The University Record, September 18, 1995

Goldenberg cites challenges facing LS&A in annual address to faculty

By Rebecca A. Doyle

LS&A Dean Edie N. Goldenberg shared good news and bad news at the first faculty fall meeting last Monday.

“The good news is that the quality of higher education in this country is still the envy of the rest of the world,” she told faculty members. “Business and government leaders who worry about international competitiveness might learn a useful thing or two from the higher education sector, where we’ve been practicing ‘continuous improvement’—the core of Total Quality Management—for decades.”

The bad news, she continued, is that “our system of higher education is at risk,” citing declining federal and state support, increasing quarrels and disputes about tenure and related faculty issues, attacks on diversity and media criticism of higher education.

“While we don’t want to overreact to these signals, we can’t afford to be complacent either,” Goldenberg noted. “We need to get our house in order—to be certain that all of us are making full contributions and performing well in our roles as scholar-educators.”

While she does not think of computer technology as the “answer to all of our prayers,” Goldenberg said “we would be foolish to underestimate its significance for teaching and learning or to ignore the consequences of info tech for the institutions that compete with us and the ways they compete.”

The dean said she did not expect technology to replace the “face-to-face” learning experience, but that new approaches to learning and teaching actively and across boundaries are realities now across the entire spectrum of disciplines within the College. Growth and innovations in instructional technology should be used “sensibly and effectively,” she said.

“Michigan is in an excellent position to take advantage of the best of what these new technologies have to offer us,” Goldenberg noted, but that represents a challenge to the College to “support faculty innovation, build and equip adequate classrooms, create partnerships with other institutions and to help all of our community develop new skills.”

Goldenberg pointed to Central Campus construction as a positive step toward a supportive infrastructure “if we can survive the dust, noise, leaks and disruption.” She noted that plans for further work in Frieze, Haven, Lorch, Mason and the LS&A Building already have been started.

“But space and money only facilitate the accomplishments of people, and those accomplishments depend vitally on maintaining an outstanding faculty,” Goldenberg pointed out. “I think, as we look around us today, we can feel very optimistic about that.”

Goldenberg’s remarks were made to more than 70 LS&A faculty members, many of them new to the University.

“It’s the beginning of a new year, and we have a chance to welcome a new set of minds into the world of higher education, to launch a new set of graduate students in their studies and their careers, and to discover, to develop new ways of looking at the world and new ideas and principles to guide our understanding,” Goldenberg concluded.

“I don’t think there is a better place to do any of these things than right here in Ann Arbor.”