SJSU’s grand social experiment

May 3, 2010

This university is about to embark on a grand social experiment. The primary role of a corporation, said Chris Anderson editor of Wired Magazine, is to facilitate communications between teams.

No place is that more true than in academia. At our university, for example, our core teams are the academic departments that get the work done. Each of these teams has their own resources, processes, procedures and cultures.

The culture in the School of Library and Information Systems is different than the culture in the School of Art and Design, or Engineering, or Business or Kinesiology. For example, it is difficult to imagine yanking an equipment tech from the Library and expecting that person to function productively in setting up Mechanical Engineering labs. Yet, that is exactly the kind of thing the university is poised to do with the looming layoffs and massive reassignments of staff employees.

Staff employees are not only going to be finding themselves in alien job roles, they will often find the cultures they get transplanted to will be alien, with totally different rules, roles and values.

It makes me wonder how the labs are going to be ready for classes in the Fall and how faculty and students are going to be getting the services they need? I wonder how big of a disruption to classes, how much of a disruption to the university this all will be?

I guess, come August and the start of the Fall semester, we may be about to find that out. To me, it seems like a recipe for gridlock.