Friday, August 28, 2009

We're #57!

Just back from the Fall Faculty Meeting, the annual gathering at the beginning of the academic year when we're all herded for a pep talk from the Pres and an introduction to new colleagues. It was hard to credit his assertion this morning that this is a "wonderful" time for our school, when in the same breath we're insistently reminded that $19 mil is gone from our budget "forever."(That from a University President introduced by the interim provost as "optimistic" - !)

But yes, it was very nice to crack the Forbes Top 100 Public Colleges list. Supposedly we're #57, ahead of Alabama-Huntsville (to pick a random example, A.) at #85, and the University of Missouri-Columbia (to pick another) at #92. That ranking, if it means anything more than a commitment to the "business model" approach so many are so smitten with these days, so inimical to the goals of classic liberal education, presupposes a tenable and respected Philosophy Department, Mr. President. And thank you again for recognizing our students' excellent performance. We take no credit for that, of course.

A nice moment came when the colleague recognized for lifetime achievement deflected all praise and instead expressed humble gratitude for generations of outstanding students whose mere "coach" he claimed to be.

Again, we all need to recall - as another colleague, from Music, pointed out - that they're why we're here. We get a constant stream of admininstrative rhetoric about being student-centered, even as the students' most fundamental resource, the faculty, is repeatedly bitten and hacked by a thousand cuts. But showing up and doing our best work in the classroom makes that a reality, no matter how disruptively the Regents and their minions go about "reorganizing" Higher Ed in our state.

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