By Professor Doom
I’m hardly the
only “anonymous” critic of higher ed out there, and the reason there are so
many of us is pretty simple: the rulers of higher ed hold such incredible
power, that concepts such as “free speech” or “academic freedom” don’t provide
even a patina of protection from those on high.
My criticisms on
my blog are probably unknown to most of the leaders I’ve mentioned even though
my blog has been around 5 years; I’m fine with that, as I’m more about letting
people know what kind of “leaders” our campuses often sport than attacking the
critic is making very sure the target of his concern knows about it:
These pamphlets are modeled after the
Common Sense pamphlets, which were certainly a factor in starting the
Revolutionary War. A quick primer on those:
The broadsides borrow the title of
revolutionary-era author Thomas Paine’s 1776 treatise: “Common Sense.”…Paine
argued -- anonymously at first -- that the colonies should fight for
independence from King George III.
The author is old
school here, distributing copies of hand-lettered pamphlets throughout the
…the anonymous pamphleteer portrays LIU
president Kimberly Cline…000as “Queen Kimmy,” an out-of-touch royal who draws a
“fat” $800,000 salary even as enrollment falters. (For the record, LIU’s latest
IRS filings show Cline’s base salary at $761,066, with another $24,578 in
“other reportable compensation.”)
To be fair, the
pamphlets are a little biased, but, much like the example above, only
exaggerate a little. LIU, Long Island University, sports less than 20,000
students and bills itself as a non-profit. Doesn’t $800,000 a year (if you’ll
forgive the exaggeration) strike the gentle reader as pretty excessive pay? It’d
be like going to McDonald’s, and having $40 tacked onto your bill just to pay
the CEO. Keep in mind, the
queen Poo Bah here is serviced by a wide
array of administrative support staff, each paid with similar exorbitance.
overpaid. Any other criticisms?
The so-called Friday Night Massacre calls out
Cline’s Oct. 12 decision to enact what the pamphleteer calls “massive
cuts” to spring 2019 classes. The pamphlets also note the distribution of 30
“death letters” to faculty, informing them that they’ll be out of a job after
the spring semester. (A faculty representative told Inside
Higher Ed that the total number of instructors subject to
impending layoffs or tenure denials is about 16 to 18.)
pamphleteer refers to “faculty,” which the university mouthpiece refers to
“instructors.” I can’t help but wonder if the narrative is being shaped to make
the pamphleteer look dishonest…I’m suspicious that’s the case.
In addition to
twisting things around, the university is going full-on with character attacks:
LIU spokesman Gordon Tepper told Inside
Higher Ed that the author or authors of the
“anonymous, factually incorrect, disrespectful, and sexist trash should be
ashamed of themselves. The fact that the author refers to a distinguished
university president as 'Queen' or 'Royal Majesty' on no fewer than 20
occasions in this unsourced rant speaks to a disturbed individual who clearly
has issues with women in authority.”
“Disturbed”? “Issues with women in authority”? May as well just call him deplorable and call it a day.
To be fair, the
queen isn’t all bad:
In interviews, [queen] Cline has said…the
university’s endowment has grown 267 percent, from $86 million to
about $230 million.
Gosh, with that kind of money, she could have
kept the faculty, and then the school could boast of smaller classes. The
school now has a bigger pot of money to be eventually looted, so there’s that.
The queen’s greatest “crime” was merging
the athletic programs; for some Byzantine reason, the school was simultaneously
fielding Division I and Division II teams. So, she got rid of the latter. Hey,
I’m all for cutting back on sportsball on campus. Trouble is, those Division II
players came to campus because they were offered athletic scholarships, and to
get one last chance to improve their skills enough to be professional.
Athletes only have a limited time to get
the most out of their careers. At the very least, she could give them fair
warning to clear out by next year.
Well, no, she just basically had her
subjects listen to her decree:
Athletes learned about the move after being
called out of class to watch her Oct. 3 news conference…thrown into turmoil the educational plans of hundreds of
students. The planned merger would force athletes -- many of whom attend on
scholarship -- to compete for a shrinking number of starting positions.
Consolidating LIU Post and LIU Brooklyn’s athletics departments also puts many
students’ futures in limbo,
Yeah, that could have been handled with a
bit more decency and much less arrogance—seriously, pulling students out of
class to watch a speech? Still, to her
credit, she’ll honor all scholarship promises regardless of future athletic
participation. Handled poorly and arrogantly…but some decency here all the
And Cline’s admissions
operation “has failed since the day they got here,” he said, with declining
numbers of incoming students most years. Post's first-year enrollment, which
reached nearly 900 a decade ago, now sits at under 600.
This is kind of cherry-picking, as the
school has several campuses. So, sure, one campus, Post, isn’t doing so well.
That said, the queen gets her pay based on the growth, growth, growth. Perhaps
we should consider cutting back the pay when the performance isn’t so good.
Gee, that’s what faculty are often faced with.
The university has clashed with faculty as
well. In 2016, LIU locked out faculty from its Brooklyn campus over contract
disputes. A year later, in 2017, Fevola said the university hadn’t laid off “a
single faculty member,” adding, “we’re promoting people and granting tenure.”
The gentle reader is probably wondering
how a university spokesperson can say the above and present it as truth, when
they’ve already said they got rid of some instructors, above.
First, let’s talk about that “granting
tenure” thing, because that’s key to the legerdemain here:
He said seven or eight faculty members who were
up for tenure last spring were denied. Another nine or 10 probationary faculty
received termination letters last spring. These instructors’ last employment
date: Aug. 31, 2019. So faculty members will likely lose their jobs
through contracts that aren't being renewed.
If you apply for tenure, and are denied,
you’re not fired but…you contract isn’t renewed. So, the guy’s out of a job,
but not fired. Absolutely you can get rid of a few dozen faculty a year this
way, and still stand in front of a camera, smile and say “we’re not firing
Only one comment bears counter-comment by
Ok, so the president is being criticized for taking home
$800k/year while making severe budget cuts, and apparently mishandling the
whole thing pretty badly. What part of [criticizing] that is sexist?
I assure the gentle reader, if the queen
here were some sort of minority, then the RACIST card would have been played as
well…these guys are both predictable and limited in how they respond to
criticism, after all.
The most important war
this country ever had was ignited, in part, by a pamphleteer. It may be too
much to hope that LIU’s pamphleteer can accomplish nearly so much, but even if
all he gets is a tiny revolution on one campus, I’ll certainly call it a win.
If nothing else, at least he has style.