Posts Tagged ‘Javier Cevallos’

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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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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If you had to choose between being a Devil or a Knight, what would it be? Or, if you had to decide whether to play for a NCAA Division I or Division III, which would you pick? Well, if you choose to go to Fairleigh Dickinson University you don’t have to make those choices. As one of the few schools in the U.S. to field both Division I and Division III teams, you can be a Devil and a Knight. And that just might be the fate of Kutztown University’s president, Javier Cevallos.

According to an April 3, 2013 email sent to the FDU community by Patrick Zenner, the Chair of FDU’s Board of Trustees, Cevallos is one of two finalists to be their next President. Cevallos will visit FDU’s campuses on April 18th for day of meetings and open town hall meetings.


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