Monday, December 06, 2004

UMKC: The More Things Change....

Well, The UMKC folks did a great job of burying Chancellor Gilliland’s “resignation” late last Friday (Classic, textbook PR work). The bad news is that Martha isn’t stepping down, as much as she is stepping aside. She will remain at UMKC as a TENURED faculty member. Her previous salary ($255,000) will take a hit, but she’ll continue to have a cushy position with the likelihood of continuing influence on the administration. We still haven’t heard whether or not she’ll have to teach a class (and if so, when?). What will be her publishing responsibilities? My money says zero.

It’s obvious that UM President Elson Floyd told Martha to be out by the end of the week. Sometime in the middle of the week she started working out a resignation packages that would serve as her golden parachute. Five years ago, then Chancellor Eleanor Schwartz received a similar sweet deal when ‘resigning’ after the neighborhood fiasco. The University paid her quiet nicely to essentially 'stay away' from campus.

In the days leading up to her resignation, news articles labeled UMKC as one of the most anonymous Universities in the country. In a way, I can’t really argue that. Despite this fear of not being visible at a national level, the new Chancellor would do the campus well to make sweeping changes to the athletics department. The all-out elimination of these wasteful NCAA Division I programs would relieve the University of a burden that’s been nothing but trouble since they converted from NAIA athletics over 15 years ago. They have been a drain on the University; a large commuter campus which has little need for the traditional pep and school spirit that collegiate athletics offers.

The KC Star’s different articles on the situation this weekend all included commentary from Golden Boy and UMKC Student Government President Geoff Gerling. He, like those before him, must feel on top of the world. His adoration for his administrative supervisors makes its way into the media on a regular basis. Three years from now he'll be right alongside his predecessors, yearning for the days of bureaucratic approval.

This ousting of a the Chancellor will most likely not serve as an agent of major change on the campus. The Star indicated that student leaders on campus (aside from Gerling) were furious about the decision. However, this notion of 'student leaders' at UMKC is very deceiving. Student apathy enables the same old recycled bunch to remain in position of leadership on the Volker Campus. These titles are often bestowed upon individuals of very little skill or talent. If you were to review the recent history of 'student leaders' on the campus you would find a host of names in SGA, APC, and other supposed student controlled bodies who would not be allowed to operate a fast food establishment....much less an administrative body elsewhere.

In actuality, a simple survey would demonstrate that the 'Roos student body doesn't even know who the Chancellor is/was, much less being able to describe the circumstances that lead to her demise.

Their has been a lot of attention paid to the fact that Martha was supported heavily by 'civic' and 'community' leaders. This is a kind way of indicating that she has the approval of the KC business elite. She has worked extensively to gain favor with them - She's been in favor with them ever since she began doing her best to transition UMKC towards a more corporate-oriented model of efficiency.

The "administrators" stand behind her for the same reason I don't call the cops on anyone in my neighborhood causing disturbance......because you tend to resist the urge to burn bridges when you know you will continue to be in close proximity to that party....

Other 'Roo News:

Four years after I talked to Angela Elam and others in the 'Comm. Studies Club' about getting something going on the web that would facilitate textbook trading (sans the University Bookstore), they've finally got something. Students could take the initiative to transform the textbook system on campus (with or without the aid of their 'student leaders').


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