Is the Ship Sinking?
by Silence Dogood

Thursday morning, an email came from the Vice President for Finance and Administration Tammy L. McGee announcing the departure of the Director of Human Resources Holly Schoenherr.

Holly was responsible for the Great Place to Work Survey. The results of the GPTW Survey can only be described as an indictment of the administration (others might say a vote of no confidence in the administration). Additionally, the ‘reorganization’ of the Human Resources area has been described by some as a ‘house cleaning’ where a number of key long-time employees left out of exasperation.

Heather Weems was hired in June of 2012 as SCSU’s first female athletic director replacing Morris Kurtz who had been SCSU’s athletic director for twenty-seven years. Less than four years later, just after cutting 6 sports programs, negatively affecting 80 out of 530 student athletes, it appears that she is looking to leave SCSU. On March 31, 2016, Heather Weems was announced as one of four finalists for the Athletic Director position at Grand Valley State (the position ultimately went to another person).

Mark Springer was appointed Dean of the College of Liberal Arts in May 2012. Although it has long been rumored that he was applying for positions elsewhere, this April he finally became one of four finalists at Montana State University. After interviewing on April 14, 2016, the selection of the new dean has yet to be announced.

Last year, after only one year on the job, the Associate Provost for Student Success and Dean of the University College Dr. Bruce Busby decided to retire rather than continue working at SCSU. The listing for the University College is listed below.

On top of these duties, the latest reorganization added oversight of the Summer School program and concurrent enrollment programs (S2S) to his list of responsibilities. Overseeing these two programs is almost a full-time job by itself. When added to what amounts to the workload of four or five positions, he must have been thought to be Superman. While given the current financial circumstances it is clear that people will be expected to do more (with less)—this is simply ridiculous! It is not hard to understand why Dr. Busby might have chosen to leave SCSU for retirement back in Ohio. Not only is the weather better, he won’t have to wear as many hats! In fact, he won’t have to wear any hat unless he’s fishing in the Mighty Maumee River. As an interesting side note, two people have now been tasked with the responsibilities that were formally assigned to Dr. Busby.

With all of the ‘reorganization’ that has occurred since President Potter’s arrival in 2007, SCSU must be the best-organized university in the country! Unfortunately, it seems that the pattern for most administrators at SCSU is to come in and reorganize and then leave BEFORE the full effects of their reorganization are known.

From the Provost’s website, the list of deans of the colleges and schools is shown:

Looking at the list, Provost Ashish Valdya is in his first year. Dean David Harris is in his first year. For the Colleges and Schools, there are four interims listed. The majority of the deans and associate deans were interim deans before being appointed to their permanent position. None were in permanent positions prior to 2012. As a result, this administrative team has very little institutional memory since none has been in their position on a permanent basis for more than four years. Additionally, at least one is actively pursuing employment away from SCSU.

One can always choose to look at administrators leaving as an example of those people being the ‘best’ who have lots of opportunities. However, when you see the sheer number of administrators who have left, SCSU must be the “Harvard of the Administrative World.” Unfortunately, with a large number of interims being appointed to permanent positions, it is also likely that it decreases the applicant talent pool because qualified candidates ask themselves if it is worth the effort to apply if the interim is going to be appointed to the permanent position in the first place. Clearly, there are qualified individuals that have been appointed to permanent positions after previously serving as an interim. However, of the permanent deans or associate deans, only David Harris and Adel Ali were not interims in their positions before becoming permanent.

There is an old adage about experience:

The administrators at SCSU don’t seem to have a lot of experience. Hopefully, these inexperienced folks won’t be making too many mistakes for the first or second time. Unfortunately, with a declining enrollment and dire financial situation, SCSU can’t afford too many more mistakes in the first place!

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