Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Malediction for Academia--The Kansas Regents and the New Social Media Policy--Docility and Servility Against Academic Freedom and the Need for Contractual Protection

There is nothing like individual bad taste and administrative overreaction to make for bad law and policy.  And so it goes in Kansas. In September, the University of Kansas suspended David W. Guth, a tenured journalism professor, after he responded to the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard with this comment on Twitter: "#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you." Jason Jaschik,  Fireable Tweets, Inside Higher Education, Dec. 19, 2013). In response, and in the face of a supposed absence of rules for dealing with this sort of old fashioned malediction or curse, the Kansas Regents rushed in with a broad effort to control the behavior of its academics.

 (Reeve and serfs in feudal England, ca. 1310; Source Wikipedia Serfdom)

But they have done more. The Kansas Regents have seen in the unfortunate malediction of a professor  an opportunity for more broadly controlling the academics of Kansas--certainly far beyond the scope of the offense of the professor's tweeted curse. In doing so, Kansas appears to be moving towards embracing an educational culture of servility and docility at odds with the robust democracy in which, by the sacrifices of those who would not be docile or servile, it operates. Under a new set of Kansas Board of Regents rules, faculty and other employees may be suspended, dismissed or terminated from employment for “improper use of social media.”  Docility and servility to one's master, whether that master acquires power by force (no longer formally possible in this Republic) or through wages, appears to be the core value that the Regents of the Kansas Board of Regents wish to instill in the children who are to be schooled in the institutions over which they now assert a control that a century ago might have been characterized as a species of Victorian-Edwardian house service more fit for the disciplining of the staff of 19th century English manor houses than for the robust global society that the United States must learn to navigate in or perish in this century.  And so a professor's curse has now come back to haunt that portion of the Kansas academy subject to the administrative ukases of the  Kansas Board of Regents.

This post includes the text of the Kansas Regents--HERE and below.  It also includes text of the AAUP Statement on the Kansas Board of Regents Social Media Policy (December 20, 2013) and some brief thoughts that apply some of the insights developed in Backer, Larry Catá, Between Faculty, Administration, Board, State, and Students: On the Relevance of a Faculty Senate in the Modern U.S. University (February 10, 2013). 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"Sandusky's Ghost" and the Weaponizing of Scandal--Administrative Disciplining of Faculty at the University of Colorado

The Penn State sex abuse scandal centering on its former coach's abuse of small children on campus has already begun to morph from an important milestone in administrative oversight to a weapon in the hands of administrators looking to undermine academic freedom. Here we begin to move from sex abuse to disciplining faculty teaching courses that administrators dislike. When this weaponization of scandal is undertaken by a state university ought to be even more troubling.

("From left, University of Colorado Provost Russell Moore, Arts and Sciences Dean Steven Leigh and Boulder Faculty Assembly Chair Paul Chinowski hold a news conference Dec. 18 to discuss the controversy around sociology professor Patti Adler s prostitution skit in the Deviance in U.S. Society class. (Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera)" story at Sarah Kuta, Top 10 local news stories of 2013: No. 10 - Brouhaha over Patti Adler's prostitution skit , Daily Camera, Dec. 21, 2013)

Recently, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) joined its Colorado state conference in condemning the University of Colorado-Boulder's treatment of sociology professor Patricia Adler. The University of Colorado, of course, has chosen silence over disclosure in the hopes of riding out the storm. And they may succeed. Yet, the AAUP has suggested that reports in the media and the testimony of many faculty and students at Boulder make clear that there has been an unwarranted and egregious violation of her academic freedom, specifically her right as a faculty member to select her own instructional methods within the broad parameters of her discipline and university policies.

This post includes brief thoughts on this matter and the text of the "AAUP Statement on the University of Colorado's Treatment of Professor Patricia Adler."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Exposing the Weak Underbelly of Intra-Faculty Shared Governance--Managing the Faculty Message From the Top Through Unelected "Leaders"

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

"[We] were sure that the Senate executive director would veto our request to communicate with the full Senate, so we compiled our own list, and sent it to the Senators directly. We figured, what are they going to do, sanction us for sending an email to our colleagues? It's all part of this obsession with control. They need to control everything, the composition of the committees, the flow of information, and the debates themselves."

So begins an all to common complaint at many public and publicly assisted universities from within the university faculty senate--not about the way in which university administrators might seek to control shared governance, but instead about the way in which the faculty's own institutional structures appear to be primarily complicit in the distortion and perhaps debilitation of a functionally effective internally coherent faculty partner in shared governance.  This is particularly acute where the institutional seneschal, usually a Senate Executive Director, reporting to an administration official, is given control of the machinery of communication among faculty senators.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Administrative Reprisals and Tenure: AAUP Report on Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago

The issue of reprisals by administrators appears to remain a substantial drag on progress toward effective shared governance and may contribute to another aspect of the erosion of academic freedom (along with the receding prominence of tenure among other things). In its report, Academic Freedom and Tenure: Northeastern Illinois University (December 2013, the AAUP concluded in part:

The investigating committee finds, on the basis of the information made available to it, that President Hahs’s stated reasons lack credibility as grounds for denying tenure to Professor Boyle. What stands unrebutted is the opinion, broadly held by NEIU faculty members, that the president denied tenure to Professor Boyle in retaliation for the linguistics professors’ expressed opposition to the administration and for their central role in the votes of no confidence in her and her provost. (Ibid., p. 11)
Particularly disturbing was the use of the collegiality prong of assessment as a weapon behind which to hide what appears to be ulterior reprisal motives.  And indeed, as used by the NEIUC administration, collegiality is defined as avoiding any disagreement with administrators.  This turn is particularly troubling because of the recent efforts to consider the value of collegiality in assessing faculty performance. (e.g., Collegiality as Factor in Personnel Decisions. . . But Only for Faculty, June 17, 2013).  Faculties, like those at Penn State and Virginia, where faculty took strong stands against either administrative decisions or the actions of a board of trustees, might view this turn in administrator behavior cultures with some trepidation.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Wellness Wars and the Corruption of Shared Governance--The Fallout Continues

As the Wellness Wars at Penn State lurch to their inevitable and lamentable end, the longer term consequences of the political and strategic choices of the principal actors is becoming more apparent.

