by Anselmo Watkins
More than 200 staff members at Yeates College in Bear River, California received invitations to a mandatory presentation by the visiting chancellor of an AAU university as the campus administration scrambled to avoid the embarrassment of dozens of empty seats at the poorly-scheduled presentation.
The colloquium by Wytegie University Chancellor John Cityer on the future of liberal arts colleges is the first of four colloquia scheduled by Yeates College President Timothy Thomas and designed to engage the faculty on the future of higher education. However, due to scheduling conflicts, the two-hour presentation was set for 3:00 p.m. on a Friday, virtually guaranteeing that only the lowest level faculty members would attend.
“No tenured faculty member is on campus at 3:00 p.m. on a Friday,” said Professor of Anthropology Logan Wolver. “In fact, most don’t show up on Friday at all. We have ‘research’ to do. My prediction is that the only faculty you will see at this presentation are those up for tenure, or those trying to win points with the provost.”
With a week to go before the event and just a few dozen faculty submitting RSVPs to attend, the call went out to staff members to help fill the 250-seat theater.
“As soon as we saw the date and time, we knew we would have to dragoon staff into attending,” explained Executive Vice President John Flame. “It is the only way to avoid a huge embarrassment in front of an AAU executive. Appearance is everything.”
“The email was phrased in the form of an invitation, but word quickly spread that staff members were expected to attend and nod sycophantically throughout the lecture,” said one staff member who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Flame said that he doesn’t expect that the staff members in attendance will pay attention to the presentation and that many will leave as quickly as possible when it is over.
“That’s fine. After all, they are only staff members,” he said. “We just need their butts in the seats for 120 minutes. We don’t want them to get any ideas that their opinions matter.”