Posts Tagged ‘AACSB’

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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For the past couple of weeks I’ve been spending time with my family, refinishing my deck (for which the weather has NOT cooperated), doing house repairs, and, basically, reflecting upon this past year as I prepare to enter my 8th year at Kutztown.  I have to admit that this past year has taken a significant toll on me, in particular, my notorious deep reserves of hope.  In my post back in the end of June, I was poking away at some of reasons for this:

While the tendency to criticize an issue and wait for “someone else” to take up the labor is certainly not limited to Kutztown University, I have always been part of groups at other institutions who had a kind of DIY ethic.  That is, I’ve generally been surrounded by people who, when faced with a problem, tended to immediately begin to generate creative solutions without waiting to be given permission.  In those contexts, we always felt a sense of ownership of the issue–and a kind of core belief that “if you want to get something done, you’ve got to do it yourself.”…

…What’s amazing about that DIY ethic is that it is hopeful–a basic belief in the creative labor of self-organizing groups–affinity groups, if you will.  While our frustrations were deep, we tended to gravitate toward possibilities–whether those possibilities included putting on shows, carrying out “guerrilla art” campaigns, building shanty towns on university campuses, occupying administration buildings, living collectively, or starting our own independent zines and newspapers.  And we did these things.  They weren’t just ideas.  Wecreated and built and produced.

This past weekend I was at a Writing Program Administration conference in Philly and met up with some friends and their kids.  It was the first time that my friends and their families met my son, Rowan.  These were some of the friends I had in mind when I wrote that post.  I told them about some of my frustrations about Kutztown–in particular issues with my union work.  I have to admit that it was somewhat comforting to hear that I was not alone in my frustrations of doing organizing work in academic institutions.  One of my friends talked about her frustration with academics who all have great ideas, but are unwilling to do the work of organization to make those ideas concrete. One of my other friends talked about how important it was to take a leave just to reevaluate one’s relationship to her academic institution.  I shared stories about moments of opportunity amidst “crisis” in which faculty had a chance to take the initiative and reconstitute their working conditions, but chose, instead, to play the role of victim/critic (I think these two terms can operate too frequently as a debilitating binary).

Earlier last week, I met up with one of my oldest friends and his family who live in Northern Ireland.  They were back in Central New York visiting family, so we headed up for a one day visit.  He and I got on a similar conversation…or, I should say, I got us on to a similar conversation.  We were talking about how the political work we did back in Syracuse was not only engaging, it was FUN.  That’s right, FUN.  We enjoyed the work of political organizing and our community was strengthened by such work.  Why was it then, I asked, that this relationship is so absent at KU?  He shrugged his shoulders as did I.  “Beats me,” we both seemed to say.

All of these questions came back to me front and center upon my lukewarm return to work and preparation for the coming semester. I read through a chain of emails posted on the faculty listserv doing some bashing of our union leadership.   Some of the issues raised in these emails are not without merit–especially when it comes to communications processes over the summer.  It is true, as one faculty member wrote in regard to significant organizational changes being pursued by KU’s administration, that the union should provide members with a “continuing update” about what is going on (while, at the same time, questioning whether or not the union leadership is doing anything at all).

Point taken.  There is no doubt that it’s been a challenge keeping updates coming, especially over the summer when not all members of our Executive Committee are one campus everyday as they would be during the academic year.  And yet I think most of us on our Executive Committee would agree that there needs to be better communication networks over all.  That is true for ALL aspects of our union’s work.

What becomes a bit disenchanting for me is that on several occasions I’ve asked some of the same people who are so pissed off now to help with some of the work.  In response to personal emails providing sketches of analyses and rhetorical questions, I’ve asked people to step up and contribute–not as some kind of challenge, but because we genuinely need more members with expertise in particular areas to help combat the administration’s moves to retrench faculty and eliminate or change programs. That doesn’t seem unreasonable.  But, more often than not I receive, instead, a host of reasons why they are unable to do that work.  I’ll never understand why there is always more than enough time to write lengthy emails filled with detailed criticisms, but always insufficient time to contribute to building a stronger union.  But, this is where we are.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am the last person who will sit here and tell you that our local or statewide union is above criticism.  In many ways, I might surprise many people in our union with the sharpness of my own critiques.  However, my approach as been to look for ways to get involved and change things.  It’s that’s old DIY principle again: If you don’t like something, doing something about it by doing the work to fix it.

Despite the temptations, I’ve consciously tried to avoid engaging in personal critiques or fanning the factional flames in public forums that can potentially weaken our union. But as the beginning of the 2010-2011 academic year approaches–a contract negotiation year to boot–I think it’s necessary for “new ideas” and “criticisms” to be accompanied by a willingness to do the work to either make those ideas concrete or correct problems.  Maybe this is just too much to ask for.  We shall see.

