Criteria conundrums


Jeremia Schrock
Feb. 22, 2011

There’s a famous little adage that goes “Power corrupts.” While I doubt few would disagree with such a statement, it deserves an addendum. Power also breeds laziness. This slothfulness is evident in two separate instances: both of which have occurred within the University of Alaska system within the past several weeks.

ASUAF removes GPA requirement

On Feb. 6, the ASUAF senate passed SB 176-005: Juneau Legislative Conference Spring 2011. Included in the bill was a clause to rescind the GPA requirement of 2.0 for individuals wishing to attend the conference in Juneau. Sen. Jesse Cervin made the motion to remove the GPA requirement citing a “low number of applicants.” It appears that desperate times do indeed call for desperate measures.

Sen. Robert Kinnard III, who voted against the bill, felt that removing the GPA requirement was tantamount to circumventing the rules. “It’s a slick way to disregard criteria,” he said.

All rules aside, what concerns me most is the message such a bill sends to not only members of the UA system, but also to legislators in the capitol. Is the quantity of students ASUAF sends to the capitol more important than the quality?

While petitioning for university rights is important, what does it say to those we go to petition? We send you not the best and brightest, but those who simply showed up.

However, and this is important, showing up is half the battle. You took the time to show up, and that reflects better on your character then a GPA ever could.

Forgiveness > Permission

On Jan. 31, UA president Patrick Gamble announced that Tom Case, (another) former general, would replace Fran Ulmer as the chancellor of UAA. According to John Petraitis, UAA faculty senate president, this announcement took him and many faculty members by surprise.

In the past, faculty members have had the opportunity to review and interview a pool of candidates before making their recommendation to the president. Instead, after meeting with an advisory board to determine just how he, as president, should proceed, he went ahead and selected Case as new chancellor. Shortly thereafter, Gamble visited the UAA campus to apologize for his quick decision. But that was all.

The issue at hand is not whether Case is the man for the job or not. By all accounts, he seems to be. The issue is whether the precedent set by Gamble is a good one. Gamble circumvented standard procedure in order to fill the position quickly. While one cannot fault him for a failure to act, the question that arises is: did he act too quickly?

I believe he did. According to Petraitis, many people on the advisory council were already in favor of making the search for a new chancellor local. Indeed, Case was one of only two people that the president really had in mind. Regardless, allowing those who are about to be lead a chance to meet their potential leader is a cornerstone of what makes the UA system as good as it is. We like knowing we have a chancellor who is out there for us, someone who owes his or her job to us.

For Gamble and his methods to be seen as a success, Case’s performance has to be nothing short of stellar. If Case proves to be the Hercules of UAA, Gamble will look like the greatest of talent scouts. If Case errs, there is a good chance that Gamble will look like a malevolent reactionary: an emperor naming his favorite horse to the position of consul.

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