Calling out the MnSCU Board of Trustees

 

 

Readers Write (Dec. 15) 

MNSCU PLAN

Involve all parties, and the work will progress

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor Steven Rosenstone and the MnSCU board of trustees seem to believe that they have a monopoly on the idea of “change.” MnSCU overlooks that 8,000 faculty members are perpetually making changes on their campuses to ensure that Minnesota students receive an excellent, accessible and affordable higher education.

No one is out to destroy MnSCU or its strategic plan, Charting the Future. However, the plan’s top-down and centralized approach to change allows little autonomy for the diversity of local campuses and communities. What critics are demanding is that the plan’s implementation process becomes less administrator-centric and more inclusive of those who are on the front lines of teaching and learning.

The chancellor cannot implement anything without significant buy-in from students, faculty and staff. As witnessed for two months, many of those constituents are not buying what he is selling.

Perhaps it is time for MnSCU to rethink its position. Its leaders should not read resistance to the current autocratic process as indiscriminate resistance to all change.

A potential compromise has been on the table for nine months. A coalition of MnSCU unions and the four-year student association resubmitted that more equitable process again in August. The chancellor has refused to share power with students and faculty.

Trustees, the ball is in your court.

Monte Bute, Woodbury

The writer is a professor at Metropolitan State University.

For those who despair on this day of Thanksgiving, observations from Camus

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.”  ― Albert Camus

 “But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”  ― Albert Camus

 “For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.”  ― Albert Camus

“…the habit of despair is worse than despair itself.”  ― Albert Camus

“I continue to believe that this world has no ultimate meaning. But I know that something in it has a meaning and that is man, because he is the only creature to insist on having one”  ― Albert Camus

“Find meaning. Distinguish melancholy from sadness. Go out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a romantic walk in the park, spring at its most spectacular moment, flowers and smells and outstanding poetical imagery smoothly transferring you into another world. It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter. Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.” ― Albert Camus,

 

LOOK OUT! McKinsey & Co. is coming to a campus near you

 

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

October 24, 2014

Tensions Between Faculty Members and Consultants Come to a Head in Minnesota

By Peter Schmidt

In the latest of several recent rebellions by faculty members around the nation against consultant-guided college-reorganization efforts, the two unions representing faculty members in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system have disavowed further involvement in an academic reorganization under way there.

Citing suspicions of administrative secrecy aroused by the system’s initially undisclosed hiring of McKinsey & Company, a prominent consulting firm, the leadership of the two unions voted unanimously on Thursday to tell the system’s chancellor, Steven J. Rosenstone, that the unions would no longer participate in the planning of Charting the Future, a systemwide reorganization effort.

A letter that the two unions’ presidents subsequently sent to Chancellor Rosenstone emphasizes that they have no objection to the proposed changes in the system, which were brought forth as part of an effort to improve access, affordability, and educational quality. Instead, the letter says, the unions continue to have “concerns about trust and transparency in the process” of planning the reorganization that, they have concluded, will not be resolved through their continued participation by holding two of up to 18 seats on each campus’s reorganization-planning teams.

“We are, therefore, declining to participate further in the Charting the Future process,” says the letter from Jim Grabowska, president of the Inter Faculty Organization, which represents faculty members at four-year universities, and Kevin Lindstrom, president of the Minnesota State College Faculty, which represents faculty members at two-year institutions.

The Minnesota flap is hardly the first in which the use of consultants by higher-education leaders has drawn faculty suspicions. McKinsey’s involvement attracted suspicions in an academic-reorganization effort at Columbia University two years ago, as reported in Capital, an online publication about New York politics.

Faculty members at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Texas at Austin complained about a lack of information in pushing back against an administrative-reorganization effort being guided by Accenture. Other consultants, such as Deloitte and Academic Strategy Partners, have similarly been criticized for their work at other colleges.

