College supports a culture which encourages and sustains civility and mutual respect. Within its commitment to excellence and academic freedom, the college values the dignity of each person, frequent and accurate communication, transparent decision making, and the importance of treating all members of the college community with honesty and respect. In its ongoing pursuit of knowledge and truth, the college aspires to sustain an environment that honors empathy, interdependence, professionalism, constructive discourse, and trust balanced with accountability.
     IVC expects all members of the college community to treat others as they wish to be treated, to help others succeed, to take responsibility for their own actions, and to fulfill the duties of their jobs. All members of the college community are also expected to seek the truth, check the facts, correct false assumptions, and prevent the spread of false rumors. They are also expected to value their own worth as persons and to confront incivility, whether directed at themselves or others, with respectful but firm assertiveness.
     IVC considers it unacceptable for members of the college community to intimidate, threaten, coerce, or bully others or to engage in retaliation or retribution. It also considers as unacceptable slander and intentional distortions of the truth, whether oral or written. While attacking ideas is encouraged, attacking people—either in person or electronically—is unacceptable. The college also recognizes that failing to fulfill one’s professional responsibilities often contributes to an uncivil environment.
     When encountering incivility, members of the IVC community are encouraged to confront it respectfully but directly and to intervene appropriately in situations where others are inflicted with uncivil behavior. Supervisors should call attention to uncivil behaviors of persons they supervise, and when necessary, note such behaviors within with the processes of evaluation or progressive discipline.
     IVC is committed to sustaining a culture of civility and mutual respect by expressing its commitment to civility in a variety of college publications, including employee handbooks; by communicating the importance of civility in orientations to new employees; by sponsoring projects and activities that bring people together in a spirit of hospitality, service, appreciation, and camaraderie; by identifying root causes of incivility; and by using informal processes of mediation designed to resolve interpersonal conflicts before they become significant. [END]
     Let’s turn to the last element of the report: attachment 4.
     Not only are Roquemore and Co. moving ahead with IVC’s “statement” regarding civility, they’re moving ahead with an “action plan.

Former trustee Don Wagner knows about incivility
     Here’s attachment 4:
This is a draft, written by facilitator John Spevak, of possible elements within an IVC Action Plan on Civility and Mutual Respect (collected from ideas generated within the December 16, 2011 IVC Workshop on Civility and Mutual Respect):

• Identify a group of persons representing the IVC community, using as its core the Working Group on Civility, to implement the ideas generated at the December 16 workshop in order to develop and nurture an IVC culture of civility and mutual respect
• Create a civility statement, obtain approvals from key entities (e.g., academic senate, classified senate), and possibly include it in the IVC catalogue
• Send recommendations related to civility and mutual respect to the District for its related new or revised policies and procedures
• Create an informal mediation process
• Schedule informal social and service gatherings and activities throughout the year
• Send a report of the workshop to the accreditation officer for possible inclusion in an accreditation follow-up report
• Create sections in IVC written materials based on the proposed catalog statement, including college orientation documents and handbooks for faculty, classified, and managers
• Gather the action plan group at the end of 2012 to determine whether the culture of civility has indeed been developed and incidents of incivility have decreased
     Item 3 on this list is interesting. It is the suggestion to send “recommendations related to civility and mutual respect to the District for its related new or revised policies and procedures.”
     Just what sort of policy are they talking about? Something that can be wielded against dissenters?

* * *


     A brief observation: I can identify three concerns with regard to what I’ve called the “civility initiative”:

  • THE ACCREDS’ “COMMUNICATION” ISSUE: Issues about communication, etc., that are being pursued by the ACCJC in the accreditation process. (IVC is expected to make yet another progress report in October.)
  • VICTIMS OF BULLYING: Issues about bullying coming from members of the IVC community. [BUT WHY WON'T ANYONE NAME THE BULLY?]
  • FREE SPEECH & DISSENT: Issues regarding free speech and dissent—the worry that, as in the past, our college and district might attempt to thwart or silence critics of administration/trustees/leadership by wielding policies and “statements” against them.
     Correct me if I’m wrong. Are these the issues? Have I formulated them correctly? Have I left any out?
     My next post will focus on the last concern: the threat to dissent and free speech.

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

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