Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shared Vision?

“We the students, faculty, staff and alumni of IU Northwest value . . . the complete richness and dignity of the human family in all its diversity.”
    IU Northwest “Shared Vision Values Statement.”

When I started at IU Northwest in 1970, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) was a strong presence on campus.  Members pretty much controlled what officers got elected to the Faculty Organization and thwarted administration efforts to increase professors’ teaching loads and reduce pay for summer courses.  Because IU never acknowledged the union’s right the right to bargain collectively, the AFT gradually faded away, for a time replaced by the AAUP.  Since then there has been a slow erosion of faculty rights and a broadening of control over branch campuses by administrators in Bloomington.  Those past chancellors best able to resist this trend were home grown rather than outsiders – acting chancellors Bill Neil, Herman Feldman, and Lloyd Rowe, for example, and, most significantly, Chancellor Peggy Elliott (1983-1992), who started teaching during the 1960s at a time when IUN faculty had to submit syllabi and samples of graded papers to superiors in Bloomington.  President John Ryan, who had dismantled the regional campus bureaucracy during the 1970s, respected Elliott’s decisions in personnel matters and pretty much let her run her campus without interference.

During the 11 years beginning in 1999 that Bruce Bergland was IUN’s chancellor, faculty, staff, students, and alumni spent countless hours honing a Shared Vision statement.  Other than faithfully carrying out Bloomington’s wishes for the campus, this was Bergland’s most conspicuous, albeit fleeting, legacy.  A couple years ago, one could find framed mission statements on the walls of most buildings, but one would be hard-pressed to come across one at present.  While giving lip service to the idealistic Shared Vision statement that was the fruit of all that labor, Bergland, perhaps prodded by Bloomington, became infatuated with moving from an “educational model” to a “business model” of faculty governance.  All too often, retiring faculty were not replaced, while the number of administrators steadily increased.  There was a diminution of representation by faculty on such reorganized bodies such as the IUN council and cabinet.  Bergland never found a second in command he could work with, so in 2009, near the end of his tenure, Bloomington officials sent one of their own, David Malik, to Gary as Interim Executive Vice Chancellor to deal with academic affairs, including the tenure and promotion process.  He’s still serving in that capacity five years later and appears to have the full confidence of IU president Michael McRobbie. Malik recommended Anne Balay for tenure and promotion, as did Chancellor Lowe, so I’m not sure what poisoned the process.
Above, Richard Hatcher; below, Rudy Clay
While talking with former Gary mayor Richard Hatcher about a troubling university matter, the subject came up about renaming Fifth Avenue in honor of the late Rudy Clay, who held a variety of offices, including mayor, during a 40-year political career.  Indiana legislators Earline Rogers and Vernon Smith are pushing for a state resolution authorizing such action. I commented that if Clay gets a road, Hatcher deserves that the entire city be named for him.  Hatcher noted that Atlanta mayor Maynard H. Jackson has a highway named for him and shared the name of Atlanta International Airport with William B. Hartsfield, mayor for 24 years, who coined the phrase “the city too busy to hate.”  Running for a final time in 1957, Hartsfield defeated segregationist future governor Lester Maddox.  The Atlanta zoo also named a gorilla Willie B. after him.  The Gary/Chicago Airport was once named for Hatcher, but his enemies got his name expunged.

I ran into Delores Crawford while taking Chuck Gallmeier a copy of my latest book, “Valor: The American Odyssey of Roy Dominguez.”  In a note I told Chuck that the chapter on how important IU Northwest was to Roy’s intellectual growth and subsequent career, in particular professors Bob Lovely and Gary Martin, is especially interesting.  After a stint with University Relations, Delores now is working for Sociology, Anthropology, and Liberal Studies; they’re fortunate to have her.  She recently attended an Indiana Track and Field Hall of Fame induction ceremony banquet because her three brothers, John, Galvester, and Howard Miles, were all state champion sprinters at Roosevely High School during the 1960s. Just today in the mail I received from Steve White, president of the organization, a CD of the tribute to the 1964 Gary Roosevelt track and field champions that was played at the banquet.  I thought Delores might want a copy, but Steve White had already sent her one, too.
On January 14, two weeks before the induction banquet, senior Times columnist Al Hamnik had interviewed Steve White for an article entitled “A much needed jump start for Gary track memories.”  White remarked, “It’s startling to see what Gary track and field accomplished.  When Gary runners stepped off the bus at meets, the other athletes looked at them in awe.”  Hamnik also talked with Delores Crawford, one of seven Miles siblings, about her brothers’ accomplishments; she said: “A lot of times things don’t sink in until you’re much older.  We’re just so, so, so excited they’re being honored now.  It’s never too late.”  Over 40 family members, including the three honorees, attended the event, as well as other former Gary track stars also honored.  Despite school rivalries, Gary athletes shared a bond and in some cases recommended others for college scholarships.  Delores said the banquet was like a reunion, as the men swapped remembrances of hijinks and mischief back in the old neighborhood.  Wheelchair bound due to strokes, Galvester Miles died just a few days after the event; Delores told me he had been overjoyed to be recognized for his feats.

