Higher Ed Board President: Reports Of Faculty Intimidation At DSU Are Just “Rumors Being Circulated On Blogs”
This morning I appeared on News and Views with Joel Heitkamp to discuss the ongoing investigation into the situation at Dickinson State University.
The audio clip (click here) is worth a listen. (The first 9 minutes is Joel and I discussing the issue, then Grant Shaft, President of the State Board of Higher Education calls in and makes some claims.)
Grant Shaft says that claims of undue pressure on faculty members by Chancellor Bill Goetz are “only rumors being circulated on blogs”.
KFYR-TV, which is the NBC affiliate in Bismarck, reported the following on August 10th:
DSU faculty and staff, past and present, aren`t saying much publicly because they`re scared, but a representative from their union is speaking-up. According to the North Dakota Public Employee Association, which represents college and university employees, DSU faculty began considering a vote of `No Confidence` to President McCallum back in October 2010.
But the union`s executive director, Stuart Savelkoul, said that effort stalled. “The Chancellor contacted the president of the faculty senate and asked him to consider, or asked if he might consider, postponing the vote of `No Confidence` until after the Legislative Session, because Higher Ed`s budget stood, very much, in the balance,” said Savelkoul.
Would the North Dakota Public Employees Association (the union for public employees) allow their representative to go on the record and publicly make say this if it had not been substantiated?
Think what you might about unions, but they aren’t going to allow their people to go out on a limb with such a serious charge if union leadership hadn’t confirmed the claims. Worker intimidation is one of the legitimate reasons why unions in general exist, clearly they are not going to take it lightly.
“Dickinson State has become such a culture of fear that everybody’s upset, but nobody is willing to speak publicly. It’s a sign that the fear of retaliation is very real,” Savelkoul said. “There have been allegations that the president has attempted to intimidate faculty members into supporting his initiatives, although I can’t elaborate a great deal on that in the interest of protecting the individuals who made such complaints.”
“Dickinson State is without question the most frustrated campus in the state right now from an employee standpoint,” said Stuart Savelkoul, executive director of NDPEA. “I worked in the university for four years and the complaints I’m hearing now seem very serious in comparison to the kind of complaints I heard when I was an employee there.”
“I think anytime you have a faculty senate that’s contemplating a vote of no confidence it’s difficult to say the situation has improved,”Savelkoul said. “The faculty have seen some smaller victories over the last year, but there’s still the general perception that they’re voices aren’t being heard in how to get the university back on track.”
Savelkoul said DSU employees are concerned about “cost overruns,” travel expenses incurred by DSU officials, catering expenses and enrollment problems.
There is a clear record of these problems, immediately after the legislative session was over, the light was finally on those issues. It doesn’t take a very big leap to say there was pressure to keep these issues quiet before and during the legislative session.
Grant Shaft says that the president of the DSU faculty senate will be denying these claims. One can speculate as to how the president of the DSU faculty senate is being persuaded to start denying the reports once they are this well known.
The auditor’s office has been called in. So long as the Higher Education establishment does not interfere in the investigation the truth will eventually be found.
However, the aggressively defensive nature of how the players involved are handling the facts of the case make one wonder if they will learn the lesson when that time comes.
This entire episode is costing taxpayer dollars.
The former President of DSU is collecting paid time off while the case is being reviewed. The legal costs of this whole matter will be high.
The scholarship fund will need to be bailed out again or closed.
The U.S. Department of Education is looking into the matter, if the federal government issues sanctions DSU will obviously be headed to the legislature to make up lost federal dollars.
The State Board of Higher Education needs to focus on how they will change the culture in the University System, not getting all defensive on a radio talk-show.Tags: dickinson state university, Grant Shaft, higher education, North Dakota News, richard mccallum