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Issues, events, & breaking news from ICES & Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
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Associate Professor, Economics
University of British Columbia
Paper Presented at The 8th International Seminar for Local Public Economics,
University Of Guanajuato, Mexico, Nov 10-11, 2016
This paper analyzes the establishment in 2005 and subsequent evolution of a new university campus in the interior region of British Columbia, Canada, until then under-serviced with regard to university provision and with one of the lowest rates of participation of its population in post-secondary education in the province of British Columbia (BC). The paper considers the founding vision of the campus, situated in the city of Kelowna, represented by the original Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Government of BC in relation to its subsequent evolution to today.
To anticipate the results, we find that almost none of the original vision for the campus has been realized, and it has evolved in a way fundamentally opposed to the Government’s expressed intention. This is largely due to the fact that universities are autonomous institutions in Canada largely free of political influence and hence need only follow their own goals rather than those of the Government and/or electorate. It might also be that the Government’s stated vision was political posturing and it fully intended to leave the evolution of the campus entirely to the University and not hold it to account to the MoU. That the campus was left to UBC, one of the world’s top 40 universities in international ranking, and top 20 public universities, to develop as a second, smaller campus in Kelowna than its much larger main campus in Vancouver, a 4-hour drive away, has had important implications for its subsequent development away from the original expressed goals. The paper discusses issues of academic planning, accountability and oversight in the provision of this local public good by the Government funders/taxpayers.
E. Wayne Ross provided this gem of information and insight to UBC’s “first” Faculty of Education:
In the recent past, Dean Frank has spoken of the possibility of the UBC Okanagan Faculty of Education being “merged” with or administered by the UBC Vancouver Faculty of Education.
I am not aware of any recent developments or announcements regarding this merger, take-over (or what have you) nor am I aware of any discussions or reports on the implications of such an action.
I am raising the issue because in paper delivered earlier this month Peter Wylie, professor of economics at UBCO, describes the take over as a done deal [p. 31].
I agree with Wayne’s points and it would be nice to know which analogy to adopt: merger, make-over, take-over, left-over, etc.? On the other hand, the information here seems like an easy lob over a net just wanting a return…
UBCO’s Faculty of Education has been innovative from its beginning in 2005. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Deborah Buszard called UBCO a “bold new UBC presence” when it was founded.
UBCO Education is a full Faculty that apparently gets along quite well without any Associate or Assistant Deans. That is bold. Apparently, it has gotten along quite readily for nearly the past three years without a Dean. Or if you will on a technicality, an Acting Dean that covers two Faculties.
Indeed, UBCO’s Faculty of Education has done its part in reducing admin bloat and demonstrated quite readily that faculty members can self-manage and govern. That is bold.
Under these conditions, the faculty members and students managed to rescue their BEd program mid December last year from closure. Or, at least they won a reprieve for a year (i.e., new closure date December 2017) and had to limit the admissions to just over 50%. Still, that is bold.
The gist of what Wylie reports as a “done deal” is that UBCO Education was expanded but is now submitted to a process of downsizing to the point of transfer or conversion into UBCV Education. This is *not* bold.
Hello? For what problem is this transfer a solution?
Hello again? At UBCV we have had no (read “0”) discussion about this. This is *not* bold.
There have been questions about what we mean by “mismanagement” at the University of British Columbia? What is meant by claims that at key moments in the past two years, there was evident mismanagement by the Board of Governors? Some faculty members juxtaposed the BoG’s failures against the University Act and best practices or Nolan Principles.
What do we mean by suggesting that UBC’s Committee of Deans establishes a bad model for the campus (i.e., mismanagement, e.g., no agendas, minutes, etc.)? What is meant by mismanagement by omission of a policy to regulate the appointment of Associate Deans?
Or, what is meant by charges that specific programs, such as UBC’s Master of Educational Technology program, a proverbial digital diploma mill, are mismanaged? What is meant by the mismanagement of a Career Advancement Plan?
So here’s a clarification and why good management matters:
Workers tend to have a keen sense of mismanagement when they experience it and academic workers are no different. Academics have a keen sense of academic mismanagement when they see it.
The sense used here is not the common legal definition of gross mismanagement, e.g., “a continuous pattern of managerial abuses, wrongful or arbitrary and capricious actions…” Nor is it used in the sense of financial mismanagement (e.g., p. 274).
Rather, mismanagement in most UBC cases refers to simply a failure to adhere to best practices (of accountability, equity, governance, hiring, etc.). The concern is with omissions. Of course, omissions may be intentional and this does not preclude arbitrariness, deception, or a destitution of integrity, etc.
In Dignity at Work, the key text on the topic, Hodson (2004) articulates in detail the short and long-term effects of mismanagement. The basic thesis is this: “Working with dignity is a fundamental part of achieving a life well-lived, yet the workplace often poses challenging obstacles because of mismanagement or managerial abuse” (frontispiece).
