Posts Tagged ‘No confidence vote’

The Tenure Controversy at CSU

April 24, 2010
Who’s right in the tenure controversy at Columbus State?  Dr. Tim Mescon’s policy of requiring more research and publishing for a teacher to achieve tenure was one of the big reasons for the no-confidence vote.  Right before the vote, he backed off on that and said for at least a year the tenure standards will remain what they were in order to be fair to those now applying for tenure.   

Are the more rigid standards a good idea?  I’ll get into that, but first let’s look at the concept of tenure. First of all, originally, the main reason for tenure was to protect a teacher’s academic freedom. When a teacher is granted tenure he or she cannot be dismissed without  cause.  In other words,  the administration will have to show cause. If it turns out that the cause is some political, philosophical, or ideological statement that the instructor made in class or in publication, then the principal of academic freedom will have been violated. That’s not considered a valid reason for dismissal by a lot of people.  A valid reason would be for a professor not to show up for class a lot, or not concentrate on the subject he or she is assigned to teach, or perhaps for horrific evaluations by students.

I have always been told that universities are supposed to present all sorts of ideas, philosophies, ideologies,  and concepts, and to provoke students to critically think about them.  That cannot be done without academic freedom. 

A retired professor friend of mine explained that the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech both have more rigid research and publishing tenure standards than Columbus State, but he said the reason for that is that they are research institutions.  In order to achieve that they have to allot more time for teachers to do research and publishing, which means they will do less teaching. 

One of the problems with this, he says, is that your most prestigious teachers are not spending a lot of time teaching.  However,  being an effective  research school gives a university more prestige.   He believes that is why Dr. Mescon wants to institute stricter tenure standards.  However,  teachers at Columbus State have to spend most of their time teaching.  In order to spend more on research and publishing their teaching loads would need to be lightened.  That’s expensive because it would require more teachers.  There is shortage of money right now as the state keeps cutting higher education budgets. 

Maybe Dr. Mescon’s idea for stricter tenure standards is not a bad one in the future, but it doesn’t appear to be a good one now, and he obviously has recognized that.

Should a University be Operated Like a Business?

April 23, 2010


A retired Columbus State University professor had an interesting observation about why he believes CSU President Tim Mescon clashed with the school’s established faculty.  He said he thinks it is a case of a business administration educator becoming a university president and thinking he could run it like a business. He said, “It’s not a business.”

Yes, it takes a lot of money to operate a university, and it costs a lot of money to go to one.  But there is a key business element missing.  Universities don’t operate for a monetary profit.   The bottom line at a university is educating people, getting them ready to earn a decent living,  and providing a broad intellectual background that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

It appears to me that most businesses are basically not concerned with an employee’s independent thinking when it comes to company policy.  Being a “team member” is what counts, but who would want a college professor who wasn’t an independent thinker?  University students are supposed to be exposed to all sorts of philosophies and ideas, and the best teachers, some believe, are the ones who provoke students to question just about all concepts, philosophies, and ideas, and not to accept what they are told just because some authority figure tells it.  In other words,  they are encouraged to think for themselves.  Unfortunately, not all teachers are good teachers, and some don’t encourage individual thinking. If you want to get a good grade, you had better give the impression that you think the way they do.  Let’s hope they are in the minority.

Business management techniques are no doubt helpful in the financial concerns of a university,  but on the academic side,  it’s a different ball game.  That doesn’t mean a business administration specialist can’t adapt and be a good university president.  Which, according to what he says,  is Dr. Mescon’s goal.

The News is not Good for CSU President Mescon and Provost Levi

April 22, 2010

Right after I post the good news story about the great Columbus State University Schwob School of Music’s annual Kaleidoscope Concert,  I learn from Chuck Williams on the L-E website that the faculty has voted ‘no confidence” for President Tim Mescon and Provost Inessa Levi.

Chuck writes, “Mescon, who has been at the university 21 months, had 62 percent of the voting faculty express no confidence.

Levi, who has been at CSU for 10 months, had 77 percent of the voting faculty express no confidence.”

Out of 293 eligibile voters, 253 voted.

Since I am a graduate of CSU – it was Columbus College when I graduated – and I have a number of friends who are retired CSU professors, and I am a dedicated supporter of its music program, which is one of the best in the country, this is a little personal for me, as it is with a lot of Columbus folks.

The vote  cannot remove Mescon and Levi from office, only the University System Board of Regents can do that.  Chuck Leonard just reported on WTVM that Mescon’s contract is up for renewal and that he asked it not be renewed until the vote of confidence was taken.  The L-E  reports the board granted his request and didn’t renew the contract yesterday, which was the day scheduled for university president contract renewals.

Let’s hope this controversy is resolved quickly for the sake of a really fine school that is a great asset for Columbus.