Over the past 18 months, I’ve written about the different stories President Potter has used to rationalize his shutting down the Aviation Department. Thanks to a new website, (Check it out here.) we now have President Potter in his own words on video. Here is President Potter in his own contradictory words:
According to President Potter’s Convocation Address in August, 2007, President Potter remarked how the Aviation program had positioned itself on the “national radar” with its unique on-site labs at Twin Cities corporate flight departments. By December, 2010, President Potter had changed his opinion of SCSU’s Aviation program:
POTTER: Accreditors had noted the deficiency of the curriculum and, for two years, no progress was made.”
That statement is especially noteworthy because the AABI accreditors didn’t get to the SCSU Aviation Program offices until July, 2009. Their report wasn’t issued until August, 2009. That means only 16 months lapsed between AABI’s report and President Potter’s statement.
Anyone who’s been in management knows that something as dramatic as closing a major department knows the closing will be documented 9 ways to Sunday. They’ll dot their I’s and cross their T’s. If AABI had noted the deficiency of the curriculum, they wouldn’t be off by more than half a year. They would’ve cited it in months, days and hours.
When you’re in management, documenting things like that is vitally important because of the litigious society we live in.
I made a Data Practices Act Request for all e-communications between AABI and either President Potter, Provost Devinder Malhotra or Dean DeGroote. I didn’t see any emails from AABI, the accrediting organization, to President Potter, Provost Malhotra or Dean DeGroote that criticized the curriculum.
There certainly wasn’t a string of emails between AABI and President Potter, Provost Malhotra or Dean DeGroote saying that the curriculum wasn’t improving.
Adding to President Potter’s credibility difficulties is President Potter’s quote in the Star Tribune:
We have very fine students in a strong program that we can no longer afford.
That quote was published in a May 26,2011 article by Tony Kennedy. The trail of contradictory statements doesn’t stop there. On August 15, 2011, President Potter spoke at a St. Cloud City Council study session. Here’s what he said then:
It was not a judgment that it was a poor program; it was a successful program.
A pattern has emerged, a pattern that shows President Potter saying mostly positive things about the Aviation program in public but negative things about the program when speaking to a campus audience.
President Potter can’t have it both ways. He can’t claim that those statements don’t contradict each other.
The First Amendment protects President Potter’s right to say these things. It doesn’t protect his credibility, however. That’s only protected by President Potter consistently telling the truth.
If President Potter continues to tell one thing to one group of people and another thing to other groups of people, President Potter’s credibility will be irreparably damaged.