Tag Archives: higher education

UBC Faculty Association: Gupta resignation a failure in governance

The UBC Faculty Association statement on the recent resignation of UBC president Arvind Gupta describes the situation as “a failure point in the governance of the University.”

In a message to UBC Vancouver faculty, UBC FA President Mark Mac Lean said “we need to understand this failure and the Board must recognize that we cannot move on until we do.”

Gupta’s “sudden and immediate resignation” last Friday and the UBC Board of Governors lack of transparency on the reasons behind Gupta’s departure has produced much skepticism and speculation about the leadership of the university.

Mac Lean was very positive about the new directions of university under Gupta’s leadership, which included budget decisions “designed to move resources into the academic units and to mitigate the impacts that high growth rates of student numbers are having on the entire university.  As a result, significant amounts of money are set to move from non-academic operations to support research and teaching.”

Mac Lean echoed comments made by Prof. Jennifer Berdahl on her blog that Gupta viewed faculty as colleagues and wanted UBC to be a university where “faculty are supported and valued unconditionally.”

He added that “contrary to some of the public speculation since his resignation, [Gupta] had a serious plan well under development to achieve the goals he set for himself and the University, and faculty were at the heart of his plan.”

Let’s hope that the UBC FA, along with others, will be able to pry some answers out a notoriously secretive Board of Governors. The UBC FA’s questions include:

The Board of Governors must explain what transpired to end Professor Gupta’s Presidency after only one year.  What caused this leadership crisis?  

Does Professor Gupta’s resignation mean the Board no longer supports realigning the University’s resources to better support the research and teaching missions?

We have in progress searches for a Provost and VP Academic, a Vice President Research, and a Vice President External and Communications.  Those who fill these positions must ultimately hold the confidence of the President they will serve.  What will happen with these searches now? 

President Emerita Martha Piper has considerable experience as a past UBC President, but should she hire three key Vice Presidents for the next President of UBC?

Arvind Gupta: Known knowns, known unknowns, unknown unknowns …

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld

This past Friday the University of British Columbia Board of Governors announced that Arvind Gupta had resigned as president of the university. The announcement was shocking because Gupta had just completed the first year of his five-year term.

There very few knowns, a lot of unknowns, and perhaps even more speculations about Gupta’s “resignation.”

The announcement raises many questions as it came after an unscheduled Board of Governors meeting and Gupta was not quoted in the news release nor has he commented on his resignation. The past year has seen a wholesale shakeup of top administrators at UBC and now former UBC president Martha Piper has named as interim president (starting in September).

That giant sucking sound you heard the past few days is of speculation rushing in to fill to fill the vacuum in the UBC president’s office.

Is Gupta’s exit connected to the shake up of  high level executives in the university?

Charlie Smith speculates it might have something to do with the departure of Pierre Ouillet who was UBC’s Vice President Finance.

Smith has also offered that Gupta’s departure might be related to his inability to squeeze more money out of the provincial government or because transit referendum or because Christy Clark or because fundraising in general.

Jennifer Berdahl‘s suggestion that Gupta is out because he lost the “masculinity contest” among UBC’s administration seems to have a lot of popular support based on attention it’s getting in the twittersphere.

Berdahl is the Montalbano Professor of Leadership Studies: Gender and Diversity in the Sauder School of Business at UBC. She wrote on her blog:

I believe that part of this outcome is that Arvind Gupta lost the masculinity contest among the leadership at UBC, as most women and minorities do at institutions dominated by white men. President Gupta was the first brown man to be UBC president. He isn’t tall or physically imposing. He advocates for women and visible minorities in leadership – a stance that has been empirically demonstrated to hurt men at work.

Berhdahl describes her positive working experiences with Gupta, but doesn’t offer evidence to support a claim that the masculinity contest theory applies to him in this circumstance.

There’s no denying that higher education is rife with workplace harassment, bullying, and mobbing. (The journal Workplace: A Journal of Academic Labor recently devoted an entire issue to this topic.)

When work is a “masculinity contest,” says Berdahl, “leadership does not earnestly seek expert input, express self-doubt, or empower low-status voices.” I’ve got no argument with her on this point. Indeed, in my dozen years on the faculty at UBC, I’d say that there has been no leadership at the faculty or university level that has earnestly sought input from anyone (much less experts), expressed self-doubt, or empowered low-status voices.

