Monday, September 11, 2006

This Letter From Dr Olson stands on it's own. We will address the Rebuttal by Dr Cohn Soon.

Del Mar College: A Case Study in Leadership, 2004-2006

I came to teaching later in life than most. It was sort of a metamorphous after numerous years of the military service, as well as positions in the government and business sectors. What attracted me to teaching was the personal sense of satisfaction I got when I served others. I am now the Chair of the Department of Social Sciences and have taught at Del Mar College the past fifteen years. The College and its community have been very good to me. It is from the perspective of an academic department chair that I offer my views of what has happened at Del Mar College the past two years. Also, it is a matter of public interest and a call for communication with a president who refuses to answer and be accountable to the faculty and the community of the College. In addition, I want to speak out now so no one in the future can ever say to the faculty -- Why didn’t you say something when this was going on? Why did the faculty remain silent?

I served as Chair of the Chairs Council when the president came to the College. I was on the search committee that recommended him. Most at the College seemed excited and pleased with his selection and everyone wanted him to succeed. As Chair of the Chairs Council, I organized a transition workshop for him and all department chairs. It took place on a Friday in order to spend the entire day with the new president on building a new team and discussing and analyzing strengths and weaknesses of DMC from the chairs perspective. The workshop went well until the group began to go over the weakness they believed DMC needed to improve on. At that point, the president ended the meeting, said he would meet with us at some future date, and left. He never reconvened a meeting to discuss what needed fixing at DMC from the academic departments’ perspective. The president appeared not to want to know what we needed -- because to know would be to accept responsibility and to be held accountable. Afterwards, he hired consultants who delivered faulty and skewed data that he used to justify his platform of effectiveness and efficiency which later became the foundation for his own salary and benefits raises. His platform was at the expense of the faculty’s reputation.

For the past two-plus years, the president has proved to be an ineffective communicator. He has seldom met with the constituency groups on campus and when he does he often loses his temper and fails to get his points across to the audience. Yet, he has proved astute in creating division and conflict among his staff. Do not think though that the College administrators are helpless victims. They had choices and they chose to remain quiet and go along with his agenda. The president tried to use the same strategies to divide the faculty. He has tried to give the impression that faculty are causing all the dissention at the College that all the problems at the College are the faculty’s fault, or at least a small group of disgruntled faculty and employees. He has tried to shut down shared governance at the College and has relied on certain individuals to try and quiet the faculty. In this, he has failed. The faculty are unified and understand what is going on here. There is no in-fighting among the faculty. On the contrary there is solidarity. The faculty have a right to know the answers to their questions. They have a right to know of decisions that affect the College and how they are made. They have a right to take part in the decision making process. And because the faculty have these rights, they have taken the initiative to discuss College issues on Internet forums at the College to get around the presidents attempt to censor them and shut them up.

The faculty’s reputation is priceless and is the very foundation of the College. Go out into the community and our citizens will tell you how much they have loved and respected Del Mar College. They will tell you how much it means and has meant to their families. They will reminisce with you about the teachers they have had who challenged them, changed their lives and gave them a more promising future. A president should protect that reputation and should not let his administrators deride it in reports that attack faculty professionalism, work, and dedication to the College, its mission and its community. What kind of president says things like faculty are retired in place, faculty are lazy, faculty are overpaid, faculty don’t work enough hours? What kind of president allows his administrators to say things like that? What kind of president allows administrators to publish and distribute reports saying things like that? Things that cannot be substantiated by any legitimate facts or data? Once they are printed in College reports, they are out there for the whole world to see. Well our president does and by so doing he is attacking and destroying our professional reputations -- reputations that we have spent a lifetime building. As the symbol of the College, what comes out of his mouth is representative of the College to the community and the country. By his actions and statements he has grievously harmed the reputation of the faculty, the chairs, and the College to the people at-large. He has shut down communication systems, painted his critics as disgruntled employees, and libeled them. When it is shown by others that they have a good, strong, earned reputation, he does not take responsibility to correct his claims. This makes him not only a bad communicator, but also a bad player and a failure as a leader.

