Guest Post: Brad Bucknell on New Position for Acting Provost Martin Ferguson-Pell

In the President’s post of last Friday, we are informed that the Acting Provost will now have a new job: Senior Advisor to the President.

It may be too obvious, and therefore too trivial to highlight this invention of yet another, no doubt highly paid, position. I suppose that when we are told that administration costs will be “considered” in these times of fabricated financial strain, what is meant is that such costs will be “considered worth it”—any price to keep the proles at bay.

Do we NEED what seems to be a “shadow” Provost? Aren’t there already enough layers between “us” and “them,” with most of these layers being added in the last ten years? If news of this new position in fact does seem “trivial,” it is perhaps only because it is so predictable, so incredibly arrogant. It is simply what we expect.

I wonder if this is how oligarchies in fact are formed: almost innocently, but with a well-nurtured sense of condescension.

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3 Responses to Guest Post: Brad Bucknell on New Position for Acting Provost Martin Ferguson-Pell

  1. John Considine says:

    I do not believe that the university happened to develop an urgent need of another senior management position (too urgent for the position to be normally advertised?) at just the moment that Dr Ferguson-Pell’s term as Acting Provost came to an early conclusion. What we see here is the creation of a new senior management position which appears to serve senior managers themselves rather than the community to which they are responsible.

    “Innocently” is in that case an unduly magnanimous word to use, even when qualified with “almost.” We need not leave the letter I before better words come to mind. The money of ours which is being spent on the creation of an ad hominem senior management position instead of being spent on teaching and learning is being spent imprudently, because there are things we need more than another senior manager. But that is putting it mildly too: the money is being spent indecently. By “indecently,” I mean that any normal person, inside the university or out, who sees the funds which are so desperately needed for the support of teaching and learning being diverted to senior management is likely to be scandalized. But “indecently” may also be too mild. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (art. 2409) teaches that “excessive expenses and waste” are “morally illicit.” When public money is spent on the unnecessary creation of a new position in the management of a public institution, or indeed on the excessive salaries of managers in that institution, it is therefore being spent immorally.

  2. Kathleen Lowrey says:

    Great points (in post and above comments). At the last GFC we were informed that administrative costs are fine both in terms of cross-institutional “benchmarking” and provincial targets. This in context of a discussion of what a huge “structural deficit” is created by actually having to pay for the work of the University (educating students, doing research). Always, always the Procrustean lopping of faculty and students is paired with a Goldilocks narrative (“this one is JUST RIGHT”) regarding admin. Watching someone who reportedly makes around 700 grand a year affirm her sympathy for support staff whose positions are cut, or students whose tuition and fees are raised, was… well, let me be honest: perversely entertaining.

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