Anyway, I’ve got more to say on a couple of other things, but I’ll do so in separate posts so as not to extend this already-too-long post further.

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Hey all.  Once again I am bringing you my notes from our local Meet and Discuss on Tuesday, May 4th.  And, once again, I will issue the disclaimer that these are not the “official minutes.”  These are notes that I took at the meeting and then revised.

Here’s a quick look at a few of the most significant issues discussed:

  • The Administration announced that it was eliminating the Department of Advisement
  • The Administration announced that it was placing into moratorium the BA in Theater and the minors in Musical Theater and Theater.
  • The Administration announced that it was placing into moratorium the RN to BSN in Nursing as well as the MSN in Nursing
  • The Administration announced that Dance classes will no longer be taught beginning fall 2010
  • No final decision has been made about the Department of Academic Enrichment, Electronic Media, or Philosophy.  These departments remain under review
  • The Administration is currently reviewing ALL release time.  This includes release time for directing programs such as the Women’s Center, the LBGTQ Center/Allies, and the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching.  We were told, however, that the Director for Honors is safe for next year at least

Certainly cannot call these “highlights.”  It was a very grave meeting for the most part.  I’ll leave things there.  To check out my complete notes, follow the link below.

Meet and Discuss Notes May 4 2010

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As if we don’t have enough on our plate as it is.  President Cevallos is pursuing retrenchment, while remaining committed to funding the College of Business’s AACSB accreditation aspirations.  Or, should I say, President Cevallos’s aspirations for the College of Business. President Cevallos’s choice to continue to pursue AACSB accreditation in light of the current “fiscal crisis” raises questions about the administration’s budget figures on the one hand and President Cevallos’s judgement on the other.

That is, by some estimates Kutztown may be looking at $2.5 million annual incremental cost of pursuing accreditation.  It is rumored (although I have not been able to solidly confirm) that the new strategic plan for AACSB accreditation (which was due to AACSB on April 15th) includes a reduced teaching load for Department of Business Administration faculty as well as continued incentives for research.  APSCUF-KU has requested a copy of the strategic plan, which the administration must provide under Article 29 since Cevallos announced his intention to pursue retrenchment.  In my department, several temporary faculty members have lost their jobs because of Cevallos’s claim that the university is in fiscal crisis (despite KU’s Aa3 bond rating).   In light of this “fiscal crisis” the choice to devote upwards of $2.5 million annually to AACSB accreditation does not make sense.  Unless, of course, the administration’s “fiscal crisis” claims are smoke and mirrors.

But (oh, that’s right), Cevallos “had no choice” in the matter.  He’s simply following orders.

That might have flown in “better” fiscal times, but not now.  In fact, we just found out that other PASSHE universities have completely reversed course on AACSB accreditation given a) PASSHE’s claims of a budget crisis; and, b) the Chancellor’s statements that AACSB accreditation is no longer mandated by that office.  Interested?  Here’s what we have so far:

  • Slippery Rock has officially pulled out of the AACSB accreditation process.  This is especially significant for Kutztown since President Cevallos has repeatedly used Slippery Rock as a model for AACSB accreditation and their move to create a Professional Studies department.  Slippery Rock will instead pursue ACBSP accreditation–for the same reasons for which Kutztown faculty argued: ACBSP has a central focus on teaching supported with quality research.
  • California appears to have stopped all activity related to AACSB accreditation.
  • Millersville also appears have stopped searches related to AACSB accreditation and it is rumored, not yet confirmed, that they have also stopped all activity related to AACSB accreditation.

Let me be clear: this does not mean that all other PASSHE universities have callled off AACSB accreditation.  Edinboro, for example, is still in active pursuit of AACSB.  However, given Kutztown’s supposed fiscal crisis, I think it’s time that President Cevallos get on the horn with his colleagues across the state system and make a case to KU’s Council of Trustees that AACSB accreditation is not a fiscally or academically responsible option at this point in time.

Or, he can do nothing and await the flood of grievances.

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One of the most frustrating aspects of the recent College of Business, AACSB roller coaster has been some of the claims and statements made by KU President Cevallos.  Some of these claims were made in his email to College of Business faculty, others were made at public meetings. It’s not that he is simply making false claims.  False claims are easy to deal with.  What he is doing is using partial truths and spinning them in ways meant to minimize his agency, accountability, or leadership.  I want to run through a few of these claims here.  Ideally, I can do this all in one post…however, I am sitting in the waiting room at the Scion car dealer as my car gets it’s 10,000 mile (actually, 11,700 mile) service.  So, I’ll take it one post at a time:

Claim: It doesn’t matter what the Chancellor says regarding the lifting of the mandate for AACSB accreditation because the KU Council of Trustees issued their own mandate before the Chancellor’s office did.

