Field of Science

How to run a university - Adminspeak

Once you've been around a college or university long enough you learn Adminspeak. For those of you new to this jargon, here's a few pointers.
"Strategic reorganization" - This means "we're going to fire some people and the way we're going to do it is by reorganizing to make a division, department, office, etc. disappear on the organization chart".  Yes, rather than just fire people, terminate jobs, admins like to reorganize such that the desired object for termination ceases to exist.  Poof, no more job, so no more person in that position.
"Performance assessment" - In higher education, everything must be assessed. This is why people in higher education collect and count beans. Never mind that there are no complaints, no problems, no omissions, no excuses, no evidence of anything but a job well done, you must be assessed. The problem is they don't know how to do it. Do you never, sometimes, often miss deadlines? Yes, assessments eat up my time that could be done doing something useful.
"Special Study Group" - Groups like this are formed to reinforce preconceived notions and deliver expected results. Some times 2 or 3 such groups must be formed and dismissed to get the desired result. Then the Admin can announce, "A special study group has recommended ...".  TPP had a chair who constructed a new curriculum this way.
"Shared Governance" - Mostly this means faculty are thrown a few bones, placed on committees and such, where their input can be ignored. While membership on a committee can look quite inclusive, unwanted opinions are frequently, conveniently, left out of reports by the lapdog appointed chair. You can also just be left out of strategic discussions, candidate interviews, etc. And that's only if the organization pays any lip service to shared governance at all.
"Program review" - This is the academic equivalent of strategic reorganization. Tenured faculty are hard to fire, but read the fine print. You can be terminated if your program ceases to exist, i.e., it is deemed out dated, too small, too expensive, too specialized, etc. based upon "assessment", which is really bean counting. The lesson here is simple, only make big, broad programs for majors. Minors are always suspect and liable for cutting, as if this was anything but a bookkeeping problem, so make sequences which can accomplish the same thing for students but are not on admin radar.
This is just too depressing to continue.  But maybe you have some suggestions to submit in the comments?


James said...

A recent email delivered from my school's provost had this as its subject line: "Enhancing the Quality and Efficiency of Administrative Services."

Now where'd I save that résumé!

The Phytophactor said...

Ooo, that is pretty scary! Wonder if the provost means to fire all the assistants to the provost, all the dean-lets, all the associate what-evers? Nah.