In the news: Republican extremists in the Arizona legislature passed a bill allowing businesses to refuse service to people – meaning gays -  if doing so offends their religious beliefs.  Governor Jan Brewer is under pressure to veto it from a variety of groups, including companies such as American Airlines.  NFL may find another site for its 2015 Superbowl if the law goes into effect.  Or not.

In Uganda meanwhile, President Yoweri Museveni signed a bill making homosexual acts punishable by life imprisonment.  Thousands are seeking asylum, and gay activists in that African country are subject to eviction from their places of residence and being attacked in the streets.  President Obama has expressed outrage over the law.

After my appearance at his seminar last Tuesday Chris Young assigned students to interview somebody during the past week.  The results were pretty interesting.  It’s nice to think I inspired some History majors to do oral history.  One guy described how his friends remembered being in Chicago bars the night last June when the Black Hawks won the Stanly Cub.  Another talked to his dad about navy experiences during the first Iraq War.  A third was surprised that the NASA space program to land a man on the moon during the 1960s failed to inspire his parents; in fact, they were quite cynical about the geopolitical and economic motives behind it.  That’s one of the great things about oral history – when an unexpected answer disturbs one’s preconceptions.

Alex Passo asked if he could use me as a reference on his Illinois bar examination application.  The board of examiners requested the names of two undergraduate professors.  In college when I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, Pennsylvania required would-be attorneys to find preceptors to mentor them.  I’d be surprised if that elitist policy is still true today.  Neighbor Christopher Brando agreed to be my preceptor, and I worked one summer in the mailroom of his snobbish, high-powered Philadelphia law firm, Dechert, Price, and Rhoads.   Toni was hired at the same time as I as a legal secretary after she graduated from Little Flower Catholic High School.  When Mr. Dechert announced that he was marrying his secretary, other partners raised a fuss, one factor in my deciding I’d rather teach than be a corporation lawyer.

High schoolers are visiting campus en masse, escorted by student guides.  I noticed an underdressed group walking from Savannah to the library.  They appeared to be shivering and were moving as fast as they could without breaking into a run.  I told Dave Mergl at the Archives that I couldn’t have made it through the winter without the coat he gave me.  I thought I was done with it, but another polar vortex has moved down into the Midwest, with snow predicted for the weekend.  Right now some the mounds have taken weird shapes, like miniature villages like for train sets or emaciated zombies or skeletons (in one case with hair where a patch of sod was in the frozen mix). As much as I hate the cold, I’ll take the ice formations over the phony diversity signs with slogans on them that make their biannual appearance.

In Graham Greene’s “Our Man in Havana” a character compares life to a crossword puzzle: both come to an end.  Toni almost completed a New York Times puzzle about the Beatles but failed to know Shea, a 1965 and 1966 concert site and also home to the New York Mets.
Lorde (above)is appearing at Aragon Ballroom in three weeks, as her hit song “Team” gets plenty of airplay.  The lyrics include these lines:
“We live in cities you’ll never see on screen
Not very pretty but we sure know how to run things
Living in ruins of a place within my dreams
And you know
We’re on each other’s team.”

If President McRobbie rejects Anne Balay’s final appeal to grant her tenure and promotion, IUN’s team will be bereft of an un-closeted professor who brought excitement, high classroom standards to IUN, and cutting edge research that has won praise from the top scholars in her field.  How will history judge this case?  Harshly, is my reasoned opinion – I mourn IUN’s loss. 

Engineers won two of three games from Having Fun Yet.  My final frame we were down 10.  I spared and struck out while their number 3 bowler missed a ten-pin, putting us up one pin.  Frank doubled, but so did their guy, who picked up one more pin than Frank on his third ball.  Tied with one bowler each left, John Struck, but so did their guy, who doubled while John left a ten-pin.  They won, but we made them earn it.  

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