The standard operating procedure at UBC is akin to that of the British Empire of old. The king or queen makes a decision and then the shit then flows downhill. There might be an occasional “walk about” to see how the courtiers, knights, or peasants might react to this or that, but UBC is a top-down organization, run like an empire, or at least a corporation.

As Justin McElroy points out, whatever it is it’s no ordinary resignation.

McElroy’s exchange with Neal Yonson, who is editor of UBC Insiders, raises some interesting questions and offers up some possible explanations, that while speculative, aren’t tabloid fodder, and focus on the relationship between the BoG of the president’s office.

They make some good, if self-evident, points:

  • Gupta and the BoG didn’t see eye to eye;
  • After an 18 month transition from Steven Toope to Gupta, UBC is now facing another leadership transition after just one year and that will have deleterious effects on a multiple fronts, both internally and externally;
  • Numerous current upper administration jobs are filled with people who are new or in interim roles;
  • BoG’s move to bring in known quantity Piper might steady the ship administratively, but Piper is not student-friendly, especially on the tuition front;
  • UBC capital projects are in a holding pattern.

McElroy and Yonson say that despite the lack of external dissent, there were internal  “hints” that Gupta’s honeymoon was over, but university presidents always have their detractors and I don’t think the lack of “charm offensive” on Gupta’s part was key to his failure as president.

What they might not know is that this spring and summer there were rumours on campus that Gupta was in serious trouble with the BoG. I’m not enough of an insider have any substantive knowledge of those rumours, but I heard a university administrator opine that the BoG certainly wanted David Farrar, who left the position of Provost and Vice President Academic in June, to stay close at hand. Farrar was the third Vice President to vacate office under Gupta.

There are still lots of unknowns and UBC would be greatly served if the BoG and the university administration acted in more open and transparent ways. (Don’t hold your breath because as Yonson points out this is a board that wants to keep the public ignorant by operating in secret.)

If blame must be laid, there’s no getting around the fact that the UBC Board of Governors made a mistake in hiring Gupta.

If Gupta resigned of his own accord, then the BoG erred in hiring someone with no traditional higher ed administrative experience and for whatever reason (barring extremely personal reasons) could not handle the job.

If the BoG forced Gupta out, then they erred by making a non-traditional hire and then not giving Gupta a sufficient amount of time or the support to bring his vision to fruition.

Related posts:
How not to run a university (Part 3): The art of misdirection [updated]
How not to run a university (Part 2): Intimidation, bullying & harassment at UBC
How not to run a university (Part 1): Secrecy at UBC

Reforming Academic Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and Higher Education (Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, No. 25)

New Workplace Issue #25

Reforming Academic Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and Higher Education

Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies. Please consider participating as author or reviewer. Thank you.

Academic Bullying and Mobbing (Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, No. 24)

New Workplace Issue #24

Academic Bullying & Mobbing

Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies. Please consider participating as author or reviewer. Thank you.

U of L provost who hired notorious ed school dean Robert Felner steps down

Shirley Willihnganz, the University of Louisville provost who hired “notorious ed school dean” Robert Felner has stepped down from her $342,694 a year position and will return to the faculty after a sabbatical.

Willihnganz told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the “Felner episode” was the biggest regret of her 13 years as a top administrator at U of L.

Willihnganz hired Felner as dean of the U of L College of Education and Human Development in 2003. Felner’s deanship has been described by some as a “reign of terror” because of his abusive treatment of staff, faculty, students and alumni.

Despite dozens of grievances filed against Felner and a faculty vote of no-confidence, Willihnganz and her boss, university president James Ramsey, were dismissive of complaints and vigorously defended him. Ultimately, Willihnganz was “forced to apologize” to the faculty, saying “mostly what I think I want to say is people have been hurt and something very bad happened, and as provost I feel like I am ultimately responsible for that.”

In addition to his well documented abusive behavior, Felner was also engaged in criminal activity while working for the U of L and under Willihnganz’s supervision.

In 2010, Felner was sentenced 63 months in federal prison for a scheme that bilked $2.3 million of US Department of Education money from U of L and the University of Rhode Island.

On June 20, 2008, Federal investigators (Secret Service and US Postal Inspection Service) raided Felner’s office at the U of L College of Education and Human Development (and his new office at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, where he was in the process of taking over as campus president) to seize documents and a computer.

