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Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:35 PM

Corporatization and Stepfordization of a public university

I work at a state university in a red state but I was seeing this trend at the state university I worked at in a blue state before this. I work as a research project manager - I make sure that data is collected accurately, manage grant budgets, make sure that human subjects requirements are met, provide scholarly input on grant activities and publications, and sometime help in the development of new grants. I have a PhD are (based on the work I do) really should be classified more like a post doc or faculty member but I'm classified as a "service professional." Every year I have to do a self evaluation in which I have to show SPECIFIC evidence of the following 7 "expectations" :

1. All: Service-oriented; positive attitude, helpful: Provides exceptional service by distributing accurate, useful information that supports university objectives; holds self and others to a high standard of quality and service.
2. All: Trustworthy; adheres to ethics and compliance standards. Maintains workplace integrity under all circumstances; adheres to university standards of ethics and compliance; holds self and others to a high standard of quality.
3. All: Collaborative, team-oriented. Works effectively with others, both inside and outside university, to accomplish university goals.
4. All: Committed to <name of university>, productive. Improves university effectiveness by finding creative solutions that increase access to educational resources. Identifies and resolves problems and otherwise advances university mission.
5. All: Flexible, adaptable. Welcomes change and adjusts quickly to it; remains flexible and productive at all times.
6. All: Respectful communicator. Expresses ideas clearly orally and in writing; adjusts communications to the intended audience; communicates effectively with diverse faculty, staff and students throughout the university and community.
7. All: Resourceful, committed to sustainability. Actively seeks, acquires and promptly applies new knowledge and skills—interpersonal, technological or business-related--to support university goals. Supports the university’s sustainability programs.

Notice that not a single one includes anything about "does a good job" or even "does their job." Very few of these are relevant to me or my job (#2 is cause I handle financial matters). The university's goals should be irrelevant to my job - my job is to ensure that the grant goals are accomplished (if the grant moved to another university and I went with it I would have the exact same responsibilities regardless of the university's goals). This evaluation has nothing to do with my performance and everything to do with conformity and loyalty.

Note that for #1 'exceptional' is the minimum ... technically to get more than 'average' in this category I have to be better than 'exceptional'! #4 is the one that REALLY infuriates me - most employees (myself included) here haven't had a raise in 4 - 5 years due to a wage freeze ... yet the President is one of the highest paid Presidents at any public institution in the country and I know other administrators have gotten raises. The work I do is irrelevant to "access to educational resources." I make intellectual contributions to this project which are way above and beyond what a project coordinator (my official title) should be expected to do and I'm underpaid by about 40% based on my skills, training, and experience. I'm employed on an annual contract which the university can refuse to renew any year for any reason - which happened to me 3 1/2 years ago resulting a in pay cut (and this contract will end when the grant I am paid off of ends unless another grant comes in). Why do I have to be committed to this university - it's not like the university has done sh*t for me! Finally, #7 - I have a f**king PhD and I'm damn good at my job. Why should I have to seek and acquire new knowledge to get a good evaluation?

I f**king HATE my job! I can't wait to find a new one.

The only good thing is my supervisor agrees with me 100% about the inappropriateness of the evaluation (of course, she hasn't tried to change my job title even though she implied that she was going to - that is the only way she could get me a raise ).

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Reply Corporatization and Stepfordization of a public university (Original post)
drmeow Jan 2013 OP
jody Jan 2013 #1
drmeow Jan 2013 #2
jody Jan 2013 #3

Response to drmeow (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:44 PM

1. What you describe is typical for non-professors and instructors/asst. profs without tenure. If


you're at a university below tier 1 then things get bad very quickly.

Distance learning and adjunct professors make tenure a dream that will probably never be fulfilled unless one has a PhD in one of the Sciences or Mathematics.

A dean might advertise a position in non-STEM fields and get hundreds of applications, and the salary is less than K-12 teachers receive.

Cheer up, it's going to get worse for higher education.

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Response to jody (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:57 PM

2. My objection is not to the terms of my employment

I knew those when I signed on. My objection is to the evaluation based almost solely on whether I am playing by the President's sandbox rules which expect the type of loyalty of a lifer job from 40 years ago. Up until 4 or 5 years ago the evaluations were based on actual performance. Now they are based on being a good corporate citizen. I've been around academia long enough to expect to be f**ked over by the administration - but I don't expect and object to having to worship the university and demonstrate over-the-top loyalty to the university while I'm being f**ked over.

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