The Problem with Administration

I know this is an opinion shared by absolutely nobody else but I’d much much MUCH rather we didn’t get administrators from the professor pool and instead hired them from the business world.

Good scholars make terrible administrators. We get no training in how to lead. We spend our lives working either alone or with grad students who are wide-eyed and totally dependent. We have no idea how to motivate our colleagues. It’s just not our thing.

Example. For years, I’ve been on the service program coordinated by a non-academic staff member. Everything has been great. I loved this program. But now it’s been given over to a colleague who’s a brilliant professor and a great teacher. But it took her all of one week to fuck up the program to the point where I just resigned.

The colleague sent us an email saying, “From now on, the 3 of you will do the work that 8 people used to do in the past. This is an exciting opportunity that will help you…” After which I quit because I don’t let anybody condescend to me in such a way. A normal thing to write would be, “Hey, we were only given 3 people this year to do the work of 8. This stinks! Here is how I will reduce the work expected from you by a third to make sure the task is still doable. I’m so sorry for this imposition!” But she treats us like particularly stupid freshmen, and I have no interest in that.

And no, nobody would do that in any business that has any interest in surviving. We like to believe they do because it makes us feel less pathetic but that’s all a fantasy. My sister is hiring a massively expensive leadership coach to train a single employee in how to be a better leader to two other people. The employee doesn’t have tenure, by the way, so she isn’t going to these lengths because she has to. And before anybody says this is an isolated case, my sister is in the leadership of the largest global organization of entrepreneurs. I know more than I ever thought I would about leadership in business.


Cruel Vegans

I don’t understand this kind of people. I know a couple who are vegans and it’s very important to them. But with their small kids it’s not even a question. The kids eat a normal diet. Milk, eggs, meat. When I first met them and learned they were vegans, I cautiously asked if the kids were vegans, too. The answer was “we are vegans but we are not batshit crazy. Of course, we wouldn’t do this to our children.”

What Kills Computer Literacy

Every year, I see some improvement in the knowledge and skills set of our freshman class. They are smarter, more knowledgeable, and easier to teach.

Except for one area.

Computer literacy. It’s plummeting, folks. Every year, it gets worse. More and more students have no idea what to do with a computer. The simplest tasks are insurmountable. Everybody knows the capital of Paraguay, which was unthinkable 10 years ago, but nobody knows how to leave a comment on a blog. Like, seriously, people don’t know how to find a comment box. This was also unthinkable 10 years ago.

It’s the smartphones, obviously. The app mentality kills computer literacy.

It’s funny that oldsters like me are a lot more tech-savvy than 20-year-olds. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. The stereotype of a fuddy-duddy old professor fumbling around with technology and asking students for help has been turned upside down. Now it’s us, ancient fuddy-duddies stunning the young ‘uns with our knowledge of tech.