The Open Meetings Acts for dummies at Wright State (and elsewhere)

The new wright state logo not done by YorkBranding or Push Inc showing Wright State leadership under Dr. David Hopkins

If there are two primary jobs of a university board of trustees, it is to hire and evaluate the President of a University and to keep track of the money. It would seem the WSU board of trustees can’t figure out where the money went and who to blame or praise. Maybe it’s because this feckless bunch lead by Doug Fecher of WPCU don’t know what their job is, and no one at the State level seems to care.

When the university went from cash rich to the poor house, no one got blamed. The President didn’t get fired, the numbers guy, Mark M. Polatajko, Ph.D., CPA ended up at Kent State, and the money has never been accounted for.

So, when the board has a committee meeting, ostensibly to review and create the evaluation for the president, in private- they have to do it a certain way.

From a regular meeting, a majority of the board has to make a motion to go into executive session to specifically discuss personnel issues. No exceptions. A subcommittee can only meet in public.

Here’s the law:

(G) Except as provided in divisions (G)(8) and (J) of this section, the members of a public body may hold an executive session only after a majority of a quorum of the public body determines, by a roll call vote, to hold an executive session and only at a regular or special meeting for the sole purpose of the consideration of any of the following matters:

(1) To consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of a public employee or official, or the investigation of charges or complaints against a public employee, official, licensee, or regulated individual, unless the public employee, official, licensee, or regulated individual requests a public hearing. Except as otherwise provided by law, no public body shall hold an executive session for the discipline of an elected official for conduct related to the performance of the elected official’s official duties or for the elected official’s removal from office. If a public body holds an executive session pursuant to division (G)(1) of this section, the motion and vote to hold that executive session shall state which one or more of the approved purposes listed in division (G)(1) of this section are the purposes for which the executive session is to be held, but need not include the name of any person to be considered at the meeting….

(4) Preparing for, conducting, or reviewing negotiations or bargaining sessions with public employees concerning their compensation or other terms and conditions of their employment;

Source: Lawriter – ORC – 121.22 Public meetings – exceptions.

The problem is, if the meeting wasn’t announced, and wasn’t specified to follow one of these two directives- the meeting is illegal.

… a release issued Wednesday from the university stated “Schrader would not accept” either for her work in the past year. Clarifying the issue later, WSU board chairman Doug Fecher, who said he helped write and review the release, said, “There was no vote taken and it wasn’t meant to imply that” the president turned down a bonus offer….

The executive committee of the the WSU board, which included Fecher, former board chairman Michael Bridges, Anuj Goyal and Grace Ramos, met behind closed doors with Schrader on Monday to discuss an evaluation of her first-year performance.

Schrader was not offered a merit raise or bonus because of the university’s financial troubles, Fecher said.

In June 2017, trustees slashed more than $30 million from Wright State’s fiscal year 2018 budget and another $10-million decline in revenue is expected over the coming year. Just last week, the university announced it would begin issuing layoff notices to around 26 employees.

“There was no change in compensation offered and she agreed there should be no (additional) compensation offered,” Fecher said.

Cox Media Group has requested public records about the evaluation and was told by the university there were no written documents from the meeting. Trustee Bruce Langos also said that he was not aware of a formally documented evaluation.

Fecher said the evaluation was more of a conversation. Fecher said he contacted trustees separately before the Monday meeting to get their opinion of Schrader’s performance and ideas for what she could improve upon.

Langos said he was “shocked” when he saw the release sent by the school that stated Schrader did not accept a raise or bonus, because he said it made it sound like the board offered her one.

Although the university may not be in a financial position to offer Schrader a raise, Langos said it’s something the entire board should have discussed and voted on publicly.

“I don’t think any laws were broken but I don’t think the rules or the bylaws (of the board) were followed because the bylaws require that things like this require (a vote). And we didn’t take a vote,” Langos said.

The executive committee cannot take action in executive sessions, meaning any action such as a vote for or against a raise for Schrader would need to be taken in a public session.

The Ohio Open Meetings Act states that members of a public body are required to “discuss and deliberate on official business only in open meetings.” How Wright State’s board handled Schrader’s evaluation falls into a “gray area” of the law, said Dan Tierney, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

“Our advice is always consult your legal counsel in such a gray area and then decide whether they would be comfortable defending that or not,” Tierney said.

