October 20, 2014

More on General

In response to a very defensive comment from a current member of the Board of Trustees of General Theological Seminary, which argued essentially that if the public knew what the Board knew (but couldn't divulge, nudge nudge, wink wink; and that the Board had no other options available) I posted the following, presented here in a lightly edited version, with a few links added for convenience of reference:
When it is not even possible to find with ease a copy of the current much-amended bylaws of the Board of Trustees of the General Seminary, and we are told to trust the trustees who know things they cannot divulge, and when faced with what appear to be abuses, it is very difficult to believe, let alone trust, that any proper process is being followed.

What is abundantly clear is that the letter from the faculty was neither intended to convey, nor did its "plain English" state, that the faculty were submitting their resignations. That the Board purported to "accept" the resignations, rather than engaging in a process to terminate employment by legitimate means (if that was to be their decision, and for which a special meeting, with notice, was required in older versions of the bylaws) represents a failure in due process. The Board were not backed into a corner. They had plenty of options at their disposal (including doing nothing), and they chose a path remarkable for its duplicity and irresponsibility.

The Trustees, above all, seem to think they are the institution. They are not. In academia -- which is not just like other not-for-profits -- the faculty are the heart of the institution, together with the students. The faculty are not mere employees, they are not merely "staff" -- and above all they are not simply replaceable production line workers.

I join Bishops Dietsche and Breidenthal in their call to return to the status quo ante as soon as possible.
  Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

5 comments:

IT said...

Alas, Tobias, This comment:
In academia -- which is not just like other not-for-profits -- the faculty are the heart of the institution, together with the students. The faculty are not mere employees, they are not merely "staff" -- and above all they are not simply replaceable production line workers.

no longer represents the experience of faculty at most universities, but rather an ideal that has been lost. As universities have increasingly corporatized, increased their administrative class, and become driven by a desire for ranking and fundraising, even tenured faculty have been demoted to low end middle-management. We have no power, and our voices are seldom heard.

And even tenure isn't what it what was.

So what's happening at GTS seems representative of what happens in secular academe.

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks, IT. It is a distressing trend, and I am aware of it -- but the seminary should have resisted this trend far longer than it did. General, in particular, given its roots as a seminary (rather than as simply an academy) modeled more after the old collegiate system of England.

The other issue is scale. I can understand a large multi-college university giving in to some of the secular business model, but for a school the size of GTS to have a board that is about three times the size of the faculty, and about as large as a graduating class, seems extremely top-heavy.

IT said...

I completely agree. One would hope for better behavior from a seminary.

Joe said...

Has anyone been able to get a copy of the new bye-laws? Did the board actually approve them? If they did, they must have been n the minutes (surely?)...

Joe Cassidy

June Butler said...

So very well said. Thank you.