On the general subject of university change

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On the general subject of university change

From Greg Scheckler

Published before 2005

Respect and diplomacy don't mean you have to agree with bad ideas, bad art, or other travesties. It means you lay the groundwork so that you can keep people talking, keep doors of communication open, and so on. You don't have to promote any false ideas or conspire with anyone or lose integrity by building bridges with people. I for one get passionate and pissed off too easily.

I submit to you that it is far more creative and productive to find real sources of common ground, even when you despise someone's art ideas, than to simply write thinking scholars and artists off as mere Modernists.

One reason it's hard to convince professors to change is that their work is very closely scrutinized.

The ones who succeed know they're doing good work. For example my classes and professional artmaking, college service, etc., have been evaluated more than 1500 times by anonymous student evaluations, and more than 30 times by various colleagues and administrators, as well as every year by college-wide committees. This is required by my contract. Every professor in the Massachusetts state college system goes through these evaluations. It's very intense set of reviews. The people who get through it clearly are very good teachers and professionals based on the verifiable experiences of their students and their colleagues. It's also a broad enough sampling of evaluations that it levels out to a set of scholarly, college ideals rather than simply one art philosophy or another. You don't get through the system if your work isn't up to par, if you're not a team player, and if your students object. A lot of people who don't succeed in the college-university setting failed at one evaluation or another and as such couldn't cut it, and then go blaming an art philosophy or claiming that they're being censored or whatever when in fact they may have had really poor student evaluations, lack of teamwork, or other basic problems.

Faculty contracts and evaluation systems vary greatly from state to state, and within private higher education also. But most have extremely rigorous sets of evaluations and reviews that are trustworthy and reliable, weeding out the lesser teachers and providing incentives for the better ones.

Working within higher education in the U.S. you are agreeing to be under the evaluation and scrutiny of a lot more highly-informed people than if you start your own atelier and are not answerable to other experts, wide cross-sections of students, etc.

Greg Scheckler