Read more about the Felner saga and his journey from “high performer” (Willihnganz’s description) to infamous ex-con here.

Courier-Journal reporter Andrew Wolfson asked me to comment on Willihnganz response to Felner. The statement below was quoted, in part, in the C-J story.

Of course it’s hard to disagree that the hiring of Robert Felner as dean of CEHD was, in hind sight, a disastrous decision by the U of L administration and Dr. Willihnganz in particular, but it was not entirely unpredictable. As chair of the largest department in CEHD at the time, I vigorously opposed Felner’s hire and called for the administration to resist the “old boy” network within the college that backed him. The provost’s office failed to do its due diligence in the hiring, despite a plethora of signs that Felner was not a good choice for the university. At the time, I was aware that other universities had considered Felner for deanships, but excluded him based upon thorough investigations of his career. The fact that President Ramsey and Dr. Willihnganz remained in office after defending Felner’s abusive leadership style, and ultimately criminal behavior, says much about the lack of accountability for decision making at the U of L. The damage done to the university’s reputation has been significant and is not merely the result of Felner’s felonious activities and generally abusive treatment of staff and faculty, but can also be laid in some measure at the feet of Dr. Willihnganz and President Ramsey.

The Courier-Journal reports modest positive accomplishments during on Willihnganz’s years a provost, including increased graduate rates and slight improvements in the U of L’s standing in university reputational rankings.

But, these accomplishments pale in comparison to the Felner episode and a long series shameful debacles that have tarnished the reputation of Kentucky’s second largest research university. The C-J reports that,

Under [Willihnganz’s] watch … university employees have stole, misspent or mishandled at least $7.6 million in schemes at the health science campus, the law school, the business school and the athletic department’s ticket office.

Willihnganz also was criticized for approving about $1 million in buyouts for former high-ranking employees, some of which included agreements not to disparage the university or its leaders.

Academic Fraud?
As the chief academic officer of the U of L, Willihnganz allowed the university to bestow a PhD degree on one of Felner’s associates, John Deasy, after enrolling in the CEHD doctoral program for a total of four months and apparently never actually taking any courses.

As reported in the education newspaper Substance,

John Deasy earned his PhD directly under Felner, in a period of four months, earning nine UL credit hours.

Prior to coming to UL, Deasy had awarded Felner’s research company, the National Center on Public Education and Social Policy, a $375,000 grant from the Santa Monica district where Deasy was head.

Before he came to UL, Felner had been dean at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Education from 1996-2003. Deasy studied there in the same period, while Deasy was also a Rhode Island school superintendent.

According to a highly placed source, formerly at UL, Deasy’s dissertation’s title page carries the date, “May, 2003,” while it is signed off, “April 9, 2004.” He entered the program in January, 2004.

A UL investigation of the Deasy PhD did not condemn the practice. James Ramsey, UL president, who had turned a blind eye to Felner’s notorious corruption (the faculty gave Felner a “no confidence vote” in 2006, but he served at least two more years at UL with Ramsey’s full support), gave his nod to the “blue ribbon” investigation.

Deasy is apparently cut from the same cloth as his mentor, having recently resigned as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, under a cloud of allegations regarding ethics violations in relation to a $1 billion contract to supply iPads to LAUSD students.

A federal grand jury is currently investigating Deasy’s iPad scheme, which involved Apple and Pearson, the latter one of the world’s largest education publishers.

Many in LA were quite pleased by Deasy’s resignation as district boss.

In the end, it can be argued that the mistakes made by the U of L administration in hiring and protecting Felner, allowed Deasy to obtain a questionable PhD, which surely helped him land the high-paying job as superintendent of the second largest school district in the United States.

As LAUSD’s “Deasy episode” unfolds in a federal jury investigation, it could be that Willihnganz’s legacy will include the “graduation” of two federal convicts from the U of L College of Education and Human Development.

Schooling Corporate Citizens: A Conversation with Ronald W. Evans

Fireside Chat with Ron Evans on Education Reform, Social Studies, and Democratic Citizenship, Hosted By E. Wayne Ross 

This conservation with Ron Evans was conducted in the plenary session of the 2015 retreat of College and University Faculty Assembly of National Council for the Social Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte on January 16, 2015. Evans discusses his new book, Schooling Corporate Citizens, the politics of education reform and how that recent reforms have affected the (official) nature and purposes of social studies education, his approach to research and writing, and life in the academy.

