Cryptology 501

People frequently don’t say what they mean.  This is especially true in the case of final reports issued by accreditation bodies in higher education.  These team-authored documents are typically polite — and diplomatic — to a fault.  Therefore, as a service to college and university presidents everywhere, University Life offers this guide for decoding 10 common statements found in accreditation reports. 

REPORT SAYS: “The team has identified the following distinctive strengths of your institution.”

REPORT MEANS: “Your school pretty much sucks at everything it does, but here are a few areas where you don’t suck quite as much.”

REPORT SAYS: “The major concerns that emerged during the team’s site visit include the following…”

REPORT MEANS: “Get ready.  There are a ton of dumpster fires on your campus, and we’ll just be exploring the tip of the iceberg.  Indeed, the circumstances at your institution are so dire that they require two metaphors.  You’re simultaneously aflame and sinking.”

REPORT SAYS: “Strengthening consensus-oriented decision-making within the academic units of your school is essential.”

REPORT MEANS: “At a recent Sociology Department retreat, a subgroup of decolonization theorists took several of their colleagues hostage after a raucous disagreement over the use of the term ‘Latinx’.  Negotiations for the release of these hostages have reached an impasse, even though one of them is 9 months pregnant.  The optics are not good, to put it mildly.” 

REPORT SAYS: “Increased attention to gathering outcome data on the school’s graduates would be time well-spent.”

REPORT MEANS: “Based on the team’s luncheon meeting with 4th-year students, it appears that many of your undergraduates can’t read.”

REPORT SAYS: “There is a need for more effective succession planning within certain divisions of the university.”

REPORT MEANS: “The Director of the Library is agonizingly clueless, advocating retention of the card catalog system as the foundation for all library functions, including podcast listings.  A humane institution would put him out of his misery.  He is a blind squirrel wandering around in a falcon sanctuary in broad daylight.”

REPORT SAYS: “At this point in the university’s history, a re-examination of the school’s mission may be in order.”

REPORT MEANS: “The current mission statement, which begins with ‘We hope to still be in business next week’, is probably not the way to go.”

REPORT SAYS: “A review of roles and responsibilities within the Division of Student Affairs could result in services being more responsive to student needs.”

REPORT MEANS: “Your Dean of Students came to the university after being fired as Customer Services Manager at Jiffy Lube.  Have you no shame?”

REPORT SAYS: “Inspection of the institution’s organizational chart reveals that some reporting relationships may be less than optimal.”

REPORT MEANS: “For the love of God, why does the Dean of Arts & Sciences report to the Director of Buildings and Grounds?  And does it really make sense to have a joint Department of Entrepreneurship, Physics, and Nursing?”

REPORT SAYS: “It is unclear that all empirical claims made in the college’s promotional materials are evidence-based.”

REPORT MEANS: “Where in the hell do you get off saying that ‘our students have the best sex in the Southeastern Conference’?”

REPORT SAYS: “Strategic fundraising remains a challenge for the university.”

REPORT MEANS: “The school’s last three bake sales in support of repaving the faculty parking lot have netted less than $75.  It’s time to move on.”

Good luck with your next accreditation cycle.