Posts Tagged ‘shared governance’

One of the most frustrating aspects of the recent College of Business, AACSB roller coaster has been some of the claims and statements made by KU President Cevallos.  Some of these claims were made in his email to College of Business faculty, others were made at public meetings. It’s not that he is simply making false claims.  False claims are easy to deal with.  What he is doing is using partial truths and spinning them in ways meant to minimize his agency, accountability, or leadership.  I want to run through a few of these claims here.  Ideally, I can do this all in one post…however, I am sitting in the waiting room at the Scion car dealer as my car gets it’s 10,000 mile (actually, 11,700 mile) service.  So, I’ll take it one post at a time:

Claim: It doesn’t matter what the Chancellor says regarding the lifting of the mandate for AACSB accreditation because the KU Council of Trustees issued their own mandate before the Chancellor’s office did.

If this were simply a false claim, we could simply show that his representation of events are wrong.  We could show the date of the Chancellor’s mandate and the Council of Trustees mandate and compare the dates.  The problem with the claim has virtually nothing to do with chronological accuracy. The issue has to do with what his claim is meant to do.

First, the claim is meant to dismiss the importance of the Chancellor’s announcement that the mandate has been lifted.   That is, the claim is meant to raise doubts among members of the KU community (and beyond) that the Chancellor’s words have any real impact on moving forward with AACSB accreditation. The effect of the claim is to suggest that those who have relied upon the Chancellor’s announcement are both misinformed as to what got the AACSB accreditation ball rolling and don’t understand the way the chain of command works.

The problem with this claim is that it has been the Chancellor’s mandate that has driven both the timeline and the insistence upon AACSB accreditation.   I’ve asked several members of the College of Business who have worked on gaining AACSB accreditation and not one of them was told that it was the Council of Trustees that were driving the push for accreditation.  They had all been told explicitly that AASCB accreditation had to be pursued because the Chancellor’s Office said that all College of Business/Business majors located at PaSSHE universities had to gain AACSB accreditation.  If they did not, the previous Chancellor assured them that their programs/colleges would be closed.  Quite a stick, no?

At last week’s University Senate meeting, I asked the president where the deadline or April 2010 for reorganization of the College of Business/AACSB accreditation application came from.  Cevallos answered that the deadline came from AACSB.  A faculty member of the College of Business who has been working on AACSB accreditation confirmed Cevallos’s statement.  Yes, it is true, that AACSB set the April 2010 date.  However, that’s only part of the story.

The reason why the College of Business started the AASCB accreditation clock ticking was because the Chancellor’s Office set fall 2010 as a deadline for universities to show “substantial progress” toward accreditation.  Translation: if the College of Business could not provide persuasive evidence that they were on their way to accreditation by the fall 2010, the proverbial ax could fall.  So, the urgency behind the current timeline had little or nothing to do with the Council of Trustees mandate.

This is important for at least one key reason: the PRIMARY objection of College of Business faculty to the current restructuring is NOT a resistance to accreditation, or even AACSB accreditation.  Rather, the resistance has been to the PROCESS by which the reorganization has proceeded.  Up until a couple of weeks ago, that process had taken place largely under a mandate from the previous Chancellor.  Current Chancellor Cavanaugh’s recent statement regarding the importance of shared governance (see my previous post on this point) was a game changer–or, at the very least, offered the possibility to right some wrongs.

When the Council of Trustees told Cevallos to proceed in spite of the Chancellor’s statements, Cevallos used this as a way to re-write the history of AACSB accreditation at KU.  Part of Cevallos’s s story of his newly found commitment to AACSB accreditation includes telling audiences that AACSB accreditation was “number one” on his job description when he was hired.  Having the body that hired you insist that you achieve the number one item on your job description after seven years is a pretty strong motivator, I guess.

Coming soon: Claim #2: Don’t worry, look at Slippery Rock!


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As I mentioned a few posts ago, several faculty members from the College of Business sent Cevallos emails concerning AACSB accreditation after Cevallos asked for further faculty input at the Thursday, 12/3 lunch-time meeting.  I asked several of those faculty members if I could post some of their emails here.

Robert Derstine, a professor of Accounting, emailed me today with the go ahead.  His analysis is quite detailed and long; so, rather than post the full-text here, I will post a link to an on-line version of his email.  In addition, Prof. Derstine included several documents with his email.  I am posting them here too.