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

 One of the most interesting consequences is the way in which shared governance has been undercut by strategic choices of the Senate and administration leadership. These choices have both (1) undercut the integrity of the Senate as an institution, through the decisions of these parties to ignore the institutional actions of the Senate, and its rules, for unnecessary and short term goals, and (2) suggested the ephemeral and inconsequential nature of consultation when an administrative official favors.  The first unnecessary, of course, flows from the University President's authority to choose the members of whatever Task Force he chooses to constitute, without  the need to interfere in the methods chosen by the Senate to select the candidates they present to the President for his consideration.

The second was inefficient, reducing the ability of the university to harvest ideas that could be used to motivate staff while keeping necessary programs substantially intact. Thus, the other consequence touches on the way in which the Task Force system itself forecloses direct consultation with faculty.  Task forces appear to be increasingly used to insulate administrators and other decision makers from direct contact with stakeholders.  They increasingly appear to serve as a filtering device, one through which engagement may appear to occur but without the messiness of discussion.  Here the representative device appears to enhance engagement (formal transparency) without actually requiring deep engagement (weak functional transparency). Because the members were administratively selected, it is not clear whose interests the members of the Task Force will serve.

These consequences have not gone unnoticed by Faculty Senators.  At the University Faculty Senate meeting held December 10, 2013, two motions were presented for faculty consideration and vote at the January 2014 meeting. The first appears effectively as a censure motion; it condemns thre Senate leadership for breach of their duty to the Senate and a failure of fidelity to the core responsibilities of their office. The second is an engagement motion.  It seeks to inject the Senate back into the process of deliberation of the scope and character of changes to the university's wellness programs in ways that the Task Force was meant to preclude.  These motions suggest both the extent of the damage done and the efforts undertaken to repair, to some extent, the weakening of shared governance.

This post includes the language of the motions put forward.  I am happy to post reactions and comments on either or both, especially from Penn State stakeholders.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The AAUP Issues a Revised Version of "Academic Freedom and Electronic Communications"

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

Since the AAUP last issued a report on Academic Freedom and Electronic Communications in 2004, the higher education landscape has been significantly transformed by a number of factors, including: (1) the emergence of social media as vehicles for electronic communication; (2) increased outsourcing of information technology resources; (3) cloud computing; (3) expanded security concerns, and (4) new communications devices.  Moreover, the conception of the classroom has been transformed by technology and de-centered by administrative efforts to move education from a faculty driven effort to a markets driven effort to satisfy the demands of wage labor markets.


These changes have emboldened universities to begin to assert more complete control over the efforts of individuals who are employed as faculty.  I say it in that way because it appears to be a strategic calculation by universities to suggest that the mere entry into an employment relationship with faculty entitle them to "own" everything that comes from the individual.  While some might suggest that this transformation begins to touch on the incidents of slavery (there is no space that the individual may call her own, because it is all owned by the university), the courts have not yet confronted that issue.  Yet the trend is felt strongly as universities have sought to exploit all creative activities of faculty however tenuously tied to the scope of employment (on the theory that the scope of employment includes everything that an individual does, at least to the extent that the university wishes to claim it for itself).

This post includes the press release announcing the revised version and the executive summary of the revised version. The revised version may be accessed here:  Academic Freedom and Electronic Communications; Download:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Wellness Wars Continue--A Task Force is Constituted and the Institutional Role of the Faculty is Reduced in Function

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

I continue to follow the wellness wars at Penn State.  It has provided a great example of the way in which administrative mismanagement of a policy role out, substantive issues that were neither anticipated nor addressed when raised, defensive and then uncoordinated reaction by administrators, and an aggressive Senate response ultimately undermined by Senate leadership, have  turned a debate about the form and effect of changes in benefits policies at Penn State into what may appear to be a more fundamentally important evisceration of effective engaged shared governance.  The wellness wars suggest the increasingly potent limits of shared governance, and the crucial role of faculty leadership complicity in the undermining of an autonomous and respectful institutional role for faculty at state universities.  

In my last post on the wellness wars,  "The Next Round in the Wellness Wars-- A Response From Faculty Representatives," I posted a response by faculty senators to the decision by the faculty chair to share responsibility with the university president for the appointment of members to a so-called joint task force to consider aspects of the wellness program that has caused the university such difficulty and exposed it to media attention, most of which was negative. Such a decision, of course, disregarded the resolution adopted by the Senate, a resolution that, while irrelevant as a constraint on the university president, bound the senate chair, though in this case apparently not strongly enough to cause the chair to conform to its requirements.  That such a rejection of the resolution produced no movement toward accountability or sanction suggests the functional weakness of the Senate and the alignment of president and senate chair suggest no space for autonomy in the actions of thew institutional faculty in a shared governance context.  

This has not been lost on the faculty.  Beyond the "usual suspects", ringleaders of the criticisms of the wellness programs who likely have no credibility with administrators (as likely faculty "troublemakers"), other faculty have understood the repercussions of these choices for the integrity of shared governance.  Some faculties have begun to speak out. This post includes the efforts of the Arts and Architecture faculty.  That they, rather than the Senate leadership, have taken this position is quite telling about the role of the institutional vice of university faculty in contemporary governance.  More telling, however, in this respect, was the refusal of the Faculty leadership to permit the Arts and Architecture faculty from distributing the letter to the university faculty senators.  The excuse was "policy", "tradition" and a fear that communications ot Senators with respect to issues central to their engagement might annoy them as "spam."  But this guardianship of information to which Senators are exposed, controlled through the unelected Executive Director, sometimes in concert with the Senate leadership, essentially eviscerates dynamic engagement, substituting a well managed appearance of governance. 

In the meantime, the university has announced the formation of the task force and has described its charge.  That is also reproduced below.  What is clear here is that, like the roll out of the initial changes to the benefits programs, the university's administration and senior faculty leaders appear to continue to forge their own path. But this time, that path will be taken through a joint task force rather than by a broader engagement with faculty and others affected by these changes. This, then, is the face of the new governance at the university--in pace of a senate whose members are elected by their unit faculty, a series of joint task forces, whose members are appointed with the approval of and ultimately managed by senior administrators, will now become the face of shared governance. This model, of which I will elaborate in future posts, produces efficiency, but also rewards conformity and compliance with the desires of senior administrators.  It will reinforce the vertical relationships that increasingly mark university culture and reduce the functional role of the institutional faculty organization even as it appears to respect its forms.