According to leadership studies by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, great leaders challenge, inspire, enable, model and encourage subordinates. Leaders have visions and dreams and are able to communicate these to their followers who they involve in their projects. They do not achieve success by themselves, or at the expense of others. Leaders enlist support and assistance of all and encourage teamwork and collaboration. They search for opportunities and learn from their mistakes. They set the example and are consistent in their behavior. Good leaders display "genuine acts of caring to draw people together and forward." Above all they are credible and truthful. Psychologist John W. Gardner identifies nine tasks of leadership including envisioning goals, affirming goals, motivating, managing, achieving workable unity, explaining, serving as a symbol, representing the group, renewing. According to Gardner, leaders and managers are not the same thing but they do overlap. Above all, leaders are communicators, teachers, and a symbol. They represent the group. They can delegate most duties and responsibilities except for two. They cannot delegate serving as a symbol or envisioning goals.

The best leaders rapidly assess the situation and form their vision. They have a high tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty and a capability to learn rapidly. They reconcile competing demands according to priorities of a clearly formed vision. They take their vision of what has to be done, clearly communicate it, and ensure its execution. They act as standard bears, developers and integrators. They build team cohesion, provide purpose, direction and motivation. Above all, they serve as role models, promoting ethical development of their subordinates and the institutions they represent.

Through their good efforts this past summer, the faculty were able to reverse some things the president and his staff tried to do to the detriment of the College, such as the Reassignment Time Study, a malicious attack on faculty professionalism. This came at a high price for faculty taking part in these actions. The president and his administrators labeled them as disgruntled employees. This libels the faculty’s good name and reputation and casts us in a negative way as being against change or improvement at the College. This undermines the image of the College to students, the community and taxpayers. Before this president, the community viewed the faculty as an important community asset and treasure, consisting of very experienced and selfless educators. He is soiling our good, hard-earned reputation and replacing it with one where he presents the faculty as retired-in-place, overpaid and lazy. He has libeled our hard-earned reputation and has broken the trust we gave him. He is attacking our livelihood with misinformation and phrases that are damaging to our reputation. We should be indignant about a president’s actions that are at odds with College interests and convey a negative image of the College. We want to know the truth. We cannot follow a president who stands in the way of the Board of Regents examining his actions, or who interferes with their review and investigation of his actions. Serious changes require a leader to be transparent in his actions, treatment, and communication with the public and his followers. It is a sad day for Del Mar College when the only recourse faculty or employees have for justice, review, or redress, is to go into the courts. The College, students, employees, and community deserve better.

By professionally accepted criteria that define good leadership, the president falls short in meeting the minimum standard for an effective leader. The president’s interests are in conflict with interests of the College and the people it serves, its students and the taxpayers. The president has sacrificed the College’s security, reputation and public confidence for individual power. As a public official, he should be held accountable. No public official should be above reproach. The damage by the president’s actions has not gone so far yet as to destroy the College. The foundation of Del Mar College is still the faculty and we are here, ready, willing and able to serve our community. The faculty and community are aligned with the Board of Regents in their willingness to make the president accountable for his actions, public statements, and bad judgment. He has gone too far to be rehabilitated. Community leaders recognize the problem of the president. At the last Board meeting, even leaders from one of the local G.I. Forum chapters and other citizens called for the Regents to put the president on administrative leave pending the end of investigations into alleged improprieties by him. According to them, he needed to step aside, not interfere, and allow his actions to be reviewed by the College. It is now in the best interests of the College for the president to tender his resignation. If he is unwilling to do that, then the Board of Regents must take the necessary action to terminate his employment with the College for cause because he has failed to lead effectively. His poor communications have misrepresented, libeled, and harmed the faculty and the College.


Professor of History and Chair

Department of Social Sciences


Jaime Kenedeño said...

Not to mention the THONG incident.

Anonymous said...

