How not to start a degree program

(This is one of those posts that I can’t guarantee describes up-to-date events or the specific person involved, but all of this is true.)

1) Have someone who won’t be involved in the program put together the initial strawman (under duress due to campus financial difficulties) with little input from anyone who would have a stake in the program.

2) Wait until you fire one of the two people who’s specialty is actually in the subject of the degree program, due to campus financial difficulties.

3) Decide from above, without consulting the department chair or the putative director of the degree program, that the program should then be developed.

4) “Assign” the person to lead the degree program proposal without actually asking that person or their department chair, and do this while the person’s tenure packet is literally sitting on the desk of the administrator making this assigment.

5) Expect that one person to spent about 2 months during the summer preparing the proposal for the degree program (a 20+ page document, including rationale using real data, the full curriculum, detailed official course goals and outcomes for all new courses, plus a detailed financial plan in a separate Excel workbook) when the person was already committed for 2 months of externally funded research involving students and committed to a week of working with a program to “teach science teachers” some topics they might use in their classrooms. You know, useless bullshit work.

6) Furthermore, expect that person to prepare this proposal having not taken more than 3 or 4 consecutive days off for any reason during the previous 10 months, including teaching 4 courses per semester (7 total preps), chairing a faculty senate committee, serving on the major re-accreditation committee, managing a campus facility, having a externally funded research grant, and serving as the de-facto assistant chair of the department, all again during the year in which the person has their one and only shot to go up for tenure.

7) Have upper adminstrators start complaining to the relevant Dean about low enrollments before the first class of students even matriculated into what was specifically approved because it was a low-enrollment program that didn’t require any new faculty to be hired unless the program reached optimistic enrollment numbers.

8) Bring in students that mostly don’t have the expected high school course preparation that is listed as a requirement in the catalog.

9) Be shocked, shocked I tell you, that these students are already failing courses in their first year in the program.

10) Stonewall on buying and installing the one minor (tens of thousands of dollars) piece of equipment needed to provide students with some semblance of a particular course that would be expected in this degree program at any school.

11) Make sure the installation isn’t finished until 2 months into the semester in which the equipment was needed, with the situation being that the old equipment can’t be used while the new equipment is being installed.

12) ?????

13) Profit!

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