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Archive for the ‘kutztown university’ Category

Late yesterday afternoon, APSCUF’s state president, Ken Mash, sent a letter to PASSHE Chancellor, Frank Brogan, and PASSHE Board of Governors Chair, Guido Pichini, regarding on-going problems with KU’s Presidential Search process.

Mash’s letter began:

I am very disappointed in the System’s handling of Dr. Paul Quinn’s serious complaint to the State System about the presidential search process at Kutztown University, and the subsequent correspondence related to his complaints about the process directed to the campus community by Mr. John Wabby, the search committee chair.

Mash insisted that “a presidential search process is so very important that is must be beyond reproach” and that a “flawed process can only result in tainting — from the very start — someone’s tenure as president.”

The responsibility of members of the presidential search committee is equally important. If a committee member believes that the search process is flawed or potentially unethical, then a committee member has a difficult decision to make:

Should any members of a search committee believe that the process is fundamentally flawed, if not discriminatory, what are their options? Infused as the process is with high-level administrators and trustees, the act of filing a complaint is surely intimidating. Yet, Dr. Quinn had the fortitude to raise his concerns with the System. Despite his stated desire to bring union representation with him to file his complaint, he was denied the opportunity. He was told there would be an investigation, but we now know that at least one key witness was not interviewed, and others were not even informed of the nature of the complaint.

Mash then addressed the decision by John Wabby, the Chair of the Presidential Search Committee AND the Chair of the Council of Trustees, to kick Quinn of the search committee.

In Wabby’s letter to faculty, he stated that Quinn had violated a Board of Governors policy regarding confidentiality in the presidential search  process. However, Mash was at the APSCUF-KU Representative Council meeting at which Quinn discussed his concerns with the presidential search with elected faculty union representatives. Mash responded as follows:

Having been left with no recourse, Dr. Quinn related his concerns in the most general way to the faculty on the KU APSCUF Representative Council. That body chose to vote no confidence in the process. What else was he or they do do? Forever hold their peace? That is not way to ensure the integrity of the process. He was not informed of any route for an appeal, he was not assured that his serious concerns would be addressed, and he was [not] told how, specifically, his concerns might be wrong.

Contrary to Mr. Wabby’s communication to the university community [including students], Dr. Quinn did not relate specific information about the search to anyone. He merely related his concerns about process and diversity to his colleagues, and he related the reasons for the faculty’s lack of confidence in the process to the public. Our universities are, after all, public institutions.

You can read the full text of Ken Mash’s letter RIGHT HERE.

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In an email addressed to the “University Community” yesterday morning, John Wabby, Chair of the KU Presidential Search Committee and KU Council of Trustees, announced that he was removing APSCUF-KU President Paul Quinn from the Presidential Search Committee. The move comes two days after Quinn called an emergency meeting of the union’s Representative Council to bring forward what he called “serious problems” with the presidential search process. At that meeting, union representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution of no confidence in the search process (see more here).

In the email, Wabby stated:

I was disappointed when Dr. Paul Quinn, a member of the search committee, chose to breach the confidentiality of the search process on Tuesday by publicly disclosing information about the committee’s deliberations and about potential candidates. While I know he is deeply committed to the university, his action was a clear violation of the confidentiality section of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education policy 1983-13-A—provisions that all participants in our search process have been well aware of from the beginning of our effort. Accordingly, I have removed Dr. Quinn from the search committee, and an APSCUF alternate will take his place on the committee so that we can ensure forward progress.

Wabby makes a case for “respecting the committee’s choices”:

Not everyone will agree with every decision made by the search committee, but it is important to respect the committee’s decisions rather than work outside the process. No single member should have the ability to cast aside the hard work of a duly appointed and fully representative committee.

On the surface, there is nothing surprising about what Wabby says. That is, generally, most people would agree with Wabby’s take here when it comes to basic procedures of a search committee. However, Quinn did not simply decide willy-nilly to start broadcasting his personal thoughts about the Presidential Search. Quinn went public because there were “some serious problems with how the Presidential Search Process is being conducted” and that he believes that “the process has become deeply flawed.”

The question at stake here is this: if a member of this committee (or any such search committee) is alarmed about a process that has grown unethical, flawed, or biased, should that member of the committee “respect the committee’s decisions;” or, should that member of the committee blow the whistle? Let me take that one step further. Let’s now say, that a committee member who is alarmed about the process, follows the official procedure for filing a complaint. But, instead of the complaint being treated objectively and professionally, the committee member is subjected to intimidation and denied the right to union representation. Then what? What if, despite the fact that a serious complaint has been filed, the search is allowed to proceed before a determination is made about the substance of the complaint? Does that committee member simply “respect the committee’s decisions?” If that committee member becomes increasingly concerned that somehow their complaint is being dismissed due to personal or political motives, should she or he just kick the dust, say “ah shucks, guess there is nothing I can do,” and walk away?

