Writing 4.361: Games We Play

People tend to believe the world is a fair and just place, until hitting the harsh reality.

Here is a case in mind. Our administrators have been enjoying the wild ride for quite a while. They do what they please, reward their cronies, penalize who dare to challenge. The violations go one without real check. Last year, one faculty who cannot speak just got promotion, because he is their guy. This allows him to continue ruin students. Another faculty who has published zero got all the goodies and stayed for eight years, wasting taxpayers over a million of dollars. 

But they are running out of luck. Last year, we elected a new faculty chair, a seemingly harmless Asian guy. He turns out to be the show stopper. Two months into his tenure, he organized the faculty coupe to outer the provost. The provost tried several measurers, but eventually sees the inevitability. To avoid immediate embarrassment, he choose to step down by the end of June.

These dramas are at the university level, and should have not affected our school much. But in his final attempt to stay in power, the provost finally appointed a committee to investigate our dean. We have doubted that the committee is just another token show.

But now it seems all real: the provost intends to sacrifice our dean to save himself. This week, our dean eliminated two directors in the graduate office—they know too much of his fishy deals. One of them is a competent Polish guy, who sincerely cares about students.  Unfortunately, no one is real safe in this politicized place. His layoff is neither expected, nor preventable: the election of new faculty chair eventually leads to his layoff.

So, get real: the world is never a fair and just place. You got to watch out for yourself.



Writing 4.361: Games We Play


Dear Committee Members:

Professor J. is stepping down as the committee chair. I am working with Dean  to identify a new chairperson. We will notify the committee as soon as we have news to report.


Dear committee members,

Contrary to what K. wrote in this email, I have not stepped down from this position. If I had, I certainly would not have done so knowing that it would wreck E’s maternity leave.





What a Shame

If you think the second president debate is shameful, try our school: it is notorious for letting politics dominate merit. Case in mind, it has been tolerating a faculty who cannot speak to ruin students for years. More outrageously, this year, despite mounting evidence and strong complaints, he still gets the merit.

I hate to be cynical, but what a shame.  All the more reason to waste no time in school.


Dear Colleagues,

Following on my previous email from 7/15/16, I am happy to report that JSR has also received positive merit advancement.



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What a Shame

Games we play, 1

It was my first EC meeting. Half of the time the provost defended his much hated cluster hiring initiative; the other half dealt with school internal issues.

The main issue is departmentalization. Currently all areas are housed in a single department. This centralized arrangement is a remedy for containing toxic people. In the past, each area is a department. With a small size, it can be easily hijacked and crippled by toxic few. Eliminating departments dilutes their impact. Doing so also allows oversight and peer-monitoring from other areas. This check-and-balance will ensure quality in teaching, research, hiring, and promotion.

Or so the argument goes. But such centralization has its own woes. For one, it disperses the ownership, disincentivizes people, and dilutes responsibility. When no one owns it, no one will pay attention. Accountability is all but disappear—the ideal situation for the dean. This is indeed the current state of affair. Worse, people vote on issues they have neither expertise, no incentive or interest to care. Without check and balance, power corrupts: the dean can push his agenda almost unchallenged, akin to dictatorship.

J. seems less keen on departmentalization, with good reasons. There are two groups in his area: one is big in size and wore willing to play politics; the other is small, with little interest in politics. So the former dominates. Without outside counterbalance, the smaller group will be marginalized over time. Indeed, that was their fate—they were once completely eliminated from the school.

Finance folks champion the idea. They are well trained, well paid, and well organized. More importantly, their master programs are the money cow for the school.  But they do not get along with the dean. The dean takes all the money and credit, leaving them paying all cost without any benefit. Of course they resent and vow to break away.

For other areas, either way they are doomed. So they don’t have much sympathy for departmentalization. Finance folks have a long way to go.

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Games we play, 1