LSU Faculty Senate Publications

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This third issue of the Faculty Senate Newsletter once again testifies to the vivacity of faculty engagement not only with teaching, research, and service but with the preservation and indeed upgrading of academic traditions both at LSU and worldwide. Colleagues have responded to the call for participation and for increased communication among the diverse subcultures within LSU and within academe. This diverse issue delivers a rich selection of news items: a story on Jane Chandler, of International programs; previews of coming faculty governance events; a guest opinion column by Faculty Senate Vice-President Pratul Ajmera; news stories on events up and down the sometimes creaky ladder of Louisiana higher education; a practical tip for professionals; a humor section; and even a few exposés. A community production, this newsletter affirms the vitality of our intellectual community. “Welcome” columns often include an op-ed comment or two. Claiming this privilege, I would like to suggest that now might be the time to help the administration apply the Chancellor’s new“Change, Focus, Autonomy”program in a robust and literal way.“Change, Focus, Autonomy”is probably the most abstract and least memorable slogan to emerge from the University public relations machine, yet its unduly abstract content has some merit when re-linked to experience. For the administration,“autonomy”seems to mean financial independence from state-regulated budgets. That accountant’s dream pales in comparison to what“autonomy”might mean in an institution animated by a clear sense of purpose and possessed of traditions that celebrate faculty achievement rather than chase an elusive, somewhat imaginary “ranking”or“excellence.” “Focus”suggests that the administration should aim at particular goals (for example, choosing architects for new building projects who can devise creative solutions to the needs for physical space rather than puffing up overblown replicas of the central campus buildings) and that it should eschew undefined pursuits of“quality.”The foregoing two adjustments would produce “change”in a University where the faculty are beleaguered by externally generated economic troubles and internally by outmoded administrative structures (such as the pyramidal management schemes that provide faculty with too few means of achieving daring, innovative projects). The administration has gotten the content right—change, focus, and autonomy are indeed important—but has inverted the sequence. It should seek autonomy (and all that it implies) by focusing and thereby inducing change. But, then we all get things upside down or backward now and then! With all good wishes, Kevin L. Cope, Faculty Senate President