Source: WSU president not given raise due to budget – Dayton Daily News

Fecher isn’t allowed to have private conversations with three others in private to discuss university business, and he is not allowed to round robin request information. Him contacting other board members to discuss their opinion is a violation of the OMA. Pure and simple.

The proper procedure is to create a subcommittee, that works on the evaluation, a written document, that is then reviewed by the entire board in a properly called executive session, and a final document is released to the personnel file of the President. If an “executive session” discussion is to be held in private with the president, it must be stated what the issue is in advance, from an open session.

Unbelievably, I’m forced to cite the Dayton School Board lawyers site for info on case law of actual evaluations- which may be an interpretation that evaluations may have to be done in public:

The most striking part of the court’s decision, however, is its conclusion that performance evaluations do not fit within this executive session exception.  The court said, “construing the OMA liberally in favor of open meetings and construing the executive-session exceptions narrowly, the trial court correctly found no exception for employee ‘evaluation.’”  The court agreed with this interpretation.  This ruling appears to be based upon the fact that the word “evaluation” is not specifically listed in R.C. § 121.22(G)(1).  The court continued:  In any event, we do not necessarily disagree with the [  ] statement that the OMA permits discussion of an employee’s ‘job performance’ in executive session.  Prior to entering into executive session, however the public bod must specify the context in which ‘job performance’ will be considered by identifying one of the statutory purposes set forth in R.C. 121.22(G).

Notably, the court offered no opinion or explanation on how performance evaluations of administrators and executives by a governing board do not fit within the continued “employment” of employees under Section (G)(1).  Is it their opinion that the “employment” exception to open meetings is only for the initial hiring?  We do not know.  The court offered no explanation on how and when a governing board should discuss routine evaluations of employees (especially direct reports, such as the Executive Director), which often do not relate to a specific “dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation” decision.

The court’s ruling may now require governmental entities that conduct routine evaluations of Directors, Superintendents, Treasurers, City Managers, etc. to either find one of these specific pegs of (G)(1) on which to hang personnel evaluations or, otherwise, hold the discussion in public.  Unlike Ms. Maddox, it is likely that most public administrators do not want their performance evaluations to be aired in a public session.[1]  And, the promise of a public discourse on one’s job performance by one’s own employer could make the difficult job of finding qualified people to fill these high-level positions all that more difficult.

Source: Public Records Decision: Consideration of Performance Evaluations | Subashi & Wildermuth

Part of the reason University Presidents are paid the big bucks is that they agree to take public criticism, hold responsibility and lead by example. There is really no legitimate reason to conduct annual reviews in private, or to be embarrassed by the discussion- it’s the future of the university- a public institution.

The Open Meetings Act is the only law I know of that comes with a 250 page public handbook to explain the importance of conducting the public’s business in public.

One of the quotes in the beginning of the handbook should make it pretty clear:

 “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when rulers may be concealed from them… {T}o cover with the veil of secrecy the common routines of business, is an abomination in the eyes of every intelligent man.” Patrick Henry

~see State of Ohio Sunshine Laws Manual

Every elected public official is required in the State of Ohio to take a three hour course in the Open Meetings Act/Sunshine Laws. I’m not sure if University Trustee’s are, but, this latest screw up suggests that they should be.

And, btw, ostensibly the penalty for violating the OMA is removal from office, although it’s never happened in the State of Ohio. Removing this board for a violation of the OMA would be a good start.

As to the whole faux pas of Schrader announcing that she declined a bonus that was never offered, and that Fecher helped write the press release, says there is way more wrong than right at Wright State.

Battle of the bad school boards

The Esrati.com PollWhen I first ran for City Commission, Abner Orick was the director of the Board of Elections. He asked me “why don’t you run for school board first to get your name out?” I didn’t have kids in school, I didn’t understand politics in Dayton yet, and I didn’t realize that school boards are one of the most dysfunctional positions in the state of Ohio. It’s almost written into law to make sure you end up with a keystone kops krew- with no easy, specified way to remove a board, and allowing them to pick their own members when someone leaves. The fiasco with Adil Baguirov’s residency last year proved that there are no checks and balances on even the most basic rule- residency.

The pay is minimal- capped at $5000 a year (the cap had to come because Dayton routinely ran up huge board compensation with their over abundance of meetings).  The actual role of the board is convoluted- they are supposed to set policy and direction for the Superintendent- who is supposed to run the district. Most of the time- it’s the other way around.