If this were simply a false claim, we could simply show that his representation of events are wrong.  We could show the date of the Chancellor’s mandate and the Council of Trustees mandate and compare the dates.  The problem with the claim has virtually nothing to do with chronological accuracy. The issue has to do with what his claim is meant to do.

First, the claim is meant to dismiss the importance of the Chancellor’s announcement that the mandate has been lifted.   That is, the claim is meant to raise doubts among members of the KU community (and beyond) that the Chancellor’s words have any real impact on moving forward with AACSB accreditation. The effect of the claim is to suggest that those who have relied upon the Chancellor’s announcement are both misinformed as to what got the AACSB accreditation ball rolling and don’t understand the way the chain of command works.

The problem with this claim is that it has been the Chancellor’s mandate that has driven both the timeline and the insistence upon AACSB accreditation.   I’ve asked several members of the College of Business who have worked on gaining AACSB accreditation and not one of them was told that it was the Council of Trustees that were driving the push for accreditation.  They had all been told explicitly that AASCB accreditation had to be pursued because the Chancellor’s Office said that all College of Business/Business majors located at PaSSHE universities had to gain AACSB accreditation.  If they did not, the previous Chancellor assured them that their programs/colleges would be closed.  Quite a stick, no?

At last week’s University Senate meeting, I asked the president where the deadline or April 2010 for reorganization of the College of Business/AACSB accreditation application came from.  Cevallos answered that the deadline came from AACSB.  A faculty member of the College of Business who has been working on AACSB accreditation confirmed Cevallos’s statement.  Yes, it is true, that AACSB set the April 2010 date.  However, that’s only part of the story.

The reason why the College of Business started the AASCB accreditation clock ticking was because the Chancellor’s Office set fall 2010 as a deadline for universities to show “substantial progress” toward accreditation.  Translation: if the College of Business could not provide persuasive evidence that they were on their way to accreditation by the fall 2010, the proverbial ax could fall.  So, the urgency behind the current timeline had little or nothing to do with the Council of Trustees mandate.

This is important for at least one key reason: the PRIMARY objection of College of Business faculty to the current restructuring is NOT a resistance to accreditation, or even AACSB accreditation.  Rather, the resistance has been to the PROCESS by which the reorganization has proceeded.  Up until a couple of weeks ago, that process had taken place largely under a mandate from the previous Chancellor.  Current Chancellor Cavanaugh’s recent statement regarding the importance of shared governance (see my previous post on this point) was a game changer–or, at the very least, offered the possibility to right some wrongs.

When the Council of Trustees told Cevallos to proceed in spite of the Chancellor’s statements, Cevallos used this as a way to re-write the history of AACSB accreditation at KU.  Part of Cevallos’s s story of his newly found commitment to AACSB accreditation includes telling audiences that AACSB accreditation was “number one” on his job description when he was hired.  Having the body that hired you insist that you achieve the number one item on your job description after seven years is a pretty strong motivator, I guess.

Coming soon: Claim #2: Don’t worry, look at Slippery Rock!

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“Cevallos” held a meeting today with the faculty of the College of Business to tell them of the adminstration’s plans to move forward with AACSB accreditation.  I put “Cevallos” in quotes, because he began the meeting repeating what he said about the Council of Trustees ordering him to proceed and there was nothing he could do because it was the first thing in his job description.  Then he said that now the question turns to implementation and since that was not his area, he would turn it over to the Dean.  And he did.  Then he sat down in the front row leaving the two Deans and the Provost standing there to run the rest of the meeting.  He must have realized about 10 minutes into the meeting how that looked…so then he stood up and stood behind the Provost for much of the rest of the meeting.

Short of it is that the administration is moving forward with the reorganization of the College of Business.  The long of it is that I have a lot to write about and will hopefully be able to get back to the blog tonight amidst grading all those final papers.

And I’m pretty angry and Cevallos’s persistent spinning of the accreditation process.  More to come.

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As I mentioned a few posts ago, several faculty members from the College of Business sent Cevallos emails concerning AACSB accreditation after Cevallos asked for further faculty input at the Thursday, 12/3 lunch-time meeting.  I asked several of those faculty members if I could post some of their emails here.

Robert Derstine, a professor of Accounting, emailed me today with the go ahead.  His analysis is quite detailed and long; so, rather than post the full-text here, I will post a link to an on-line version of his email.  In addition, Prof. Derstine included several documents with his email.  I am posting them here too.

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