Monday, March 10, 2014

Leadership Qualities

A former colleague, now retired from CSU, asked me to post the following letter:

Dear Dr. Arnold,
I write in response to your comments regarding leadership at the recent CSU Board of Trustees meeting.  It was reported that you asserted that faculty members at CSU who are critical of the current administration and its activities should demonstrate the same obedience to Watson and other administrators that soldiers give to their commanding officers.

There are some very good reasons for unquestioned obedience in a military setting where lives are at stake.  But the model does not work in a university setting.  University faculty members are neither soldiers nor are they Walmart employees.  In a university, the most important stakeholders are the students and the faculty who teach them.  All other personnel on a campus are there solely to support faculty and students, including the president.

It is not clear to me how someone with as distinguished a career as yours can support the lack of integrity exhibited by the current leadership.  Would the military tolerate an officer who entered into a romantic relationship with a soldier and then treated that soldier more favorably than others under the same command?  CSU’s current president has done that by creating positions for his girlfriend and paying her handsomely, despite her not having the credentials for the position she holds.   There are more egregious acts outlined in the CSU Faculty Blog, as well as documents evidencing Watson’s breaches of policy, ethics, and integrity.

Since his arrival—even before his arrival—Wayne Watson has demonstrated his utter lack of integrity and respect for the university and its students.  While there have been good initiatives (for example block scheduling of freshman classes) far too many of his efforts have been spent in defending himself from critics rather than supporting the central purpose for which the university exists, teaching and learning.   He has a fundamental lack of understanding of common university practices and procedures.  He has a dismal lack of understanding of scholarship or teaching.  In my thirty-year career in Academia I have never seen such irresponsible “leadership.”

United States military personnel deserve respect for the vital jobs they do to protect American principles.  University faculty members deserve respect for the vital jobs they do to prepare their students for leadership positions in the future.  Wayne Watson deserves no respect for robbing CSU students to pay more administrators and lawyers, for hiring a Provost who is woefully underprepared for her job (she wouldn’t even meet the criteria for tenure at CSU), and for using the limited resources available to retaliate against employees and students who refuse to be bullied.  That behavior is costing the University and taxpayers money—money that should be spend supporting teaching and learning.  Did you fight to protect the rights of individuals to steal from the taxpayers?  I don’t think so. 

Robin A. Benny
Retired from Chicago State University, 2011
Assistant to the Provost, Curriculum Management, CSU, 2004-2011
Director of Freshman Composition, CSU, 1986-2004

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