In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
Every so often, my usual discipline slips, and I actually venture a prediction in print. (If it's a blog, is it really 'in print'? I'm not sure what the cyber equivalent of that is. In pixel?) A few of them even turn out to be right.
A couple months ago, referring to the badly bungled presidential search at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY, I wrote:
Now that it (the Board) has named two alternates to the list of finalists, none of the possible scenarios look good. If it decides to go with one of the original finalists anyway, it will look like it caved, and will embolden antagonistic forces on campus. If it goes with one of the late additions, the newbie will have been set up to fail. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see one or both of the original finalists withdraw his candidacy at this point, based on not wanting to work with a Board as amateurish as this one.
Now comes word that one of the original finalists withdrew his candidacy after visiting the campus, and the Board split evenly between the other original finalist and the guy who owns a bunch of Burger Kings. Since it's an even split, the college will have to go with an interim in the meantime.
It's almost as if a guy with a blog could see it coming. Honestly, this ain't rocket science.
Moving a few thousand miles south, I've developed a sort of series following the insanity in Florida. In the latest installment, from July of last year, I wrote:
The point of the university is to serve the people of Florida. It is not to serve the faculty. If we grant that fundamental truth, then 'shared governance' should come with some pretty glaring restraints on it. Otherwise, people with obviously vested interests – that is, faculty with life tenure – will use their power to pervert the university to serve them instead. Astoundingly, they will have the gall to claim the moral high ground while they feather their own nests. When the irresistible force of angry tenured faculty crashes headfirst into the immovable object of Objective F-ing Reality – in this case, the governor's veto – bad things will happen. Like hiring freezes.
This month, we get word from the University of Florida that
"In response to the fiscal year 2008-09 budget adopted Friday by the Florida Legislature, University of Florida President Bernie Machen today announced $47 million in cuts affecting all areas of the university.
As a result of the budget cuts, the university will reduce funding for administrative units and research, reduce or eliminate degrees and courses, and restructure several departments. Accordingly, the budget reduction eliminates approximately 430 positions, resulting in a layoff of approximately 20 faculty and 118 staff members. The remaining positions are currently vacant or will be funded by sources other than state dollars. The layoffs do not affect tenured faculty." (emphasis added)
Headfirst crash? Check. Tenured faculty feathering their own nests? Check. Bad things happening? Check.
Reality is tenacious. Bluster may hide it temporarily, but it has a way of surfacing again.
Finally, in October of 2006, in a rare political mood, I wrote:
Speaking of Dems, I foresee precisely two possibilities for 2008: Barack Obama, or crushing defeat. An Obama-Mark Warner ticket, or something close to it, would be tough to beat.