David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Bracketology: Faculty Experience

March 23, 2013:  Bracketology -- Day Three (Faculty Experience Region)

While the actual NCAA tournament descends into boring blow-outs for the Round of 32, I continue with my NCAA-inspired bracket for the College Challenge Tournament (64 challenges to higher education--see the entire bracket here).  Today, we discuss the always entertaining Faculty Experience Region.

#1 Seed, perennial powerhouse, Tenure goes up against #16 seed, Faculty/Student Relationships.  Rumor has it that the selection committee gave Faculty/Student Relationships its lowest seed in years because better sense, tighter laws, and higher levels of ethics have minimized the number of those experiences.  If nothing else, everyone is convinced that those kinds of dalliances only occur in the English Departments -- those liberal wackos.  Tenure wins but not by much.  After all, the beauty of tenure is that it protects those with such dalliances.

The #8/#9 match-up is Terminal Degrees vs. Political Correctness.  More and more, if you don't have the terminal degree, you are deemed unworthy to teach at the college level.  Since experience is often undervalued with that philosophy, the terminal degrees come in arrogant but completely unprepared for what political correctness can throw at them.  ("That wasn't a 'foul,' that was an 'unfair advantage"; "don't call them 'substitutes,' call them 'Alternate Starters'"; "this isn't a 'tournament;' it's a 'group exercise'").  P.C. wins a close one over Ed.D.s.  (The Ph.D.'s refuse to play with the Ed.D.'s., greatly reducing their abilities to solve zone defenses.)

To Research or Teach, the #5 seed, battles the #12 seed, Assessment.  While Assessment is arguing with the officials about what the actual intended outcomes of the game are, Research or Teach streaks down the court and scores the first three baskets.  Then, they get in argument with each other about whether there is more value in scoring or keeping score, but assessment keeps going bogged down in their own processes.  The lowest scoring game ever in the tournament goes to Research or Teach.

Cynicism, full of smug thoughts about getting seeded #4 ("Administrators do all the seeding!!") destroys Parking, #13 seed, easily.  Note that faculty concerns about parking are much different from students (see the Student Experience Regional).  Ultimately, most faculty are cynical about their parking options, so this is akin to having the junior varsity squad play the varsity squad.

On the other side of the bracket, Adjunct Usage (#2) goes up against Conference Costs (#15).  Conference Costs have trouble fielding a complete team, as the local Hyatt at the game's site has offered a special Conference rate of $249 a night, so the budget can only manage to send the coach, the point guard and 4 bench players who all have to share a room.  Of course, Adjunct Usage, can't bring many of its faithful, as they are all teaching night classes across the country trying to scrape together a living.  Adjunct Usage wins the match, because, in times of tightening budgets, diminished appropriations and declining enrollments, the cheaper way always is the decided way.

The #7 seed, Publishing, almost forfeit their game.  The squad was buried in their offices working away on articles and book chapters when they were given the choice of Playing or Perishing.  As a result, they field a team but feature obscure plays that look good on paper but are impractical, while their opponent, #14, Course Standardization, proves that sticking with a game plan wins every time.

#6 seed, Faculty Senates, holds a pre-game vote on who can even play for their opponent, Teaching Loads (#11 seed).  Eventually, they decide that 2 players is nearly enough, with an option for one of their opponent's players to take a sabbatical in the fourth quarter.  It is extremely unfair; the viewing public turns off the game early on and Fox News is markedly appalled.

The final match in the first round of the region is between that old higher education favorite, Academic Freedom (#3 seed) vs. Office Conditions (#14 seed).  Office conditions complains about how it is too hot in the arena, that the internet feed is too slow, while Academic Freedom cites their own bylaws for why they can play 6 players.  It is a blow out.

Tenure vs. Political Correctness in the second round is ultimately not much of a contest.  Tenure keeps rejecting everything P.C. puts up.  With Cynicism wearing down Research or Teach, this sets up a battle between Tenure and Cynicism.  The players wear identical uniforms and often can't tell each other apart.  Tenure ultimately wins, as cynicism has no choice but to bow down to its master.

Meanwhile Adjunct Usage squeaks by Course Standardization in the second round. Despite the rule that the adjuncts must adhere to the game plan given to them, adjunct usage overwhelms with its sheer numbers.  Speculation is that adjunct usage has a bench with 1000s of players, but since no one takes the time to really get to know their names, there is no evidence that they cheated.

Faculty Senates vs. Academic Freedom is the rivalry everyone has waited for.  Academic Freedom will not be denied, though, as they rarely are, since Faculty Senates ultimately want to see Academic Freedom successful.  However, Academic Freedom will not win out vs. Adjunct Usage, the growing powerhouse, even if greatly undervalued and mocked, of higher education.

So, there is no sense of irony that Tenure battles Adjunct Usage in the Faculty Experience Regional.  It's a battle of the old, the revered, vs. the new, the smeared.  Never one to change quickly, it is no surprise that the faculty experience in higher education is represented again by Tenure in the Final Four.  After all, you can't easily dismiss the guys and gals with tenure.

Next time, the final regional, composed of General Higher Ed. issues.


(To read about the Money Regional, click here.)

(To read about the Student Experience Regional, click here.)