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A few days have passed since my last post and a host of new voices have weighed in on the latest news that Cevallos is proceeding with the current AACSB accreditation plan.  Cevallos closed out his email to College of Business faculty by saying, “we must move forward immediately in our pursuit of AACSB accreditation for the KU College of Business.  I will ask Provost Vargas and Dean Dempsey to ensure the implementation and accreditation requirements are well communicated within the College.”  What that seems to mean is that Cevallos plans  on moving forward with the plan that was developed this past semester.  That plans is:

  • To dissolve all departments in the College of Business.
  • Establish two new departments: the Department of Business Administration and the Department of Professional Studies
  • All College of Business faculty who are currently Academically  or Professional “qualified” according to AACSB will be moved to the Department of Business Administration.  The remaining faculty, 40% of the faculty in the College of Business will be moved to the Department of Professional Studies.
  • Faculty in the Department of Professional Studies will have three years to either a) become Academically qualified and move to the Department of Business Administration (they would not be able to become Professionally Qualified in that time) or develop courses for non-Business majors. For those three years, faculty in the Department of Professional Studies would be able to teach courses for Business majors.
  • This plan will be in effect with the beginning of the spring 2010 semester; that is, in just over a month.

Cevallos said in his email to the College of Business faculty on Thursday, 12/4 that the Council of Trustees is making him move forward with this plan.  This move, however, seems to run contrary to what PaSSHE Chancellor Cavanaugh said in a November 20 email to APSCUF-KU President Paul Quinn.  Here’s the relevant portion of the email:

[Paul Quinn] So when you say that Kutztown needs to determine locally whether or not it wants to pursue AACSB accreditation, do you mean that the Kutztown Administration should determine it, or do you mean that the decision should be discussed through shared governance with the faculty and various governing bodies on campus?

[Chancellor Cavanaugh] I would say it needs to be discussed in a shared governance fashion, with very thorough discussion of the pros/cons. With AACSB, as I indicated in my remarks, there are real downsides for not doing it that should be considered. Some faculty indicated to me they came to Kutztown specifically because AACSB accreditation was a goal. Student recruitment also becomes an issue, as I discussed.

[see full exchange here]

While Cavanaugh does indicate potential downsides to not going for AACSB accreditation, he stresses that “it needs to be discussed in a shared governance fashion, with a very thorough discussion of pros/cons.”  Clearly, a 50 minute meeting just over a month before the implementation of a plan to proceed with AACSB accreditation is a sham of shared governance.  No serious discussion of the pros and cons of a serious issues (not to mention a process that will come with a $2.5 million/year price tag) can take place in 50 minutes.

Some faculty at last Thursday’s meeting suggested that there has been a lot of discussion among College of Business faculty about the pros/cons of AACSB accreditation already.  That does seem to be the case.  However, all of that discussion took place under the pressure of a MANDATE from the previous Chancellor’s office.  That is, there may have been quite a bit of discussion, but the decision had already been made.  That’s not shared governance.  Shared governance means that faculty get to deliberate over the best course of action, not simply submit their comments in a comment box (or during a 50 minute meeting).  That is, shared governance is not the same as a customer satisfaction survey.

Over the past several days, several faculty have written detailed and thoughtful emails to Cevallos after he told faculty that is what he would like them to do.  Of course, all of that seemed to have been rendered moot a few hours later at the Council of Trustees meeting (from what I understand, Cevallos did not offer a persuasive case to follow the Chancellor’s appeal to shared governance).   I sent emails to several faculty members and asked for their permission to post those emails here.  If they give me their permission, I will post them.

One of the interesting things now is that the Council of Trustees and the Chancellor seem to be on different pages (I don’t include Cevallos here because it’s pretty clear he will do whatever he’s told to do…what his actual thoughts are on this matter are pretty irrelevant at this point).  So what does this suggest?  Are the Trustees bucking the Chancellor?  Did the Chancellor overstep his bounds?  Who has the authority to mandate AACSB accreditation, the Council of Trustees or the President?  To borrow a phrase from a recent US President, “who’s the decider?”

So, that’s my update on this late Sunday night.  More to come, I’m sure.

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The latest chapter in the College of Business drama?  Well, today I had hoped to post a little summary of the discussion at the President Cevallos’s meeting with the College of Business faculty on Thursday, Dec. 3.  This was the meeting that Cevallos billed as the “Pros and Cons” meeting regarding the immediate push for AACSB accreditation.