All that aside, we have two school district boards and one college board of trustees that can’t seem to do anything right in the Dayton area- so, let’s have a little poll, and decide who should get the crown of incompetence for the first quarter of 2018.

Trotwood Madison Board of Education

Last week, the Trotwood School Board voted 4-1 to fire a teacher, Khalilah Forté, for cause. Forté organized a student college tour, outside of school, with private dollars. This, along with her taking a student into her home, against her principals warning, were the stated reasons. There is more to this story, including that the one school board member who didn’t vote to fire her, Norman J. Scearce III, was the past president of the group that sponsored the tour. All the kids who went on the tour, did so with parental approval. The student in question, had her parents leave the area- and she needed some place to stay until she graduated. 

I remember examples of this happening when I was in HS. In my day, the teacher would be praised for going above and beyond in looking out for the welfare of her students. Her personnel record was spotless in her 3 years at TM.

The district is ranked worst in the state, and just hired a new Superintendent. Students are unhappy with this decision to fire a teacher that went above and beyond for them and are threatening a walkout during testing week.

Dayton Public Schools Board of Education

In just the first quarter of the year, this BOE has redefined FUBAR, starting even before the 4 new members took office, with their an attempt at convening of a school closing task force closed to the public. Already working with an interim superintendent with a whopping total of 1 year experience in the district, they then hired her at a premium amount, for three years, without even opening the position to internal candidates. The bench clearing brawl that broke out at the end of a Thurgood/Dunbar basketball game ended up getting Thurgood tossed out of the tournament and Thurgood being put back in. They decided to waste a ton of money- and piss off the Ohio High School Athletic Association (the sports Mafia of the state) by taking them to court- even though the district was already under sanctions for the Dunbar/Belmont thrown football game attempt the year before. They won the suit, but Dunbar only won one game before getting knocked out. They lost in an appeal on the improper termination notification of former Treasurer Craig Jones. They lost a first round in a Sunshine laws case brought by me, pro se, against them for their task forces private bus tour of buildings to close.

The bus drivers union came to within two days of a strike- pushing some testing back a week. The demoting of the Belmont Principal 6 weeks before the end of the school year did nothing to stop the systemic problems of a school that’s over-enrolled and understaffed. There have been multiple calls for police intervention at the school since the change over to management by committee. The district also subverted  their own purchasing rules by sliding a contract for a PR survey by a Cleveland firm to the Montgomery County Educational Services Center. The district PR machine seems totally broken, with the non-renewal of Dr. Venita Kelly who was hired to manage the PR a year ago, along with a contract to the most expensive bidder on an RFQ last year. When the assignments for principals was made public last week- it came via Esrati.com- with the Superintendent only releasing an email to staff after the changes were public. And lastly, despite enrollment drops being a primary concern, procedures for enrolling students are still a mess- with some parents spending an entire day in the “enrollment center.”

Wright State Board of Trustees

It’s been a while since esrati.com covered much of the ongoing fiasco at my alma mater. Therefore, I’m not limiting the screwups to just the last quarter.

This board is about to put the university into fiscal ruin, and just two weeks ago, declared that $10M needs to be cut in 10 weeks. This didn’t happen overnight. It’s been a long steady progression into the abyss. While Dr. David Hopkins got to retire with a pension and with his dignity and immediately move to South Carolina so that he can’t be hauled back into court to pay for his sins, the board continues to oversee what can only be described as a train wreck.

The malfunctions all began when board members used WSU’s ability to bring over students that amounted to unlimited H1-B visas, so they could have cheap labor for their IT firms. Trustee Nina Joshi president and CEO of UES Inc. resigned after getting her hands caught in the cookie jar. Trustee Michael Bridges of Peerless Technologies managed to vote for WSU to hire his son for a $125K a year IT job, without the job even being posted. Either of these infractions would normally result in prosecution, but both got barely a hand slap. Bridges stayed on the board, his kids job offer revoked. Current board chairman, Douglas Fecher, the CEO of Wright Patt Credit union should have some explaining to do about how WSU bought his former HQ while he sat on the board.

The failure of WSU to execute and bring the Presidential debate to campus should have been an early indication of managerial malfeasance and an organization run amok, however it was just the easy target. Harder is the operation of a bunch of shell companies which have been spending money like they can print it, with no legitimate oversight- since they aren’t quite WSU, or anything else. The Wright State Applied Research Corporation and Double Bowler Enterprises both fall into the netherworld of quasi-governmental slush funds. That a bunch of former politicians, lobbyists and “economic development” types are tied in should set off alarm bells. The hiring of Jim “Lefty” Leftwich, who tried to represent both WSU and the State of Ohio on the same deal was just one indication that no adults are captaining the ship.