Monday, November 18, 2013

The University of the Future--Leveraging Teaching to Reshape the Faculty for the 21st Century

I have been considering the way technology, and especially on-line teaching, may reshape the faculty for this century.

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

It is increasingly likely that these changes will be seen first in the smaller and non-so-called elite sectors of education.  While the public and private university will differ to some extent, changes in the public university are likely to serve as the touchstone from which other institutions will measure their willingness to change and the costs of engaging in specific approaches. Universities are increasingly redefining efficiency and "product" around a short term market-satisfaction model.  This requires substantial flexibility in the creation and modification of programs of instruction, tremendous resoices devoted to the monitoring of labor market trends in which the students they graduate participate, and a minimal requirement for service or research--just enough to provide sufficient value in prestige markets to justify the charges universities assess against student tuition (a function of teaching programs mostly, but leveraged by the value added of a just sufficiently research productive faculty to keep the university's reputation as an authentic and legitimate center of "higher education"). To this end, faculty governance is neither necessary nor convenient--and speaks to an older model the replacement of which is a necessary step in the successful imposition of a flexible made to market university teaching system.

San Francisco State has been at the forefront of these movements and Steve Kolowich has done an able job of chronicling these efforts.  In a recent article, Steve Kolowich, Angered by MOOC Deals, San Jose State Faculty Senate Considers Rebuff,  Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 18, 2013, the strategic moves of both administration and faculty around these efforts to reframe the faculty function (and its form and role within the university) is highlighted.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Next Round in the Wellness Wars-- A Response From Faculty Representatives

I continue to cover the wellness wars at Penn State.  What started as the fallout of a distressingly unfortunate roll out of a comprehensive set of changes to Penn State's benefits programs int he middle of the 2013 Summer has been transforming into a more interesting conversation about shared governance, and the social norms that can the ultimately unsatisfactory and dry formalism of administrative power into a functionally effective  relationship between administration and the institutional representatives of the faculty.  

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

In my last post I laid out the current state of the conversation over the review of the Penn State benefits reforms packages at the heart of the dialogue between administration and faculty.  I noted the determination of the parties to exercise unrestrained but authorized power in place of a more prudential use of soft power had produced the possibility of contradiction in the obligations of the faculty chair, one which appeared to have been resolved in favor of what might appear to some to be a fundamental breach of duty to the institution represented. (e.g., The Wellness Wars, Presidential Authority, Faculty Chair Responsibility, and the Integrity of the Senate at Penn State, October 28, 2013).

This post includes the response of members of the Senate which I have given permission to include below.  What had started as little more than eminently manageable administrative missteps has appeared to have escalated, because of the strategic choices of the parties, into a more interesting and important conversation about transparency, engagement, the relationship between administration and faculty and the shape of shared governance going forward.  Much may be at stake in a battle lamentable because it could have been prevented or mitigated but for what in retrospect may be viewed as unfortunate strategic choices by key Senate and administrative actors. I suspect the story is not yet ended.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Wellness Wars, Presidential Authority, Faculty Chair Responsibility, and the Integrity of the Senate at Penn State

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)
I have been following the so-called wellness wars at Penn State.  (e.g., The Wellness Wars at Penn State--Is the Institutional Faculty Splintering?, Aug. 21, 2013) Emerging from out of what some officials have publicly admitted was a botched roll out in the middle of the summer  of 2013, Penn State's efforts to reduce the costs of providing medical benefits to its employees through the imposition of a new form eugenics program administered through a system of layered third party providers roused a substantial amount of faculty and staff resistance.  The negative reaction focused on a variety of aspects of the plan--from intrusive questionnaires, to the penalties for failures to comply with voluntary wellness objectives, some of which the university's own faculty experts suggested were of dubious value, to the insensitivity to gender based privacy issues. (In Preparation for the Special Senate Meeting: Useful Questions Keep Coming; Credible Answers Hopefully Will Follow,  Sept. 13, 2013)

At the meeting of the University Faculty Senate on September 10, 2013, the Senate Chair was presented with a Petition to Convene a Special Meeting of the University Faculty Senate for the purpose of having the Senate consider a resolution urging the suspension of the Wellness Program.  (Special Faculty Senate Meeting to Consider Penn State Wellness Program: Announcement of Meeting of Senate Council to Review the Petition Along With Petition Text, Sept. 11, 2013). The University President responded to the actions of the Senate with a statement (e.g., Penn State Responds, A Message From the University President,  Sept. 18, 2013).

The text of the resolution as ultimately adopted by the University Faculty Senate may be found HERE (Resolution Approved by Faculty Senate 9/24/13 Take Care of your Health Initiative). Paragraph 5 of the Resolution adopted provided for a "healthcare task force, appointed to revise the administration’s ‘Take Care of Your Health’ initiative should be organized as follows: a. A minimum of twelve members. b. 1/3 of the members appointed by the administration. c. 1/3 of the members elected by faculty senators from among members of the University Senate. d. 1/3 of the members, appointed jointly by the administration, the University Senate Council, and the Staff Advisory Council, to include health policy experts, legal experts and staff representatives." The President responded to the Senate resolution, accepting some of its points and rejecting the rest, and in particular the methodologies adopted by the Senate for the composition of the Joint Task Force.  (President Erickson's Response to the Resolution 10/21/13).  He chose to convene a task force to "further consider the issue surrounding future health care benefits."  He thought it useful to "tap faculty expertise"  and directed the Chair of the University Faculty Senate  to "identify six faculty or staff members who are knowledgeable about health care matters to serve on the  the task force."  The President indicated that he would chose the other six members of the task force.  The President, together with the University Faculty Chair would then identify a chair for this task force. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Outcome Measures, Transparency and the Failure of Universities to Cultivate Effective Service Missions

I have written about the way in which universities, including state and state-assisted universities with public and service missions, have been shifting their focus to education programs increasingly "made to market." (e.g., Made to Market Education and Professionalization in University Education).

