It is by now well known that at least two tenured U Southern Maine faculty were recently notified by voice mails that they were being terminated–“retrenched”–effective January 1, 2015. Using voice mails was, it has been explained, a mistake. A new dean unfamiliar with whatever procedures are ordinarily used somehow decided to communicate with a couple of veteran faculty members in this manner. Nothing to get excited about.
On the contrary: in my opinion, this new dean should be forced to resign his or her deanship, and by a voice mail message. What kind of “professional” handles terminations in such a rotten manner? Did he or she need to read Emily Post on etiquette before he or she acted?
However, does anyone seriously believe that these voice mails were accidents? What better way of making clear to the ranks of the “retrenched” that years of dedicated teaching, research, and service at USM are of little value in the New System Order. “Send ’em a message,” as outspoken Governor George Wallace of Alabama loved to say.
To be sure, the current financial crisis requires drastic actions. Declining enrollments and other financial challenges have not been addressed “systematically” for years. Moreover, it is too early to see which courses, undergraduate majors, and graduate and professional programs are left after the final faculty and staff cuts. But the financial crisis is also a golden opportunity to transform USM into a institution that may not reflect the diversity of a genuine “metropolitan university,” as USM is supposed to become.
In any case, rather than use voice mails to fire dedicated faculty and staff, why not substitute collect phone calls? Surely that will reach the affected–the afflicted–directly.