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Houstonian 1995
The Issues
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Students of the University of Houston. Houstonian 1995 - The Issues. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 22, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/yearb/item/5767/show/5487.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Students of the University of Houston. Houstonian 1995 - The Issues. Houstonian Yearbook Collection. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/yearb/item/5767/show/5487

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Students of the University of Houston, Houstonian 1995 - The Issues, Houstonian Yearbook Collection, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 22, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/yearb/item/5767/show/5487.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houstonian 1995
Creator (LCNAF)
  • Students of the University of Houston
Caption The Houstonian is the official yearbook of the University of Houston.
Subject.Name (LCNAF)
  • University of Houston
Language English
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Digital Collection Houstonian Yearbook Collection
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/yearb
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction This image is in the public domain and may be used freely. If publishing in print, electronically, or on a website, please use the citation button above. To request higher resolution images, please use the Request High Res button above.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title The Issues
Creator (LCNAF)
  • Students of the University of Houston
Caption The Houstonian is the official yearbook of the University of Houston.
Subject.Name (LCNAF)
  • University of Houston
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction This image is in the public domain and may be used freely. If publishing in print, electronically, or on a website, please use the citation button above. To request higher resolution images, please use the Request High Res button above.
File name yearb1995014.jpg
Transcript A Crisis in Progress "While UH falls apart the coalition fights for its future" Academic excellence, research mission and less bureaucracy were the battle cries of the Coalition for Excellence. This distinguished group of academicians and researchers banded together to save a university they believed was in peril of sinking into a sea of mediocrity. Coalition members also asserted that UH's lobbying efforts in Austin were fundamentally flawed, the System should be abolished for alleged wastefulness and that reshaping had been nothing more than a farce. The group demanded immediate action and went public with its criticisms. The fight first came out publicly in a highly controversial piece entitled "Crisis on Cullen Boulevard" which ran in Houston Press and in a three-part series in The Daily Cougar that detailed the Coalition's problems with the administration. The Coalition membership was mainly concerned that the university's research mission was being subjugated by President James H. Pickering and Chancellor Alexander Schilt. Back in the 1960s, university leaders started moving toward the goal of creating a world-class university, but the current administration seemingly has not continued that mission, said Kent Tedin, chairman of the political science department. "We were concerned that UH would turn into a large community college," he said. If the situation does not change, Tedin said UH will go from being the "university of your future to the university that does not really matter." Administration officials countered with claims that they had not abandoned UH's research mission and with facts that showed the increases in research funding and endowments. Some Coalition members also saw Schilt as the puppet master and Pickering as his puppet. They asserted that since Pickering was appointed without a national search THIS PAGE: Some of the Coalition members believe Pickering to be Chancellor Schilt's puppet in any decision making process having to do with this university. Photo by Cesar Alvarez OPPOSITE PAGE: Dean Rodgers spoke out against the flaws in administration policy, so he was given the axe. Photo by Mark Lacy 4 against the faculty's wishes and that he was, in effect, controlled by Schilt. Four group representatives appeared before the Board of Regents last June to present the group's views. "Up until then, there was only one channel of information to the regents, and that was Chancellor Schilt," said Tedin. The Coalition also demanded that the System be abolished and its functions integrated into the campus. "It is a nonsensical organization and it is a waste of money," said Jim Martin, a history professor, who believes the System needlessly duplicates activities taking places at UH. Coalition members were upset that the university comprises 82 percent of the System, but has the same voice as the other System universities. "Spending money to the System means that money is not spent on teaching, research or student life," said William Fitzgibbon, the Coalition's chosen leader and a math professor. "The System is removed from what a university is all about." Perhaps the other main issue on the Coalition's agenda was money. Complaints echoed throughout