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A no-confidence vote in Bowie State's leadership

Updated at 5 p.m. Friday with response from Bowie State leaders.

Faculty of Bowie State University on Thursday took a vote of no confidence in President Mickey Burnim and Provost Stacey Franklin Jones, three faculty members told me today.

The vote was prompted mostly by concern over the actions of Jones, a newly hired provost who, according to faculty leaders, has initiated programs and changed policies without input from faculty.

The vote was 68-2 against Jones and 49-8 against Burnim, with a number of faculty abstaining, according to John Organ, past president of the Faculty Association.

Burnim released this statement Friday afternoon:

"We have not received formal notification of the action taken or the reasons for such action, so we have not yet had the benefit of a clear statement of the issues or concerns.

"Once we are presented with a definitive statement from the faculty leadership, then we will be able to assess the situation and respond appropriately so that we can focus on continuing to provide the best possible educational opportunities for BSU students."

By Daniel de Vise  | October 22, 2010; 2:37 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Labor  | Tags:  Bowie State University, Mickey Burnim, Stacey Franklin Jones, no-confidence vote BSU, no-confidence vote Bowie State  
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University of California raise doubts about where all the UC Berkeley money goes. UC Berkeley’s recent elimination of popular sports programs highlighted endemic problems in the university’s management. Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians in Sacramento, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.

A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies in the system and then crafting a plan to fix them. Compentent oversight by the Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on problems and on what steps he was taking to solve them. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million….until there was no money left.

It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies in the system. Faculty and staff have raised issues with senior management, but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3 million) consultants, Bain & Company, to tell him what he should have been able to find out from the bright, engaged people in his own organization.

From time to time, a whistleblower would bring some glaring problem to light, but the chancellor’s response was to dig in and defend rather than listen and act. Since UC has been exempted from most whistleblower lawsuits, there are ultimately no negative consequences for maintaining inefficiencies.

In short, there is plenty of blame to go around. But you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. An opportunity now exists for the UC president, Board of Regents, and California legislators to jolt UC Berkeley back to life, applying some simple check-and-balance management principles. Increasing the budget is not enough; transforming senior management is necessary. The faculty, students, staff, academic senate, Cal. alumni, and taxpayers await the transformation.

Posted by: Moravecglobal | October 24, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

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