Monday, December 24, 2018

Anonymous Pamphleteer Mocks University “Queen”






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 leaders themselves.

     One anonymous 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 campus.

…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.

      So, she’s 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.)



     Hmm, the 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.”



     “Sexist trash”? “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 same.

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 anyone.”

      Only one comment bears counter-comment by me:

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.