Yes, I just proposed a hypothetical situation. But that very “hypothetical” situation is the ACTUAL situation in which APSCUF-KU President, Paul Quinn, finds himself in at this very moment. Since John Wabby kicked Quinn off the committee, the faculty union has been scrambling to find an APSCUF member to replace him on short notice – interviews begin today at Philadelphia Airport Marriott.

While the concerns Quinn discussed with faculty union representatives on Tuesday about problems with the Presidential Search are deeply problematic, the fact that PASSHE investigators and lawyers denied him union representation at an intake meeting is alarming, especially when you consider Quinn’s description of that intake meeting. After Quinn received a three sentence response from PASSHE lawyers about his complaint and his discomfort with the intake process, Quinn decided to write an email to PASSHE Chancellor Frank Brogan, PASSHE Board of Governors Chair, Guido Pichini, and PASSHE Chief Counsel, Andrew Lehman. In that email, Quinn detailed his treatment by PASSHE lawyers and being denied union representation:

Standard practice at Kutztown University is that when a complaint is filed from a faculty union member about an individual in a position of authority, a union representative is permitted to accompany the “complainant” to the meeting. The role of the union representative is to serve as a witness, a note taker, and to be an advocate for the faculty member filing the complaint.  The primary purpose of these functions is to provide protection for the “complainant” who is reporting potentially inappropriate behavior from his/her supervisor, and to ensure the protection of faculty member’s rights and interests.  The union representative is bound by confidentiality and cannot share the results of the meeting.

As a matter of fact, when I first filed my complaint with Jesus Pena, I brought the local APSCUF-KU Vice-President Helen Bieber, and she served as my union representative.  It is my belief that  union representation was necessary due to the sensitive nature of the complaint and because quite frankly, it was very intimidating to file a complaint regarding the presidential search process which involves the Council of Trustees, and a PASSHE member, Peter Garland.  Though I have a good working relationship with all of them, they clearly have authority over me, and I feared the potential of retaliatory actions against me.

After filing my complaint, I must stress that I found the actual investigation procedures to be problematic and very contrary to the above detailed practices. My experience began with a process in which I was seemingly treated as a hostile witness.  An example of this is when I was scheduled for the intake with the private investigator Chris Jones, and attorney Suzanne Williamson, I was denied the right to have a witness present.  In particular, Ms. Williamson, was adamant about how this was not necessary because I was the “complainant.”  Her refusal to allow me union representation demonstrated an unwillingness to consider that the very nature of my claim could have ramifications on my professional career.  It was further aggravated by the fact that she personalized my request for a representative as evidenced by her comment:” I feel personally insulted that you do not trust me”.  Despite my requests and explanations for needing union representation, I was told that the proceedings would not take place unless I met with both of these PASSHE investigators –alone. Although uncomfortable with this decision, I requested that this denial be officially noted on the record.   Following the interview, I was allowed to read her notes, but was informed I would not be provided copies or photocopies of the intake transaction for my own records.

Another concern with this investigation was the fact that the presidential search process continued, despite the serious allegations brought forth.   The search firm, acting in an egregious manner, scheduled interviews and continued the search before I received any information discussing the status or outcome of the investigation.  To my knowledge, it is not standard procedure to notify candidates of search results while an investigation as to the fairness of the very process that has been used to select candidates  is pending.  To underscore my point as to the manner in which equity investigations are conducted, it is my experience as union president that our own social equity officer, Mr. Pena, would not conduct an investigation in this manner.  Subsequently, I inferred by the continued forward progress of the search firm, condoned by PASSHE, that my complaint was irrelevant and the process would continue no matter the serious nature of my complaint.

Pennsylvania law ensures a union employee the right to union representation if the employee reasonably believes she or he might face disciplinary action as a result of their participation in a meeting with superiors. The law gives gives the employee the right to determine whether she or he believes disciplinary action might result. However, Quinn received an email response from PASSHE’s Chief Counsel, Andrew Lehman, in which he seems to believe that he and PASSHE Chancellor Frank Brogan get to decide whether or not Quinn is “reasonable.” Lehman wrote,

The Chancellor received your email and asked me to provide a response. Even though your complaint was filed locally with Kutztown University’s Office of Social Equity, the matter was appropriately referred to my office for guidance and, ultimately, investigation.  We reviewed the matter in a timely manner, gathering documents and interviewing several members of the search committee, including you. This complaint did not involve any potential action against you, but rather you raised issues related to conduct of other members of the search committee and of the search consultant. Board of Governors’ Policy requires members of the search committee maintain confidentiality.  Expanding the universe of individuals involved to include a union representative would not have been appropriate during your interview as part of the investigation related to the search.

