If, as was approved in a council motion, there’s a request for publishing the salaries of everybody at the university, Paul McLellan wondered to what purpose this would be put? Would its release conflict with privacy laws? And isn’t much of this information – specifically, that covered by the three collective agreements for employees at the university: academic, support/maintenance and adminstrative – already available?
Holy crow. Look, dude, pardon my brusqueness, but I downed about half a litre of wine last night and so I do NOT have patience for your bullshit this morning. I am going to tear you to shreds in this post. I don’t know if you think a Twitter is something you put on breakfast cereal to give yourself more vitamins but if you do know what it is definitely don’t check mine this morning because after I finish this post I am going to be even meaner to you, and I promise that only part of it is because I am still angry that you never wrote me back after I gave you all of those nice letters. Although one of your representatives did invite me to ask permission to attend a board meeting and argue my case. After I graduated. And after I organized a sit-in and had security physically bar me from your boardroom. You make me furious.
First off, holy shit, were you busy playing Words With Friends when they sorted this all out? Item one, people would read those salaries, compare them to other salaries, and then try and figure out whether those salaries were proportionally fair and in line with the limited budget the university is able to access in this, probably the worst time for public universities since back when the biggest threat to their livelihood was Visigoths sacking them and burning down their library. Second, the release of salary information would not conflict with privacy laws; the president of the university said as much in response to someone asking that exact question. Do you not pay attention when Vianne Timmons is talking? That is very rude. Board meetings must be hell. I don’t know because I’m not allowed in them but now I’m imagining everyone throwing paper airplanes around while the three adults in the room try to sort out the horrible budget crisis facing every post-secondary institution in North America. No wonder you don’t want anyone else to see these meetings.
After the jump there is much more, because the Leader-Post piece goes on in this fashion for an incredulity-stretching amount of copy:
And if marketing – a frequent target of critics at the meeting – was cut, what would this mean for attracting new, tuition-paying students and communicating with alumni?
Here’s an idea and I’ve said it before: your best marketing is your university’s quality. Nobody picks a university because they see it on the side of a bus, that is what happens in screwball college comedies and we do not even have a fraternity system so that would never happen to us. There are other ways to do marketing that do not involve pricey advertising blitzes.
(Counterpoint: in an interview I did with him for my last published piece on the U of R, which I had to clip due to space & focus concerns, U of R provost Tom Chase credited the university’s marketing campaign in Alberta with helping to attract students from that province. Fair enough. Another great marketing campaign, though, is having a robust faculty in all departments that attract national attention due to the diversity and quality of their expertise. As a guy currently looking at grad schools and constantly talking to other Millenials about grad school, I can assure you that this form of “viral marketing” is very effective. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad for Concordia, for example, but I’ve had about eight people in the last calendar year explain to me that it’s a very good English program, pretty much apropos of nothing.)
And if the board and senior administrators – who, he pointed out, are academics who share their colleagues’ goals and ideas – took all the advice offered at the meeting, what would this mean for U of R employees covered under its other two collective agreements? They are support and maintenance personnel covered by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and adminstrative, professional and technical staff, who have their own union.
Some of them were there and were like, “We’re cool with it.” In fact, one of the students who stood at the mic and addressed this point was a Chartwell’s employee who said she is “extremely interested” in learning about faculty and administrative salaries, and is totally fine with people seeing how little money she makes compared to, say, a university VP responsible for marketing. Other government employees are subject to the exact same publication of information. Again, I have to wonder if you were paying attention during some of this? If you’re not, it’s cool, maybe you had to step out into the hallway to grab some Fritos. I understand. Fritos are delicious and it was a long meeting. You should maybe admit that you were grabbing Fritos if that’s what you were doing, though, because if you were not out of the room then you do not have much of an excuse for how badly you paid attention.
If it’s detailed financial information that’s sought, he wondered how detailed should it be?
I’m actually drinking now. You drove me to drink, Paul McLellan. How about all of it? It’s the 21st century. Your online budget package is essentially a series of cocktail napkins hastily stapled together and converted to .pdf. So much spending is unaccounted for. Here’s a fun fact for you, Paul McLellan, but also for other readers of this blog: Late last year, I asked the President’s Office for information on all of President Timmons’ travel in the last two years, with locations and total (not itemised) expenses. I was told I would have to fill out an Access to Information request. Information like that, Mr. McLellan, should probably be in this book, because it is totally insane that I have to file an Access to Information request to find out how President Timmons spent her travel budget, and also what her travel budget even is. That is not very accountable or transparent.
“Personally, if they feel the need for some more information, I’m OK with that,” he said in an interview Thursday. “There is nothing that a university does that needs to be hidden.”
Please read the preceding paragraph of this blog post, because apparently some folks in the administration of the university are not “on your wavelength”! Also, if the things you are confused about so far are any indication, you are also not “on your wavelength” and now I’m confused because I’m not sure how that kind of thing happens, where you say a bunch of things that make your position very clear and then you say another thing that contravenes literally everything you’ve said so far. Let’s move on because I am perilously close to the bottom of this wine glass and two glasses of wine does not a breakfast make.
And on top of all that, McLellan wondered, how can the wishes of students – who through their tuition fees pay a substantial part of the university’s costs – be taken into consideration?
Let them into your board meetings, for one thing.
I want to shake you until your lapels come off.
[UPDATE/EDITOR’S NOTE: Whitworth here. Prairie Dog does not permit its writers to assault members of the community whose comments exasperate them. John was merely expressing his frustration in an idiotic way. He has no intentions of assaulting anyone. Sorry for the interruption]
The article – for which the Leader-Post‘s Will Chabun deserves serious accolades, because he mostly just lets McLellan use question marks like a big shovel with which to dig himself an an enormous hole – ends with McLellan expressing yet more confusion that people don’t seem to know about the Academic Program Review currently taking place. Let me help clear things up for you, Paul, because apparently I’ve been following this better than you despite the fact that I make pennies on the dollar what you make as president or CEO of several energy companies and have to do things besides retroactively hold your hand through a meeting that you and I both sat through two days ago in order to pay my rent. Do you have a nice house? I hope it does not have a lot of doors, because if one of them was open, you might spend hours trying to figure out where the “inside wind” is coming from. Anyway, people know about the Academic Program Review. Nobody is confused that it exists, although if they are, it might have something to do with how all the updates are tucked away in a corner of the university’s largely unnavigable website.
If people are confused about anything, it’s about merging, for example, the Fine Arts faculty into the Arts faculty, or it’s about the emphasis on vocational degrees while more liberal-artsy things get cut, or it’s maybe about (as faculty members and students I spoke to both emphasized) the way that a lot of standard departmental housekeeping – the cessation of certain programs and degrees due to a lack of enrolment, for example – seems to be pushed by the administration as the innocuous doings of the Academic Program Review in what a cynical observer of university politics might see as a bid to make deeper structural changes a bit more palatable because they’re lumped in with a bunch of ordinary doings. Those are maybe some things people are confused about.
It’s almost as if a bunch of appointed government flacks who get the privilege of meeting behind closed doors have no incentive to even be remotely accountable, attentive, or in touch with people, isn’t it? Paul McLellan, this was exhausting. I hope next time you will take better notes before talking to the Leader-Post about stuff. I don’t really want to have to do this again.