“Open” And “Transparent” Need To Be More Than Just Words
by Silence Dogood

Most Deans regularly meet with Department Chairs and Program Directors within their school or college to pass on information from the administration. In some cases, these meetings are called “Dean’s Advisory Councils” or DACs. However, these meetings are not intended to replace Meet and Confer meetings between the Administration and the Faculty Association, which are contractually described in the “Master Agreement” between the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees and the Inter Faculty Organization.

On November 5th, 2014, Dean Mark Springer held his weekly DAC meeting with the Department Chairs/Program Directors of the College of Liberal Arts and the School of the Arts. Two budget documents were shared at this meeting. A portion of the ‘notes’ from the meeting is reproduced below.

The second spreadsheet, which was reportedly produced by Academic Affairs, is reproduced below:

The date on the top of the form is 10/16/14. This document shows where the administration is planning to make some of the cuts to the budget for each of the schools and colleges to respond to the $9,542,000 budget shortfall for FY15.

This document came to light when the notes and handouts for the November 5th, 2014 DAC meeting were emailed to faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and the School of the Arts on December 10th, 2014. The first question is why should it take five weeks to get this information out to the faculty. It is important to note that there were several DAC meetings in the meantime so one has to wonder why the delay?

However, the second and more important question is why was this information was not shared by the administration at Meet and Confer or a Budget Advisory Group Meeting? Why, instead, was it shared at a DAC meeting? There was a Meet and Confer on October 30th, 2014 and Budget Advisory Group Meeting on November 13th, 2014. There was even a Budget Town Hall meeting on November 20th, 2014. As a side note, the slides from the Budget Town Hall meeting are still not available on the SharePoint website as promised during the meeting.

The Meet and Confer scheduled for November 20th, 2014 was cancelled because of the lack of items for the agenda. So there have been multiple opportunities for the administration to share their ideas about how to deal with the budget shortfall. Unfortunately, most faculty have had to find out about these cuts from a DAC meeting and not via the appropriate way to share this important information, which is through Meet and Confer. Sharing this information is not just a good idea, it is, in fact, required by the Master Agreement because the Faculty Association has the contractual right to respond before the Administration acts on matters like budget cuts. Unfortunately, responding becomes something of a moot point when you hear about it more than five weeks after the fact and the decisions have already been implemented.

Last November, SCSU participated in a Trust Index Survey conducted by the Great Place to Work Institute. Suffice it to say that the results for the senior administration were not outstanding, to say the least. The results of two of the questions are shown below. The blue bar represents the score of those taking the survey and the red bar represents an average of the “100 Best Places to Work.”

The second question does not have a comparison because it was a question that was generated locally. The results demonstrate “management” does a poor job of informing the “company” and management does a poor job of sharing information openly and transparently.

Clearly, what was found to be true a year ago seems to still be true today. This is also despite a year of “listening sessions” and working group meetings. The administration still seems to give lip service to the concepts of being “Open” and “Transparent.” Unfortunately, their lip service does not seem to translate into action.

A wise person once told me:

Leave a Reply