Cookies. I’m trying to figure out what’s next on my list but am having a hard time figuring what is next — ah, yes, the adjournment motion and the second and vote. Perhaps the best way of saying this is to record this conversation I had with Kris on my way home yesterday after our Faculty Meeting. We were both on our new cell phones:
Kris: “How was your Faculty Meeting?”
Scot: “Total chaos.”
If ever the Genesis 1:2 tohu va-bohu has crept back into the order of humans it has to be in committee and faculty meetings. End of the year meetings, to begin with, can become intense because we have to approve graduates and some issues need to be dealt with — and we’ve got to get them done or folks don’t graduate and we don’t get to leave for the year.
Yesterday we had a major faculty initiative proposed, and it came with plenty of forethought and planning and thinking, but whenever you present a new idea to faculties they get to thinking — and that is what we do best — and the best thing for committee meetings, in my estimation, is non-thinking, genial, discursive sorts. Well, we are not always that way: and yesterday was a good example.
We beat the proposal up a bit, adjusted it to the new light, then upon further refraction, readjusted it, and then we had to vote on some amendments to it, and then we couldn’t always figure out if we were talking about the amendment or the proposal, and some of us don’t know the difference (yours truly) and some don’t really care (yours truly) since all that matters is that we discuss our way through the issue. We did this for about 50 minutes, and then one of our veterans, who always has words of caution and care about new proposals, suggested that we weren’t really ready — which, as it turns out, we weren’t. And all at once, 50 minutes were gone and we had gotten ourselves no further down the path than when we began.
Here’s my theory: make a proposal, move the thing and second it immediately, and then just vote. 99% of the time the immediate vote will be the same as the vote after 50 minutes of conversation and debate. Someone wrote a book called Blink that basically proves that point.
So, what do I like about the meetings? Cookies.
Allan Bloom once said that he could think of nothing good that came of the 60s, suggesting obviously that whatever good came out of there would have been there anyway; I say the same for Faculty Meetings. My suggestion: instead, encourage two departments to get together and discuss something interesting — like Quintillian’s theory of education. Save us, O Lord, from the perfunctory Faculty Meeting — and soon.