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.