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Faculty Forum Papers

January 1977 - A Letter to a Dean By

Irvin Isenberg
Biochemistry and Biophysics

December 16, 1976


    As part of my responsibilities as Chairperson of the Committee to Evaluate Dean Clavering, I went through his files and found the following letter. I am incorporating it in my report and append it herewith.

Irvin Isenberg
Biochemistry and Biophysics

Dean Hemmon R. Clavering School of Parking Campus

Dear Hem:

    I want to thank you for your offer to make me Chairperson of the Department of Small Car Parking, but I must decline. I find it would mean sacrificing a lot of the Committee Work that I enjoy so much.

    I do not take this step lightly so I am writing to remind you of the events of the last four years, events which led to the formation of our School. I know you were in on them from the start, you may need no reminder, but I want to put things in perspective, and explain my decision.

    You may recall that my involvement began when one of your Assistant Deans appointed me to the Committee on Small Car Parking. At our very first meeting it did not take us long to realize that no-one had as yet defined precisely what a small car was. To clarify our charge, a Subcommittee on Small Car Definition was formed with me as Chairperson. We were a serious, hardworking group. We interviewed much of the Faculty and met diligently for many weeks.

    One day it came to our attention that the students had appointed a similar body: The Student Committee on Small Car Definition. To avoid needless duplication of effort, we therefore appointed a Subcommittee to meet with the Student Committee. This led to a Joint Subcommittee on Small Car Definition, which was a good thing, in fact, a classic case of serendipity. For you may recall that, through our contacts there, we learned that a group of students had been meeting to protest the lack of Peoples Parking Lot at OSU. A demonstration had been planned for Homecoming Weekend. There would be a Picket Line, a Grass Stomp-In and a Flower Pull-Up. The Third World Congress on Peoples Parking had denounced the formation, as they put it, of "So-Called Peoples Parks, which were in fact just Imperialist plots to keep the People from Parking." A Peoples Park sounded very nice, but where could the People Park? A Grass Stomp-In and a Flower Pull-Up were definite, and non-negotiable, unless the Administration agreed to pave the entire So-Called Peoples Park and use it for Peoples Parking.

    At this point a Subcommittee was formed to meet the emergency session with a Subcommittee of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. I was Chairperson, and we were a very serious subcommittee, meeting night and day, thrashing out the entire issue, until at last it was decided by a vote of 24 to 17 to form a subcommittee to meet with President MacVicar and inform him of the serious possibilities.

    We went to the Administration Building but as we went up the elevator we realized it was too late. We could already here the chanting "Peoples Park No! Peoples Parking Yes!" and we stopped at the fifth floor and went down.

    Our worst fears, though, were unfounded, for even as we were riding down in the elevator President MacVicar was meeting with the leaders of the Student Sit-In all had agreed that the So-Called Peoples Park should be paved over and, for a show of amity, and to atone for past sins, President MacVicar and Vice President Popovich should show up with the first bucket of cement.

    Unknown to us, however, a disident group had denounced the Sit-Ins for compromising with the enemy, and exploded a bomb in the Ladies Room at Home Ec, luckily when no-one was in it. Of course, this hit the newspapers which denounced the Faculty for coddling the students and demanded that the State Board meet.

    The State Board met and also denounced the Faculty who, it said, was ignoring the legitimate aspirations of the students and not listening to them. It was only at State Board insistence, they pointed out, that the students served on committees, graded the Faculty, and decided on promotions and tenure. However, no student had as yet been made a Dean. Even the Dean of Students was not a student. It was things like that that caused students to set off bombs in the Ladies Room. What else could they do? They were desperate.

    The State Board ruled, therefore that every Dean should have at least two Assistant Deans who were students and these Assistant Deans were to monitor all of the Dean's telephone calls, and sit in on all of his meetings.

    You will of course, recall that the State Legislature refused to appropriate any money for the new positions. If the faculty wanted to coddle students and encourage them to set off bombs, let them take the money for the Student Dean positions out of the faculty salary and teaching budget. That wasn't the business of the State Legislature. They were fed up to here with all that nonsense on the campuses.

    Somebody pointed out that the President had more than 32% of the money he needed in the fuel budget. Maybe this was too much. If he could get by with only 10% of the money he needed, he could use the savings to pay the salaries of the Student Deans. However, he didn't like this, for some reason, and the decision was made to take the FTE out of each School budget.

    The trouble was that we weren't yet a School and we didn't have any budget. So a Committee on Student Deans of Parking was established to come up with recommendations. While I was not the Chairperson - you were - I was, of course, on the Committee. You will perhaps remember that I was the one who suggested that we generate FTE by offering courses in Parking, and a Committee on Curriculum was established with me as a Chairperson.

    We quickly came up with a list of appropriate, initial courses: Pkng 65, Remedial Parking; Pkng 130, 131, 132, Introduction to Parking; Pkng 251, 252, 253, Philosophy of Parking, Preq. Pkng 132; Pkng 360, 361, 362, Human Sexuality and the Back Seat, Prez. Pkng 253; Pkng 490, Reading and Conference.

    You were the one who pointed out that there was this purist from the Philosophy Department, who would be sure to denounce any course called Philosophy of Parking in The Faculty Senate. So somebody suggested that we call it Critique of Pure Parking, but it didn't do any good, because it was denounced anyway, and by the same guy, too.

    About this time I forgot to go to two of my subcommittee meetings. It wasn't intentional; I just forgot. But even so, there were complaints and my Chairperson called me into his or her office to talk to me about it. I was so embarrassed, I could hardly look him or her in the eye. I explained that it had just gotten too difficult to remember all of the meetings. It wasn't only me, either. It was a very widespread problem. He or she said that it was understandable that people might forget, and maybe we could appoint a Committee to come up with a recommendation. I was appointed Chairperson.

    It didn't take too many meetings to realize the way out. We would get a number of computer terminals and every day, when we logged in, the computer would list all of our Committee Meetings for that day, with room numbers and meeting times.

    With a grant from a small private foundation, we put in an order for 17 terminals. As luck would have it, though, we put the order in at exactly the wrong time. There was a jurisdictional dispute between the State Purchasing Center in Salem and The Computer Hardware Evaluation Board in the Chancellor's office in Eugene. It seems that each group had a section whose function was to hold up purchases of computer equipment. However, the people in Salem only had the right to hold up purchases for 8 months, whereas the one in Eugene could hold a purchase for 16 months. The Salem group felt this was unfair and, until the issue clarified, they refused to accept and hold up any order at all.

    You may remember that I was the one who discovered the solution. Salem had only 13 FTE for holding up purchases whereas Eugene had 26. Therefore the amount of time a computer purchase was held up per person holding up the purchase was the same in both offices. No one had the right to feel discriminated against. Everyone held up every purchase the same amount of time.

    I suppose it was things like this that made my reputation.

    Now that we have our computer terminals I haven't missed a single Committee Meeting. After all that effort I really can't see giving up everything just to become Chairperson. I hope you understand.