Introductions

Ron Evans is a leading authority on social studies and curriculum history. His book The Social Studies Wars was named an Outstanding Academic Title for 2004 by Choice Magazine. His biography of controversial progressive educator Harold O. Rugg, This Happened in America, won the 2008 Exemplary Research Award from the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). His book The Hope for American School Reform, on the origins and development of the new social studies of the 1960s, also won the Exemplary Research Award from NCSS (2011). He founded the Issues Centered Education Community of NCSS in 1988. Currently, he is a Professor in the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University.  He lives in the San Diego area with his wife, two children, and a cat.

E. Wayne Ross is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. His books include The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems, and Possibilities Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies and Social Education.

 Listen to the interview here (audio starts a minute or two into the interview):

Books by Ron Evans:

Schooling Corporate Citizens: How Accountability Reform has Damaged Civic Education and Undermined Democracy (2015)

The Hope for American School Reform: The Cold War Pursuit of Inquiry Learning in Social Studies (2011)

The Tragedy of American School Reform: How Curriculum Politics and Entrenched Dilemmas Have Diverted Us From Democracy (2011)

This Happened in America: Harold Rugg and The Censure of Social Studies (2007)

The Social Studies Wars: What Should We Teach The Children? (2004)

The Handbook of Teaching Social Issues (1996) 

Questions

How did you come to write Schooling for Corporate Citizens?

What motivates your work?

How did you come to write this book?

What motivates your work?

What sources did you draw on?

Where do you do your writing?

Describe your daily routine.

Describe how you do your research. Did you have formal training in archival research?

You’ve written four previous books of curriculum/social studies history, what did you learn from writing Schooling for Corporate Citizens?

Looking back across your books on curriculum history and education reform in the 20th and 21st centuries, you’ve trace the corporate/capitalist agenda in school reform and it’s anti-democratic, anti-community consequences:

  • Do you still have faith in schools to promote democracy / democratic citizenship?
  • Did you find out anything that surprised you?  That excited you?  That disappointed you?

How does a boy from Oklahoma who slacked his way through college end up doing all this work as a teacher/scholar in social studies?

What do you do when you’re not writing?

 

Wrapped Up in the Flag: Immigration, Ethnic Studies, and Gun Legislation in Arizona

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled. We invite you to review the
Table of Contents here and then visit our web site to read articles and other items of interest.

Thanks for the continuing interest in our work,

Stephen Petrina
Sandra Mathison
E. Wayne Ross
Co-Editors, Critical Education
Institute for Critical Education Studies
University of British Columbia

Critical Education
Vol 5, No 8 (2014)
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/issue/view/182496

Liberalism in Educational Policy, Practice, and Discourse
——–

Wrapped Up in the Flag: Immigration, Ethnic Studies, and Gun Legislation in Arizona
Frances Julia Riemer

Abstract

In this article, I direct an anthropological lens to the state’s university campuses and to the discursive construction and marketing, as well as the accommodation, negotiation, and contestation of the state’s controversial legislation around diversity education and guns. Focusing on tertiary education, I examine both the ways that the rhetoric of liberalism, that of constitutional rights, the nation state, and individualism in particular, has been employed to package and sell the state’s anti-Ethnic Studies and pro-gun initiatives, and the discursive struggles in which university communities have been engaged in the attempt to rebut these political incursions. I argue that a liberal discourse has been employed to defend what otherwise might be perceived as discriminatory positions enacted on the state level in Arizona. In this border state, demarcated by ever growing racial and class-based difference, legislation promoting assimilationist pedagogy, and wider gun distribution may be desired, but it is most easily defended when wrapped up in the stars and stripes of liberalism.

Marketing Canadian Universities (New issue of Critical Education)

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled.