Transparency Concerns

In an email sent to the Minnesota system’s students, faculty, and staff on Thursday in response to rumors of the pending union vote, Mr. Rosenstone acknowledged that “some things could have been handled differently and some handled better” in the planning process. But he denied assertions that anyone had been denied adequate representation in the planning process, and said the process must continue, given its expected benefits.

“While the heads of the unions may have made the regrettable decision to walk away from the table, their seats will be there for them whenever they decide to return,” Mr. Rosenstone’s email said.

Although the union presidents’ letter to Mr. Rosenstone broadly protests their perception that they had not had enough voice in the planning process, much of it focuses on concerns stemming from the revelation last July that the system had given McKinsey at $2-million contract to help plan the effort. Later it was learned that McKinsey had been involved in the planning, on an unpaid basis, from its beginnings two years ago.

When union officials sought a copy of the contract given to McKinsey, the system provided them with a version that was heavily redacted at McKinsey’s request, saying the system needed to respect the firm’s desire to protect trade secrets. The system subsequently offered to let university officials see the full contract in private, on the condition it not be relayed elsewhere, but they refused to view it under such a restriction.

A McKinsey spokesman on Friday declined to comment, saying the firm had a longstanding policy of not commenting on its work with clients.

“McKinsey made the decision of what to redact, but then we had to support that,” Kim Olson, the system’s chief marketing and communications officer, said on Thursday. “They redacted their own trade secrets, and we did not fight that.”

In explaining the firm’s involvement in the effort, she said, “We have never done anything like this before, so we asked McKinsey for advice.” The firm’s recommendations, she said, did not deal with the substantive ideas to emerge from the planning process but with the structure of the process itself.

Outsiders’ Perspective

Jordan E. Kurland, associate general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, said his organization often heard from faculty members about outside consulting firms as threats to the shared governance of their institutions. The firms get accused of being “outside influences interfering, allegedly, with decisions by people involved with the institution,” and the backlash against their involvement is especially intense if administrators present decisions based on consultants’ advice as faits accomplis.

Among recent developments, as reported by the Associated Press, employees of the University of Northern Iowa have expressed frustration over their inability to obtain information from Deloitte Consulting about its proposals for an administrative reorganization of that state’s public universities. And the AAUP is investigating whether Felician College, a Roman Catholic institution in New Jersey, violated the rights of faculty members laid off this year at the advice of Academic Strategy Partners.

Steven C. Ward, a professor of sociology at Western Connecticut State University and the author of Neoliberalism and the Global Restructuring of Knowledge and Education, argued on Friday that faculty members’ suspicions of private consulting firms’ involvement in college affairs are “very founded.”

Such firms “are brought in as leverage,” he said. “They give this appearance of objective outside advice to various boards, and those boards can use that advice to leverage the sort of change they are trying to accomplish.”

Generally, Mr. Ward said, such firms give advice based on their experience advising the management of businesses, with their emphasis on efficiency, productivity, and other concerns related to increasing profits. Often, he said, the outcome is big cuts in spending on personnel or programs that “are destroying what public universities should be about.”

“It is generic managerial advice applied to public institutions,” Mr. Ward said, “and you can make the case that public institutions should not be run that way.”

But Dan Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, argued on Friday that Minnesota’s state-colleges system, which belongs to his organization, should be applauded for turning to a national firm for advice on navigating the profoundly changing higher-education landscape. He said the $2-million that the system had paid to McKinsey almost certainly will amount to a small fraction of the system’s long-term spending on reorganization, and is likely to bring “a positive return on investment” if it helps the system chart the right course.

 

Expanding your horizons beyond sociology: My list of edifying books for hungry minds

Too few academics read widely outside their discipline. In truth, they often read little outside their specialty. Sociologists are no exception. Ironically, it is the human condition, in its most expansive understanding, that grounds our work as sociologists. This list of novels, essays, plays, and poems are some of the works that have provided meaning for my intellectual journey. I promise that they are works of substance, and that they will challenge you as they have challenged me. This list, and others like it, make us more fully human, humanistic sociologists, so to speak. The list is not static; what I list today has changed since yesterday and, hopefully, it will be transformed by tomorrow. That should be the story of the life your own mind.

The Castle, Kafka

Gilead, Marilynne Robinson

The Plague, Camus

Rules for Radicals, Alinsky

Inferno, Dante

A Pen Warmed up in Hell, Twain

Fierce Attachments, Gornick

Invisible Man, Ellison

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Wolfe

The Death of Ivan Ilyich & Other Stories, Tolstoy (Pervear & Voloshonsky translation)

Baudelaire: Poems, Baudelaire

Tao Te Ching, Lao-tzu

Selection from the Essays, Montaigne

The White Album, Didion

Three Plays, Wilson

From Dictatorship to Democracy, Sharp

Moby Dick, Melville

The Communist Manifesto, Marx

The Hamlet, Faulkner

Tell Me a Riddle, Olsen

Julius Ceasar, Shakespeare

The Wisdom Books [of the Bible], Alter

Escape From Freedom, Fromm

All the King’s Men, Warren

Talking into the Ear of a Donkey, Bly

On Liberty, Mill

Cat’s Cradle, Vonnegut

Learning to Drive, Pollitt

Three Plays, Wilder

The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha, Burtt

Plath: Poems, Plath

A Gathering of Old Men, Gaines

Angels in America, Kushner

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery

Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell

Ecce Homo, Nietzsche

Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas, Thompson

Absalom, Absalom!, Faulkner

Hughes: Poems, Hughes

Three Plays, Chekhov

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, McCullers

Hunger of Memory, Rodriguez

The Long Haul, Horton

The Vintage Sacks. Sacks

Blood Meridan, McCarthy

Faust Part I, Goethe

Notes of a Native Son, Son Baldwin

My Antonia, Cather

The Heart of William James, Richardson

John Berryman Selected Poems, Berryman

Selected Stories of Anton Checkhov, Pervear & Voloshonsky translation

Waiting for Godot, Beckett

Open Letters, Havel

Rimbaud: Poems, Rimbaud

Borderlands, Anzaldua

The Courage to Teach, Palmer

Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut

Macbeth, Shakespeare

The Search for Meaning, Frankl

Six American Poets, Conarroe

Collected Works, O’Connor

Under the Glacier, Laxness

Howl, Ginsberg

Arthur Miller: Collected Plays 1944-1961, Kushner

The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck

Darkwater, Du Bois

Montaigne’s Essays

Black Feminist Thought, Hill Collins

Facing Unpleasant Facts, Orwell

Philip Larkin Poems, Amis

The Road, McCarthy

Socrates, Buddha, Confucius and Jesus, Jaspers

Crises of the Republic, Arendt

In Dubious Battle, Steinbeck

The Coast of Utopia, Stoppard

Frost: PoemsHollander

Drawing the Line Once Again, Goodman

Plainsong, Haruf

The Rebel, Camus

The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, Niebuhr

 

Faculty revolt in Minnesota spreads from campus to campus

MnSCU chancellor under fire from faculty

  • Article by: EMMA NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 31, 2014 – 8:10 PM

Faculty leaders at the college system’s 3 largest 4-year schools have voted “no confidence.”

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Faculty leaders at the three largest four-year schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system have voted “no confidence” in the system’s chancellor, spurred by what they say is a lack of transparency and poor oversight of the 31-school system.

The faculty association at Minnesota State University, Mankato was the most recent to jump on board, with a unanimous vote of no confidence against Chancellor Steven Rosenstone on Thursday. Similar votes took place in recent weeks at Winona State and St. Cloud State universities. The three schools represent more than half of MnSCU’s students and faculty.

“The Faculty Association hopes that its action will encourage the MnSCU Board of Trustees to take a greater role in oversight … and redirect the Chancellor to more open and participatory leadership,” an MSU Mankato faculty association statement said Friday.

