25 March 2008

University of Akron Doesn't Get It

The University of Akron recently demoted a philosophy department chair (who had held that post for eleven years) to merely professor rank for failing to be in the office forty hours a week during normal business hours. While this is a typical expectation in the business world, and both professors and department chairs generally work full time, it is unusual for either professors or department chairs to be on campus in their offices full time. Most are on campus to teach classes and to hold office hours for students and for faculty meetings. Department chairs spend a few more hours in their offices than most, but the administrative responsibilities of a department chair are modest (this contract called for 20% of full time work directed towards administrative duties), and some of those hours are typically spent off campus or outside regular business hours doing paperwork, planning or attending meetings.

Typically, the only people on the academic side of university administration who maintain full time business day office hours are deans, provosts, registrars and their support staff. Often, in an academic department, the department secretary is the person present in the office the most hours of the week.

The University of Akron's decision suggests that it doesn't understand how university's work and that it isn't committed to its academic mission. Those are serious blows for what is already a third rate university in the court of popular opinion.


Anonymous said...

Full agreement with you here. I've been seeing more and more discussion of insanely stupid decision-making in the past few months. Although the trend has been discernable for years now, it's now registering with regular folks just how stupidly even putatively smart people can behave. I don't expect a swing back toward intellectualism, though. That coffin is nailed tightly shut for the foreseeable future.

Ben said...

I'm from Akron, so this story caught me eye.

You are right, Akron already has not the best reputation, so this won't help matters.