Marketing Canadian Universities: The Sociology of Institutions Perspective
Joe Corrigan, University of Alberta

Abstract
This is a critical response to a Government of Canada study using the institutional-sociology notions of structuration, isomorphism and professionalization. The primary recommendation of three proposed in the DFAIT Study (2009) creates an international education marketing agency (IEMA) funded by the Government of Canada and international students who choose to study in Canada. This paper re-positions the primary recommendation of the DFAIT Study outside of the dominant narrative of global competition and into the sociology of institutions framework offered by DiMaggio and Powell. Using this alternative framework, major assumptions and the example of Country X from the original study are problematized. This will be of interest to critical educators, administrators and others who envision a direct international role for their institutions and Canadian universities in general.

Keywords
Institutional Sociology; Educational Policy; Internationalization

Published by the Institute for Critical Education studies at University of British Columbia, Critical Education is an international peer-reviewed journal, which seeks manuscripts that critically examine contemporary education contexts and practices. Critical Education is interested in theoretical and empirical research as well as articles that advance educational practices that challenge the existing state of affairs in society, schools, and informal education. Read more about the journal’s editorial policies and how to submit a manuscript for consideration here.

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor republishes back issues #1-5 and #9

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, back issues #1-5 and #9 are now reformatted and accessible through the Archives.

Thanks to the outstanding editorial work of ICES GRA Maya Borhani, we’ve been able to work forward and republish these back issues. The balance of back issues will be accessible in due time. We did our best to make this remediation work and apologize for any errors in the transfer. Please inform us if you pick up mistakes here or there. We also thank all of those who contribute/d as editors,reviewers, readers, and authors.

Some may prefer the more anarchic aesthetic of the original online format, wherein access remains at
http://louisville.edu/journal/workplace/issue5/back_issues.html and
http://louisville.edu/journal/workplace/workplace1/wokplace.html and
http://louisville.edu/journal/workplace/workplace2/wokplace2.html and
http://louisville.edu/journal/workplace/workplace2-1/wokplace2-1.html and here at UBC in the future.

Thank you for your interest in ICES, Critical Education, and Workplace.

Please keep the new manuscripts flowing in!

Sandra Mathison, Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Directors
Institute for Critical Education Studies http://blogs.ubc.ca/ices/
University of British Columbia
____________________________

New issue of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor — Belonging and Non-Belonging: Costs and Consequences in Academic Lives

Dear Workplace and Critical Education Supporters,

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor has just published its latest issue
at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/workplace/issue/current

We are extremely pleased to announce the launch of Workplace Issue #19,
“Belonging and Non-Belonging: Costs and Consequences in Academic Lives.”
This special issue represents powerful narrative analyses of academic
lives– narratives that are sophisticated and sensitive, gut-wrenching and
heart-rendering. “Belonging and Non-Belonging” was guest edited by Michelle
McGinn and features a rich array of collaborative articles by Michelle,
Nancy E. Fenton, Annabelle L. Grundy, Michael Manley-Casimira, and Carmen
Shields.

We invite you to review the Table of Contents here and then visit our ojs
to review the articles and items of interest.

Thanks for the continuing interest in Workplace,

Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Editors
Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
Institute for Critical Education Studies
http://blogs.ubc.ca/ices/

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
No 19 (2012): Belonging and non-Belonging: Costs and Consequences in Academic Lives
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/workplace/issue/view/182237

Articles
——–
Belonging and non-Belonging: Costs and Consequences in Academic Lives
Michelle K. McGinn

Contextualizing Academic Lives
Michael Manley-Casimir, Nancy E. Fenton, Michelle K. McGinn, Carmen
Shields

All the World’s a Stage: Players on the Academic Landscape
Michelle K. McGinn, Annabelle L. Grundy, Carmen Shields, Michael
Manley-Casimir, Nancy E. Fenton

Confronting the Myths and Norms of Academic Engagement
Carmen Shields, Michael Manley-Casimir, Nancy E. Fenton, Michelle K.
McGinn

Exploring Emotional Experiences of Belonging
Nancy E. Fenton, Carmen Shields, Michelle McGinn, Michael Manley-Casimir

Required Payment: Extracting a Pound of Flesh
Carmen Shields, Nancy E. Fenton, Michelle K. McGinn, Michael
Manley-Casimir

Fitting Procrustes’ Bed: A Shifting Reality
Michelle K. McGinn, Michael Manley-Casimir, Nancy E. Fenton, Carmen
Shields

The Erosion of Academic Troth: Disengaging from the Ties that Bind
Carmen Shields, Michelle K. McGinn, Michael Manley-Casimir, Nancy E.
Fenton