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Office of the President

Salon #3:  March 6, 2014

Conversation Summary:

  1. Macro-level Discussion:
    Much discussion circulated around contemporary political economy and corporate culture:
    • Discussion of what economic systems and practices are most representative of the present, of the future, and in relation to Academe;
    • Discussion of the degree to which the university is a servant or a leader, determined by and/or critically engaged in fostering alternatives to the dominant economic model, and/or aligning itself with new, more progressive trends;
    • Discussion of whether there are significant changes in what employers want of graduates—critical thinking, creativity, disciplinary boundary-crossing, etc.—and discussion of whether such changes have been accompanied by greater participation and democratization of corporate culture; i.e. discussion of those arenas where there may be a meaningful value shift in corporations, in how they’re run, and in what graduates are expected to provide, also in relation to management culture and corporate governance;
    • Discussion of whether Google is representative: they express a desire for critical thinking, flexibility, problem-solving, creativity, exploration, ethical sophistication, and less concern for traditional, narrow, discipline-based training;
    • Discussion of whether there is an important value shift occurring in corporate culture more generally that can and should be taken better advantage of; or whether this is a short-term, opportunistic, rhetorical trend that does not exemplify a significant structural adjustment in corporate organization or practice, or, therefore, in what the university should be doing (discussion of whether Tom Freedman or Noam Chomsky have the clearer vision of this in relation to Academe).
  2. RIT-level Discussion:
    • Discussion of whether RIT tends, despite new possibilities, to remain structurally and administratively devoted to conserving a model of discipline-based, college-based training that is missing the boat;
    • Ongoing discussion of the value we should be placing on student elasticity and adaptability in relation to how variable,unpredictable, adaptive “career” structures are becoming;
    • Some skepticism, disappointment expressed at most recent spate of concept papers, their appearance of narrowness regarding conceptions of marketability, their tendency to reflect traditional disciplinary, collegiate silo structures, and older and less sustainably driven models of the future;
    • Discussion/Questioning of the present practice of concept papers going first to deans council, which may be more a reflection of and not an antidote to the problems associated with RIT’s silo structure;
    • Ongoing discussion of feelings of opacity regarding the costing models for graduate programs;
    • Consideration of what curricular/governance arrangements would best foster, initiate, facilitate innovative/cross-disciplinary/collaborative programs; concern that present arrangements neither lead and foster nor facilitate this goal successfully;
    • Discussion of the value of community, density, interactivity, of all the things that are not centered on the classroom space or classroom-based pedagogy, but are essential to the material infrastructure of the future university, to the holistic engagement of students, to the full and proper use of contemporary technology; technology is not about distancing ourselves from the physical campus, but about utilizing, integrating, and connecting it and student activities in very different ways;
    • Discussion of technologies that enhance, creatively disrupt, confirm or reorganize our conception of and use of the physical space of the university, and similarly challenge traditional focus on single-course, single-instructor pedagogies and curricular management systems as primary focus of the student educational experience;
    • Discussion of whether or how more collaborative, team-taught, cross-college curricular and course structures could be generated, leveraged, incentivized; discussion of how more collaborative practices could meet present efficiency criteria and accounting systems; discussion of whether and how such criteria and systems could and should be re-thought;
    • Discussion of future demographics, recruitment, and admissions; discussion of the degree to which student success is as much the result of whom we attract as it is the competencies our programs produce;
    • Discussion of the mutual benefits of greater interaction with, engagement with, and open conversation with RIT Trustees in the Strategic Planning process; discussion of the value of systematically expanded governance relations between Faculty and RIT Trustees.