To The Editor:
In your recent editorial, “ECC Issues Fixable,” you accurately point out that East Central College’s problems with the Higher Learning Commission are “mostly administrative,” and that “None of the issues are about the quality of programming,” and that “student learning will not be impacted.”
But what does “mostly administrative” problems really mean? And how could they not have an impact upon students? Here’s a sample of the stuff that bothered the gurus from HLC (who you should keep in mind, are mostly administrators themselves, and not teachers).
ECC got dinged for a lack of “shared governance.” Hey, only the governors can share governance — if they don’t, how can you blame the governed?
We also get criticized for problems with our “strategic plan.” This one really frosts me, since planning, especially at the strategic level, is manifestly the job of the board and the top levels of the administration — especially in view of the problem noted above, not sharing the governance. (Though to be fair, the entire concept of “strategic planning” in the halls of academia is nonsense — running a college isn’t like running World War II.)
And speaking of planning, even as I write this letter, I read in the latest issue of your paper that East Central’s administration plans to rectify its previous screwups with . . . “a director of institutional effectiveness”?
Really? We have a president, four vice presidents, a baker’s dozen of deans and directors of this and that, and we need to hire yet another administrator to make it all work? And during a budget crisis at that?
So my congratulations go to the two doubting Thomases on the board, Mr. Kappelmann and Mr. Park. Indeed, I think the latter put it well in pointing out that, “Here we are on nearly the 50th anniversary of this place and we’ve maintained accreditation without this person. How did we not fail and fall by the wayside without this person?
Maybe the answer to that question is in Vice President Tia Robinson’s defense of adding that position: “This role . . . is common at other institutions which focus on assessment and strategic planning (my italics) . . .” But, by definition, one can only focus on one thing at a time, so maybe ECC should stay focused on actually doing the job, rather than the peripheral stuff.
But what the hell does a mere teacher know? In the meantime, however, since I am a veteran instructor at ECC (42 years and counting), I’d like to reassure your readers that the faculty and staff are still in the trenches with the students, still doing that job, and still doing it well.
As to our high command . . .