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

This shift has recently been the subject of an interesting essay, Zach Wenner, Selective Service, Washington Monthly (Nov/Dec 2013). 
The Washington Monthly’s annual college guide (published in the September/October issue) pulls together the public data that does exist on colleges’ commitment to promoting public service—the percentage of their students in ROTC; the number of their graduates who join the Peace Corps. But what we’d ideally like to know is the number of a school’s graduates who go on to serve their country and communities more broadly. That way, citizens could better judge which schools actually deliver on their lofty rhetoric and which don’t. (Ibid).
This is an especially important issue for public assisted institutions like those of the Committee on Institutional  Cooperation (CIC), including Penn State University.

The problem, of course, is one of transparency.  When universities have a monopoly on their data--and on the methods through which these are organized and presented, it is quite hard to assess and monitor university operations and performance.  While this is a great problem for internal governance, it is equally important for assessment by important outside stakeholders (including donors, alumni and employers).

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bad News for Universities With Thin Skin--Harder to Protect Reputation From the Opinions of Others?

Universities, like other great economic, cultural and religious institutions set a certain value to their reputations.  They like individuals everywhere understand that reputation may have important effects in shaping their relationships with their stakeholders and other with whom they deal.

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

Some universities, like many businesses, have sought to become quite aggressive recently in the protection of their reputations--aggressive enough, at times it seems, to worry courts about the university's interference with the speech rights of others, and especially with the rights of others to develop opinions about the university that may vary from the line the university would prefer everyone adopt. This mania for control makes economic sense, but it does, at least at its limit, suggest a disrespect for the fundamental ordering principles of this Republic that universities, more than most institutions, ought to be especially careful to avoid.

This is a lesson that the Thomas M. Cooley Law School may be learning at the moment, which has not been able, as yet, to move forward a defamation lawsuit against law firms and bloggers critical of the school's description of its students' employment statistics. Martha Neil, Cooley Law defamation suit against law firm and bloggers critical of its job stats is nixed by judge, ABA Journal, Sept. 30. 2013. This post also includes a description of the press releases issued by the parties.  For all universities now heavily invested in such reporting, the case presents an important lesson in the problems of reporting statistics and the limits of reporting agencies to control the "spin" of its statistical disclosures.  But all of this may change when the appellate court visits these issues in the coming yesr.    

Thursday, October 10, 2013

AAUP Draft Report: "Defending the Freedom to Innovate: Faculty Intellectual Property (IP) Rights After Stanford v. Roche."


 (Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

 Intellectual property has become an increasingly contentious issue across the academy as universities struggle to extract as much value form its faculty as the law permits--and to change the law to permit greater exploitation to the extent that universities can assert the political power to do so. This movement represents a larger movement in which universities seek greater productivity gains from faculty resources.  In this case, universities are increasingly asserting ownership rights over faculty that may at its limit suggest that faculty are essentially property of the university -- and that such a property transaction is made legally palatable through the medium of the salaries and support paid therefor by the university. 

 It is in this context that the American Association of University Professors has released a draft report for comment: "Defending the Freedom to Innovate: Faculty Intellectual Property (IP) Rights After Stanford v. Roche." Particularly worth reading is Part III, pages 10-28 of the draft report.

In releasing this draft the subcommittee of the Association's Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure issued a statement that follows below. The committee welcomes comments on the report from Association members and other interested parties. Comments should be addressed to

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stanley Katz: “Thinking Internationally: Internationalizing the Undergraduate Curriculum”; Keynote Address: Global Penn State Conference 2013

On September 27-28, 2013, Penn State University hosts a provocative conference as part of its Global Penn State challenge, "Internationalizing the Campus, College, and Classroom," which aims to explore innovative practices for internationalizing the classroom. (more information here:Conference: "Internationalizing the Campus, College and Classroom" at Penn State University).
A highlight of that event for me was the excellent key note address delivered by Stanley N. Katz, currently Lecturer with rank of Professor in Public and International Affairs; Director, Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies-- “Thinking Internationally: Internationalizing the Undergraduate Curriculum.” The address ought to be required reading for anyone interested in internationalizing American education, and a reminder that gestures of internationalization, however tempting and useful for glossy brochures and administrative ambitions, is never a substitute for the hard work of internalizing the emerging cultures of education which, at their very best, are deeply international and perhaps global in scope, even as they remain local in function. Our very best intentions to avoid this inevitability can only do harm to the very best education we can deliver to our students, and to the sophistication and rigor of our own academic work.

Professor Katz's address follows:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

And the Sponsors of the Call for the Special Senate Meeting Respond Back--A Continuing Wellness and Shared Governance Dialogue

I have recently posted the University Administration's first public response to the criticisms of the Wellness Program that culminated in the Wellness Program interactive dialogue at the September 10, 2013 University Faculty Senate Meeting (e.g.,Penn State Responds: A Message From the University President). To some that response appeared to be a welcome first step, but only that.  Below I have posted the reply to this Administration initiative from two of the sponsors of the Senate Special Meeting (e.g., Special Faculty Senate Meeting to Consider Penn State Wellness Program: Anouncement of Meeting of Senate Council to Review the Petition Along With Petition Text).

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)
I hope that those with views will make their opinions known either at the Special Senate meeting or otherwise to the parties.  As the letter below suggests, there are two intertwined issues that require resolution.  The first involves the substance of the Wellness programs itself, one that requires a greater cultivation of sensitivity to the human rights issues involved in the employment relationship especially when it touches on the most personal issues of human dignity. The second involves the continued cultivation of cultures of shared governance.  This, in turn, implicates the need to avoid formalism--the appearance of shared governance through the establishment of bodies that appear to include stakeholders--but which have no functional value, either because the selection of stakeholders have been marred by corruption and cronyism or because decisions will have been taken elsewhere and presented ready made for the appearance of consultation and approval.  It remains to be seen whether, together, the institutional leadership of the Senate and the university are up to either task.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Penn State Responds: A Message From the University President

Set out below is the message distributed by Penn State University President Rodney Erickson relating to some changes to the Wellness Program that was first announced in July 2013. Also included is the News Release dated Sept. 18, 2013: "Penn State suspends fee for employees who don't take health care survey."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"The American Philosophical Association Committee on the Status of Women responds to Penn State's discriminatory violations of privacy rights" -- Wellness and Human Rights

Set out below in its entirely is the letter from Hilde Lindemann, chair of The American Philosophical Association Committee on the Status of Women, writing for that Committee, and delivered on September 16, 2013 to David Gray, Senior Vice President for Finance and Busines and Susan Basso, Vice President for Human Resources, of the Pennsylvania State University.  It is entitled: "The American Philosophical Association Committee on the Status of Women responds to Penn State's discriminatory violations of privacy rights."

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer)

The letter is notable for suggesting highlighting what had received less attention in the debate over the substantive and procedural missteps and errors that have come to be asserted against the Penn State Wellness program:  that of its particular burdens and intrusions on the privacy rights of women. These may raise not just the issues of violations of human rights (some recognized in law in the United States, others comprising part of an emerging international consensus on rights of personal autonomy and constraints on intrusion) but also core issues that may touch on the constitutional protections of the rights of women. The later issue and one that lies at the core of international efforts like those of the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, is that in their quest for financial advantage, business enterprises, including universities, have a responsibility to respect human rights, one which includes a duty to undertake the sort of human rights due diligence, especially when their actions may produce detrimental human rights effects, that Penn State has not shared yet with the University community. (E.g., More Penn State Wellness Programs in the News and From the Bottom Up; ICMM, Integrating human rights due diligence into corporate risk management processes, March 2012; and my own work, HERE, HERE and HERE)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Penn State, Wellness and the Relationship With Third Party Service Providers

The Penn State University faculty Senate is moving toward its special meeting to vote on a resolution relating to the suspension of the Penn State Wellness program and the institution of a more robust engagement basis for structuring any future program,. (e.g., Special Faculty Senate Meeting to Consider Penn State Wellness Program: Announcement of Meeting of Senate Council to Review the Petition Along With Petition Text).  

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

In that connection, it may be useful to consider not only the relationship among university stakeholders, but also between the university and its external partners, particularly Highmark.  To that end this post republishes the 2007 announcement of the current basis of that relationship and its collateral effects.  Further detail may be useful in judging this relationship and its consequences for the way in which the Wellness Program was developed, structured and operationalized.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Penn State's Wellness Program and the View From the New York Times

It is sometimes useful to acquire an outside perspective, especially times times when institutional policy decisions are under stress and where it is unclear that decision makers are willing to come out of their reality producing comfort zones--that framing of reality that is elaborated by the staff who filter information for their use and whose decisions about what the "boss" may want to hear may substantially distort the reality around them.  Leadership effectiveness suffers terribly when leaders stubbornly refise to recognize a reality shaping up around them that does not conform to their expectations or desires.

 (Natasha Singer, On Campus, a Faculty Uprising Over Personal Data, New York Times, Sept. 15, 2013)

But sometimes leaders need to be exposed to something other than the constructed realities on which they base their strategic calculations.  Institutional effectiveness, and the long term welfare of the enterprise, sometimes is contingent on this perhaps painful exercise.   To that end a recent article printed in the internationally influential New York Times may be reshaping the realities around institutional leaders in ways they can neither control nor avoid, might be usefully read.  Natasha Singer, On Campus, a Faculty Uprising Over Personal Data, New York Times, Sept. 15, 2013.  It follows.

Friday, September 13, 2013

In Preparation for the Special Senate Meeting: Useful Questions Keep Coming; Credible Answers Hopefully Will Follow

 (Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

At the September 10, 2013 meeting of the University Faculty Senate, University Administrators stood for questions and presented information to the faculty assembled relating to the new Wellness Program Initiative and to their plans  for its implementation. This effort in informational transparency was much appreciated by many, though some regretted that there appeared to be little effort to foster engagement transparency.  The result, of course, is a somewhat awkward dialogue in which information is presented to a stakeholder governance group with the underlying implication that there is absolutely no intention of permitting further effective governance participation, even at the margins.  One can get a sense of this, and the  record of these efforts, from the Video record of the September 10, 2013 meeting available here. Taking that position is the University's right; but as a matter of strategy, respect for the history and traditions of shared governance and of the hard work of the last several years to restore trust, choosing to proceed in this way may produce quite regrettable and otherwise avoidable outcomes. 

History will decide the consequences of administrative and policy decisions now apparently written in stone.  And the Board of Trustees, as overall institutional manager, will exercise its oversight, accountability and control role. More interesting, both at Penn State and for all enterprises also considering plans like this are questions that continue to arise about the way such plans are structured and defended.  Among those with more resonance were a number referencing the wellness programs focus on women's reproductive strategies and plans.  (VIDEO OF MEETING RECORDING HERE) . These touch on issues of privacy, personal autonomy and respect for human rights and dignity that I have suggested may be legal in the United States but may also come close to touching on human rights detrimental actions that are the object of discussion in international human rights. (Clip of "Penn State professor questions administrators about invasion of employee privacy") There have been little by way of effort among the enterprises considering plans like this in the United States to address the international human rights norms dimensions of these plans. That is a pity; it may produce consequences.  

This post and some that may follow will post questions raised (and responses if provided later)--the object is to further the sort of dialogue that might have been more profitably engaged in before policy determinations had been made, and perhaps to serve as a basis for industry leaders and the third party providers that serve them, in modeling approaches to better policy and implementation methodologies and structures.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Special Faculty Senate Meeting to Consider Penn State Wellness Program: Anouncement of Meeting of Senate Council to Review the Petition Along With Petition Text

At the meeting of the University Faculty Senate on September 10, 2013, the Senate Chair was presented with a Petition to Convene a Special Meeting of the University Faculty Senate for the purpose of having the Senate consider a resolution urging the suspension of the Wellness Program.

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

On September 11, 2013, the Chair of the University Faculty Senate, in accordance with Article V, Section 3 of the Bylaws of the University Faculty Senate, announced the convening of a special Senate Council meeting for Tuesday, September 17, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. in 102 Kern Graduate Building. The sole agenda item for this meeting is to review the resolution regarding the Take Care of Your Health Initiative. Senate Council will review the issue with the five faculty members (Professors Victor Brunsden, Timothy Lawlor, Stephen Ross, James Ruiz, and Matthew Woessner) designated in the petition.

