Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How will changes at BYU shape valley?

Last week you might have caught the story in the Herald about BYU blocking You Tube. This action might have students up in arms, but it was another story that should have got their attention.

The Deseret News's Tad Walch, the valley's resident reporter on town and gown issues, wrote an article on BYU's student housing plans. While the South Campus Area Master Plan has been around for awhile, it looks like BYU will be enforcing these boundaries come April, and possibly constricting them further.

This has to make Provo city happy as they have made it known that they see student housing as the city's greatest burden. If the school is going to create a smaller box for the all-important BYU-approved housing, then Provo will be happy as clams.

But there are a few unknowns that should be considered by all sides. First BYU might find itself in a bind in 5 or ten years when this limited space has been carved up and additional capacity becomes an issue. Traffic is this part of Provo is already bad...imagine when every single BYU student has to live there.

Provo city should also keep in mind who will be taking the places of students at outlying apartment complexes. Without BYU students keeping prices inflated on the outskirts of SCAMP it is probable that a very different demographic will move in. Good, bad, or whatever...there will be a very different culture in these complexes in a very short amount of time.

But the reason why The Pipeline is even bringing this up is how it will effect UVSC students. As demand increases in the limited space around BYU you will see UVSC kids being forced out of "Approved" housing. This is not a minor issue...UVSC kids make up a strong contingent amongst BYU approved apartment complexes. With no where else to put BYU students UVSC students will continue migrating to Orem. And currently Orem has a moratorium on new "student" housing around UVSC. With Parkway Crossing no longer adding phases, and an expected surge in students as the school becomes a university, will there be adequate, affordable housing for UVSC students? How about in the next few years as local high schools graduate record numbers of students? The baby boom that educators have been warning us about for years will soon be knocking on UVSC's open-enrollment door.

Dean Tom McFarland leaves UVSC

School of Technology and Computing dean Tom McFarland has announced that he will be leaving UVSC at the end of February. Here is acting VPAA Karl Worthington's awkwardly worded e-mail, that was forwarded to all school employees school by president Bill Sederburg:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "President Sederburg"
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 14:32:02 -0700
Subject: T&C Dean Announcement

This is the official "Thank You!" and "Best Wishes!" to Dean Tom McFarland who has resigned the position of Dean of the School or Technology and Computing. Dean McFarland's last day will be February 28, 2007. Tom is moving to New Mexico for family reasons and we wish him the very best as we also express appreciation for his unique and valuable service to UVSC. A reception will be held to honor Tom's service and to meet with him on Monday, February 26, 2007 in Center Stage.

Dr. Ernest Carey has accepted our request that he serve as the interim dean of the school. We are grateful to Ernie for his willingness to serve where he is needed for as long as he is needed-up to a point! Ernie's long service as a faculty member, including service as President of the Faculty Senate, as a department chair, and as an associate dean is a fine record and Dean McFarland has included Ernie in a lot of his activities the last while to prepare him to assume this role well. I urge all of us, and particularly the faculty and staff of the School of Technology and Computing, to give a little extra in support of Dr. Carey as he directs and moves forward the initiatives underway and planned for in the school.

A search and screening committee will be put together soon to begin the process of searching for a new dean. It certainly is conceivable that this dean selection may be one of the first new personnel decisions of the new VPAA.

J. Karl Worthington
Interim VPAA

The move seems quite sudden, as it is midway through semester. Worthington's e-mail says the move was prompted by "family reasons". The Pipeline has heard that McFarland has family that lives in the area, and also that the move was in conjunction of a potential job there. The Pipepline will keep you updated if more reasons are given by the involved parties.

In the meantime Dr. Ernest Carey will be standing in as interim dean until a search committee can come up with some candidates for new VPAA Liz Hitch to look over.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sederburg names new VPAA

This morning Utah Valley State president Bill Sederburg announced his pick for the vacant VPAA position. Here is the e-mail he sent out to employees this morning:

I am pleased to announce my selection of Dr. Elizabeth J. Hitch as the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Hitch joins UVSC from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse where she currently is serving as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. For your reference, a copy of the press release with additional information about Dr. Hitch and UW-LaCrosse is attached.

As I reviewed the finalists, I decided that Dr. Hitch provides us with the experience needed to move the institution to the next level. She is the academic leader of one of the most respected regional universities in America. She oversees a school of 20 graduate programs, with impressive graduate programs in education, science and health, and business. She has experience as an academic administrator with having served for seven years as a Dean and five years as a Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Finally, I felt that I and our leadership team would enjoy working with her and gaining from her experience, enthusiasm and leadership.

Dr. Hitch will assume this assignment July 1, 2007; however, she will be on-campus several times between now and then. Plans for a reception late afternoon of Friday, March 9 are underway; more information on this will be forthcoming.

