Monday, April 30, 2012

Better Leveraging On-Line Teaching--A Call for Support from Admintrative Units

The financial and reputation values and costs of on-line and distance learning are becoming better known.  Some universities use these principally to leverage their faculty's ability to produce tuition.  This is a worthy goal in financially dynamic times.  But other, more forward thinking institutions, are also considering the way in which these efforts could be used to enhance institutional and professorial reputation and influence within academia and in broader circles where the production of knowledge and its dissemination is valued. 
(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

Penn State certainly falls within the former category.  It ought to seriously consider moving into the other.  One way to do that might be to encourage its faculty along the lines already much in evidence at Yale and similar institutions; and by encourage I do not mean merely with words and best wishes.  Consider a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Curious Assignment--Hiring Public Relations Firms to Manage Communications With Faculty?!

On April 25, 2012, the official University communications organ--Penn State Live--announced the hiring of two firms, "Edelman and La Torre Communications to immediately support the University in corporate communications, media relations and stakeholder engagement."  (Penn State retains Edelman and La Torre Communications, Penn State Live, April 25, 2012).

(From Michael Sebastian, Penn State taps Edelman to ‘rebuild trust’ and improve media relations, PR Daily, April 26, 2012)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Remarks on Assuming Duties as Chair of the PSU University Faculty Senate

The following remarks were made by me at the time I assumed my duties as Chair of the Penn State University Faculty Senate:

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer, Catalan Parliament, Barcelona; closest I could come to a picture of a hall where a deliberative body meets!)


One of the great dangers of governance in large institutions governed through power sharing arrangements, whether more or less vertically or horizontally arranged, is disengagement from groups for which an actor is responsible or with which an actor shares governance responsibilities.  That is no less true of universities than it is of large multinational corporations, the great organs of non-governmental governance and states. Indeed, the problem of disengagement, and its threat to the appropriate working of shared governance is perhaps greater within a university setting where functionally differentiated roles of board of trustees, administration and faculty, in the face of very real asymmetries of power, makes it harder to remain true to the principles of shared governance except perhaps as gesture.