On September 12, 2013, the Senate Faculty Chair delivered the following notice of special Meeting of the University Faculty Senate:

The following message is being sent on behalf of Brent Yarnal, Chair, University Faculty Senate:

In accordance with Article V, Section 3 of the Bylaws of the University Faculty Senate (excerpted below), I am convening a special Senate meeting for Tuesday, September 24, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. in the auditorium (118) of the Dickinson School of Law, Lewis Katz Building. The sole agenda item for this meeting is to consider and vote on a resolution regarding the Take Care of Your Health initiative.

The resolution is attached for your reference. At the request of James Ruiz, a whitepaper written by Dennis Scanlon and Dennis Shea, is also attached.

Parking is available in the Katz Building lot and across the street at the Arboretum. University Park senators are encouraged to carpool or to ride the campus shuttle which stops every 15-minutes in front of the Katz Building. The campus shuttle schedule is available at

The September 24 meeting will be aired live via Mediasite for those unable to attend in person; see for instructions.

I hope your schedule will allow you to attend the special Senate meeting on Tuesday, September 24.

The petition, which was signed by 100 senators, is set out below for your reference. The Senate Council will also have available to it, a whitepaper written by Professors Dennis Scanlon and Dennis Shea. The Resolution follows. Comments should be directed to any of the Resolution sponsors by following the links above.  A summary of the meeting prepared by Jim Ruiz, one of the Special Meeting sponsors, is also included.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Stress Points and Structural Challenges for the Continued Viability of the University Faculty Senate: Remarks Delivered To Past Chairs of the Penn State University Faculty Senate

It was great honor to address the former chairs of the Penn State University Faculty Senate at a luncheon in their honor held at the Nittany Lion Inn.

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

This post includes the transcript of my remarks, Stress Points and Structural Challenges for the Continued Viability of the University Faculty Senate.

The PowerPoints of the presentation may be accessed HERE.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Statement and White Paper From Penn State Faculty--"Assessing the Evidence for Penn State University’s “Take Care of Your Health” Benefits Program"

 (Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

In the run up to the September 10, 2013 University Faculty Senate meeting to be held on the Penn State University Park campus (agenda HERE) and discussion about the new Penn State Wellness Program, some faculty have issued a statement and a report that might be of interest to those who are interested in the wider debate about changes to benefit structures in American enterprises, including universities.  This debate will likely have repercussions not just within the industry of the university but also influence the way that businesses may approach benefits and wellness programs for their own employees.  For that reason alone, this debate between faculty, university administrators and the health benefit provider industry may be useful for students of American industry and health policy and administration. One hopes that university administrators, like the faculty at Penn State will profit from a careful reading and consideration of these contributions ot the debate.   

This post includes: (1)  Statement of Jim Ruiz, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Matthew Woessner, Associate Professor of Political Science, to the Members of the Penn State University Faculty Senate dated Sept. 8, 2013; and (2)  Dennis Scanlon and Dennis Shea, "Assessing the Evidence for Penn State University's 'Take Care of Your Health' Benefits Program," Sept. 9, 2013 (the authors are professors in the Department of Health Policy & Administration, Penn Sate University).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Statement of the Pennsylvania State University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors Regarding the “Take Care of Your Health” Initiative and Related Employee Benefits Issues

I have posted the University Faculty Senate and Senior level administrative responses to criticisms of Penn State's new Wellness Program. These will be presented publicly at the September 10, 2013 University Faculty Senate meeting to be held on the Penn State University Park campus. (e.g.,The Faculty Senate and Penn State Administrators Respond to Criticisms of the Penn State Wellness Program With My Analysis of Responses).

The newly formed Penn State Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) also has issued a Statement that I have posted below. For those interested, the Penn State Chapter of AAUP has also announced that it will host a forum, September 6, 2013 to discuss how to respond to the new wellness initiative at Penn State. This forum is open to everyone--not just AAUP members. The announcement is also set out below.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Faculty Senate and Penn State Administrators Respond to Criticisms of the Penn State Wellness Program With My Analysis of Responses

Today the Penn State University Faculty Senate released the agenda for the first full Senate meeting of the Academic Year (HERE).  

(Pix from Penn State OHR)

As part of the meeting agenda, the University Faculty Senate will facilitate what it calls a "Special Presentation by David Gray, Senior Vice President for Finance and Business/Treasurer, Susan McGarry Basso, Vice President for Human Resources, and Highmark Representatives Take Care of Your Health Initiative" for which 30-40 minutes has been allocated for presentation and discussion (HERE).

As part of that Special Presentation, Mr. Grey and Ms Basso will present a version of their responses to a carefully crafted set of questions sent to both several weeks ago by the Senate leadership. This post  includes both the questions forwarded and the written responses of Mr. Grey and Ms. Basso. I invite you to read and assess thew value of both the questions posed and the answers given both in terms of their relevance to the concerns of faculty, their value in exposing the failures of shared governance and the mistakes in the conception and roll out of the wellness program, if any. An analysis of the answers given follows.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Enablers, Servants or Stakeholders?: Thoughts on the Role of University Faculty Senators

I have started to consider the consequences of the University Faculty Senate's failures of response in the face of sustained faculty anger and frustration (however misdirected or wrong) including the fracture of faculty cohesion institutionally represented by its University Faculty Senate (e.g.,The Wellness Wars at Penn State--Is the Institutional Faculty Splintering?).

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

But a University Faculty Senate's failures can run deeper.  Much of it might be a long time in the making--bad habits and the cultivation of cultures of servility against which I have spoken quite publicly in the past (e.g., Remarks on Assuming Duties as Chair of the PSU University Faculty Senate; and On the Institutional Role of a Faculty Senate: Part 1).  Some of it might be deeply structural--that is it is built into the way in which the Senate is organized and operates.