Labor relations at the university are at an all time low, with staff being told that it’s up to them to control costs, mostly by not spending money required to actually do their jobs. When the Trustee’s brought in an interim President to do the dirty work of slashing and burning bloat- they chose to not listen to Dr. Curtis McCray- and instead cut Swimming- but boosted athletics budget by a million for basketball. Now, with ten weeks left they are wondering where the money went.

The hiring of the new president drew a limited field thanks to the dire straights of the school. The eventual pick is an introvert, who has yet to figure out that her salary alone is part of the problem. If there is one place where pay for performance is indicated, it’s for “turnaround” leaders- and so far, she’s barely been able to point out where the cuts need to be made. First hint: paying former congressman Steve Austria $150K a year probably doesn’t win you any favors with the state.

Your three choices

We’ll quickly see which organization should win the prize for incompetence in the first quarter with this poll. Feel free to also leave any other pertinent issues that I managed to overlook in this post as comments. This poll is in no means scientific (we’d need to hire a consultant from Cleveland to do one of those…). I just thought it was time for something new.

 

Which Board Should Be Fired First?

Trotwood Madison School Board
Dayton Public Schools Board of Education
Wright State University Board of Trustees

Why isn’t Dr. David Hopkins in jail?

Justice comes late to the president of Penn State, as he and other are sentenced to very short jail time for their role in the Jerry Sandusky sex offenses:

Three former Pennsylvania State University administrators, including former president Graham Spanier, were each sentenced to serve at least two months in jail Friday for failing to alert law enforcement about a 2001 incident involving retired football coach Jerry Sandusky and a boy in a campus shower. The sentences marked one of the final rulings from the criminal justice system on the shocking saga of missed opportunities to stop a sexual predator associated with one of America’s most storied college football programs.

Source: Former Penn State president Graham Spanier sentenced to jail for child endangerment in Jerry Sandusky abuse case – The Washington Post

They are guilty for what they didn’t do. They knew, but failed to act.

Dr. David Hopkins and his staff at Wright State aren’t facing any charges, in fact, most of them still are getting paid.  What did they do? Well, that depends on who you ask. Finger pointing, lawsuits, breech of contracts, odd hiring, even odder logo redo,  real estate purchases, failed presidential debates, H1-B visas, issues with nepotism (a trustee’s son was hired without a job posting) the list goes on and on- yet, the man who was paid to be captain at the time the ship was sinking still has a job.

The very foundation of the institution was critically damaged. Life long employees are now without jobs, key positions are opening up like pot shops in Colorado, and staff is interviewing everywhere and anywhere to escape the mess that Hopkins made.

The oddest thing about all of this to this observer is that the Board of Trustees is also intact, despite being the designated check and balance to this shit show. What’s even more insane, is that being a trustee in the state of Ohio to a public institution is an unpaid gig.

The trustees shall receive no compensation for their services, but may be paid for their reasonably necessary expenses while engaged in the discharge of their official duties.

Source: Lawriter – ORC

Then again, there is the saying, you get what you pay for.

The latest news on this front is Bruce Langos, formerly of Terradata and currently working for Sheriff “Shifty” Plummer, is now the newest Wright State Trustee. Langos previously starred on this site for being a tax evading beneficiary of the Austin Landing tax scheme where only little people pay taxes.

    Bruce Langos, standing, chairman of the Montgomery County Drug Free Coalition and director of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Intelligence Unit, and Jason Olson, seated third from left, addiction resource officer for the Dayton Police Department, presented information Friday afternoon about how Montgomery County officials deal with addiction, overdose deaths and crime caused by drug use at Consolidated Care Inc.’s West Liberty office. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)  Source: Montgomery Co. officials share strategies in fight against opiates

Bruce Langos, standing, chairman of the Montgomery County Drug Free Coalition and director of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Intelligence Unit, and Jason Olson, seated third from left, addiction resource officer for the Dayton Police Department, presented information Friday afternoon about how Montgomery County officials deal with addiction, overdose deaths and crime caused by drug use at Consolidated Care Inc.’s West Liberty office. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)
Source: Montgomery Co. officials share strategies in fight against opiates

That Langos, who says he has an undergrad and MBA from the unaccredited “Hamilton University” is the best pick for the seat on a board over an institution of higher ed, has me scratching my head. Considering half the hub-bub at WSU stemmed from questionable relationships with people closely linked to the Dayton Development Coalition of which Langos used to be the chair, says Kasich is looking to manage a coverup instead of bringing in a true objective voice.

