Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dr. Saltmarsh's Plan

What is the best way to ensure strict conformity on social and political issues in the modern university? The ideal approach would consist of two steps. First, you re-define the work of the university so that carrying out an officially approved social program becomes the “core mission” of the institution. Then, you build a system of rewards and punishments into the institution’s procedures so that the people who get ahead are those who do as they’re told and march in the crusade to carry out that mission.
This, I believe, is the message that Dr. John Saltmarsh of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education, will bring to my university next week in a workshop on “Rewarding Faculty Engagement Efforts in the Tenure and Promotion Process.”   Dr. Saltmarsh will elaborate on what he means by “faculty engagement” the day after the workshop, when he will offer a public lecture entitled “Democratic Engagement and Full Participation:” His ideas, such as they are, are outlined in a co-authored paper on “Full Participation” available here.
Reading this paper makes it obvious that Dr. Saltmarsh does not consider good writing to be part of a university’s “core mission.” But he does apparently think very highly of “diversity” and “civic engagement.” And he has a plan to make academic careers depend on sharing his views.

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