Well, what a different a day makes.  Earlier today, Cevallos wrote an email to the College of Business faculty letting them know that he was planning on pushing ahead  with AACSB accreditation despite what the Chancellor said about the need to go through shared governance.  Here’s the email:

From: Cevallos, F. Javier
Sent: Friday, December 04, 2009 3:09 PM
To: COB-Dept
Cc: Quinn, Paul; Sanelli, Maria; Vargas, Carlos; “Snyder, Kim”; Dianne Lutz; Guido Pichini; Jack Wabby; Rich Orwig; Roger Schmidt; Ron Frey; Turpin, Ramona
Subject: AACSB

December 4, 2009

Dear College of Business Faculty,

Thank you for meeting with me yesterday to discuss AACSB accreditation.  I value the feedback received from you regarding this important subject.   I also want to thank all of you who have sent e-mails to me.  I have reviewed each one and truly appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

I know that accreditation is an important issue for all of you.  It is also important to the university, the administration and the Council of Trustees.  In that regard, I have an important update to share with you.

As a background, when the Council of Trustees conducted the search for a new president in 2001, the search committee met with representatives from across campus.   The top priority resulting from those meetings was the desire for AACSB accreditation for the College of Business.  As a result, the pursuit of accreditation was listed at the top of the president’s job description.

As I mentioned at our meeting yesterday, the Council of Trustees had its regularly scheduled December meeting on Thursday afternoon.  When I updated the trustees on current campus issues, I shared the accreditation issue with them in depth, including an overview of the feedback I had received. It was made clear to me by the Council that AACSB accreditation is still a priority to them.  At the 4 p.m. open meeting, the trustees passed a resolution “directing the university president to proceed with the AACSB accreditation plans for the College of Business.”

With that being said, and understanding that the trustees have the authority to mandate this, we must move forward immediately in our pursuit of AACSB accreditation for the KU College of Business.  I will ask Provost Vargas and Dean Dempsey to ensure the implementation and accreditation requirements are well communicated within the College. At our next open forum (we will schedule it shortly) we will focus on working together to achieve this goal.

I want to again thank you for your participation in the dialogue.  We are very excited about the future of our College of Business and hope that you will work with us as we move ahead.  I believe that together we will continue to make the college of Business and Kutztown University the best option for our current and future students.


F. Javier Cevallos


A couple of things that should probably have been expected: 1) that Cevallos would not make a decision.  Instead, he would wait to be  forced to proceed after someone else told him to.  That’s been a pretty consistent trope of his presidency; and, 2) that Thursday’s meeting was a dog-and-pony show that Cevallos could point to show he “considered” the faculty’s position.  As we see from his letter, however, no “consideration” is evident.  What’s evident is that he looked for a justification to proceed with AACSB accreditation despite the Chancellor’s statements.

I hope to post my notes from the meeting on Thursday anyway.  The discussion was quite interesting and was not a discussion Pro/Con accreditation.  Rather, the discussion was much more nuanced.  I would go as far as to suggest that a significant majority of the College of Business faculty would support AACSB accreditation…the problem has to do with HOW the process has been implemented and the unwillingness of the administration to listen to alternative scenarios–i.e. rational planning.

If you are interested in getting another summary of Thursday’s meeting, here is Keshav Gupta’s “Pro/Con” document that he emailed to all faculty and Cevallos on Friday.

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OK, folks…it took almost a week, but we finally have a statement from President Cevallos about the administration’s intentions regarding the Chancellor’s remarks regarding College of Business accreditation.  As you’ll recall, the Chancellor made it clear that any move forward toward accreditation needed to be part of a shared governance process.  Here’s what Cevallos wrote to faculty late yesterday afternoon:

From: “Cevallos, F. Javier” <cevallos@kutztown.edu>
Date: November 24, 2009 3:10:22 PM EST
To: COB-Dept <cob-dept@kutztown.edu>
Subject: COB meeting re: AACSB/December 3 at 11:00 a.m.

To the Faculty in the College of Business;

There has been quite a bit of conversation since the Chancellor’s November 18 visit to our campus regarding the College of Business and the pursuit of AACSB accreditation.  Although in the past there have been several conversations regarding this particular subject, and we have made significant investments in the College for this purpose, these decisions were made under a PASSHE mandate to accredit academic programs.  The Chancellor has suggested that we should have additional conversations on the campus regarding this issue in light of his new policy regarding accreditation, and I concur.  Given the importance of this issue, and the tight time line we face, I would like to invite the faculty in the College  (as well as APSCUF and University Senate representatives) to a meeting to discuss the matter, on Thursday, December 3, 2009  from 11 to 12:00 p.m. at DeFran 100.  I look forward to a productive discussion that will help us move forward in the best way for the College and the University.

Let’s hope that President Cevallos does not intend for a one hour meeting in the second to last week of the semester count for “shared governance.” At the very least, I hope that a timeline for future discussions will be established.  We’ll see.

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