Field of Science

Provosts are mostly annoying

Most of what provosts do in the modern college or university is annoy faculty. It is here that the top-down style of administration begins; and if they don't know or at least acknowledge that quite a bit of what we do begins down in the trenches and moves up, it's real annoying. It's also terribly annoying because provosts are so removed from life in the trenches that they no longer relate. Our latest tiff resulted from asking the provost to rebate some tuition back to the department so that students taking a rainforest ecology class don't have to pay instructional costs twice. It should be obvious that students don't study rainforests in Lincolnland; they get ready to study rainforests on campus, but they really study rainforests in Costa Rica. And to do this students must pay for the costs of instruction twice, once in their tuition, and once for the cost of instruction in Costa Rica. Now everyone understands that studying overseas costs the student travel money, and this isn't the issue. About 40% of the course instruction takes place in Costa Rica, but they pay tuition as if all the instruction took place in Lincolnland. So has the dept received any additional instructional support money, any travel money, anything at all? Silly rabbit, no! And in the official response our course just does not "meet the parameters for direct cost recovery". The students will be glad to hear this, and the Phactor would like to know what those parameters are. As a suggestion the provost tells us how to shift the expenses elsewhere so it won't be so obvious to students that they are paying twice, and that we hit alumni up for scholarship support. And then lastly asks that we contact them "if they can be of any further assistance". Bloody hell you can! Your weren't a nanogram of assistance the first time. Please explain how these students are getting what they are paying their tuition for? Now of course, when it comes to bean-counting as a means of keeping the cost of education down, provosts are in a league of their own. But when they actually have a chance to help out students lower the costs of their education, or actually just give students their tuition money's worth, you can pretty much count them out. Some leadership; some lesson. Oh, look, an evaluation of top admin performance is due! Let's see, where to begin?

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