tonomy. That means that even if five thousand students want to learn Japaneseor “marketing”there’s always going to be someone available to teach ten students Greek, and indeed to keep alive the study of Greek. In short, tenure is part of the labor infrastructure of the university, an adaptation to a set of circumstances like no other in the corporate world. Any challenge to tenure thereby changes the terms by which intellectual workers are affiliated with universities. And when tenure changes, the function of universities changes, too. FROM FORD TO YOU In recent years university administratorsfor both practical and ideological reasonshave been turning to corporate management models, such as “reengineering” and “Total Quality Management.” “I tell grad students all the time: you’re reading the wrong books,” the AAUP’s Burgan says. “You have to get ahold of the business best-sellers. There’s an ideology being purveyed, and it’s got lots of adherents. Lots of people in higher education are getting the lingo, academic administrators particularly.” The lingo reconfigures the conception of the university itself. Students become customers, teachers become content providers, teaching is downloading, and education is transaction of information. Once the corporate language has been adopted, the top-down corporate procedures quickly follow. During the battle over tenure at the University of Minnesota, the U.M. Board of Regents initially called, in December 1995, for “reshaping” of the tenure code. But before the Board even announced its intentions, it had hired CSC Index, a Boston-based consulting firm. The philosophy of “reengineering,” as the CSC Index web page states, “drive[s] the corporate transformation and major performance gains that are our hallmarks.” The consultants’ solution for the university? Get rid of tenure. At U.T.-Austin, the chosen administrative management strategy was Total Quality Management. TQMtheoretically a value-neutral approach to organization and managementwas in fact used by the U.T. administration to manufacture the appearance of U.T. faculty support for post-tenure review. TQM is a set of management practices elaborated by a number of so-called “quality masters”: zero-defect guru Philip Crosby, qualitycontrol maven Armand Feigenbaum, and TQM’s most well-known exponent, Edward Deming \(who played a major role in the postTQM’s goal is to decrease costs by encouraging worker input, and to increase sales by paying attention to shifting customer needs thereby increasing profits. In codifying these common-sense production and marketing notions, TQM emphasizes managerial buzzwords like “teamwork,” “communication,” “evaluation,” and “process.” A U.T. “Quality Center,” associated with the Office of the President, was opened in 1992, intended to provide TQM training at the university as well as to Texas nonprofits and businesses. A Fall 1996 newsletter from the Quality Center announced a number of “quality seminars” and reported a number of “Rapid Actions or Process Improvement and Deployment” initiatives, including: course scheduling in the department of civil engineering, graduate student orientation in the library and information science program, and scheduling laboratory renovations. None of these programs appeared particularly far-reaching, or indeed out of the ordinary administrative business of a large university bureaucracy. The connection between TQM and tenure reform at U.T. dates to 1991, when Robert Galvin, chairman of Motorola’s board of directors, challenged universities interested in TQM to form partnerships with business and industry. Thus far, nineteen corporations among them AT&T, General Motors, IBM, Johnson & Johnson have joined with thirty-six universities around the country, including Duke, Penn State, Rutgers, and the University of Michigan. The partnerships are, in the words of the sponsors, intended to “encourage and support the inclusion of Total Quality concepts and processes in the curriculums of the university,” “support the university in its efforts to improve internal operating systems through assisting the university in its implementation of Total Quality,” and “encourage and challenge the university to become a leader in the research and design of Total Quality Systems.” In 1993, U.T.-Austin was selected as a partner by Ford Motor Company. A Ford/U.T. partnership documentunusually frank in its approach to corporate self-interestlays out Ford’s specific Goals and Expectations: “actively work with the university to develop breakthrough concepts in the strategic areas of quality, productivity, technology, teamwork and customer response. Assist in developing education courses that specifically address Ford technical and business needs and in promoting employee participation. Be identified as the employer of first choice among U.T. engineering and graduate business students.” In the spring of 1996, in the service of the partnership, 135 teachers, students, and administrators traveled to Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, to participate in a Ford-sponsored TQM conference, where “break-out sessions” generated topics for further discussion. One such session became particularly influential in that fall’s university tenure policy drafting process. According to George Huber, a professor in the business school, the original breakout group was concerned with faculty rewards. “At Dearborn, the discussion wasn’t focused on tenure,” he said. “It was focused on general mechanisms and processes for rewarding faculty…. At the time, ‘post-tenure review’ was about looking periodically at people’s contributions to the field. It was more in the context of looking at what people do best, and helping them do better.” A synopsis of the breakout session available on the Quality Center’s web site partly supports Huber’s recollection: “MeasureHow to deal with the deadwood problem,” The group, of which Huber was a member, concluded that the university should develop departmental post-tenure reviews and more flexible ways of rewarding a range of faculty activities on the basis of individual merit. Back in Austin, however, the U.T. administration quickly narrowed the broader issues, and. considering rewards suddenly became a good deal less important than “dealing with the deadwood problem.” By the end of the summer, Senator Bill Ratliff” s call for punitive post-tenure reviews had hit the front page of the Austin American-Statesman, and then-U.T. President Robert Berdahl had THE LINGO RECONFIGURES THE CONCEPTION OF THE UNIVERSITY ITSELF. STUDENTS BECOME -CUSTOMERS, TEACHERS BECOME CONTENT PROVIDERS, TEACHING IS DOWNLOADING, AND EDUCATION IS TRANSACTION OF INFORMATION. 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 26, 1997
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