I greatly appreciate the fine work of the search committee lead by Dr. Numsiri Kunakemakorn and Dr. Ian Wilson. I encourage all members of the UVSC community to join with me in warmly welcoming Dr. Hitch to campus and offering her your enthusiastic support. I am confident she will provide outstanding support and leadership to Academic Affairs and Utah Valley State College.

Of course this announcement will no doubt launch a thousand e-mails, with a very vocal majority of faculty having been such staunch supporters of in-house candidate Bill Evenson. You can count on some backlash.

The Pipeline has heard that at a recent Dean's council meeting the deans expressed their unanimous support for Evenson. At the end Sederburg stood up and said something to the effect of "well it sounds like you all agree that all three candidates are qualified, so it doesn't matter who I choose."

It is The Pipeline's humble opinion that Sederburg had to hire a woman for this job. When he came in three years ago he received flack for "re-assigning" female VPs and since then hiring white males for top positions. This perception that Big Bill took care of the boys no doubt rubbed plenty of faculty the wrong way. The fact that so many faculty members backed Evenson indicates that he was supremely qualified, so much so that professors who might normally have preferred to see a woman in this post chose Evenson over Hitch. This probably also speaks to how unimpressed many professors felt during last week's meet-and-greets with Hitch.

Hitch had been recently censured by her own faculty senate at her current position at University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. To her credit Hitch was quite up front about the incident, which she said came about because of a botched hiring process that hadn't followed school procedure. She told professors to feel free to call the faculty senate president at UW-L and ask about the censure.

What has to be in the back of most professors' minds is how Hitch will handle the often sticky issue of academic freedom, particularly in an environment that has had its share of town-and-gown issues. It is clear from the e-mails that have been circulating around that the faculty at UVSC are wary of someone who appears to be more of an administrator and less of a scholar. Will she fight for academic freedom or will she bend to pressure from donors, community members, and legislators? We will have to see.

It will be interesting to see if a real fuss is made over the issue before Hitch steps up in July. Sederburg has made it clear that he wants the troops to rally behind his choice. Who will stick their neck out?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

UVSC faculty voice their opinion on VP hire

E-mails are piling up in UVSC faculty inboxes lately, and they aren't forwarding the latest funny movie on YouTube. Instead faculty are buzzing over President Bill Sederburg's upcoming hiring
of a new VP of Academic Affairs. Here is the one e-mail that is getting the most attention:

Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2007 12:56:21 -0700
Subject: Re: VPAA Search, serious concerns about the process and criteria
Dear President Sederberg,

Yesterday I sent you my email comment about Bill Evenson as the most qualified candidate, in my opinion, for the position.

Your message this morning laying out the criteria you intend to employ as you make the final decision leaves me wondering about the criteria I had in mind as I read the vitae of the candidates and listened to their presentations.

You noted the following: "The first is the candidate's concurrence with the mutually-developed institutional mission and vision identified through the Strategic Planning Process, PBA process, master plans, and institutional work plans. The second is the candidate's compatibility and partnership with our institutional leadership team. Finally, given the scope and amount of work facing UVSC and Academic Affairs, the candidate's ability to provide the dynamic, energetic leadership required."

As a faculty member for whom this appointment is crucial (as I teach and do research and build academic programs through curriculum and hiring -- all directly affected by this Vice President), I have a few thoughts that I hope will expand your set of criteria:

1. What is the candidate's experience with academic freedom? Does the candidate have a record of dealing with difficult academic freedom issues? Can the candidate speak with depth and insight about academic freedom? In terms of two of the candidates rather tepid responses to questions about academic freedom, and in light of Bill Evenson's robust discussion of the issue and his experience with and active membership in the AAUP, he is the clear choice by this criterium.

2. Is the candidate a scholar engaged in research in his or her discipline? Was the Ph.D. a means to a scholarly or to an administrative end? Does he or she understand what it is faculty members do? What is the scholarly record? Is the candidate equally interested in working as a professor in a discipline and in working in administration? Did the candidate emphasize this kind of academic work in his or her
presentation? Bill Evenson is far above the other two candidates in this area.

3. Can the candidate relate well with fellow faculty members (I'm phrasing this differently from your "dynamic, energetic leadership" on purpose, to indicate that university faculty see this issue through a very different lens.) Another way of asking this is whether the candidate has the academic/scholarly experience to lead a faculty of increasing intellectual ability or whether the candidate will be at a
lower academic level than the faculty he or she is required to lead and thus always at a disadvantage. Does the candidate read widely inside and outside his or her discipline (and I'm not talking about books about leadership). Again, no question but that Bill Evenson is the better candidate.

4. Does your sense for the "candidate's compatibility and partnership with our institutional leadership team" take into account the Deans of HASS, Science and Health, General Academics, Business, etc. -- the Academic Deans? Does it take into account the Chairs of all the academic departments? If you were to ask these Deans and Department Chairs (and they are certainly critical parts of the "institutional leadership team") which of the three candidates was most compatible with them, you
would find overwhelming support for Bill Evenson.