Really? My boss gets to decide whether or not I have a reasonable concern about retaliation? That’s not a world in which this union member or ANY WORKER, in my mind, should live. Unless, of course, you long for the days of the Company Town.

As it turns out, Quinn seems to have been right to be worried, especially once he made his concerns plain to faculty union representatives. Not only was Quinn kicked off the committee, yesterday he received a veiled threat of managerial retaliation from the Acting Provost, James Mackin, if he continues to raise concerns about the Presidential Search process:

 

Mackin Email to Quinn

Yes, “so long as no information is shared that would violate the referenced Board of Governor’s Policy.” Since the Chancellor and his legal team are already working from an interpretation of that policy that led to Quinn being kicked off the Presidential Search Committee – despite going to pains NOT to disclose any specific information about the search – it’s pretty clear what this says: say another word about the search and I will begin “infringing upon your rights to communicate with faculty,” or some other form of sanction.

What started as an attempt to ensure an ethical and sound search for the next president of Kutztown University is quickly turning into something else entirely. More to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

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For the second time in less than a week, Kutztown University President Javier Cevallos chose to send faculty, staff, and students out into hazardous weather conditions and then decided a short time later to reverse course and close the university. On Monday, Kutztown University the announcement went out at 5:29 am that classes before noon were cancelled, but the university was open. The upshot of that meant that non-teaching employees at the university – secretaries, custodians, electrician, etc. –  still had to show up for work at their scheduled times. For most of those university employees, that meant getting to KU at 8 am or before. At 8:43 am, Cevallos reversed course and closed the university, sending all those workers back onto the roads in the middle of the worst winter storm of the season thus far. Many faculty had already begun their commutes to KU, leaving extra early due to the treacherous conditions. Many of them did not find out the university was closed until they pulled into the parking lot and check their phones. After all, if you’re trying to drive safely in the middle of a snow storm, chances are you’re not checking your email.

Shortly after his second decision, Cevallos sent this apology to the university community:

Dear Campus Community:

We are closing today, Monday 2/3.  I apologize for making some of you drive in such difficult conditions.  At 5:00 a.m. when I made the decision to cancel morning classes the forecast was for snow to end in the morning.  It is always a difficult decision, we do the best we can with the information we have.  Please drive safely.

OK. An apology. That’s better than what happened several times before – like during the February 1, 2011 storm. Lesson  learned, right?

Not so much.

Despite warnings from the National Weather Service and virtually every regional media outlet, it was deja vu all over again.

Here’s KU’s web page at 5:25 am:

KU weather 1

OK. At least the whole university was closed until noon. That must be what everyone else was doing then, right? Again, no so much.

West Chester University:

West Chester Closed

Cheney University:

Cheney Closed

East Stroudsburg University:

ESU Closed

Even the Dixon University Center – PASSHE’s corporate headquarters was closed:

Dixon Closed

The Borough of Kutztown also listened to the National Weather Service and issued a snow emergency. Kutztown University even posted it on their web page:

Borough Emergency

But maybe PASSHE universities were being extra cautious. Or maybe, conditions in the immediate area of Kutztown University were significantly different than everywhere else. Let’s see:

Alvernia University in Reading:

Alvernia Closed

Albright University in Reading:

Albright Closed

Reading Area Community College:

RACC Closaed

Lehigh Carbon Community College in Allentown:

LCCC Closed

So, it seems that there was at least a consensus that conditions were hazardous and that it was better to make sure people were not out on the roads, weathering sleet and freezing rain (not to mention power outages across the region).

Well, it seems Cevallos was a little late to the party, but by 9:50 am he had reversed course.

KU Weather 2

As much as Kutztown’s administration would like to continuously state that they make mistakes due to situations out of control, it should be painfully clear to anyone with have a memory that this is a failure of leadership. Flip-flopping on weather decisions is only a symptom.

Framingham Hoodie

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In case you missed it over on Raging Chicken Press,  I was talking about my recent article, “Wall Street on the Susquehanna: PASSHE Bond Scheme Bleeds Education Budget for Beautiful Buildings,” on the Rick Smith Show this past Tuesday night.

