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Archive for November, 2010

In the face of on-going budget cuts and calls by the administration to “grow programs without any additional resources,” or to “do more with less,” it has been useful for me to return to the words of the critical teacher and education activist, Paulo Freire.  While Freire turns up on syllabi and bibliographies, times like these should remind us that words alone are not enough.  How we put commitments into practice–in our own lives–is where the rubber hits the road.  So, as we get ready to head off to Thanksgiving break, I am thankful for this reminder from Freire’s 1973 book Education for Critical Consciousness:

Integration with one’s context, as distinguished from adaptation, is a distinctly human activity.  Integration results from the capacity to adapt oneself to reality plus the critical capacity to make choices to transform that reality.  To the extent that man [sic.] loses his ability to make choices and is subjected to the choices of others, to the extent that his decisions are no longer his own because they result from external prescriptions, [s]he is not longer integrated.  Rather, [s]he has adapted.  [S]He has “adjusted.”  Unpliant men [and women], with a revolutionary spirit, are often termed “maladjusted.”

The integrated person is person as Subject. In contrast, the adaptive person is person as object, adaptation representing at most a weak form of self-defense.  If man is incapable of changing reality, [s]he adjusts himself [or herself] instead.  Adaptation is behavior characteristic of the animal sphere; exhibited by man, it is symptomatic of his [her] dehumanization.  Throughout history men [and women] have attempted to overcome the factors which make them accommodate or adjust, in a struggle–constantly threatened by oppression–to attain their full humanity (4-5).

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Really.

Today I made my annual appearance in Dr. Steve Schnell’s, GEG 225 Spaces of Globalization class.  I’ve been going to Steve’s class for several years to give some kind of talk on globalization, social movements, and rhetoric.  Today, I planned a talk that wove together questions of cycles of despair, Empire, and local/global activism.  It seemed like a good way to gear up for the Thanksgiving break…and truth be told, I spent my morning commute listening to Christmas music.  I was going to get into a holiday mood by hook or by crook.

After Steve’s class he asked me if I had received an anonymous letter concerning problems with the KU Foundation’s accounts.  I said that I checked my mail in the morning and I hadn’t received anything like that.  Steve assumed that he has received the letter because he was a member of APSCUF-KU Exec.  After my 3pm class, I checked my mailbox again.  Sure enough, there it was.  An anonymous letter addressed to me.

Inside the envelope there were two sheets of paper.  The first, a cover sheet of sorts that read:

Funny how the school can claim a financial emergency when it can’t keep track of a million dollars or so.

Where is Dick Button these days?

The Reading Eagle doesn’t have this story yet. Maybe it should.

The second sheet of paper was a copy of an email.  Both the “From” and “To” lines were blacked out.  A couple other small portions of the email were blacked out as well–presumably information that would allow the sender to be identified.  It appears that the author of email was forwarding information to another person concerning “minor missteps with Foundation” and “BIG problems with the Foundation Staff.”  The email suggests that the information is coming from an insider on the Alumni Board.

Now, I have no way at this point to verify the allegations contained in the email.  I also have no way to determine the intentions of the person who sent members of Exec copies of this email.  That said, we’re clearly going to have to pursue the claims in the email to determine the merit of the allegations.  The letter alleges:

  • accounting discrepancies in the amount of $1.06 million at the end of fiscal year 2008 as well as a $60,000 into “this fiscal year.”  It is unclear from the email to which year “this” refers.
  • “emergency” meetings of the foundation following the issuing of the audit report (presumably for FY 2008).
  • a “lack of controls” and “checks lying around in unlocked desks” for days or weeks.
  • “Board members” (it’s not clear which board…a Foundation Board?  Alumni Board?) were told to “turn in our paper reports” so that “The Reading Eagle or some other newspaper didn’t get wind of it.”

According to the email, the audit team did not find evidence of “illegalities” or “improprieties.”  That, at least, seems like good news.  The questions that remain are: how serious are the allegations? Who sent the anonymous letters and why were they directed to APSCUF-KU Exec and not, say, the Reading  Eagle since the author seems to believe the Reading Eagle should be made aware of the information contained in the email?  If anyone knows anything more about this, I would be happy to talk to you off line.  Just send me an email and give me a phone number at which we can talk.  I did scan the email.  However, I didn’t want to post it until I have some more information.

In the meantime, may the drama pause until after Thanksgiving break.

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Welcome to the new world folks.  One of my grad students brought this article to my attention (thanks Mary Ellen).  Love it or hate it, I’m afraid this is our new “normal.”

Putting a Price on Professors – WSJ.com.

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In contrast to the discourse of victimhood and “there is nothing we can do,” its refreshing to see that some faculty unions have been successful in rolling back retrenchments and budget cuts.  These unions have also been successful in calling universities on their “creative accounting” in demonstrating “fiscal crisis.” I am glad to see that APSCUF is pursuing similar lines of attack.  Thus far, however, our local administration and PASSHE seem to be digging in their heels.  Here’s two articles regarding what’s going on at Flordia State University

From Inside Higher Ed:

“Faculty Jobs Saved”

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Arbitrator Orders Florida State U. to Rescind Layoffs of Tenured Faculty Members”


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And yet another round of debate about AACSB accreditation in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  This one features Kutztown’s very own, Ken Ehrensal.

Accreditor Re-Ignites Debate Over Business-School Faculty Credentials

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University of California police officer – Media (11 of 12) 13 arrested at UC student protest over fee.

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Friends of Kutztown University Early Learning Center respond to KU closing preschool – Opinion – Berks-Mont News.

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