This blog features observations from Randy Turner, a teacher who can't stop writing and also a former newspaper reporter and editor. Send news items or comments to email@example.com
Be careful Douglas, be careful Bruce... This new tactic of creating a Town-Gown conflict is bound to fail. It always has failed in the past. If in fact, our college is full of liberal, overpaid, lazy professors (and it is not) how in the world does MSSU expect to get quality professors in the future in this republican corner of Missouri after a vote of no-confidence in the president makes the national news? Soon after that will probably come a censure listing of the institution by the AAUP (American Association of University Professors).The faculty at MSSU is a hardworking group of individuals that were attracted by a progressive mission. They do not deserve this treatment or this kind of leadership.
Anon 10:01I agree with everything you say, except for the part that argues that as a strategy it is doomed to fail. Actually, it won't fail. Not in this situation. So let's say AAUP censures them, and let's say that only the bottom rung professors end up at MSSU. So what? MSSU's motto is: "cheap, easy, convenient." The word missing is: "quality." If the costs are cheap, and they have minimally competent teachers in the classroom, do they care? Does that really impact the "cheap, easy, convenient" message? I'm sure you can string together some attempt at arguing that it will -- but let's be honest here -- it really won't. The motto is "cheap, easy, convenient" because it appeals to the area demographic. So saying "hey, the bottom rung professor will be worse than what you could have gotten for you kid under a different set of policies" means zip to the overall community here. All that matters to them is: did my kid graduate? How much did it cost me? It's important to remember that whereas most schools hide their online programs, or severely limit the degree to which students can take online courses in a way that fulfills graduation requirements, this is an administration that dreams with starry eyes of the days when _all_ of its classes will be taught online. Quality isn't their idea of the school mission. Let's face it, assuring that they do the sorts of things that leads to MSSU educating students better than the colleges in the region do is not their idea of how to sell the school. Consequence: the town vs gown framing works just fine for them, since the consequences -- worse faculty, horrible community relationships -- are perfectly acceptable. All this is rather pathetic and distressing, but unfortunately I think it is also true.
Anonymous 10:01 is right. The town-gown tactic is the latest of a series of failed tactics by Douglas and Bruce.First was the attempt to smear Leon's accomplishments of 25 years by pretending there was a financial crisis. Bruce would then be hailed as a savior of an institution "near bankruptcy" Bruce was only too happy to oblige as he did not to have to follow a legend.But the tactic failed first when the dentist, the Chart, John Hacker, Southern watch and this blog kept asking for an explanation of "depreciation". Neither Bruce, Gibson, Eis, or Yust ever gave a reasonable explanation as it was clear to everyone that there was no deficit spending or a financial crisis. Just a desire by the board chair to build cash reserves to 13 million. The second reason the tactic failed is because Bruce went after the international mission for the bulk of the cuts mandated by Douglas. When the backlash came, Douglas and Speck resorted to the old tactic: paint the students and the faculty who traveled as "wasteful" spenders of taxpayers money on tourist junkets.Now, after all the other Speck blunders have brought about the specter of a no-confidence vote, Douglas and Speck once again resort to the tactic of painting the professors as discontented lazy, liberal professors who should be kicked out of good 'ol southwest Missouri. Thus, Hail Bruce the Savior again.
All these liberal, leftist professors were presumably led by a dictator for 25 years in the most right-wing conservative of all right-wing conservative areas in the country.Yet we never heard a sound from them and our university assembled a darn good, high-quality faculty.Now we have another dictator in charge and in one short year and a half we are facing a no-confidence vote. Wonder why...
MSSU has a "qualified" faculty. Don't confuse "qualified" with "quality."
To Anon 11:19:I'll take the bait. Here's your reason: for 25 years, the faculty at MSSU were cowed and kept in submission by one dictator, Julio Leon. Over time, the faculty learned that their efforts to contribute to the university in a meaningful way (like their colleagues do at universities around the country) were futile. So they learned to just disengage and let the powers that be do what they wanted to do. They turned into a "commuter faculty". The Context: When Leon left, the new President coming in promised to a long dispirited faculty that things would be different, and that he would actually run the place like an actual university -- meaning shared governance (having no clue how universities work, this concept seems to cause massive confusion and misunderstanding in many in the Joplin community, all of whom seem to think it means something simpleminded like "not wanting a boss"). Result of Speck's promise: the faculty got their hopes up, and for the first time in a long time, they felt genuinely positive about the potential for crafting together -- faculty and administration -- a great university for Joplin and the community. What Actually Happened: The new guy, Speck, lied, and reverted fast to the dictatorship they had before, only this time with a streak of vindictive pettiness running through it.Where we are now: the faculty, long dispirited, but then roused up in optimism, had their optimism shit on, and now, empowered by the thought that there was going to be change, are rebelling against the new dictator. That's the reason why what's going on is going on, and it has nothing to do with anyone at MSSU being a "leftist." Though to the Joplin community, it seems, no problem at MSSU that fails to fit into that "liberal elitist" framework makes much sense apparently.
