Friday, January 28, 2011

A word of advice

The problem with advice, whether solicited or unsolicited, is not taking it and incurring the wrath of the giver. The ongoing saga of the university's appointments, which were contrary to the advice of a volunteer selection committee, is a pure example of this scenario.

When governing boards solicit input, it is exactly that - input. The Board did not abdicate its responsibility to the committee, it simply asked for advice which would be considered as part of the board's decision making process.

I have sat on many selection committees and invariably a dominant committee member takes over and pushes his or her agenda. This is not a good or bad thing - it simply is how it works. I have also sat on boards that have not taken a committee's advice and then endured the wrath along with the accusation that the board members "did not hear and/0r listen." In fact board members do hear and listen, but when factoring in other considerations sometimes come to a different conclusion.

One of the best examples of unheeded advice was a past city council decision regarding the Gathercole. The city's Heritage Advisory Board advised against demolition of the Gathercole. That committee too felt it hadn't been heard because that advice was not followed. In reality there were a whole lot of other voices speaking and council heard them all and then made a decision. Not everyone was happy.

If the faculty association is so unhappy with the board's it should spend its time changing the board rather than ranting on about the "elite" members that are doing their jobs.


  1. Isn't taking advice from the Heritage society like taking eating tips from PETA? Or driving lessons from a 6 yr old?

    The immature run to the media profs and bureaucrats are simply looking for a little bit of free press. The inevitable selection was MacKinnon's preferred choice the entire time, was recommended from other sources and FINALLY gives U of S a national bit of profile....which is exactly what the U of S needs. Now is not the time to simply promote from within to fill the spot, there was an exceptionally qualified nationally known candidate who will give the fledging law school some much needed national 'street cred'. But the same old dinosaurs that volunteered their opinions just want their preferred in house choice.

    It's such a non point. Did I also really hear Ron Fritz quoted on this? Wasn't he forced to retire?

  2. Mistress, it appears you are basing your judgement on your previous experiences.
    Is it not possible that, in this instance,the process was flawed? Could it be the Board of Govs has become too cozy with the admin. and merely rubber stamped their selection with little regard for the recruitment committee's recommendations? Management co opting boards is a problem in many organizations.
    When managment/board request a committee be struck to recruit, screen and make recommendations to the board those recommendations should be adhered to unless they have very solid reasons for doing otherwise. If not, the process is a mere sham and speaks volumes about the Governance processes of that organization.

  3. I agree entirely with you Mistress. Although the one point that seems to missed in this, is the new dean - Sanjeev Anand - happens to be Peter MacKinnon's son's thesis advisor. Regardless of whether it is true - perception is reality - and it seems like MacKinnon is abusing his authority to ensure his son's receives a passing grade to get his degree. MacKinnon is in a clear conflict of interest here - and should have declared such - and my respect for him is severely diminished because of this.

  4. Anon 12:18

    Perception is not reality -- it only appears to be reality if no other facts come into play. The idea that MacKinnon would risk the reputation of his office and his university to ensure his son's graduation would be laughable if it weren't so disgusting.

    I agree with the Mistress. Why even give the Board a vote if they have to agree with the nomination committee?

    The committee did their job, and the Board theirs.

  5. Reality or perception really don't matter at this point - MacKinnon is in a conflict of interest and should have declared such. Disappointing.


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