Dear fellow AAUP members,
I’m writing to call your attention to a recent essay appearing in MC’s Governance Connections, authored by Mr. Jason Rivera, College Council Chair. A link to the essay is found here:
Mr. Rivera reminds his readers three times in the first three paragraphs that “Academic Redesign is a Management right”. He also reminds us that redesigns need not be done “in a collaborative or inclusive manner” and that Management is to be commended for having nonetheless conducted the redesign in such a manner.
The essay as a whole gives cause for concern on several fronts. For one, it is clear that, contrary to Mr. Rivera’s assertion about the Redesign process, significant portions of the campus community in fact do not regard the process as inclusive or collaborative. Also, his (strained) analogy between the circumstances surrounding the Federal Government Shutdown and those surrounding our Academic Redesign is troublesome; if I read it correctly, Mr. Rivera’s argument is that concerns about the Academic Redesign are somehow akin to the government shutdown tactic.
Leaving aside these issues, though, there is another concern raised by the essay that may be more substantial. It involves Mr. Rivera’s repeated emphasis on Management rights.
Since their beginnings American colleges and universities have, for better and worse, shied away from embracing a Management/Labor dynamic, even to the extent of pointedly avoiding those very terms. There are a lot of reasons for this aversion, but mostly it boils down to a sense among those involved in Higher Education – staff, faculty and administrators alike – that our enterprise is unlike that of other organizations. To define a college’s key players as “Management” and “non-Management”, it has been assumed, causes problems.
Not the least of these problems is that Management is typically associated with a set of objectives – profit, cost reduction, ensuring easily replaceable labor, enhanced control, efficiency, to name a few – which, while more or less accepted in the world of commerce, have not been seen as appropriate to the mission of Higher Education. Also, when they are invoked, these categories (Management/Labor) engender an oppositional stance in organizations, as Management’s objectives are usually at odds with workers’ interests.
And yet Mr. Rivera in his essay is unabashed in defining us here at MC via a Management/Labor relationship. It is not a stretch to surmise that our Montgomery College administration is coming to see things that way as well. This path is inconsistent with more than a century of Higher Educational culture. What is worse, I fear it is recasting previously productive relationships in terms that can only lead to entrenched camps.
If staff and faculty are urged (as Mr. Rivera urges us) to see administrators – many of whom are former faculty or staff – as capital-M Management, it imperils a good deal of what our college – what any college- is all about.
Daniel Santore, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Montgomery College – Rockville