U of O Watch mission, in the words of Foucault...

"One knows … that the university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class. … It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticise the workings of institutions, which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them." -- Foucault, debating Chomsky, 1971.

U of O Watch mission, in the words of Socrates...

"An education obtained with money is worse than no education at all." -- Socrates

video of president allan rock at work

Friday, April 22, 2011

Former professor Steve E. Noble on the U of O presidency of Allan Rock

[Photo (uOttawa.ca) : Breakfast speaker Allan Rock "Canada’s University in the service of the world"]

Dr. Steve E. Noble, an expert in the global justice area of education, has recently provided his assessment of University of Ottawa president Allan Rock (LINK)*:

"The problem with Rock as president of the University of Ottawa are several.

First, he's being paid way too much. He's being paid more than the Prime Minister of Canada and about the same as the President of the United States.

Second, the University of Ottawa is, at best, a second ranked university (more comfortably sitting in the third tier of universities in this country); his salary should reflect that.

Third, he comes from outside academia. Most universities around the world select their presidents from within academia given that professors have a solid understanding of how universities work and the norms and culture that stems from the learning/teaching relationship. Rock simply does not.

There is a move afoot among universities to turn academia into corporations with a heavy managerialist approach whereby the teaching/learning relationship becomes thrown out for some research money measuring success approach.

Watching the Senate videos and it becomes clear that Rock has no understanding of how board meetings operate either. He makes the rules up as he goes along and whichever variation puts him in complete control is the one he goes with in that moment.

Rock is a lawyer and he will work from what he knows best -lawyers are about adversarial relationships and winning at all costs. A natural extension being their ego. And Rock is all about his ego.

Oh, I know when he was first hired we all held out great promise that because the story went that he was a student radical of the SFUO and apparently driving John Lennon around Ottawa makes him some sort of hip, anarchist, militant, student sensitive administrator. Rock is such a devotee of the establishment system that he demands everyone else fall in line.

Watch the Senate videos and you'll see the Senate behave like lemmings. Most inspiring, though, is the exception of Senator Hickey, the lone, elected graduate student challenging the senate and Rock repeatedly. He reminds me that not only do people like Rock, with their positional power and authority, feel it's their right to take away the individual agency and power of others (but individuals giving up their own power is also a key source of bullies' power).

Fourth, he's just not doing what he says he is going to do. Since arriving at the University of Ottawa the low student satisfaction ratings have slowly fallen to something approaching absolute lowest rating with regard to student satisfaction - IN THE COUNTRY!

Fifth, there is his approach to faculty and students that is simply appalling. I've listened to him at a General Assembly speak about part time and contract faculty (by far the majority of teaching staff in the university) as a necessary evil.

The Dean of the Faculty of Education also views contract and part time faculty as second classed employees. This group of faculty has as few protections as students. That works well for Rock - divide and conquer, while making up the rules as he goes along. And Rock expects (and encourages) Deans to behave as bullies. I've heard an associate dean describe how Deans rule their faculties like fiefdoms and the students and faculty within them are like their serfs.

The overarching feeling is that if students - and faculty - behave in subservient, group-thinking, conformist ways that they will "survive" university in order to get their credential. Their career of creative, innovative and radical thinking (if it hasn't been "educated" out of them) can only begin upon graduation.

When I saw a "student code of conduct" emerge at one point my fear was immense because that's the first step toward an explicit narrow-minded shutting down of expression sweeping over the campus. Students need to take back their power to take back their education, while fostering open dialogue, free thought and freedom of expression. If students are waiting for someone like Rock or the Senate to instill this, it won't happen. Perhaps Rock just needs to be reminded what student activism in his day was all about."

Dr. Noble has also recently commented on an article about the dean of the Faculty of Education, HERE.

*Links and formatting by blog editor.

No comments: