Purple Line on campus: “Get used to it”

by on Mar.06, 2014, under Leadership

The Diamondflack is starting to roll out Main Admin’s spin on upcoming construction changes due to the Purple Line. The messaging starts early, so they must know it is going to be bad. The article also overlooks little details like, the iconic M circle will need to be ripped out. But as the author suggests, they need to ease the public in on effects of President Loh’s political dealsmanship.

Our nomination for best inadvertent telling of the awkward truth: “University departments are just starting to be informed about the renovations. Department of Transportation Services Director David Allen said the department does not have enough information to know what changes it will have to make to its services.” (Yup – what better demonstration of how little shared governance we have here than decisions roll forth while campus stakeholders aren’t even told, much less consulted, about impact. This is indeed a 100% Wallace Loh affair.)

Then there is: “Greater access to public transportation could cut down on vehicle traffic, which is in line with this university‚Äôs sustainability efforts, … and might improve conditions for pedestrians around the campus.” And maybe someday our unicorns will fly. The models don’t project volume reduction because that isn’t the goal – in the best case scenario, they will hit the mark of increasing capacity at not much worse than the present level of congestion. Anyone who thinks otherwise should study the fine print very carefully.

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Latest Closures on Route 1

by on Mar.05, 2014, under Campus Life

Tracking the continued pattern of restaurant turnovers on Route 1, we observe that the Maryland Smokehouse is the latest victim. No explanation…. just locked doors and cleaned out interior.

What does this bring the number of failed businesses along Route 1 to? 6? 8? They come and go so quickly it’s hard to keep track.

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Delayed opening on campus for Tuesday

by on Mar.03, 2014, under Leadership

… but area schools and many local governments are going out for the whole day. Whatever the merits of trying to keep business going here, being out of sync with the rest of the region means staff isn’t going to get much done on campus tomorrow whether or not we’re open. The only difference is that regard for our leadership is going to plummet faster than the temperature over night.

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Post analysis of failed Corcoran effort at UM paints picture of dysfunction

by on Mar.02, 2014, under Budget, Leadership

Today’s Washington Post carries an ‘after action’ description of what happened at UM with the Corcoran gallery project – or rather, what didn’t happen. While the writer doesn’t cast it as an overt slam against our campus leadership, he didn’t need to as the facts tell this story well enough.

President Loh and his administration handled this in much the same way as the other big changes to campus – top down, without consultation, heedless of consequences and poor follow through. Big 10, Purple Line, paved golf courses, wholesale replacement of STEM education degree programs – these are all from the same operation, and the only thing which distinguishes one from another is the pace at which the disastrous effects visit our door or the bills come due. With the Corcoran project, they got what they apparently wanted (a great press release about visionary moves) but then (judging from the article) gave next to no diligence in negotiation. They played the hand poorly and in the end were utterly blindsided at the outcome.

What’s worse is the effect in Annapolis. Each new surprise and its big costs to the state flagship erodes trust at the top. Again from the article, it was only a matter of days before the failure that President Loh was assuring legislators about smooth progress and prospects for success. Maybe he thought he needed that spin to get through budget hearings, but the reality is, legislators have long memories and longer knives. They’re seeing what his word is worth.

No matter whose fault or what happened to make things slip through, no elected official will want to be on record as voting to keep paying retail for these debacles – not in an election year. When constituents confront delegates and senators about the expensive and highly-visible failures of the last year, they won’t be happy to hear that their tax money will be used to buy more of the same. There has to be a reckoning. And when our campus is gigged in both budget and policy, there will be only one place to assign responsibility: the desk of our imperialist President Wallace Loh. After all, he never consulted the people in this community who he rules, so he has no place to lay blame.

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Experiences with Experian to date

by on Feb.25, 2014, under Leadership

A quick update you might not get from the campus about their data breach …

As of this morning, we were all told the other day, you can call Experian to find out directly whether our identity credentials were compromised and to sign up for coverage if so. However, not quite two hours into the day, calls to the number given by OIT’s Brian Voss — 866-274-3891 — do not go through. (“We’re sorry. All circuits are busy. Please try again later.”)

Apparently there is a lot of demand! Hopefully, this delay isn’t giving criminals a running start with our data, now a week or more out in the wild.

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Corcoran not headed to Maryland after all

by on Feb.19, 2014, under Leadership

Campus leadership seems to like important-sounding press releases but is more than a little short on follow through, judging by the latest. The Corcoran Gallery, which had been the subject of grand announcements last year, is now no longer involved with Maryland. Instead, it will handle its uncertainty about the future by partnering with GWU.

Guess we missed any press release from Main Admin where they said “eh, we couldn’t make it work out.”

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Big 10 he-said-she-said

by on Jan.14, 2014, under Budget, Leadership

The mess surrounding UM’s departure from the ACC only got deeper today, as Maryland officials counter-sued (again) saying that ACC officials tried to recruit Big 10 schools to switch to that league.

There is something fundamental missing in this latest development, or at least the reporting of it, which is: why does that matter? According to the article, unnamed representatives of two ACC schools approached unnamed Big 10 schools to invite them to leave. How is the correct response other than “so?”

Let’s not forget the other fundamental missing piece from this picture: the role of collegiate athletics in degree program outcomes. We’re spending how much money to litigate what? A dispute over broadcast rights and revenue? The correct response of real student athletes should be to join an informal intra-campus league, have fun there and let the highly paid coaches (and President Loh) figure out how which of them will cover the various positions on the field.

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UM sports program is a success!

by on Jan.02, 2014, under Budget

Well. At least for the coaches, who once again rank as among the most highly-paid state employees in Maryland. And this database doesn’t even reflect what they can pull down through the athletic foundations which largely do not need to report their special deals.

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