Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The University of Southern Maine is run by incompetents, liars, and jerks.

It's vacation at the university, so news has slowed down, but before that it was coming so fast that I'm not even sure what the most recent news was.  It might have been a press release from the university administration saying that, after realizing that they'd become a disgrace to the entire world east of the international date line and west of Israel (yes, Israelis are pointing out how bad our administration is) and being held up as an example of everything that is wrong with the world by the New York Times, they decided to actually talk to the people in one of the programs they had summarily cut and found that --surprise-- it didn't need to be cut.

This marks the second time that they've decided to talk to a program that they were considering cutting instead of just cutting it with the thinnest of notice to the program that it might even be considered for being cut.  This also marks the second time that such talking revealed that with some minor bureaucratic reshuffling the program they were thinking of cutting didn't actually need to be cut to save the university money.

Thus far, one hundred percent of the time that they work with faculty everything works out for the best.  The problem is that, thus far, they've only done it twice.

They've actually reviewed whether or not their plans to cut an academic program were, you know, intelligent a full three times.  All three times it turned out that it wasn't a good idea to cut the program.  The third time they didn't have to work with the faculty, they just had to have everyone who paid even cursory attention to USM any time in the past, say, eight years point out to them that that program was profitable.

But the point here is, notice a pattern?  When the administration works with the faculty instead of shuts them out of the decision making process things tend to work out well.  The administration avoids working with the faculty like the plague and in two years has done it all of twice.  Also, the current administration has never cut or considered cutting a single program that, on closer inspection, should have actually been cut.  What they have done is avoid closer inspection, again like the plague.

The same goes for faculty.  The English department, for example, has not been cut.  Members of the faculty in the English department have been.  What happened when they were asked to give an explanation of why?  They said there were too many faculty given the number of majors in the department.  Just one problem.  They didn't know the number of majors in the department.  They based their decision to terminate people on the wrong number.

When it was pointed out that they were using the wrong number --that the number was in fact way off, that any calculations they had done using that number were completely wrong, that their entire rational for laying these people off was in fact bullshit-- they stuck to their guns and laid them off anyway.

Be happy that they have only metaphorical guns because someone who fires even after learning they're pointing the gun in the wrong direction is not someone who can be trusted with firearms.


BUT maybe the latest news was that we're terminating all of these teachers because, allegedly, we can't afford to pay them and yet the same people say that we have enough to hire seven new people at the same salary with the same benefits.  Doesn't that, logically, mean that we could avoid terminating at least seven of the teachers?


Or maybe it was that every independent study conducted found out that there wasn't a financial crisis in the first place.


Or maybe it was that the bloating of our reserves always seems to coincide with crying crisis:
"We can't afford to pay you.  It's a financial crisis.  We're in debt."
"But what about all that money behind your back?"
"That's reserve money, we need it just in case."
"Of course we need reserve money but isn't that like eight times what we actually need?"
"Ten times you idiot."
"And don't we keep reserves so they can be used during crises?"
"So if this is a crisis, shouldn't we be taking money from the reserves instead of putting money into it."
"You don't work here anymore, it's not your concern."
"What are you talking about?  I have a class to teach in 15 minutes."
"Yeah, but you're being laid off because of the crisis."


Or maybe it was that the administration is blackmailing professors into retiring by threatening to fire other people, largely at random, unless the ones they want to get rid of "voluntarily" retire.


Or maybe it was that the administration is intentionally trying to pit departments against each other ("that union guy wants your cookie") to prevent them from presenting a united front.


Or maybe it's that people who were driven out due to their utter incompetence have been rehired to higher paying jobs, which don't actually accomplish anything, and in spite of a last in first out seniority system those high paying not-actually-useful jobs are not even under consideration for being cut while jobs that involve actually teaching people and bringing money into the system are being shed like raindrops from a monsoon off the back of a well oiled duck.


Or maybe it was that profitable universities in the system are being forced to take the brunt of the cuts while the parts of the system that are actually losing money are getting off light or, in some cases, without any negative impact to them at all.


Or maybe it was something else.


The point though is that USM is being run by people who can't count, say things that aren't true, and resort to blackmail.  I think that covers incompetents, liars, and jerks.


And here's the sad part:

I would still recommend a great school where you can learn from excellent teachers.  It's just that if someone wants that they'd better come quick, because it's in the process of being dismantled.

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