University of Arizona revolt – covert blog started

A blog advertised as a “safe place” for UA faculty, administrators and staff to voice their displeasure over what many think are high-handed moves by President Robert Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay has popped up on Blogger. Someone at UA leaked it to me after it was leaked to that person by someone else at the university. I’m hastily trying to reach the blog’s creator (Evelyn B. Hall doesn’t show up in the UA phone book nor online directory) through the moderated comments, but no luck so far.

Much like the graduate student blog started last year to protest the Transformation Plan launched by Team Shelton-Hay, UA Defender is pointing out all the behind-the-scenes happenings in the massive overhaul of UA’s first university. Hard to know how active the blog is, but those who are posting comments include deans and department heads – anonymous – and ain’t nobody happy.

I covered the Transformation Plan as a reporter from the first rumblings about it until the day the Tucson Citizen ceased print publication and was frequently told things off the record I could never report. Department heads were especially reluctant to talk out of school, because they feared reprisals, and with layoffs and “reorganization” looming they wanted, as one head told me, “to protect my department from Meredith.”

The multiple firings/removals/demotions/resignations – particularly that of former Vice President of Instruction Juan Garcia in June – demonstrate that folks had reason for concern.

I take a little offense at one statement in the blog that news of problems with Shelton/Hay weren’t adequately reported by the press. One of my biggest frustrations as the Citizen’s higher ed reporter was that no one would talk on the record about various rumors I heard, including the straw vote of no confidence that apparently occurred last fall in regards to Hay. That vote is detailed on the UA Defender blog here, and I specifically asked Shelton about it when I was first leaked the information. He flat-out denied a vote was ever taken … and since no department head would go on the record saying it WAS taken, I couldn’t report it.

So, before the UA Defender says the media hasn’t done a good job in reporting all sides of the story, people on the blog need to recognize that the press CAN’T report the story with only anonymous sources and rumor. Give me your names, give me information about what has happened, and I’ll be happy to report it on my blog and/or pitch it as a story to the Tucson Weekly, the Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Ed. If you’re a UA employee and have facts or documents about what is happening in this reorganization that you think need to be reported, I’m ready, willing and able. E-mail me at rshorton08(at)gmail(dot)com.

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9 comments

  1. Commentary via pseudonym.

    Evelyn Beatrice Hall is the actual author of the phrase “I dissaprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. 

  2. Actually Evelyn Beatrice Hall admitted she was paraphrasing Voltaire’s [François Marie Arouet] sentiments from his Essay on Tolerance.

  3. Little wonder that with big heads rolling, like Garcia, that we smaller heads would like to stay on our collective necks. Part of the problem lies in the Faculty Senate. Despite having a State Faculty Governance Law, the Senate is actually composed of administrators and only a few Senators speak out.  I was shocked when Sheldon and Hays reduced their employee’s salaries, through a furlough, then accepted raises.  In the President’s case, 50K.  The fact he donated it to a scholarship fund, IN HIS NAME and TAX DEDUCTABLE, did little to help its impact on his loss of standing. That action cost him a lot of respect and basically showed he was more interested in himself that the good of the institution.  Dare I sign this?  I can assure you that I am an employee but verification of my status is not worth getting canned.

  4. Hello Renee,
    Thank you for this post. As you know from the “UA Defender” blog, the press is unlikely to get all the facts –names, dates, documents– until the UA administration stops firing and intimidating its faculty, staff and students. That’s why the UA Defender has appealed to the Arizona Board of Regents for a moratorium on administrative program closures and negative personnel actions at the UA (dismissals, demotions, reassignments, etc.) until such time as the complaints currently filed, and the investigations currently underway with regard to recent firings (2008-2009), have been resolved, either at higher administrative levels (e.g., ABOR), or in the courts, as the case may be.

  5. Thank you to Renee for posting this blog. Many people would love to go on the record but cannot without risking their jobs.  It is a top down culture of fear. 
    Here are some thing happening on the inside:
    Provost Juan Garcia, the deans of SBS, Arts and the head of finance for the university all forced out.  The dean of COH was threatened to be fired.
    12 Mil for research scientists with money coming from decreases in money flowing toward instruction.
    Today threats to rob the funds for advising undergrads to flow toward science research funding and administration projects.
    Proposed cuts to Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts are more than three times those propsed to Sciences. 
    The college of humanities teaches 26.55% of the Student Credit Hours in all of the new CLAS College while receiving only 17.41% of the state-funds expenditures out of ALL state expenditures in CLAS.  In other words, dollars are taken from tax payers and students from tuition and handed over to projects that do not directly help students and will not generate income to improve the education of students.

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