Click on the image below or CLICK HERE to listen to the interview:

Mahoney on Rick Smith PASSHE Bond Schemes 10-22-13

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Note: This article was originally published earlier today on Raging Chicken Press. Below is an excerpt from the article. If you want to read the entire piece, you can go there now or click on the “continue reading” link at the bottom of this post. 

On May 9th of this year, Raging Chicken Press was the first to report on Kutztown University’s attempt to quietly lift the ban on carrying weapons on its campus. In less than twenty-four hours, the story was picked up by the Associated Press casting Kutztown University into a national spotlight. In rapid succession, stories appeared in most regional newspapers and broadcast media. Thanks to excellent investigative work by reporters from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Allentown-based Morning Call, we learned that the change in policy had been happening under the radar of the media, faculty, staff, and students for well over a year. And, we learned, that the order to change the policy came directly from Governor Tom Corbett’s Office of General Council in consultation with PASSHE attorneys.

A few days after my initial story, I sent Right to Know requests to Kutztown University and PASSHE asking for several items, including:

  • “The ‘model policy’ on campus firearms policy from PASSHE legal counsel.” PASSHE Board of Governors Chair, Guido Pichini, issued a public statement on May 10, 2013 indicating such a policy had been shared with all 14 PASSHE universities. 
  • Correspondence, including email correspondence, between Kutztown University administrators and relevant staff and the Office of the Chancellor and the PASSHE Board of Governors regarding Kutztown’s change in gun policy going back to March 2012.
  • A copy of the legal opinion from PASSHE attorneys “concerning the constitutionality/legality of a ban on guns on PASSHE universities.”

Both Kutztown and PASSHE said they required a 30 day extension in order to carry out a “legal review” of my request for documents — their right under PA’s Right to Know law — with the exception of PASSHE’s “model policy,” which Kenn Marshall, PASSHE’s Agency Open Records Officer and official spokesperson sent to me a few days after my request was filed.

A month later, I received responses to my requests. Most of my requests were “granted in part, and denied in part” and were subjected to significant redaction.

What, if anything, did the documents reveal?

The short answer is: not much upon first glance.

The reason why the documents didn’t reveal much had a whole lot to do with Section 708 of PA’s Right to Know law entitled “Exceptions for public records,” specifically, 708(b)(10)(A). That section excludes records that reflect:

The internal, predecisional deliberations of an agency, its members, employees or officials or predecisional deliberations between agency members, employees or officials and members, employees of officials of another agency, including predecisional deliberations relating to a budget recommendation, legislative proposal, legislative amendment, contemplated or proposed policy or course of action or any research, memos or other documents used in the predecisional deliberations.

In short, the public is allowed access to the outcomes of deliberations, but we are not allowed to know how the decisions were made and who influenced those decisions. We are welcome to eat the sausage; we are just not allowed to know how it was made. Here is a sample of one of the redacted email exchanges I received: 

RTK Redaction Sample

Continue reading at Raging Chicken Press

 

 

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I wanted to remind all my Kutztown friends and XChange followers that today is KU President Javier Cevallos’s big day. He is one of two finalists to become the next president of Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. FDU is hosting him for a full day of events including town hall type meetings with members of the university community later in the day. According to Patrick Zenner, Chair of FDU’s Board of Trustees, “following the meetings and after reviewing all factors and the input we receive, the Board of Trustees will select the next president of Fairleigh Dickinson University.” While there is not a clear deadline for when the Board will make its decision, FDU is putting Cevallos’s best foot forward. Cevallos’s time as KU President dominates his bio posted on the FDU site:

Since his arrival to Kutztown, enrollment has increased from 8,500 to 10,000 students. Simultaneously, the diversity of the student body has grown. In 2002, approximately 6 percent of the students were members of a racial/ethnic minority, and today that number is 15 percent. The academic profile of the entering class has also improved, going from an 80 percent acceptance rate in 2002 to 64 percent in 2012.

Dr. Cevallos has also overseen a significant change in campus facilities. Since his arrival, the campus has completed a new $20-million Science Center, a $21-million classroom/dining facility (a unique concept that has received architectural awards), the renovation and expansion (almost doubling in size) of Sharadin Visual Arts building ($19 million), and this summer will see the completion of a $21-million renovation of Schaeffer Auditorium, the performing arts center.

The campus has also seen the construction of a new $61-million residence hall, a $30-million Student Recreation Center, and a $13-million renovation of the Health Center. Next fall will also see the completion of the renovation of a traditional residence hall, as part of the comprehensive Housing Master Plan that will renovate all university-owned housing over the next 10 years. He has also worked with the Kutztown University Foundation to build a $40-million residential complex that houses more than 1,400 students; and through the Foundation facilitated the acquisition and renovation of an Honors Hall, a $2-million project that combines housing and classroom space for honors students.

