Thursday, March 28, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 118


 
 









 Achenbaumis gone; Smith rolls on

Bob Buzzanco
Guest Columnist

 The "resignation" of Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Andrew Achenbaum ought to alarm all faculty, staff and students at UH.

 Achembaum was not a great administrator in fact, he was weak and essentially did the administrationis bidding but his departure signals another ominous step in the increasing path toward centralized, authoritarian control of UH by President Arthur K. Smith and Provost Edward Sheridan.

 Achenbaum was never a strong leader. The merger of the College of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communications with the College of Social Sciences was essentially forced upon him without input from his office. His associate deans, the under-qualified Kathy Sheridan wife of the provost and the imperious Robert Palmer, seemed to have their own agendas and bases of power.

 Sheridan has peppered the CLASS faculty with instructions on everything from how to fill out grade-change forms to how to process "incompletes." The faculty is well aware of, and competent to handle, both issues.

 Palmer, for his part, is attempting to run the graduate programs in CLASS by fiat and is lessening departmental decision-making capacities in the process.

 As a result, Achenbaum sometimes appeared to be little more than a bystander in the college he was supposed to run.

 This is another example of Smith and Sheridanis "leadership" style. Not content to have a "yes man" as dean of CLASS, they apparently want total control of the University governance structure.

 Concurrent with Achenbaumis ouster, they are currently trying to force a new method of selecting department chairs upon the faculty. Rather than let the faculty choose their own department chairs, as has been traditionally done and is consistent with the concept of "shared governance," the Smith-Sheridan administration wants to abolish elections and have department chairs serve at the pleasure of the central administration.

 This is the same administration that incessantly and fruitlessly pursued its case against Susan Septimus, at great cost to the Universityis finances and reputation. This is the same administration that demands the right to fire staff without cause, explanation or appeal. This is the same administration that brought ridicule and financial folly upon UH by erecting temporary stadium seats made of little more than aluminum foil and glue.

 This is the same administration that continues to raise tuition and fees, while selling out vital University services like food preparation and the bookstore to corporate concerns that make boatloads of money off UH students.

 Whenever UH faculty members get together formally, we are virtually unanimous in our condemnation of the Smith-Sheridan gang. But we do virtually nothing but gripe about it, and thereby give the administration a green light to continue its plundering of our reputation, our rights as faculty and the studentsi rights to the best educational environment possible.

 It is now imperative, however, that faculty, staff and others band together to defend the rights and reputation of this institution and tell Smith and Sheridan that they have gone far enough. This is a university, not a corporation.

Buzzanco, an associate professor of history, 
can be reached via dccampus@mail.uh.edu.


 

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