September 4, 2010
A Little Weirdness Going on at Buffalo?
"I am not aware of any case in which a major research university has had a non-academic appointed as Interim Preident," writes Brian Leiter in What's going on at Buffalo? UB Council Chairman Jeremy M. Jacobs announced that Scott D. Nostaja, UB's senior vice president and chief operations officer, will serve as interim president following UB President John B. Simpson's retirement, effective Jan. 15. Press release here.
"Mr. Nostaja is a businessman, a consultant, an organizer, a strategist, an advisor. But he is not an academic," writes the Chair of the Faculty Senate, Robert Hoeing, in a letter of protest Leiter publishes in full. Hoeing adds "I concur with concerned faculty that the proposed appointment is both illegitimate, due to a complete lack of due process, and inappropriate, due to a lack of minimal academic qualifications of the candidate."
Another account dated Aug. 31st reports, "no word on how SUNY Chancellor Zimpher and the SUNY Board of Trustees feel about having one of their most important duties handled for them by the UB Council." That of course assumes the Chancellor and/or the SUNY Board of Trustees were not consulted. On Zimpher's watch? Perhaps they weren't and will comment to the press after the Labor Day weekend. Heads will roll if that's the case.
As president of the University of Cincinnati, Nancy Zimpher was no stranger to controversial maneuvering in the wacky world of IHEs and is a veteran of playing them out in the press. No doubt this story line isn't over. In his letter, Hoeing reports:
I have discussed these concerns with Chancellor Zimpher. She has guaranteed that due process will be followed, and expressed her keen desire to maintain the intiatives at UB that have brought us so far.
Stay turned. [JH]
This should be welcome news. After all, universities are businesses now so the president should be a businessperson, not an academic. Academics are academics because they lack the willingness and/or ability to handle real-world situations. If universities are to operate as businesses now--and that's certainly what we've been hearing--then why have an ivory tower academic in charge? And, maybe in the far off future, when universities have business people in charge, the finance departments can get control of (one of?) the largest expenditures in the budget, namely faculty compensation. But, that thought is what has faculty in an uproar, I suppose....
Posted by: Matt Morrison | Sep 7, 2010 8:27:25 AM