Faculty leaders have expressed particular concern over Rosenstone’s handling of Charting the Future, a long-term plan to reform the MnSCU system. Two faculty unions pulled out of the planning process last week, citing transparency concerns.

MSU Mankato Faculty Association President Mary Visser said faculty agree with the plan’s tenets — things such as increasing affordability and access for students. What they don’t agree with, she said, is how the planning process is unfolding.

“They listen to us because they have to, and then they do whatever it is they want,” she said. “And it’s not always, in our minds, in the best interest of the students, of our institution, of MnSCU as a whole.”

The faculty association statement called Rosenstone’s management decisions “secretive, non-inclusionary and damaging,” pointing out specific examples such as money spent on an outside contractor for Charting the Future.

“He spent $2 million on consultants while the state campuses were suffering crippling budget shortfalls and struggling with declining enrollment,” the faculty statement said.

Rosenstone declined to comment Friday. MnSCU issued a statement Thursday pointing to strong attendance at recent Charting the Future feedback sessions, called “Gallery Walks.”

“The initial success of the Gallery Walks is in contrast to recent university faculty votes of ‘no confidence,’ ” the statement said.

Larger concerns

Though Charting the Future is a big concern, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Faculty say they’ve struggled with Rosenstone’s leadership since he started in the fall of 2011.

“These concerns have been building, and they’ve existed for quite a while,” said Inter Faculty Organization President Jim Grabowska.

Shortly after Rosenstone’s arrival, he froze money that faculty use for professional development, such as attending conferences.

“That was something that didn’t have to happen. It’s not something that normally happened,” Visser said. “Right off the bat, it was like, ‘OK, what’s going on here? Is this person going to be in support of the faculty, or what?’ ”

In late spring, faculty members put together a “Bill of Particulars” listing issues ranging from a lack of opportunity for input on major decisions to how Rosenstone represents MnSCU at the state Legislature.

Still, faculty say, they haven’t gotten much response from the chancellor beyond official statements.

“What we really need is some serious conversation,” Grabowska said.

Fac

Chronicle of Higher Education focuses national attention on revolt by Minnesota faculty unions