Where have you been Mr. Olson? This didn’t start with President Garcia. Where were you when a custodial supervisor by the name of Robert ********* was forced out of his job because he was only trying to do a better job. He had been transferred from the West Campus to the East Campus because he had been considered a good worker on the West Campus. Than he got ambition. He made recommendations. He tried to change things. He told the than Physical Facilities Director that he would like to apply for a higher-level position. The Physical facilities Director told him not to bother. So he complained to VP Alaniz. Alaniz figuratively spit in his face. The Physical facilities Director called me to spy on Robert. I didn’t do it. They made his life miserable. Eventually they got rid of him. How about the classified employee who worked for Chuck Tynes over in Purchasing? She discovered that the DMC was hiring temps for classified positions and than giving them priority for the jobs over long time classified employees who should have had first choice by policy. She spoke up in front of the regents. Not long after she just disappeared from the campus. My informant told me she was let go after all she was only a disgruntled classified employee.
Than of course I was labeled a disgruntled employee until I proved the auditorium was really unsafe. Than, Chris Tetlauf Belhausen agreed to work with me as a temporary supervisor. Dr. Gustavo Valadez Ortiz became College President and suddenly I was in. I was redeemed. He saw to it that I was actually invited to meetings about auditorium safety and finance. Chris told everyone that she had me under her control. She did help me to recoup overtime that the College under VP Alaniz had cheated me out of. Than Chris got tired. The auditorium began to bore her. I was too much trouble. I was supposed to bow down and forget that the real safety and financial issues concerning the auditorium were still not resolved because Joe Alaniz refused to resolve them. Dr. Valadez Ortiz came under attack not really for anything he had done administratively but because his personal life offended Regent Chris Adler and others. In any case my protection was gone and VP Alaniz became Acting President and the target that was on my back just got bigger. I started out being concerned about safety, I saw great potential in the auditorium from the beginning and I never changed. The political winds around me kept changing. Than there was Alaniz’s newest attack in a long line of attacks against custodial and buildings and grounds workers over phony sexual harassment charges. Let’s not forget that report in the 1990’s that compared DMC custodians and grounds keepers to their counterparts at Trinity College. Nobody checked to see if that was an accurate comparison. I did look into it. It was easy. I sent out the information I found to the campus because it was a false comparison. Trinity College is nowhere near the size of Del Mar College. Just another phony trumped up report. Than there was Ms. Lopez. Than Mr. Benitez. Than Theresa Cox. I don’t know how many others? Where were you Mr. Olson?

Now that President Garcia, VP Alaniz and their cronies have placed the target on the back of the faculty, are you only out for yourselves? Are you going to consider the corrupt practices that all employees at the College have suffered under all this time?
Howard Karsh, retired Auditorium Manager, Regents Candidate District 5.

Jaime Kenedeño said...

With all due respect Mr Karsh, Mr Olson has joined in the us (in the fight) now. Good blast sir.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Jaime (or is it HighMe?) KEYNOHDEENOHH: Why don't you quit the bullshit smear campaign and run for the DMC Bored of Regents (get it? BORED).

Jaime Kenedeño said...

Many others musch more qualified than myself sir.

It is a thought and if I were elected the first thing I would do is fire your overpaid a$$.



The Secretary of State cleared her to run.

I think these guys are going to learn a lesson or two....

from the attorney general down. The Secretary of State cleared Ms Garcia to run. If you read the AG opinion you will know what a crook this guy is when it comes to the little people. Carlos Valdez, I cant see how he would obtain Jurisdiction given there is no criminal act. This matter should be processed through existing administrative law.

A Voter Registration in Kleberg While Residing in Nueces?

The question is, which home was her domicile. I have been to her Apartment here in Corpus Christi, it sure looks like it is her primary residence.

I cannot imagine Carlos Valdez even having anything to do with this case, given his history with Mike Westergren and I am told with Joe Alaniz as well.

If Carlos Valdez prosecutes this lady, he is a fool.

I stand behind her.