the university that UH was in for another cut in state appropriations because the administration's efforts, led by Schilt, in Austin were believed to be hopelessly flawed. Richard Murray, a well-known political professor who specializes in Texas politics, wrote a paper condemning the current methods and proposed a legislative strategy of his own. His plan focused on garnering a change in the formula and how it is funded; in addition, to hiring a lobbying firm to lead the university efforts. Right now, Murray said, Grover Campbell, the vice chancellor for governmental relations who heads UH's efforts in Austin, is outmanned and outgunned. "We have got to play politics," he said. Skip Szylagyl, the vice president for planning, countered by saying, "We brought it on ourselves- to say the state whacked us is wrong. Our loss is enrollment -related." Pickering along with Szylagyl and other administrators denied the university's effort were flawed. On the subject of reshaping, Martin said, "We were certainly assured that reshaping was a monumental success. It was a monumental waste of time." Pickering defending reshaping by saying that the process was about streamlining and cleaning up the university. Szylagyl agreed with Pickering's assessment saying that "re- shapingis about change. It's not just about money. It's not a one-shot deal." Although Szylagyl admits some aspects of reshaping failed, he claimed the process was healthy and useful, he next stop of reshaping was slated to begin in the following year. Although former Dean of Social Sciences Harrell Rodgers was never a Coalition member, his firing sparked the Coalition into action as some of its members fought to restore him to his deanship. Rodgers' beliefs closely paralleled theirs. In letters and in editorials, Rodgers lashed out against perceived flaws in the administration's policy. "The Chancellor and the President, wedded to the status quo and seemingly incapable of understanding the magnitude of our problems and failures, have articulated no vision or long-term plan for the university," Rodgers wrote. "Their decisions have worked toward the transmutation of UH into a large, undistinguished teaching institution burdened by a stifling and waste System bureaucracy." It was for those beliefs that President James H. Pickering fired Rodgers last August in a move that shocked and angered many faculty members leading to an eventual uprising among faculty members with Coalition members as leaders. When Rodgers was first fired, four members of the Coalition appeared before the regents in August in an unprecedented appearance to demand that the board intervene and reinstate Rodgers to his position. The group was unsuccessful in their last-ditch efforts since the regents refused to get involved in the battle. Even in the face of massive faculty dissent, Pickering steadfastly asserted his right to hire, fire and demote university administrators when he saw fit. Pickering said that "...the issues of a top management team is very important to the university. I need to have leadership from a team of deans in whom I have complete confidence." Obviously, he no longer had that confidence in Rodgers. Even so, Rodgers' removal was an unusual move in view of his many accomplishments as a dean. Deans are traditionally only removed when there is some question of ethical or illegal impropriety. After the regents refusal to intervene, some Coalition members, who were also in the Faculty Senate, took the fight there. In an overwhelming show of support for Rodgers, members the Faculty Senate voted to condemn his dismissal and demanded his reinstatement. The resolution was introduced by Bob Palmer, the Cullen Professor of History and Law, at the request of 72 of 102 members of the social sciences faculty. At the next Faculty Senate meeting, newly appointed Provost Henry Trueba a barrage of questions and concerns from upset faculty members. Trueba's tried to quell the faculty uprising since it had turned into a public relations nightmare for Pickering. "The style of management advocated by this administration is one we should oppose at every step," said Palmer. "The administration acted in an unprincipled way." Palmer said. "A decent administration would never have done this to an incoming provost. It was a firestorm waiting to happen, and President Pickering knew what would happen." Palmer later introduced a resolution at a November Faculty Senate meeting that called for Pickering's censure for his removal of Rodgers. The Senate decided to appoint a committee to drive the issue with Pickering or try to resolve the matter. The last and only time the Faculty Senate voted to censure an administration official was when Schilt appointed Pickering as president without a national search. Although Coalition members were unsuccessful in their efforts to restore Rodgers to his position, they succeeded in bringing to light faculty problems and criticisms and served as lighting rod to push the administration to take action. Rodgers took a leave of absence and will return this year to teach in the political science department. "The President and Chancellor are convinced that I do not have faith in their major policy objectives and that I am a supporter of the Coalition for Excellence. I plead guilty to both," said Rodgers. Tanya Eiserer Houstonian 18 1995 The Issues 19