The future of UH is ... April Fools!
The Spring Faculty Assembly at noon today in the Kiva Room of Farish Hall ought to be an interesting affair.
The meeting, which is open to all members of the UH community -- faculty, staff and students -- will feature speeches from UH System Board of Regents Chairwoman Beth Morian, UH System Chancellor William P. Hobby and UH interim President Glenn Goerke.
The biannual faculty assemblies are usually opportunities for UH and UH System administrators to talk about their respective visions for the university's future and to reassure the faculty that the UH ship-of-state is in good hands.
In this case, however, as UH and the other three universities in the System await the April 1 announcement of a final administrative reorganization plan for the System, the three keynote speakers don't have a clue about UH's future -- or if they do, they won't be saying anything very definitive today.
Over the past two years, the UH System Board of Regents busied itself commissioning task forces, blue-ribbon panels, steering committees, study groups, you name it, to suggest ways to streamline the bloated and wasteful System administration and to eliminate the duplication of services between the System and the four campuses.
After all the meetings, examinations, surveys, studies, deliberations and reports, we are right back where we began two years ago -- debating whether to modify and improve the present UH System, or to seriously downsize the System and collapse the jobs of System chancellor and UH president into one.
And, of course, the constituents for each position are the same as two years ago -- UH faculty and administrators want a single CEO/chancellor/president; the other three campuses want to retain the present arrangement, fearful that they would somehow be at a serious disadvantage if the UH president was also the System chancellor.
Morian probably knows how she will vote, but she only has one vote and there are nine other regents.
Up until the March 12 Board of Regents meeting, Hobby seemingly stayed neutral, keeping his opinion to himself. At that meeting, however, he surprised some people as he strongly endorsed the modified and improved System, an arrangement which would allow him to continue to serve as chancellor. Even if he is only paid $1 a year, he is obviously starting to enjoy his position. But when the ballots are cast, he won't have a vote.
Goerke doesn't have a vote, either. Some sources say that in a collapsed System scenario, he hoped to be a strong candidate for the chancellor/president position. If the regents choose the other option, Goerke is the odd man out as his term ends in August 1997.
So, whatever hyperbole, speculation, prognostication or grandiose vision Morian, Hobby and Goerke advance today, it won't mean much of anything until the regents make their announcement.
And what an appropriate day to make that announcement -- April Fools' Day.