Dr. Cevallos has been an advocate for internationalizing the university. As a faculty member in Massachusetts he directed the Summer Program in Salamanca, Spain, and has been involved with international programs since then. Under his leadership, Kutztown has established programs in Ecuador, China, India and Italy. Kutztown is one of five leading institutions in the Pennsylvania System in a new program that aims to bring students from China to KU. As part of the effort, the university developed an English as a Second Language Program to help students with their language skills.

There are those at KU who may take issue with the fact that there is no mention that Kutztown University has pretty publicly announced deep budget deficits in 10 of Cevallos’s 11 years at Kutztown; that he has overseen the elimination of all retention programs for working class and first generation college students; that he eliminated the Early Learning Center – a legacy jewel dating back to the founding of the university; that he failed to deliver on his job as the university’s #1 fundraiser (the first item listed on his job description when he was hired); that he presided over the demotion of Kutztown University to a fourth-tier school in U.S. News and World Report; that the most recent “KU Campus Climate Survey” showed that 42% of tenured faculty members, 38% of tenure-track faculty members, and 31% of temporary faculty members have “considered leaving the university” (noticeably large); and…well I could go on all day.

The important thing, however, is that we have lots of nice buildings and the university is cosmetically attractive. And THAT’s what’s important about higher education. True, there are more students, fewer faculty, and larger classrooms in those nice new buildings. But I still think we should all consider dropping President Cevallos an email wishing him luck at FDU today: cevallos@kutztown.edu.

Break a leg, President Cevallos. Just be sure to let them know that Kutztown’s new slogan – plastered on the university’s web site and on billboards through out the region – is “The best choice I ever made,” and show them the website and all the billboards up around the region. That will keep them focused on the shiny stuff.

 

I made good choice

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Minding the Managers

An article title at Inside Higher Ed today caught my attention immediately: “Presidential Tenures on the Line. ”

David Moltz describes the recent decision of the Board of Trustees of the City Colleges of Chicago to revise the job description of “college president.” As a result, all current presidents at its seven institutions will have to reapply for their jobs. “The new job descriptions for the college presidents include ‘specific performance measures and goals that these individuals must achieve.'”

In a time when teachers and students are being measured with high stakes assessment tests in primary, secondary and higher education, I at first felt gratified that a board would at the very least extend this principle of “measuring up” to management. That feeling did not last long.

Once again, the performance measures, while intending to increase “student success,” are missing key ingredients. The measures are:

  • “Increasing the number of students who earn college credentials of value.”
  • “Increasing the rate of transfer to bachelor’s degree programs following CCC graduation.”
  • “Significantly improving outcomes for students requiring remediation.”
  • “Increasing the number and share of ABE/GED/ESL students who advance to and succeed in college-level courses.”

I think each of these standards are worthy; however, they should be accompanied by measures of the services and resources provided to both students and teachers to make this possible.

Why do so many boards overlook the need to call directly for academic measures like these?

  • Increasing the quality and funding of tutoring services available to remediated / ABE / GED / ESL students
  • Decreasing class sizes, allowing teachers to provide students with more personalized instruction
  • Increasing the  quality and funding of professional development resources for teachers as they work with this population
  • Increasing the quality and funding of student advising centers
  • Fostering an environment which makes best practices possible.

The need to articulate such measures directly to presidents is made apparent by our own KU administration. As I noted in an earlier post, PASSHE has adopted new performance indicators that focus on the number of students retained and graduated, with no mention of the quality of education. One might assume that an administration would automatically make quality a priority as well.  As fellow XChange writer Kevin Mahoney pointed out in his post, however, KU has eliminated our Advising Center and increased class sizes. Apparently, administrations do need to be told that quality counts, in addition to numbers.

In Moltz’s article, Perry J. Buckley, president of the Cook County College Teachers Union Local 1600, the American Federation of Teachers union describes another concern Chicago teachers have with these numbers-focused measures:

“’There seems to be a push to run education on a business model,’ Buckley said. ‘And the common theme of everything that’s happened in the past year or so is that more of the decisions that are academic and directly affect classroom teaching and students are really slowly being taken away from faculty and given to administration.… If you’re going to change the structure of the college president, and make them more of a CEO and involved less with academics and more in the managing of the school, then who is going to be the chief person for all things academic?’”

Very good question.  Who, indeed?

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