 
October 24, 2014
Tensions Between Faculty Members and Consultants Come to a Head in Minn.
By Peter Schmidt
In the latest of several recent rebellions by faculty members around the nation against consultant-guided college-reorganization efforts, the two unions representing faculty members in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system have disavowed further involvement in an academic reorganization under way there.
Citing suspicions of administrative secrecy aroused by the system’s initially undisclosed hiring of McKinsey & Company, a prominent consulting firm, the leadership of the two unions voted unanimously on Thursday to tell the system’s chancellor, Steven J. Rosenstone, that the unions would no longer participate in the planning of Charting the Future, a systemwide reorganization effort.
A letter that the two unions’ presidents subsequently sent to Chancellor Rosenstone emphasizes that they have no objection to the proposed changes in the system, which were brought forth as part of an effort to improve access, affordability, and educational quality. Instead, the letter says, the unions continue to have “concerns about trust and transparency in the process” of planning the reorganization that, they have concluded, will not be resolved through their continued participation by holding two of up to 18 seats on each campus’s reorganization-planning teams.
“We are, therefore, declining to participate further in the Charting the Future process,” says the letter from Jim Grabowska, president of the Inter Faculty Organization, which represents faculty members at four-year universities, and Kevin Lindstrom, president of the Minnesota State College Faculty, which represents faculty members at two-year institutions.
The Minnesota flap is hardly the first in which the use of consultants by higher-education leaders has drawn faculty suspicions. McKinsey’s involvement attracted suspicions in an academic-reorganization effort at Columbia University two years ago, as reported in Capital, an online publication about New York politics.
Faculty members at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Texas at Austin complained about a lack of information in pushing back against an administrative-reorganization effort being guided by Accenture. Other consultants, such as Deloitte and Academic Strategy Partners, have similarly been criticized for their work at other colleges.
Transparency Concerns
In an email sent to the Minnesota system’s students, faculty, and staff on Thursday in response to rumors of the pending union vote, Mr. Rosenstone acknowledged that “some things could have been handled differently and some handled better” in the planning process. But he denied assertions that anyone had been denied adequate representation in the planning process, and said the process must continue, given its expected benefits.
“While the heads of the unions may have made the regrettable decision to walk away from the table, their seats will be there for them whenever they decide to return,” Mr. Rosenstone’s email said.
Although the union presidents’ letter to Mr. Rosenstone broadly protests their perception that they had not had enough voice in the planning process, much of it focuses on concerns stemming from the revelation last July that the system had given McKinsey at $2-million contract to help plan the effort. Later it was learned that McKinsey had been involved in the planning, on an unpaid basis, from its beginnings two years ago.
When union officials sought a copy of the contract given to McKinsey, the system provided them with a version that was heavily redacted at McKinsey’s request, saying the system needed to respect the firm’s desire to protect trade secrets. The system subsequently offered to let university officials see the full contract in private, on the condition it not be relayed elsewhere, but they refused to view it under such a restriction.
A McKinsey spokesman on Friday declined to comment, saying the firm had a longstanding policy of not commenting on its work with clients.
“McKinsey made the decision of what to redact, but then we had to support that,” Kim Olson, the system’s chief marketing and communications officer, said on Thursday. “They redacted their own trade secrets, and we did not fight that.”
In explaining the firm’s involvement in the effort, she said, “We have never done anything like this before, so we asked McKinsey for advice.” The firm’s recommendations, she said, did not deal with the substantive ideas to emerge from the planning process but with the structure of the process itself.
Outsiders’ Perspective
Jordan E. Kurland, associate general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, said his organization often heard from faculty members about outside consulting firms as threats to the shared governance of their institutions. The firms get accused of being “outside influences interfering, allegedly, with decisions by people involved with the institution,” and the backlash against their involvement is especially intense if administrators present decisions based on consultants’ advice as faits accomplis.
Among recent developments, as reported by the Associated Press, employees of the University of Northern Iowa have expressed frustration over their inability to obtain information from Deloitte Consulting about its proposals for an administrative reorganization of that state’s public universities. And the AAUP is investigating whether Felician College, a Roman Catholic institution in New Jersey, violated the rights of faculty members laid off this year at the advice of Academic Strategy Partners.
Steven C. Ward, a professor of sociology at Western Connecticut State University and the author of Neoliberalism and the Global Restructuring of Knowledge and Education, argued on Friday that faculty members’ suspicions of private consulting firms’ involvement in college affairs are “very founded.”
Such firms “are brought in as leverage,” he said. “They give this appearance of objective outside advice to various boards, and those boards can use that advice to leverage the sort of change they are trying to accomplish.”
Generally, Mr. Ward said, such firms give advice based on their experience advising the management of businesses, with their emphasis on efficiency, productivity, and other concerns related to increasing profits. Often, he said, the outcome is big cuts in spending on personnel or programs that “are destroying what public universities should be about.”
“It is generic managerial advice applied to public institutions,” Mr. Ward said, “and you can make the case that public institutions should not be run that way.”
But Dan Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, argued on Friday that Minnesota’s state-colleges system, which belongs to his organization, should be applauded for turning to a national firm for advice on navigating the profoundly changing higher-education landscape. He said the $2-million that the system had paid to McKinsey almost certainly will amount to a small fraction of the system’s long-term spending on reorganization, and is likely to bring “a positive return on investment” if it helps the system chart the right course.

How am I going to work this into a discussion of Weber in theory tonight?

A classic bear tale that did not end well, for the bear or me.

