Anatomy of Academic Deans –Power Addicts
Courage and greatness eludes them! Petty concerns fill their days. Their hollow spines and hearts follow the whims of others. The mind-baffling reasons for attempting to change and grow the lives of students is not a plausible outcome for them.
Why baby Why?
Why is it that they are always shorter than me? Why do their decisions haunt you as death rolling over a corpse? Why do they always wear dark suits with starched shirts? Why do they always make you wait, and wait, and wait to be in their holy presence? Why do they demean you for excellence? Their weekly errors and omissions cost you months of your life.
Building a Stable
Why do they fill their offices with assistants? What do they do? They don’t like sharing the work of those assistants. They might be needed by the Dean in charge for some important project, like filling out his calendar or making pom-poms. I pleaded with my Dean for help. He had used our academic area as a bargaining chip to obtain one of those assistants. Her time was to be shared with our department. After using us in the “grow your stable” game, he would not allow her to help us unless there was nothing on his docket or he was out of town.
Talent and intelligence are items to be purchased. Deans rarely possess them. Are they all tokens? They have achieved their lofty goal of joining the ranks of bureaucrats, but what now? Their baskets are empty? They can’t re-tool, it would make them seem less powerful. They pretend to know everything and fear learning new skills. They may have the power but not the conscience or strength to lead or inspire.
Plantation Owners with a Whip
Like rich plantation owners, they feed on the talent around them. Pompously — they gorge themselves in front of everyone. In one deal after another they “buy” the talent of professors and others. They can use a whip as easily as chocolate cake. In one moment they can curse and imprison you with others of like-mind, in the next, they can offer you tea and a respite from your chores. They are fickle, lost in their own worlds, and following a pipe played by someone else.
Greed drips from their eyes and lips. They covet your time, your savings, your talent, your intelligence, the savings of others, excess tuition, donor contributions, and funds from the state. They want the cash to support playing games. Their lust for material things is insatiable and they manipulate people and budgets and state laws to fit into their empire-building goals. They are power-addicts!
Someday they want to rule an empire that has co-opted the brilliant souls that surround them. This will prove that they should have the chair where they sit.
And in that empire, their word will be divine. Everyone will bow when they enter the room.
President Obama, if you want to improve higher education, cut the budgets of universities. Governor Nixon, please address the issue of the over abundance of incompetent bureaucrats in higher education. Politely ask 75% of the bureaucrats to find other kingdoms in which to reign. They are voices that are placing the future of our country at risk. They do not want to foster critical-thinking compassionate leaders. Like everything and everyone else in their lives, the students are viewed as a source of revenue for the next grand pyramid.
Of course, I am not speaking of all bureaucrats here. I am speaking of the ones in my long career that fit the above anatomy. Perhaps you would argue that I am too harsh. You might say that I am using them as a scapegoat for a failed system. No, they are not scapegoats. This is the way they are. And their reflections are mirrored in Provosts and Presidents. You might also argue that I am projecting my own “failures” upon them. No. Our department was not a failure. We climbed to the top of our college in a matter of only five years in spite of the lack of support, only to be met with derision and harassment. I am not biting the hand that fed me. In truth, they starved us and hoped for our demise which never happened! The dream kept me alive!
We never needed a Dean. He was placed in his position because the bureaucracy needed a buffer. He took up space and our time that could have been used for the students, for the classes, for our research, for creative and uplifting experiences. I wish I possessed eloquent words that would tell the world how awful life as an academic has become for many professors across the United States. Dilbert, the cartoon by Scott Adams, attempts to capture incompetent bureaucracies in big business. In the academy, you could multiply those incompetencies by 100.
As always this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge