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Dean Finnegan Does His Jaws Act


From the Daily:

Once in a while, the University of Minnesota has the opportunity to do something really bold, to lead the pack of public research universities.

[You mean like have a decent COI policy in the medical school?]

That time has potentially arrived with the effort to restructure graduate education, if we don’t allow ourselves to get mired in “process” questions at the expense of “substance” questions. Too often, at Minnesota, we avoid the substance questions and spend an inordinate amount of time snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

[Gee, Dean Finnegan, would you like to give a couple of examples of exactly what you are talking about?]

Something is getting lost in the discussion over restructuring graduate education at the University, and I believe it is the substance question. Let’s be clear that a large, centralized graduate school is not the only way to accomplish the goal of excellence in graduate education. MIT doesn’t think so. Stanford doesn’t think so. The University of Pennsylvania doesn’t think so. The University of Chicago doesn’t think so. These are just a few of the major universities that have managed to keep their excellence high and I would daresay exceed Minnesota in a number of graduate education fields. So let’s be clear at the outset that there is no single way to build or to assure excellence in graduate education.

[Your models are wrong here, Dean Finnegan. Do you have any idea why?]

Models that have worked well for a century are not necessarily the best or most cost-effective models for the future. The time is here for Minnesota to take the next steps toward envisioning and organizing vibrant, innovative, high-quality graduate programs that are responsive to changing field and market conditions and that empower college faculty and deans to be responsible and accountable to make them so. [A finer example of adminspeak, I've not seen since, er, Provost Sullivan's stuff.] For once, let’s have the substance discussion and try snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

[Maybe we could try out a little ethical behavior first, Dean Finnegan. And a little faculty governance? But I guess that is just too trivial a matter for a high roller like you.]

John Finnegan

Dean, School of Public Health

Dr. Finnegan is well aware, or should be, that MIT, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford are small, private, institutions. Their model may not be appropriate for a large, land grant university in the Big Ten.

How many Big Ten universities are following the model you espouse Dean Finnegan?

And about process. We didn't just fall off the turnip truck. OurProvost is a lawyer; process is important. Have you ever heard of the concept of "due process." For heaven's sake, let's not get mired in "process" issues. Let's just lynch those criminals...

Oh and by the way, what is the status of the double-dipping faculty members at the U of M? Are we still waiting for Georgia Tech to do something, or are we just going to hope that if we wait long enough, the problem will blow over? Is this another unimportant process issue?

Perhaps you should worry about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory yourself, Dean Finnegan? How about standing up and doing the right thing on the double-dippers?

Bill Gleason

[for more on the Sainfort-Jacko debacle and Finnegan's involvement in it, please see: U Admin: Sainfort, Jacko Being Treated Unfairly? ]

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