 

I’ve been procrastinating for over a year about getting rid of my 140,000-mile car. No more. On the way home from the cabin last night, I hit a large bear, head-on at a high speed.

l’m fortunate to be alive.The airbag did not work. The impact was so powerful that it crushed the entire front of the car. Even worse, the crash left the car on the center line, everything dead–no lights, frozen in park, and cars whizzing by at 70 mph on a two-lane country highway. Two cars nearly hit me, and I had to direct traffic with a flashlight for 15 minutes until a highway cop showed up.

The bear crawled off without the use of his right legs. A deputy and highway patrolman hunted in the woods for a half hour to put it down, but to no avail.

Bonnie had to pick me up in Pine City at midnight. Now the insanity of insurance companies, rental cars, hunting for a new vehicle–nevertheless, I’m alive but must have used up the 7th or 8th life last night.

I felt worse for the bear than myself. The highway patrolman kept asking, “Are you sure you’re not hurt? It’s a wonder you’re not dead.”

Labor Day wake up call: How unionized faculties can determine their own futures

logo

This union went toe-to-toe with one of nation’s largest higher education systems. The chronology gives you a sense of what a faculty union can accomplish in this era when most just wring their hands and despair. The future is not fait accompli–Carpe diem!

The Union Makes Us Strong: Selected IFO media highlights over the past 11 months in chronological order.

http://blogs.mprnews.org/oncampus/2014/04/faculty-to-mnscu-chancellor-overhaul-teams-have-too-many-admins/http://www.twincities.com/Opinion/PP%20Editorials/ci_25936698/Pioneer-Press-editorial:-Chancellor-pushing-MnSCU-forward

http://www.twincities.com/News/ci_25929089/MnSCU-boss-target-of-faculty-union

Remembering Myles Horton: A man who left academic sociology behind in order to change society

Today, I recall one of my mentors and an inspiration for my life’s work–Myles Horton and his Highlander Folk School. His spirit lives on, lighting the way along whatever back roads we travel to overcoming injustice and inequality.

Even though movement leader James Bevel called Myles “the father of the civil rights movement,” he remains as little known today as he was during his own life and times. For those of you unfamiliar with Horton, he founded Highlander, and among its thousands of students were Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Andrew Young, Ella Baker, and John Lewis.

Myles grew up a Tennessee country boy, Scotch-Irish and poor.  He eventually ended up at Union Theological Seminary, where he studied with Reinhold Niebuhr, a powerful advocate of the Social Gospel movement. Horton eventually realized he was more interested in sociology than theology and headed off to the University of Chicago. In graduate school, he became a student of Robert Park, who impressed upon him the power of collective action and need for creative conflict. He also got to know Jane Addams and her work at Hull House, an adult education center for immigrants in that city.

During that era, He learned about Danish folk schools. He raised enough money to travel to Denmark, dropping out of graduate school, never to return. When he got back from Denmark, he went to see Niebuhr, who raised money for Myles to start the Highlander Folk School, in the highlands of East Tennessee in 1932. The rest is history. This video shows what happened when a sociology student left graduate school at the University of Chicago and begin to practice public sociology, not as an avocation but as a calling.

 

Estranged from the ASA? My experience 20 years ago as a resident alien

Footnotes Logo

February 2004

Let 50 Flowers Bloom

by Monte Bute, Metropolitan State University, Minnesota

I attended my first meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in 1994. I went to Los Angeles as a middle-aged outsider, hoping to gain a little disciplinary knowledge from the natives. For five days, I was mesmerized by phenomena that were not listed in the official program—a perpetual display of Goffmanesque rituals of deference and demeanor.

These customs are by no means limited to this tribe of sociologists. All academic disciplines are defined by what Robert K. Merton called their manifest functions. The obvious and intended function of scholarship is the production and dissemination of knowledge. These professional practices also have what Merton identified as latent functions, consequences that are unintended and frequently unrecognized. The scholarly enterprise has one latent function that dares not speak its name—status stratification.

