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Yet Another Diversity Bureaucrat

Provost Dever has taken a break from her job search; it seems that she is back in town, at least for a few days, because the faculty has received a memo announcing the recruitment of yet another diversity bureaucrat: a Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity. Just what we need:

Vice Provost for Diversity1.jpg

First off, savor Provost Dever’s, um, prose — recall that she was a Professor of English and Gender Studies. She sees fit to include some variation on the word diversity seven times in her first paragraph. And it isn’t as if she is not on notice regarding leaden writing. We have pointed out her monomaniacal focus in the past.

Observe also the requirement that the new Vice Provost be a tenured member of the faculty who will work half time. That criterion bespeaks a reduction of 50% in a professor’s teaching load — the loss of two courses from the curriculum each year — in order to ensure that departments do what they should already be doing. Is that what we need?

However the back story is a little more complicated: the details can be found in the first annual report of the committee charged with monitoring the administration’s 72nd (or is it the 73rd?) effort to increase faculty diversity:

Diversity Report June 30, 2017.jpg

This fifteen-pager contains not a single statistic in its rah-rah support of the College’s efforts to achieve “inclusive excellence” (speaking of leaden writing). But it does have one solid observation:

Finding: The accountability structure as currently construed has one potentially fatal flaw: While it is clear who is accountable for what, it is not clear to whom they are accountable. This may reflect a culture/tradition that prefers a “soft” or horizontal hierarchy. It may also reflect a structural issue with the college’s organizational chart at the top (see next Finding). It is the sense of this committee that the Executive Team has taken real ownership for the Action Plan. However, one unintended consequence of this ambiguity in messaging about who won’t tolerate failure of the Action Plan is the implication that failure of the Action Plan will be tolerated.

Recommendation: Create a leadership organizational chart accompanying the Action Plan that makes explicit the bidirectional flow of resources on the one hand and accountability on the other. For each item in the Action Plan, in addition to identifying who is the responsible entity (this is already done), indicate from whom are the necessary resources and incentives to be provided, and by whom is the responsible party ultimately held to account.

Finding: Arts and Science is the largest academic unit in the College and thus where the vast majority of tenure-track faculty hiring and retention occurs. There appears to be a nuanced reporting relationship between the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Provost, and the President. In particular, the Action Plan situates accountability for faculty diversity in the Provost/President area, however it appears to be broadly understood that in Arts and Sciences it is the Dean of Faculty who holds near- autonomous authority over faculty hiring and retention. It is not clear whether or in what ways the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences is accountable to the Provost or President.

Recommendation: Clarify these reporting relationships. Ensure committed leadership by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in regards to the Action Plan. Ensure responsible execution by the Associate Deans of their faculty hiring and retention functions, as outlined in the Faculty Manual. Facilitate collaborative relationships between the Dean(s) and the Provost office on faculty diversity initiatives through ongoing, regular and long-term engagement, to ensure the charge and culture of promoting diversity is maintained even when personnel changes.

By way of background: traditionally at the College the Dean of the Faculty has been responsible for the undergraduate academic program; the Dean reported directly to the President. The Provost managed the three graduate schools and the physical plant. When Jim Kim arrived in town, given his inexperience, Carol Folt was elevated to a re-jiggered Provost’s position that held sway over the Dean of the Faculty, too. But the faculty pushed back (both against Carol and the realignment of responsibilities); hence a second reporting line from the Dean of the Faculty upwards to the President (click on the image for a closer look):

Dartmouth Org Chart April 5, 2017.jpg

As a result of this dual reporting structure, the “Inclusive Excellence” committee has pointed out that while Provost Dever has arrogated to herself the responsibility for the College’s diversity and inclusion efforts, in fact, Dean of the Faculty Elizabeth Smith will be doing all the heavy lifting, with, to date at least, no intervention from the Provost’s office.

Carolyn Dever’s reaction to this finding is to place another brick in the bureaucratic wall. The new Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity will just get in the Dean of the Faculty’s way.

So who cares? You should. Either undergrads have just lost two courses each year forever, or some other faculty member will pick up the slack — at a cost of more than $100,000/year.

And so it goes.

Addendum: The College’s new Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity will complement the existing Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity (IDE), the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, and the Council on Institutional Diversity and Inclusivity. I guess that these folks need a lot of help.

Addendum: Read nothing into the fact that the above org chart has no line connecting Phil Hanlon to the other members of the senior administration. All appearances aside, he is not floating airily above the fray; he deserves blame for a great deal that goes on at the College these days.

Addendum: The D has a tough-minded report on the external review committee’s evaluation of the College’s Inclusive Excellence initiative:

An external review of the action plan for the College’s Inclusive Excellence initiative found that while the plan has clear objectives, it lacks in-depth accountability, a faculty retention strategy and student involvement. The external report, which was released more than a week after the College’s self-imposed deadline, is an effort to increase transparency and accountability in its policy initiatives.

Addendum: A professor sees poetry hidden in Carolyn’s missive that I completely missed

Maybe I’m imagining things, but the first paragraph of this latest opening in the Provost’s Office has some powerful musical qualities. The first, second, and third sentences are each carefully structured to climax on diversity. The fourth has two mentions of diversity at each end, elegantly framing the sentence. The fifth sentence diversifies, twice intoning diversity at the end of each hemistich. That adds up seven, surely not by chance. Finally, the next paragraph gently restates the theme.

Fat chance!

Addendum: And don’t forget diversity.


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