Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The academic year formally commenced today with our Senate retreat. It was everything one might have expected, and less.
Worth the price of admission: a colleague from another department, our new Best Friend, challenged President M. to acknowledge the traditional centrality of Philosophy as an anchor of liberal learning across the academic spectrum, "queen of the sciences," bellwether of critical thinking etc. The president declined, and shortly thereafter departed.
Then came the "team-building" exercise, a staggeringly irrelevant invitation to engage in "non-evaluative" brainstorming of our various unfiltered imaginings of possible futures for our institution and for Higher Ed generally. This involved closed-eye visualizations of a desert, a cube, a ladder, a horse, and a flower, all purported to symbolize something profound and personal and revelatory. I am not making this up.
In the wake of this surreal squandering of a lovely morning on planet Earth we won't ever (he deplored) get back, our champion took his leave. He promised his department's continued support, and predicted his letter of censure from the boss who's earned a reputation for brooking no criticism, constructive or not.
But still, despite the sufferance of this academic theater of the absurd, we're buoyed to remind ourselves that classes - our refuge from a world seemingly gone mad - are blessedly about to begin.