There have to be more qualified, less controversial people who are actual Wright State graduates to place on the Board.

Wright State is a critical part of our local economy, and the damage done to it under Hopkins and the existing board cannot be left to ride off quietly into the sunset. No matter how nice Hopkins is, or how apologetic the board, they are all guilty of malfeasance in office and at the least, should be removed from any positions to do with the University.

 

 

Wright State, Lost Leadership

The new wright state logo not done by YorkBranding or Push Inc showing Wright State leadership under Dr. David Hopkins

Wright State’s new logo signifying Dr. David Hopkins’ leadership

Confidential sources have shared two communications from inside Wright State this week. The first is a fantasy feel-good message from Dr. Hopkins, crafted by some PR person wearing rose-colored glasses, who thinks that with proper phrasing, lipstick on a pig makes sense.
The second is a response from the faculty union (American Association of University Professors), suggesting that if you stop hiring retired congressmen, lobbyists, children of the board of directors, and creating more titles and titular heads of imaginary positions, there might be hope. Oh, and don’t spend a quarter-million on a logo with a Florida firm, or keep thinking college athletics are important to anyone- other than a few donors and a president who has an advanced degree in gym.

Read them and weep. If I were grading papers, the president would get a C- and the faculty union- an A+

Weekly message from WSU President Hopkins

Hello–

Together, over the last decade, we have had unprecedented success in building a new model of a 21st century public research university more relevant to the needs of the students and communities we serve. Our focus has always been on providing an affordable, high-quality education and building a diverse and inclusive welcoming community. We are using the expertise of our faculty and staff, along with the energy of our students, to engage with our communities to solve real social problems and growing the economy and quality of life throughout our region. At the very heart of everything we have done is our commitment to meet our diverse student population “where they are” academically, financially, and experientially to propel their success. We captured the essence of our decade-long transformation by our intention to be the “Best University FOR the World.”

Along this journey, we have faced formidable financial challenges. In 2008, the Great Recession exacerbated the already-20-year-long erosion of state support for public higher education. To address the challenges we faced in 2008, we strategically utilized our reserves to smooth the impact on our people and campus and to continue investing in strategic initiatives, many designed to grow alternative revenue streams in order to lessen our reliance on state support for operating dollars. It was apparent that we must be more in control of our own destiny in this “New Normal” of public higher education.

In 2010, we needed to restructure our base budget to align with the new realities of projected revenues. In my email to campus in the spring of 2009, I referred to our challenge as a “Nut to Crack.” We initiated a campus process that included a 5 percent reduction exercise given to all Vice Presidents and Deans. The purpose of the exercise was to insure that we were spending our resources on the priorities of the 2008 Strategic Plan (“Relentless”). A set of guiding principles was developed for the process, and ideas for reduction and new revenue generation were elicited from throughout our campus. Ultimately, the “Nut” was defined (approximately 4 percent of our base budget), and each Vice President and Dean was given a reduction target ranging from 2 percent to 5 percent, depending on unit performance trends. Using multiple tools, we reset our base budget in 2010 with the overall goal of emerging stronger as an institution.

With the help of an improving economy, a surge in enrollment growth from the impact of the Great Recession, and federal support through the American Recovery Act, we emerged in 2011 with one of the strongest financial years in our history. This allowed us to renew our reserves and accelerate our investment in a variety of initiatives, many to diversify our revenue streams. The following is a brief list of examples:

  1. Student Success Support (Student Success Center, Veterans, LGBTQ, International and others)
  2. Fundraising and Alumni Engagement (Rise. Shine. Campaign)
  3. Applied Research and Business/Industry Engagement (WSRI, WSARC, Commercialization)
  4. Branding/Marketing (address a highly competitive market and grow our national visibility)
  5. State-designated Centers of Excellence (focus on CELIA, Neuroscience and Human Innovation)

From 2013 to today, we have faced another round of reduced state support. It has come in the form of reduced SSI, capital, research challenge, Ohio College Opportunity Grants (OGOG), and mandated tuition constraints. We have taken the opportunity to share these challenges with the Faculty Senate and Staff Council multiple times over the last three years. Once again, we have strategically utilized our reserves to smooth the impact on our people and campus and continue investing in key strategic initiatives. At the beginning of fall 2015, it was clear with the mandated zero percent tuition increase for FY16 and FY17, projected flat SSI support, modest enrollment growth, and a sporadic economy, that we, once again, had a “Nut to Crack” in our base budget.

