Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Magic of Deliverology

This ran as a Letter to the Editor in the [Cal] Poly Post 2/16/10 issue on p. 11.

By Dennis Loo, Professor of Sociology

The CSU administration wants to accelerate graduation rates - through the magic of Deliverology – while also reducing faculty, programs, and class offerings. This makes as much sense as a ship’s captain ordering his ship to go faster when the boat is already in danger of sinking.

When faculty asked Provost denBoer why he’s cutting academic services most and administration not at all, he said “regulatory requirements” protect administrative ranks. When asked to explain, he said that they have to report to the government the size and pay of administrators, and the government has yet to complain. An inventive tale, I’ll give him that.

You don’t pay outside consultants like Michael “Deliverology” Barber to tell you about teaching in a time of fiscal crisis when you have twenty-three CSU campuses full of teachers who can tell you what’s needed. You don’t oppose increased funding of the CSU - via AB 656 taxing the oil companies - because you don’t like that the bill mandates increased monies be spent on instruction only.

In 2005 and 2006 I was faculty chair of the Academic Quality and Support Subcommittee of the Enrollment Management Advisory Council. I played a leading role in creating a survey in which we attempted to determine what was standing in the way of students' graduation.

Our survey showed that students’ two most often-cited reasons for delaying graduation were both related to the fact that they couldn't get the courses that they needed. Several of the other people within EMAC were convinced, despite what the survey said, that the main reason was that students were frittering away their time and taking courses they didn't need or refusing to take courses because they didn’t want to inconvenience their schedule. The problem, according to our administration, is the students.

A hint of the real agenda at work behind the administration’s attempt to impose “Deliverology” is their talk of loosening up graduation requirements. They want, in other words, to make a degree easier to get – and therefore less valuable. Deliverology treats education as if teaching and learning could be reduced to the assembly production of widgets. Education isn’t something you can just deliver. It is, and has always been, a relationship between human beings, between mentor and mentee. It is something that requires effort to attain. It’s not something that you can package, reproduce like Xerox, and sell to the highest bidder. Yet this is what Chancellor Reed and his loyal lieutenants believe – to them, education is simply a business, the cheaper, the better. Education isn’t a business, it’s a public good and it is under unprecedented assault.

March 4th is a day of action to stand up for higher education and to oppose the elimination of programs and the wrong-headed approach to education that the administration represents. Go to and to learn more.

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