The professional culture and reward structure of our discipline have evolved gradually over the past half century and are now so much the taken-for-granted-reality that most sociologists are oblivious to their functions. Ralph Linton once observed that the last thing a fish in the depths of the sea would discover is water. The late Stanley L. Saxton was a particularly perceptive denizen of the deep. In A Critique of Contemporary American Sociology (1993), he noted, “The conditions of work for a small but powerful minority of sociologists at research universities need not and should not imprint the whole discipline” (p. 247). Unfortunately, they do. The practices of this disciplinary elite have produced a stratification system for both individuals and institutions within the profession of sociology.

Those who believe that the existing academic labor market is a meritocracy might well challenge my central assertion. Defenders of the status quo do not lament this latent function of status stratification. In fact, they claim that whatever prestige is bestowed upon these luminaries is richly deserved. What fairer system could be devised for the manifest function of knowledge creation than one that rewards “the best and the brightest”? In addition, I might well be accused of sour grapes. What am I but a provincial from the periphery who has failed to measure up?

It is not so much the reward structure that I question but rather how this social order manages to perpetuate itself. I question that an oligarchy of sociology departments at research universities holds sovereignty over the entire discipline. How does this occur? Let me give you just one example.

ASA is the premier professional association for the discipline. All ASA officers for 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 come from schools belonging to the Carnegie Foundation’s most selective category of research universities. Only 150 of nearly 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States are included in this exclusive club. With just a couple of exceptions, the members-at-large on ASA’s Council for those two years also possess this rare pedigree.

Defenders of the status quo will argue that these leaders won competitive elections. True, but if we examine the Committee on Nominations for those two elections we would find that those doing the nominating are disproportionately affiliated with the same elite institutions as those whom they nominate. A similar analysis of the Publications Committee speaks volumes as to why all the current editors of ASA journals are also from Carnegie’s most restrictive list of research universities.

The manner in which this disciplinary elite defines and privileges a certain type of scholarship—and the “conditions of work” that it entails—is the linchpin of supremacy. The old bromide about how one gets tenure now holds true for promotion, external professional recognition, and even superstar status: publish, publish, publish. The highest rank accrues to those doing esoteric research, with subsequent authorship in prestigious journals and academic publishing houses. This “gold standard” diminishes other types of scholarship, reduces teaching and service to second-rate activities, and reproduces a regime of status stratification within the discipline. If most rank-and-file sociologists continue without question to concede this criterion, it only serves to legitimize the oligarchy’s dynastic succession.

An outsider to the disciplinary canon, Alfred Schutz, developed a sociology of knowledge that poses an alternative to this elitist paradigm of practice. He distinguished between scholarship aimed at the “expert” and scholarship directed to the “well-informed citizen.” American sociologists once saw the well-informed citizen as their primary audience. Conversely, the disciplinary elite today sees fellow experts as their only audience.

How do we restore sovereignty to that large majority of sociologists who toil under a more populist paradigm of practice but remain second-class citizens within the profession? The state professional association is one important venue. As an apprentice to the craft, I found congenial homes, first in Sociologists of Minnesota (SOM), and later in the National Council of State Sociological Associations (NCSSA).

I was welcomed by colleagues who refused to be constrained by the “expert” model but were engaged in scholarships of integration, application, and teaching. I was mentored by master teachers who prided themselves in conducting three to five sections of undergraduate classes each semester, devoted to developing a sociological perspective in students who may never take another course in the discipline. These folks practiced service the old-fashioned way; a “good citizen” took on those often-thankless tasks on campus and in the community that needed doing.

I am only saying aloud what has long been whispered. The intent of this essay is to initiate a conversation, a dialogue of equals. Sociology’s latent function not only divides us but also hinders our ability to engage wider audiences—we need to practice what we preach. We invite more of our research university colleagues to join us in state organizations, just as we have joined you in the ASA. Our local associations and practices might, once again, make our discipline relevant to the well-informed citizen. Let 50 flowers bloom.