Initially, in the fall of 2015, we instituted a four-pronged approach to whittle away at the “Nut.” This involved

  1. more discipline in strategic hiring;
  2. improved central oversight to control overspending;
  3. better capital project oversight; and
  4. improved space utilization.

On November 20, 2015, we met with the Faculty Budget Oversight Committee in a three-hour meeting to share the trend data and the financial challenges we were facing. On January 22, 2016, in the public Board of Trustees Finance Committee, we discussed the framework for a budget remediation plan. On February 12, I announced at the public Board of Trustees meeting that Provost Sudkamp and VP for Business and Finance Jeff Ulliman were being charged to develop a campus-wide budget remediation plan by soliciting input from all campus constituents and that we would share the plan and all its details with the campus community during our annual Budget Workshop on June 2, 2016.

I reiterated this approach with the Faculty Senate during the March 14 meeting, and Provost Sudkamp reminded everyone about the importance of maintaining our focus on the upcoming March 21-22 HLC visit. Following the HLC visit, we initiated our campus process by meeting with Faculty Senate Leadership on March 30 to discuss guiding principles and the details of a process to strengthen our budget. 

The following principles will guide the development and implementation of our plan:

  • Must be people-friendly and preserve salaries and benefits as much as possible.
  • Must support the ongoing quality of WSU’s academic enterprise and support student success.
  • Must preserve and expand sources of revenue.
  • Should not result in indiscriminate hiring freezes or elimination of strategic investments.
  • The plan cannot call for across-the-board cuts but instead must focus on targeted reductions.
  • It should retain flexibility but eliminate duplication of efforts across units.
  • It should maintain best practices of business services, and it must honor a culture of compliance and stewardship.

We met on March 31 with Vice Presidents and Deans to discuss the process, provide trend data, and initiate a reduction exercise, just as we had in 2010. They were assigned an 8 percent reduction target for the exercise as we continued to identify more precisely our “Nut.” They were asked to respond to the following questions:

  1. How would you reduce your unit’s 2016 base budget by 8 percent? 
  2. What initiatives and projects will create additional revenue in the next two years?
  3. What suggestions do you have to enhance collaboration with other units or to reduce duplication to improve efficiency in providing services?

On April 5, we met with Staff Council and on April 6 with the combined Faculty Senate Executive Committee and Budget Oversight Committee to discuss principles and process and solicited their help in responding to questions #2 and #3 from above. We have asked for feedback on these questions from faculty and staff by Monday, April 18.

Later today, we will meet with our Cabinet and Deans’ Council to discuss the projected “Nut,” responses to questions posed, and provide unit targets to restructure our base budget over the next two fiscal years (FY17 and FY18).

Based on projected revenue and one-time expenditures, our “Nut” is approximately 6 percent (our exercise was 8 percent) of our base budget, not substantially different from the 4 percent we took on in 2010. However, we will reduce this challenge over a two-year period (FY17: 4 percent, and FY18: 2 percent), not losing sight of our need to explore all opportunities of our top principle of being people-friendly. In addition, we will engage in a number of one-time strategies to replenish our reserves in the next year. This will be discussed on June 2.

While we have kept our faculty and staff representatives up-to-date over the last year, we now want to share the challenge more broadly to get your ideas and suggestions. As we did in 2010, the final solution to cracking our present-day “Nut” will reflect the unique roles of our entire Wright State University family: faculty, staff, students, and our larger community.

I want to thank the faculty and staff who have already responded to our request for ideas on how we might best address these financial times and maintain our momentum. With your help, our leadership team will craft a plan to help navigate through this “New Normal” time for public research universities.

As we have done before, we will keep our focus on our core mission and our unwavering commitment to provide an affordable, high-quality education for those with potential and the drive to succeed.

