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Thursday 28 September 2023

Statement from UCW-WI, RE: Gray Associates

UCW-WI denounces Strategic Program Development Workshop from Gray Associates taking place 27-29 September

Marquette University administrators contracted the higher education data consultancy Gray Associates to “provide guidance for academic units in considering future programmatic opportunities for new and existing programs and connect operational partners with those efforts.”

After reviewing the metrics that Gray Associates uses to evaluate academic programs, we find their methods at best one-dimensional and at worst designed to undervalue core Jesuit education and liberal arts curriculum offerings at the university. Unfortunately this is a textbook maneuver by higher education administrators across the country right now.

Similar consultancies have been contracted by similar universities to justify the cancellation of core academic programs and mass layoffs of faculty and staff. One need only look to recent developments at West Virginia University that were guided by a similar academic program review developed by a similar consultancy. There’s no reason to believe that anything fundamentally different is happening here at Marquette University: the slow but steady transformation of the university into the handmaiden of big business and financial elites, from a site of teaching and learning into one of job training.

We remember a time not too long ago when university administrators cited final exigence as cause for significant changes to academic programs and mass layoffs of faculty and staff. Two years later they are contracting an expensive data consultancy to evaluate the university’s academic programs in coordination with the rollout of a new draft university strategic plan that is being openly criticized by the University Academic Senate among other groups on campus. History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.

We in the local UCW-WI union believe in real shared governance and that workers should have a determinant voice in the conditions of their work, because they know the workings of the university and their students better than administrators and consultants.

Local organized labor and real shared governance are what will protect the future of the university. Faculty and staff are a wellspring of local, expert knowledge. Unfortunately we’re rarely able to steer the direction of the university.

We’re organizing to determine the future of our work, the university, and its critical educational mission for our students.

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