Sunday, September 22, 2013

From the top flows????

So I must admit to you loyal readers, that I was not at all surprised that a politicized Board of Trustees would continue CSU on its downward death spiral. I was saddened by the thought of hundreds or thousands of prospective students going elsewhere; saddened by the prospect of CSU being unable to attract world class faculty because of the plummeting and almost irreparable, reputation and saddened by the likelihood of the continuing cavalcade of cronies careening carelessly through the halls of CSU. And we should not be surprised! When a chief executive’s job can only be saved by the intervention of a political godfather, not accomplishments or fulfillment of contractual duties, then what would a reasonable person expect? If past performance is the best predictor of future performance, the prospect of this university remaining viable has been significantly reduced by the Board’s most recent actions. If any one has any questions about why this university is as dysfunctional as it is, one need only look at the Board and its actions. 
Every management book I have ever read, says that the tone and tenor of the organization comes from the top. Whether it be a Jimmy Carter White House that was micro-managed into ineffectiveness or Lehman Brothers which led the way of the near collapse of the world economy in 2008, it is the behavior at the top that trickles down to the lower levels and sets the context for how things get done, undone or not done. Thus for a Board not to hold the chief executive accountable for criteria outlined in his contract communicates to the institution that accountability is not important. Following the rules created by the Board is not important. 
An example might be helpful here. At the end of the last board meeting there were only three trustees present. There was no quorum so conducting business like adjourning the meeting is not possible. Therefore, the September 20th meeting is still ongoing and would technically need to be adjourned before the next board meeting is called to order. Now I understand this is just a technicality and yet technicalities are the rules that help keep order. Technicalities are not and never should be excuses for misbehavior or misconduct. I did something wrong and was convicted on a technicality??? No I did something wrong and was held to account because of the rule, regulation, directive or law that I violated. The expression of "it was a technical violation" is the refuge of those shirking their responsibility either to an institution or community. It is clearly unbecoming of those that have a public trust like trustees at a public university. How might we expect any improvement when the message communicated from the top is that improvement is not the priority? Apparently, the priority is maintaining a status quo that has included crony hiring, increased audit findings, declining enrollment, decline in executive fund raising, irreparable damage to faculty relations, and a destruction of anything resembling morale across the institution. 
I am sure that the regime apologists will find excuses for why things are the way they are including misstatements about what the faculty has done or not done. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked what needs to change and when I respond to the questioner it is the leadership at the top that needs to change, the conversation abruptly stops. No one wants to speak the words "the emperor has no clothes," and yet until those words are spoken and understood nothing will change. And given the Board's past performance, there is no guarantee there will be any change. There is no evidence that the CSU Board of Trustees has the capacity or the will to hire a president befitting this university. 
So it is very likely either this president or the next will have as their legacy the closing of this university. And when that happens let the finger pointing begin.  

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