Thank you,

David R. Hopkins

And the rebuttal:

To President David Hopkins and the Wright State University Board of Trustees:

In light of what has been happening at our University, the weekly e-mails we receive from President Hopkins paint a picture that bears little resemblance to reality. The former Provost has been on paid leave for nearly a year. Now we are told there is a major budget crisis. Yet, thus far and in typical fashion, the administration has directed the deans to plan for an 8% budget cut but otherwise has not shared any substantive information.

If the administration had bothered to share financial information in a meaningful way, perhaps the alleged crisis could have been averted. Instead, the administration spent years talking about budgetary transparency and MDA (and our magnificent salt barn!) All the while, apparently none of the extraordinarily well-paid administrators was minding the store and the Board was paying no attention. Year after year, now-departed Vice President Polatajko delivered a dog and pony show in his annual budgetary presentation to the Board, reported that we were spending money on new initiatives, and gave no hint that a budgetary storm was coming. What has been the return, monetary or otherwise, on our new initiatives? Apparently, not enough to offset the supposed financial crisis that has prompted the administration to ask the Deans to submit plans for 8% cuts in their colleges.

Several million dollars have been budgeted on a branding campaign. The administration disseminated a new logo, realized it looked like the logo for a local recycling company, and withdrew it. Of course, branding is supposed to be about more than just a logo. But have there been any tangible returns on our investment? We are confident that Wright State’s reputation is at a long-time low, branding campaign notwithstanding.

Millions have been spent on a consultant, and that in turn prompted the Ohio Speaker of the House — one of our alumni no less — to announce publicly that House members should use caution when dealing with Wright State. Clearly there were negative returns for that expenditure.

Millions are spent subsidizing intercollegiate athletics, when there is no evidence that students come to Wright State for athletics. In fact, in a recent survey, playing sports was the least significant reported factor in recruitment of students. Of course, the real test would be to ask our students whether they would rather have their tuition decreased by $500 a year or keep intercollegiate athletics. Meanwhile, the administration routinely allows intercollegiate athletics to overrun its already swollen budget. If that is not bad enough, a million dollars was spent building a football field so that a few male students would have a fancy venue for their games when 58% of our students are female. To top it off, the Athletic Director was allowed to fire the men’s basketball coach, who had two years left on his contract. So now we will be paying someone else for two years for doing absolutely nothing!

Millions have been spent on stipends, which is not surprising since WSU has over thirty individuals whose title includes president or provost (e.g., vice president, associate provost) and over forty whose title includes dean, many receiving stipends in addition to their base salaries. Why do we need so many administrators, and why do many of these individuals receive stipends when they are already among the highest paid employees at the University?

The administration and the board have taken on a multimillion dollar liability to hold a presidential debate at Wright State. If the massive funding needed does not materialize, how many employees will have to be furloughed? How many students won’t be able to take the classes they need to graduate?

Meanwhile, faculty and students — the heart of the university — suffer the consequences for these gross failures of leadership. Even more troubling than the firing of the basketball coach, the former provost sits at home collecting a very substantial salary, and we still don’t know whether the reasons for his suspension are only apparent misdeeds, or will actually be subject to prosecution as federal felonies, or something in between. All the while we raise tuition, and our students go deeper and deeper into debt. We admit students who we know have virtually no chance of academic success but take their money anyway, while offering almost no need-based scholarships. Our most distinguished faculty are awarded modest raises and ordered to stop printing handouts that might help those students.

It is time to come clean with the University community before we are forced to redesign our logo again to show the Wright Flyer crashing into the ground.

Very soon, you will receive recommendations from us regarding cuts in expenditures that can be made without imperiling the academic core of the University.

But in the meantime, we have questions.

Who is responsible for the alleged financial crisis, and will anyone be held accountable? What is its real magnitude? What are its causes? Is the alleged shortfall due to overly optimistic estimates of revenue, or is it simply the result of out of control expenses?

Specifically:

Even if the reported financial problems are due in part to continuing reductions in state support, why have the problems been allowed to accumulate to the point where planning for an 8% reduction in the college budgets is suddenly necessary?

How much has Wright State spent investigating the H-1B visa scandal? The investigation by the administration has dragged on for more than a year while the University’s reputation has been dragged through the mud.

Why is Wright State one of only two state universities whose audits for 2015 have yet to be posted on the Ohio Auditor’s website?

Where are the Trustees? Has the Board exercised its fiduciary responsibility at all? How many Board members have benefited from the issuance of H1-B visas or nepotism?