5. Will the candidate bring skills into the administration that are different from the ones already present? Will he or she broaden the scope of the administration or simply add more of what we already have? It seems to me that our current strengths are in reaching out to our legislators and to the public. Will the new VPAA be able to complement that with outreach to other academic vice presidents at the U of U and
USU, to the strictly academic constituency that responds best to the speech and arguments and demeanor of a fellow scholar and teacher? Candidates Hitch and Hanks have good skill, but they seem to overlap largely with those already present on campus. Bill Evenson has many of those skills himself, and also the important academic skills that will represent us well in the company of other academic vice presidents.

Thank you for considering these thoughts. I'm sending them also to many of our colleagues across campus, hoping there will be the kind of continuing discussion that will bring us the best possible VPAA.

all the best,
Scott Abbott

Clearly Big Bill's e-mail from earlier in the day struck a chord with Abbott and other faculty members...and perhaps it was a line like this "When the decision is announced, I ask everyone to rally around whomever I select." that rubbed them the wrong way.

This is where it gets surreal. Monday morning on nearly every bulletin board on campus you could find a cartoon featuring Sederburg in a track suit with the message "Follow Your Leader". There are some different versions of this poster...all with VPs like Cory Duckworth, Val Peterson, and Val Hale....all with the same "Follow Your Leader" message.

If you get a little Orwellian shudder going up and down your spine, that is totally normal. Just take another swig of Victory Vodka and throw Brad Cook's legacy down the memory hole.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The life of UVSC faculty

Over the weekend there were two rather interesting articles that look at UVSC faculty. One was an opinion piece in the Salt Lake Tribune and said that university professors are under-worked and over-paid. It is a response to UVSC's own David Keller, who wrote an editorial in last week's Trib calling for funding to match the school's new mission.

Obviously the author hasn't been around UVSC much (he says that it is located in Provo not Orem...a small mistake to be sure, but telling). He talks about his own experience as a professor at a research university, noting that his work day was over by noon, allowing him to enjoy free swimming and cheap golf. A tour of UVSC's, shall we say, spartan facilities would have been helpful before writing such an article.

There is no doubt that some professors, and let's go ahead and say some UVSC professors, take advantage of the unstructured culture common among colleges and universities. You won't find professors punching time clocks, or doing much heavy lifting. But I would say that the vast majority of professors at any college work hard and earn their salaries and any extra accouterments that get thrown their way.

The other article worth mentioning comes from the College Times and deals with the subject of tenure. This isn't a groundbreaking article, but is nice to let students in on an important part of college life. And you can gaurntee that as the school progresses to university status, the issue of tenure will become more heated.

Friday, February 9, 2007

So far so good

As the short legislative session rolls along it appears UVSC's push for university status is gathering momentum. On Friday the senate voted 29-0 in favor of SB 70 which paves the way for UVSC to upgrade to a level II institution. The bill will get one last floor read before heading to the house, where it might facing some tougher challenges.

The Pipeline caught up with Bill Sederburg on Thursday morning and he gave every indication that he was confident of the senate vote, and optimistic about the house. His righthand man Jared Sumsion said that they are begining the process of identifying their proponents, marking these legislators with a UV pin if they have their vote.

Of course all of this activity is happening right in the middle of a crucial hire for the college, as Sederburg looks to fill Brad Cook's Academic VP position. This will most likely be the biggest personel decision of his tenure, and will greatly shape the future of the institution as it progresses into a new role within the state.

Friday morning Big Bill sent out this e-mail to employees.

Updated information on Search for Vice President for Academic Affairs

I want to thank everyone who has been involved in the search for Vice President for Academic Affairs . The search committee under the excellent leadership of Numsiri Kunakemakorn and Ian Wilson have provided three excellent candidates for final consideration. I have been very impressed with each person.

Yesterday, I met with the search committee, the vice presidents, the deans, and the Board of Trustees; reviewed the written comments from the open forums; and responded to many e-mails. Additionally, I have reviewed the candidates' qualifications with a variety of people and have done extensive reference checking. I am continuing to talk with others throughout the state and nation who know the candidates and can provide additional input.

You should know that three variables will drive my final decision. The first is the candidate's concurrence with the mutually-developed institutional mission and vision identified through the Strategic Planning Process, PBA process, master plans, and institutional work plans. The second is the candidate's compatibility and partnership with our institutional leadership team. Finally, given the scope and amount of work facing UVSC and Academic Affairs, the candidate's ability to provide the dynamic, energetic leadership required.

I will be out of town making a presentation and will not return until mid next week. Thus, I may not have my final decision ready for announcement until late next week. As this is an important decision, I appreciate your patience during this review and decision-making process.

When the decision is announced, I ask everyone to rally around whomever I select. The committee has presented us with three excellent candidates; it is a fun decision to make.