Good News for Public Higher Education in 2016

(1) One of the former deans of my UMaine college whom I described as an academic clown in an early BDN blog retired last spring. Too inept to be reappointed to a second term, this person got a highly paid special professorship that was not exactly based on academic merit. Returning to the classroom, this clown routinely blocked the entry into his/her classroom of any student who was more than a minute late. No excuses allowed, including students with physical disabilities (likely a violation of federal disability law). The fact that this clown was himself/herself sometimes late for class made no difference to her. By contrast, most UMaine faculty allow latecomers to enter their classes. Better late than never, I always say.

(2) Following the embarrassing forced resignation of former UMaine President Robert A. Kennedy as the founding head of a state of Connecticut system of seventeen four-year and community colleges—not including the UConn system—that new structure is apparently now working under someone else. Kennedy lasted just a year once it was discovered that, among other things, he’d given $250,000 in raises to top staff without the required permission of the Board of Regents and had had paid himself for various expenses like highway tolls that reflected remarkable greed if not necessarily a violation of his contract.

(3) The defeat of Theodora Kalikow for a seat in the Maine House of Representatives last fall. “Theo” was the longtime President of UMaine-Farmington, where she was well respected overall. But when, after stepping d own from that post, she became the President of the University of Southern Maine, she proved to be a disaster. Certainly she was not ultimately responsible for the bloody and heartless termination and forced retirement of over fifty tenured USM professors. But she made sure that she got her fifth and final year under her five-year USM contract while over fifty longer-serving USM faculty got axed. She shed many crocodile tears in the process. Along with her Provost–who received an overwhelming vote of no confidence from the USM faculty—she got a do-nothing job at the UMaine System level. In an op ed I urged that she use her many years as a college president to offer a course that would be useful and probably popular. Of course she did no such thing, lest she temporarily lower herself to the level of a mere faculty member vs. a top administrator. If her election to the state House would have meant one more Democratic vote, better, in my view, for Theo to stop receiving taxpayer funds.

Bad news developments to follow.

Happy New Year to all.