Unilateral Decisions

29 Jan

A college work environment uses terms like shared governance, academic freedom, professional integrity but at the core is a basic work place environment with coworkers (see Jan 27) and supervisors. In reality there are four very unequal groups: students, faculty, staff and administration. Each group is structured on both seniority and position with multiple contracts and policies. For faculty the ranking is tenured or not and position on the Reduction In Force (RIF) list. Tenured faculty is expected to apply professional integrity to the principle of academic freedom and has a role in the shared governance.

The shared governance means that administration and faculty meet in committees to support the work of the college. We have a dozen standing committees as well as special ones like “Budget Task Force.” The administration, however, has the right to make unilateral decisions without input from the faculty. They have done so on a number of occasions during my tenure with the college.

A year ago when I decided on my retirement plan, I shared that plan with my Dean. That information was not passed up the chain. At a college function during the summer, I shared my plan with the next higher administrator and asked for an appointment to discuss an action plan for a replacement.  An appointment was set and then cancelled. It took two months to have that appointment reset. I was told that any action had to come from the Dean in the budget plan. When the Dean was asked to meet with the Division, the answer was that this higher administrator must also be in the meeting.  Over the next 4 months the administrator verbally told different members of the division that there really was no reason to meet but that we could.  One member of the Division kept pushing for the meeting and it was finally held last week – 7 months after my summer announcement.

Both administrators were polite, listened, and one asked questions. The members of the Division presented many different long term ramifications to the program, Division and the college by not filling this position. The Dean would not contribute anything to the discussion even when a direct attempt was made to include prior discussions. The meeting concluded with the higher administrator’s statement that we had presented a good argument for filling the position if money was not a factor. Because it is a factor, the unilateral decision to not fill the position would be modified. The position would be placed back in the group of maybes depending on funding. Of course because it was a late comer to that group, I assume it would be placed in a seniority list. The final unilateral decision will be made in June after I am no longer with the college.

At a recent college social function the administrator was asked by a spouse about the administrator’s position. The administrator answered “oversee the transfer programs.” I quickly added that that was not quite true because the job also included my side of the college – Work Force programs. The response was that the administrator was not into titles. The reality is that the administrator does not value the Work Force programs which says a lot about how much support filling my position will receive. Maybe I should stay another year just to make a point.  I am Tenured and not at the bottom of the RIF list!


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