Provost: “Surprised at the uproar”

Provost Paul M. DeLuca, Jr. was recently overheard saying that he was “surprised at the uproar” over his Graduate School restructuring proposal.   These  four simple words — surprised at the uproar — reveal more clearly than anything else we have heard to date how we came to be unwilling passengers in a slow-motion political train wreck that could leave faculty and staff wary and distrustful of administration motives and priorities for years to come.  In particular, they reveal that Provost DeLuca

  1. was either unfamiliar with, or failed to take seriously, the history, culture, and legal underpinnings of shared governance on this campus,
  2. did not fully appreciate the pride many of us take in this campus’ unique integration of graduate education and research functions, and
  3. above all, failed to consult with anybody who could have easily pointed out the above issues before he unilaterally dropped a sweeping, yet ill-defined and weakly justified, restructuring plan in the lap of the university community.

It now appears that Provost DeLuca has been forced to reconsider his original ambitious timetable and to await the findings of the University Committee’s ad hoc committtee on the research enterprise.   It goes without saying that the University Committee should have been involved from the beginning (see point 3 above).   But that is water under the bridge.

The best thing Provost DeLuca can do now to repair the  substantial damage that has already been done, not only to his own political standing among the faculty and staff but also to that of the Chancellor, would be to publicly acknowledge that the process to date was deeply flawed and that he is now offering a complete do-over.    In particular, he should put all options for correcting perceived administrative problems back on the table, and he should promise to use the ad hoc committee’s report as a starting point  for discussing and evaluating proposed changes in the administrative structure with full and formal involvement of shared governance bodies.

– The Editors

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