In the first paragraph then, Hodson prefaces: “Even where abuse is commonplace and chaos and mismanagement make pride in accomplishment difficult, workers still find ways to create meaning in work and to work with dignity” (p. 3). We see this in the most exploited workers at UBC: Sessional Lecturers.
“The first hurdle in the quest for dignity at work, Hodson says, “is thus the possibility of mismanagement and abuse” (p. 83). Indeed, “mismanagement and abuse have a central role in generating resistance and undermining citizenship in the workplace.” And he emphasizes, the buck stops at the top:
Chaotic and mismanaged workplaces undercut workers’ pride and erect barriers to quality work. The consequences of poorly organized workplaces can also spill over to coworker relations, further undermining organizational effectiveness. (p. 109)
Hodson concludes: “significant denials of dignity remain in the workplace. Chief among these are mismanagement and abuse” (p. 273).
Helps explain the state of working conditions in various programs and units at UBC, doesn’t it?
Dear UBC diary,
Year 100: Does anyone at the University of British Columbia remember last year, when on the day of the institution’s 100th birthday party Arvind resigned? If memory serves me right, Martha waltzed in, blew out the candles, and made the wish. Does anyone recall this happening? Like a dream, there are some vague memories of documents and decisions being hidden from access and scrutiny. Speculation. Secret meetings and the like…
I vaguely remember a resignation of the Chair of the Board of Governors and an academic freedom complaint. I kind of remember a Freedom of Information bungle in UBC’s Office of the University Counsel. My memory is incomplete but I sense that I signed a few petitions, went to meetings, protests, and rallies, and voted No Confidence in the BoG. Who doesn’t remember the Deans being made to reappear? And the pablum in the sun? That was a good Houdini trick! There are traces of the Faculty Association sabre-rattling with a few PDFs.
Anybody remember any of this at UBC?
I think I remember some brouhaha over an Advisory Committee for the appointment of a new President and a resignation from said Committee. I remember hearing that President Gupta phoned the Committee but was left on hold! I don’t remember candidates meeting with faculty, staff, and students. Was busy and may have missed that part.
The UBC year at glance confirms that we were dreaming! Nothing that we vaguely remember happening in year 100 actually happened! None of those memories made it onto UBC’s 2015-2016 highlight reel or appear in Dave’s yearbook!
Alas, we were finally ordered to “cease using the UBC 100 logo and revert back” to, well, you know, this was like an order to cease thinking about last year and revert back to, well, you know…
Summer and fall 2016 at UBC, back to business as usual… restoration… so calming, like an aromatherapeutic misty spritz on the wrist…
Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, Vancouver Observer, October 7, 2016– Vancouver, the city of disparities, is faced with polar opposites in its educational system.
The contrast between K-12 schools and the university in Vancouver could not be more stark: The schools sinking in debt with rapidly declining enrolments and empty seats versus the university swimming in cash and bloating quotas to force excessive enrolments beyond capacity.
With central offices just 7km or 12 minutes apart, the two operate as if in different hemispheres or eras: the schools laying off teachers and planning to close buildings versus the university given a quota for preparing about 650 teachers for a glutted market with few to no jobs on the remote horizon in the largest city of the province.
There is a gateway from grade 12 in high school to grade 13 in the university but from a finance perspective there appears an unbreachable wall between village and castle.
The schools are begging for funds from the Liberals, who, after saying no to K-12, turn around to say yes to grades 13-24 and pour money into the University of British Columbia, no questions asked.
There may be two ministries in government, Education and Advanced Education; there is but one tax-funded bank account.
Read More: Vancouver Observer
New issue of Workplace: Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor #highered #criticaled #criticaleducation
Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor
Special Issue of Workplace
Special Issue of Workplace
Karen Lynn Gregory & Joss Winn
Articles in Workplace have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory in the contemporary university… we suggest that there is one response to the transformation of the university that has yet to be adequately explored: A thoroughgoing and reflexive critique of academic labor.
Table of Contents
- Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor
Karen Lynn Gregory, Joss Winn
- Towards an Orthodox Marxian Reading of Subsumption(s) of Academic Labour under Capital
- Re-engineering Higher Education: The Subsumption of Academic Labour and the Exploitation of Anxiety
Richard Hall, Kate Bowles
- Taxi Professors: Academic Labour in Chile, a Critical-Practical Response to the Politics of Worker Identity
Elisabeth Simbürger, Mike Neary
- Marxism and Open Access in the Humanities: Turning Academic Labor against Itself
- Labour in the Academic Borderlands: Unveiling the Tyranny of Neoliberal Policies
Antonia Darder, Tom G. Griffiths
- Jobless Higher Ed: Revisited, An Interview with Stanley Aronowitz
Stanley Aronowitz, Karen Lynn Gregory