Cambodia calling

Cambodia calling

Cambodia calling

It appears University President Bruce Speck is finally in favor of international travel.

The only problem is he wants to send everyone to Cambodia.

In an interview this week with a local television station, the president – yet again – likened himself to a CEO of a business, saying that “in any other kind of industry” a vote of no confidence in a leader is unheard of.

“What would happen is the CEO would say ‘you’re gone, you’re gone, you’re reassigned, you, you’re going to Cambodia,” Speck said. “That’s how it would operate because it wouldn’t be tolerated.”

So that’s what we’ve been reduced to. A business — just another kind of industry. A diploma mill.

Mr. President, we’re a school.

Sure, we have budgets, accountants and cash reserves. But a university is much more than that. The president’s comments are a slap in the face to students and employees alike, and they ignore the reason this school even exists: education.

The president’s remarks come on the heels of a Faculty Senate vote of no confidence and vague directives from the Board of Governors for the president to improve relations with faculty. This isn’t going to help.

The President even attacked the idea of tenure during his interview, saying it leads to “outspokenness” and can “strain collegiality.” He added that a faculty senate can bully, operates according to its own rules and is not accountable to anyone.

But a faculty senate isn’t the only entity that can behave that way. So can a university president. And so far, the president has not identified one error he has made. It is always someone else who didn’t provide enough information or the fault of the previous administration. That’s not accountability, either.

“You can have a faculty member come up and say things to me that would be unconscionable in other contexts,” he said. “If there was a leader in another context he would say ‘clean out your desk, I don’t tolerate people talking to me that way.'”

Unfortunately, this strained faculty-administration relationship is getting worse, not better. The Faculty Senate issued its report and the president responded. Now the faculty awaits the Nov. 2 vote while the president hits the airwaves and the Internet taking shots at the people at the lecterns. That is hardly collegial.

A full faculty vote on confidence in the president looms. The Board meets next week. The president doesn’t seem to be mending any relationships.

Something has got to give.

Otherwise, we might all end up in Cambodia.