ASU is currently conducting a search for the position of Associate Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Compliance. The search committee is seeking feedback from the faculty. Though it is of course up to each individual faculty member to reach his or her own conclusion about the candidates, it is worth reminding ourselves, first, why this office has been controversial and, second, how “equity,” “diversity,” and “compliance” positions have evolved at American universities in recent years.

The following post is intended to encourage reflection about the Equity Office’s role at ASU. Hopefully, it can also encourage informed questions at the forums being organized for each of the candidates for the position of Associate Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Compliance. We are scholars and teachers by profession; when considering the issues that affect our workplace, we need to draw on the same intellectual rigor that informs our research and our teaching.
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Look up the current year’s faculty and admin salaries online by going to the ASU library website and entering the title “EPA salary increase report” in the search box.  Under Prof. Jill Ehnenn’s leadership three years ago, the Faculty Senate negotiated with Business Affairs for the return of the BD.119 every October and for this document to be accessible online.

As MOOCs continue to dominate the current discussion about college and university teaching online, it’s important to remember that the technology companies that are driving much of the MOOC model are interested in making money–they are for profit companies, not non-profit educational institutions.  This does not make them inherently “bad,” of course, but it is a distinction that should never be far from out minds.  I think the most cogent critique of MOOC “gee-whizery” that I’ve yet seen is by Georgia Tech’s Ian Bogost (doubly interesting, given how into MOOCS Georgia Tech apparently is).  You can find his comment as the last entry in this online debate in the LA Review of Books:  Part II of the same debate is here:

What I really like about both of Bogost’s comments above is how it reveals the way the intellectual property of faculty is likely to be “monitized” by these big companies, via MOOCs, in ways many faculty probably don’t yet even sense. And, yet, it’s hard to imagine that the technology companies haven’t already thought it through: after all–that’s their business.  Think about the way Facebook has monitized all your social relationships online, and it becomes easier to see….

In all the recent hubbub over MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses–just in case), a debate that covers prospectives ranging from “they will save higher ed.” to “they will be the end of higher ed.,” we’ve heard relatively little about how they are upsetting the traditional relationship between faculty and the intellectual property in the courses they design and teach. However, faculty are beginning to wake up to the issue.  For instance, just last week former president of the AAUP and University of Illinois English professor Cary Nelson devoted his keynote address at the national AAUP meeting to this very subject.  He thinks it’s a major issue, among the most important of all in relation to MOOCS and other forms of online teaching, and I’m certainly inclined to agree.  You can find coverage of his talk, as well of the plans by the national AAUP to better address faculty intellectual property rights in their courses, in this (freely available) article from the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

With most faculty on nine-month contracts, professors are generally not on campus during the summer, usually off on research or teaching assignments. It is a mistake to conduct important job searches during the summer because most of the faculty who would like to be involved in order to provide input are simply not around to do so. Because of recent controversies surrounding the Equity Office, and because the directorship is being changed to an Associate Vice Chancellorship, conducting the search during the summer, as is being done, is a mistake guaranteed to minimize faculty involvement and therefore faculty governance. One would hope that somehow this search gets postponed to the Fall when faculty return.

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A blog about academic freedom and shared governance at Appalachian, professional values and standards for higher education, and higher education's contribution to the common good.