Starting with this post I will consider some of the fatal structural or cultural deficiencies that may hobble a university faculty senate. This post considers the nature of the role of a faculty senator.  My hope is to provide faculty at university senates with perspectives that may either trigger conversation or help in the analysis of their own situations, that is whether their own organizational structures are aligned with their institutional objectives.  I will try to suggest the ways in which that may not always be the case.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Wellness Wars at Penn State--Is the Institutional Faculty Splintering?

I have been following the quite heated controversy over Penn State's new wellness program.  Like the Sandusky scandal of 2011, the scandal generated by the roll out of this eugenics program for faculty and staff will have consequences far beyond what would have been an eminently repairable gaff in program implementation (e.g., Susan Berry, Penn State Employees Protest Wellness Mandate over Privacy Concerns, Breitbart, Aug., 21, 2013 (tying wellness efforts to repercussions from Obamacare); Tom Emerick and Al Lewis, The Danger of Wellness Programs: Don't Become the Next Penn State, Harvard Business Review, Aug. 20, 2013 (managerial failures)).  

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

Beyond the obvious errors one could chronicle relating to the management of the program's roll out (a program the general approach of which was inevitable though not in the form eventually adopted and defended in every detail) through the well known but substantially ignored channels for engagement and participation at the university, the regrettable choices of some in appearing by their choices and actions to make the resulting controversy personal and the strategic missteps in responding to what should have been expected reactions, and the appearance of an unwillingness to reach out in a well focused way to key stakeholders,  it might be argued that some of those charged with the imposition of this program have effectively played into the hands of any number of actors who might seek to use these managerial failures as a way of opening opportunities that will have an impact far more substantial than the benefit program changes that would have been relatively easy to procure acceptance with the right touch. But all of that is water under the bridge.  All actors have staked out their positions and it is now merely a matter of following this aggregated set of strategic calculations, and the choices that followed, to their conclusion.   

This post considers an important though overlooked consequence--the University Faculty Senate's responses in the face of sustained faculty anger and frustration (however misdirected or wrong) has produced one result already, the fracture of faculty cohesion institutionally represented by its University Faculty Senate.  The Faculty Senate may be losing coherence; more worrisome, it may be losing relevance to faculty interested in protecting their interests within the political structures of the university.  The University Faculty Senate may have taken an inadvertent  step toward its transformation into a form of employer union and low level administrative body within the university's management structures.  Most important, it is possible that the pace and form of its response might well have paved the way for something that would have been improbable even six months ago--the establishment of a potentially significant new faculty representative organization (and competitor for faculty loyalty and support) at the university, the American Association of University Professors.  It is far too early to tell whether or to what extent the AAUP chapter will be able to displace or supplement the University Faculty Senate, but its establishment suggests that even the University Faculty Senate is accountable to its members and that members will use what power they have to either work within the organization or if thwarted to seek representation elsewhere. As a former Chair of the University Faculty Senate I view this as regrettable. As a member of the faculty and an AAUP member I can only hope that this new chapter will represent its constituents and the rest of the faculty with honor, sympathy and restraint.    

Rethinking the Economics of On-Line Education; Considering Three Different Models of Faculty Involvement in Emerging On-Line Education

One of the most interesting aspects of the move toward on-line education is its financial aspects. Universities are buying in certainly because they tend to like to follow demand and they perceive student comfort with this form of knowledge delivery.  But what makes accommodation to taste more compelling is the financial aspects--on-line education provides  a means of substantially increasing income margins for universities as they leverage their teaching staffs per student.

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

Yet it may be that the leveraging potential of on-line education may be far smaller than theory might suggest.  The reason is simple--while synchronous knowledge delivery has great leverage potential, the move toward student centered and assessment/outcomes based education methodologies cuts deeply in the opposite direction.  These models are grounded int he idea of constant supervision and management of student involvement in course work.  That requires a greater rather than a lesser involvement of faculty in the conduct of classes.  Where on line classes can leverage lecture contact hours per faculty members, the requirements of surveillance and assessment/outcomes based  education requires substantially greater numbers of faculty to mind the students enrolled in these on-line courses. 

This post considers three distinct "approaches" to this problem that have been proposed or that will likely be influential in determining the emerging structures and expectations of on-line education and the reconstruction of the role of faculty within universities.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Adding Fuel to the Transformational Fire: Moody's Report and Trending Public University Operational Frameworks

One of the most interesting and well known trend for public universities has been the movement form academic program and faculty centered governance to one in which the center of operational gravity shifts toward the Vice President of Finance and the general counsel.  What once were viewed as issues of program and instructional advances driving university operations, subject to concerns of sustainability and economic viability has been turned upside down.  Today, public universities and especially publicly assisted universities,  start with the objective of revenue enhancement and then drive program and operations to achieve this objective,  

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

This post suggests the role of credit agencies in disciplining universities toward an embrace of this model of operations. Eric Kelderman,  Moody’s Report Forecasts a Gloomy Future for Public Universities, Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 14, 2013.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The "Narrative Advantage": The Two Faces of Wellness Programs at Penn State and the Importance of Control Its Master Narrative

One of the most important aspecst of campaigns to win the hearts and minds of target populations is the ability to control the master narrative, the script that is used when we tell stories or understand what is going on around us. Master narratives (Jean-Francois Lyotard, The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press 1984). Despite its political origins, the concept has become important to both business practices and academic understanding of the context in which people understand what is going on around them.  "Our adherence to a master narrative dictates how we frame stories, whom we interview, the questions we ask and ultimately the work we produce, which typically reinforces our belief in the master narrative."  (What is a Master Narrative, Covering Communities) Once an institution or institutional actors can assert substantial control over the master narrative, they can easily manage populations to their point of view. Indeed, public relations companies, including those with a relationship to universities, now rely heavily on the theory of master narrative to refine their own work on behalf of their clients.

