A heavy task
(Due to Friday's weather-related closing of the university, the editorial board chose to re-run Friday's gray-box editorial.)
Steering committees, task forces, advisory groups, review boards, expert panels -- they meet, they discuss, they recommend, they disband.
The UH System Board of Regents has commissioned such groups to study systemwide reorganization on more than one occasion.
Last year's version of "let's take a look at reorganization" came when the regents hired "the three wise men," former university presidents who gave the System a cursory four-month examination, offered recommendations for three, and then four, possible reorganizational "models," and then billed the System for a tidy sum of money.
The most recent experiment in organized frustration is the three task forces appointed by System Chancellor William P. Hobby.
The three task forces' "mid-course" reports, which were presented to the regents Wednesday, contained much of the same rhetoric that has kept the air from freezing on this campus for the past six months.
The very makeup of the task forces -- nine UH members and 36 members from the UH System administration and the other three UH campuses -- is guaranteed to produce the results the System wants.
The System has long played the three smaller campuses against UH in order to protect its own convoluted bureaucracy.
Even as the task forces suggested such lofty goals as "more trust between the campuses," the old specter of "us'ns against you'uns" raised its aging head.
One only had to read as far as Page 5 of the report of the Academic Affairs Task Force to realize the bottom line really hasn't changed.
"Often, but certainly not always, our discussions of advantages and disadvantages led to a realization that advantages espoused by the University of Houston are seen as disadvantages by the other three campuses," the report reads.
The System administration counts on several factors to ensure its self-fulfilling prophesy of failure for the task forces -- the history of mistrust between the campuses, the small campuses' fear of losing their autonomy to the main campus and the "stacked-deck" lineup of the task forces.
These factors alone will most likely allow the System fat cats to never have to give up their island in the sky on the 34th floor of the Smith Tower.
They will never have to come down to earth and live where the work of running a university system really occurs.