Back in the day when I joined this most esteemed center of learning, this Harvard of southern Glen Ellyn, this beacon of knowledge, I only had the vaguest notion of what or who the Board of Trustees was. I never really heard anything about them and never went to the meetings, nor did I ever hear about what happened at any of the meetings; I could not have told you their names. For five years as an adjunct (disposable) I only had the dimmest awareness that there was a president; he would make an occasional appearance, offer an utterance over his wire-framed spectacles about nothing in particular and retreat into the shadows for another year. Perhaps it was better that way: a sign of good management is often an invisible one. Times have changed. Or me. I rather think it is the former. The BOT is now much more visible; one would go the extent of saying that it has become intrusive, even to the point of divisive and destructive. The faces on it have changed: more male, more right wing anti-tax Republican, more "fiscally responsible," decidedly less friendly towards education. I was showing Dulcie the latest article in the Herald (to be further discussed) and the comments that it provoked (dozens of them - you would think it was an article about abortion or teaching evolution or something really controversial) and she responded in that insightful way of hers that to her; and she is no friend of education either, and thinks I have the cushiest job around - and there to my own defence I must differ; the BOT appeared to be angry that COD was somehow involved in education rather than doing something more useful like selling stuff, or making money. Indeed it does seem that way at times.
I have already reported on the whacking of the president on the quiet of the day after Memorial Day. Yesterday, the Vice President of Academic Affairs followed a similar path. In the interests of transparency, explanations yet to be forthcoming... Further, the BOT is yet to explain to the taxpayers why there are now two presidents rather than just one; it hardly seems in keeping with their penny-conscious philosophy and concern for the taxpayers and stakeholders etc.
While administrators tend not to be the greatest friends of faculty members this wholesale slaughter does not sit well. To add to the general ill feelings around the campus, now the BOT appears to be bending over backwards to appease a single anti-public-spending activist nutcase who masquerades as public spending watchdog "forthegoodofillinois" (never trust organizations that sound overly patriotic or do-goody) by voting to publish all the incomes with names of the employees on some public website. While it is not the end of the world, and in any event this sort of information is available anyway, the haste and enthusiasm with which the BOT jumped at the chance, ignoring the wishes of the employees that it represents, leaves a bad taste. And really, what good does it serve? The BOT appears to be repeating with interests the types of actions that earned it such critical reviews in the Fisher Report published in 2000.
An article published in the Herald incited a monumental flurry of comments. The general tone and nastiness of many are quite shocking to behold. What is it about teachers and the profession of teaching that unleashes such venom? Do all those folks have woodsheds as a result of some horrible abuse as a student?
Needless to say, the BOT elections this coming April will be far more significant than most previous ones. The future is at stake.