When a parent comes up to you and puts her arm around your shoulder and says, "You have made such a difference in my daughter's life," is that being merely qualified?When a student who had you for one class calls six months after graduation and tells you, "I wouldn't have gotten this job if you hadn't pushed me so hard," is that being merely qualified?When you do community outreach and embark on professional development on your own time and your own dime, is that merely qualified?No. It is quality. Missouri Southern has a quality faculty. Some are great, some are very good and some phone it in, admittedly. But on balance, this is a qualified and quality group who value academic and student outcomes over financial and political outcomes.
Seriously? Do MSSU faculty really believe they are on par with their counterparts at other institutions? Zach Greinke and Billy Butler are quality ball players. Does their presence make the Royals a quality team? No. Does MSSU have a few quality instructors? Yes. Does that make the whole faculty quality? No. There's a reason Kyle Farnsworth and Gil Meche play for Kansas City. They suck and wouldn't make a big league roster elsewhere. MSSU has plenty of its own Farnsworth and Meche instructors.
Do a few great teachers make a quality faculty? Yup! It's a good start! The alternative is NO great teachers. A handful of connected, engaged, bright, talented professors improve the overall quality two ways. First, they inspire those around them to do better, serving as an example that things can be much better at Southern, as we have seen. Second, they help recruit other great teachers to come here, to make the school, the community, and the students better in a number of different ways. I'm very grateful for the great faculty at Southern. Maybe they're not stars, but the ones who are do shine brightly!
Whether MSSU's faculty on the whole are quality or not, I'll leave for others to decide. However, one thing is certain: if and when MSSU winds up censured as an institution, the faculty quality will get worse. Still, does the Joplin community care? Seriously. This is the heart of anti-intellectualism. They barely respect college degrees in the first place. Repeat after me: "cheap. easy. convenient." That's all that will matter at the end of the day, and Douglas, Speck and Anderson know that for a fact.
Ever consider that there might be an intellectual argument for anti-intellectualism? By definition, anti-intellectuals are not interested in learning to craft an intellectual argument. They have better things to do (produce). Therefore, it is left to intellectuals to define anti-intellectualism and, because it threatens their existence, intellectuals are forced to conclude that anti-intellectualism is a threat and negative character trait and there is no possibility that there is an intellectual justification. It would take a brave intellectual to defend anti-intellectualism.Let the circle be unbroken.Save your Kool Aid. The majority of MSSU instructors are "qualified." The majority of the minority that are "quality" are here because they are homegrown. They wouldn't go anywhere else (except maybe across the border) if Dwight Douglas was president.
8:24: LOL! That was funny. So basically you are saying that there's a Kool-Aid phenomenon when people who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of knowledge can't find a knowledgeable reason to think that the generalized pursuit of knowledge is actually a bad thing? Nice (and somewhat sad) attempt at sophistry, my friend. Since you're so good at spooling together bits of rhetoric, why don't you speak up and tell us what a good intellectual argument against the pursuit of and esteeming of the pursuit of knowledge looks like? And when and if you make the attempt, try to make sure that it is free of the inevitable ad hominem that such attempts usually employ. Let the circle be unbroken indeed. I'm still laughing, by the way. That really was a good one.
or...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Producerism"Producerism, sometimes referred to as "producer radicalism," is a syncretic ideology of populist economic nationalism that holds that the productive forces of society - the ordinary worker, the small businessman, and the entrepreneur, are being held back by parasitical elements at both the top and bottom of the social structure."I especially like suggesting that some faculty members are parasites.
Wow, now I'm REALLY laughing.Can't you do better than just link to Wikipedia? In any event: producerism's target is the big corporation and how it squeezes out the little guy. Are you anti- capitalist? In any event, you'll have to explain WHY the avocation of pursuing knowledge is something society should be rightfully up in arms against, or look down upon. Just hoisting up your "common man's" pitchfork and torch and then linking to Wikipedia as your indirect "statement of revolution" doesn't quite make the argument for the anti-intellectual movement, now does it?Given that labor is a valuable end in itself (right?), make your own argument this time.
By the way, I notice that you end your last comment with "some faculty". Are you hedging? True anti- academic or anti- intellectualism bias is not against this or that person. It's against the entirely institution including the whole class known as "faculty" and against the general pursuit of knowledge. So you'll have to be against ALL of it, not just some of it.If your argument is that some faculty are asses, or that some are arrogant, think they are better than others, or whatever, then you beef isn't with intellectual pursuits or with academia. It's with assholes, and there are plenty of those to go around in any field of endeavor.
Anti-capitalist? Possibly. It's ironic that someone so educated would try to create a simple dichotomy. Why do you automatically assume you're conversing with a conservative, uneducated Republican rube? Do you sleep better at night because you shape this conflict as gown versus town?Sorry, I'm to busy producing something of value to waste any more of my time arguing with someone resting on their taxpayer-supported laurels. We'll have to continue this in another thread. BTW, I turned to Wikipedia because it is the MSSU of sources."Repeat after me: 'cheap. easy. convenient.'"
Did I call you a conservative uneducated rube? Because I asked you if you were anti-capitalist? Clearly you're the one who has a bit of a framing problem. In any case, clearly you have no argument to present here, so I suppose that means our brief dialogue ends. After all, I'm sure you know that when you have no argument...well...conservation starts to get too cheap, too easy and all too convenient. See ya.
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