forget the MOOA, how about admin by algorithm

Benjamin Ginsberg has made the completely reasonable suggestion that we forget the MOOC, and instead turn to Massively Open Online Administrations (MOOA). After all, administrative positions (and costs) have far outpaced growth in full time faculty positions, and all those administrators are facing the same issues with the same set of neo-liberal presuppositions. I like it.

But it got me thinking.

Why entrust to even a single group of administrators decision-making ability for hundreds of campuses? We can engage in a little creative destruction in the interest of leveraging the efficiency gains of an algorithmic approach to administrative decision making. No need for any humans to be involved at all. Netflix, eHarmony, Amazon and the rest of our technological overlords have already showed us the magical future of “the algorithm.” Sure, Siva Vaidhyanathan has warned us about such googlization. But, in the case of university administration, I can’t see how much more harm could be done by automation.

So, let’s design this algorithm.

Here’s a start:

adminHealth = 0
Policies = [policy1, policy2, policy3, policy4]

def policyChange(policy):
    x = policy()
    if x == helpsFaculty:
        return adminHealth -= 1
    elif x == helpsStudents:
        return adminhealth -= 1
    elif x == helpsAthleticDepart:
        return adminhealth += 3
    else:
        return adminHealth += 5 

while adminHealth <= 1000000:
    for policy in Policies:
        policyChange(policy)

Please, add some new functions so we can get this algorithm right. That way, we can dismantle the university much quicker, and the denizens of the algorithmic future can feel good about themselves as they save us all from the inefficiencies of, you know, values, morals, leisure, depth, thought, consideration, and all the rest.

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Associate Professor of Early Latin America Department of History University of Tennessee-Knoxville

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Chad Black

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I, your humble contributor, am Chad Black. You can also find me on the web here.
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