(Dan Lochmann, Senior Account Supervisor, Edelman Japan, "Master Narrative: Four Keys to Unlock Your Company's Essence," Blog post July 4, 2013; "Over the years at Edelman, we have worked on a large number of Master Narrative projects together for companies big and small, Japanese and Western. As we approach each Master Narrative project, we are presented with a different set of challenges depending on the client and its objectives. But there are always a number of things that we try to keep in mind throughout the project to ensure the final narrative really captures the essence of the company and makes the most impact possible once it is communicated to stakeholders: 1) Stay focused on your audience, not the company itself; 2) Tell a story, not a corporate message; 3) Find a niche that you can own and build on; and 4) Keep it short and sweet."  It should be noted that "Penn State announced today that it has retained 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 News,

Control of the story, then, is essential to managing the interpretation of the "facts" deployed to reinforce a particular perspective and to deepen that perspective as the only "natural" way of seeing things.  That suggests, of course, that challenges to the premises of the master narrative are not merely wrong, they are deviant, anti-social and disruptive--the sort of challenge that might well justify discipline. (Jan M. Broekman and Larry Catá Backer, Lawyers Making Meaning: The Semiotics3of Law in Legal Education (Dordrecht: Springer, 2012).

Currently two narratives are competing to serve as the master narrative of employee benefits and of Penn State as an institutional actor.  One seeks to situate the narrative in the benign and engaging efforts of a caring university in which employees may trust their superiors, the other situates the narrative in adversarial relationships in which a commodified labor pool of faculty and staff are viewed as a factor in the production of cash flow and in which there is little trust between university administrators and employees about each others' motives and objectives. The first suggests a mutually engaged relationship built on trust and deference in which there can be a certain level of trust that employee interests will be valued in administrative decisions focused on other objectives; the second is built on distrust and the need for vigorous outside monitoring to ensure that employee interests are protected. This post highlights the way both variants of competing master narratives are being deployed to win the "hearts and minds" of both employees and the wider communities (some of them important university stakeholders or with the power to affect stakeholder perception) with an interest in this.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Better Approach to Faculty Centered Discussion of Technology Enhanced Education

Cash strapped universities, including many in the CIC, have used their claims of desperation to do two things: first they have increasingly ceded authority over education programs and methods to their Finance Vice Presidents.  Then they have tended to make decisions, driven my the need to generate cash, which they then impose on their institutions with only the barest formal appearance of faculty and staff engagement. Though they tend to fool themselves  into believing that all is well, this sort of ham and high handed approach to programmatic innovation will tend to erode faculty buy in, promote the move to contract faculty (much more docile and cheaper) and ultimately produce a crisis of reputation.

Top tier public institutions appear to be adopting a different approach, one that other public and publicly assisted institutions, increasingly managing from behind the high walls of their academic Versailles, might do well to consider.  This post reports on the way in which the University of Texas has chosen to approach the issue of technology enhanced education.

Monday, August 12, 2013

More Penn State Wellness Programs in the News and From the Bottom Up

I have been reporting on the coverage of Penn State's newly announced wellness program in the news, and to capture all sides of the debate, one that regrettably did not occur within Penn Staten before the imposition of the program, about the value of eugenics based programs like this in terms of cost savings, the quantification of health benefits and the risks to employees that the university will permit on their behalf.  (Penn State's New "Wellness Program" in the News (UPDATED Through 8 August 2013). 

 (Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

Since this last post Penn State University continues to be very much in the news about its wellness program. This post provides an update not just about recent coverage but also to provide links to experts whose views about the soundness of aspects of the program may broaden the scope of discussion.   It is provided in the interest of analysis and debate, including on the general issues raised by programs of this kind of benefits offered by enterprises in the U.S. It also suggests some of the complications of emerging issues of consultation in shared governance contexts in the face of increasingly large informational asymmetries between administration and faculty.

As a matter of core principle, I continue to emphasize that, like any other institutional organ, an enterprise (like a university) must exercise substantial restraint and sensitivity when it seeks to manage or to appropriate to itself a power to manage or control the personal choices of individuals in ways that touch on the human dignity and personal autonomy of the individual.   In many highly developed Western states, the protection of human dignity and personal autonomy is a matter of constitutional commitment. At its limit, of course, that protection serves as a rationale for the suppression of slavery and the incidents of slavery as a matter of law. But between slavery and complete personal freedom there is a large space within which the state, and the enterprises it permits to operate within its borders, permit some control of autonomy.  That space, of course, is essential for the operation of a free society, and is usually grounded, in the area of human economic activity, on the boundaries within which enterprises may hire labor to meet its specific objectives.  However, the existence of this discretionary space is not meant to produce a place where autonomy and human dignity may be completely disregarded in the drive toward enterprise welfare maximization. To permit that freedom would be to allow slavery by other means--and the state of peonage, the closest model for that sort of society, has also been suppressed in most civilized states.  As a consequence, enterprises ought to be sensitive to the detrimental effects of the instrumental use of their authority over their employees when they seek to that power to manage and control the human beings they employee.  This responsibility to be sensitive to the detrimental effects of employer self interested actions ought to be especially strong where the mechanisms of control and management touch deeply on matters of human dignity and autonomy.  That responsibility to respect the human rights of their employees may not be strictly required by law but is central to the social license of enterprises to claim a right to legitimate operation within the societies in which they operate. This notion reflects emerging consensus at the international level around the responsibilities of enterprises for the human rights effects of their activities. (e.g., United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights) These are no less binding on universities where they act as economic actors.  Where enterprises rely principally on their raw power and expand their control of elements of production, especially human beings, for reasons other than to respect their human dignity and autonomy (for example for reasons of cost reduction or productivity gains, both quite respectable in their own right of course), the enterprise ought to bear a special duty to be  sensitive to human dignity concerns in fashioning such programs.  That duty increases as the human dignity and autonomy effects of these actions increase, including potential violations of privacy interests and the effects of the appropriate of the right to exploit employee information by employers. When the enterprise fails to exercise this sensitivity in its imposition of dignity and autonomy affecting projects, it may rely on its coercive power, supported perhaps the discretionary space permitted by law, to impose its will. But it will also act in ways inconsistent with the sort of respect for human dignity and autonomy at the core of our values. Individuals may conform because they must, but trust is lost and the willingness of individuals to cooperate may decrease.  Eugenics programs sit at the very core of human dignity and personal autonomy, and absent substantial and comprehensively explained reasons, these merit substantial sensitivity and engagement before they are either formed or imposed. That an enterprise may impose its will in these matters in this country as a matter of law does not necessarily mean that it is the right thing to do.