Yesterday I noted the deep management speak of my university wanting to say (I think) that a new director of an institute will manage the institute’s research, work with outside partners, and develop ways to make it clear how ‘design’ can benefit others. Then there’s MIT’s Media Lab Faculty Search.
Such a position description is literally impossible to imagine for anyone in an Australian university. Not for its vision, that’s simply whatever lies beyond impossible to imagine, but for it’s lack of managerialist criteria where if you do not specifically address (for instance), the ‘key selection criteria’ (which will always be listed, each replete in its own arcane higher-ed managerialist argot idiolect), regardless of how good your CV and everything else is, you can be confident of not getting an interview. We don’t only get Key Selection Criteria, but also Position Accountabilities and Organisational Accountabilities.
My position description has ten position accountabilities (they are helpfully numbered for me), four organisational accountabilities, and eight key selection criteria. (I’m always bemused that places like RMIT that want to regard themselves as ‘employers of choice’ are very good at explaining in detail my accountabilities to them, but are oddly mute in relation to what they might offer me.) My eight you ask:
1. Possess a record of teaching, research and/or professional achievement in the relevant program field, equivalent to level C promotion criteria.
2. Proven ability to lead and manage a complex work group, to establish an environment that encourages the integration of the discipline and maximises its contribution to RMIT University and the DSC College.
3. Demonstrated high level of interpersonal, communication and negotiating skills including the ability to consult with senior academic and professional colleagues, and external bodies, the ability to produce reports and to negotiate agreed directions, outcomes and targets within a collegial environment.
4. Ability to be an effective member of a management team within a matrix structure; develop and achieve shared goals and objectives.
5. Demonstrated ability to devise and develop academic curricula, and ability to teach in related disciplines.
6. Broad range of knowledge of the relevant discipline, and proven ability to draw upon the connections between industry and the academic discipline.
7. Demonstrated ability to use appropriate technology in a learning and teaching environment.
8. Ability to advise, encourage and assist students in relation to their learning objectives and career aspirations.
Note that none of these are about risk, innovation, experimentation, adventure, ethics. None are about the world that might happen to exist outside of RMIT. They are only about corporate competence, with some university specific words mixed in. The Media Lab’s faculty search brings me joy, optimism, and faith. Things worth hanging onto don’t you think?
A recent email from a very senior staff member about a new appointment:
[they] will oversee the delivery of the Institute’s research programs, develop opportunities for translating the Institute’s research to end users and help develop a forward strategy for Design as a Core Enabling Capability Platform.
Ah, plain speaking universities. Where would we be without you?