What is going on at WSRI? We keep seeing statements about the millions in research dollars that WSRI and our consultants are bringing into the University, and yet our Carnegie ranking has dropped and each year the University continues to provide millions of dollars to subsidize WSRI.

And to repeat questions we raised above: What returns have we realized from our new initiatives? From the branding campaign? From our expenditures on consultants? From millions poured into intercollegiate athletics? And why does WSU have so many administrators, and of them why do so many receive stipends in addition to their salaries?

The faculty demands transparency and accountability, now.

Martin Kich

President, AAUP-WSU

On Behalf of the AAUP-WSU Executive Committee

It’s time to replace the Board, let Hopkins retire, fire the provost, and bring in professional managers. If the state of Ohio can come in and take over the Dayton Public Schools for poor performance, it should be able to take over a university that’s lost touch with reality.

 

Wright State- Wrong University Leadership

The new wright state logo not done by YorkBranding or Push Inc. showing Wright State leadership under Dr. David Hopkins

Wright State’s new logo signifying Dr David Hopkins’ leadership

Dr. David Hopkins is a nice guy. A very nice guy. But, frankly, how many screw ups is a leader allowed to have before he gets shown the door. Obviously, at least 9- like a cat, if it’s Wright State, Wrong University.

Off the top of my head- we have the hiring of Jim Leftwich, former head of the corrupt Dayton Development Coalition, who was working for the state at the same time as he was working for WSU- and funneling contracts to… wait for it… himself.

Then we have former state legislator, and now, lobbyist cum consultant, Ron Wine, collecting a million a year on a “consulting contract” – except, there was no contract- to “bring opportunities” to Wright State- which reeked so badly that statehouse leader Cliff Rosenberger felt it necessary to tell his fellow legislators “use caution on everything because clearly they can’t handle themselves right now.”

And of course there is the H1-B visa scandal, where the university was sponsoring these permits to work in the U.S. for companies locally, including ones owned by some members of the board of trustees- as a modern day indentured servitude. Then in the investigation, they hired a law firm and an accounting firm and can’t figure out which one was protected by legal-client privilege when the newspaper did a Freedom of Information Act request.

As if that’s not enough to sink any mere mortal’s job, somehow, the son of the chairman of the board of trustees got hired to a $125K a year “information security job” straight out of the Air Force for a position that wasn’t posted- and the chairman voted on it. Of course, next up- a call for a $8 million “internet security upgrade” that was needed because of the very public presidential debate. One doesn’t have to wonder too hard which of the trustees was going to get the contract for this work.

Two weeks ago, the University proudly announced a “new logo” for which they went to Florida to find the talent to help rebrand them (sounds painfully like the University of Dayton going to Philly for their sports rebrand which flopped originally). This week- they chuck the work in the trash can. You can see the UD link for my list of curated local firms easily capable of doing the work- leaving mine out (I’m a Wright State grad- and have done more than a few corporate rebrands in my career).

Why Wright State ignores local talent, over and over is another sign that they don’t value their own graduates’ degrees much, nor the regional talent that they keep espousing.

Here is the gist of their reasoning for the new logo crashing and burning according to the Dayton Daily news:

Wright State University President David Hopkins says the school is scrapping a new logo that was unveiled last month for reasons that included “a number of deficiencies in the design.”

The university said Thursday that it will keep its current logo after considering feedback from community members, faculty, staff and students.

The proposed logo change — which included removing Wilbur Wright and color changes — was part of a larger rebranding effort the university launched in 2014.

Steve Gabbard, associate brand manager at Wright State, said that during the feedback process some said the logo looked too similar to logos used by Rumpke Waste & Recycling and Intel.

“The Wright Brothers connection was required,” Gabbard said. “People couldn’t imagine a logo without it.”

Hopkins sent an email to faculty and staff this week announcing the decision, but did not go into detail about why the new logo was rejected.

“Last month, we released recommended changes for campus review and input. That review has highlighted a number of deficiencies in the design,” Hopkins wrote. “At this point, the logo change is suspended and the branding effort will continue.”

Gabbard said the university initially removed the image of Wilbur next to the Wright Flyer because “it looked like someone missed the plane.”

Gabbard said WSU’s goal is to increase enrollment; each student contributes at least $10,000 to the school. Last fall’s enrollment was 18,059, according to the university’s website.

WSU paid Florida-based YorkBranding $250,000 over the past year — with the majority going toward the design of the logo. In total, the university has spent around $850,000 on its branding effort, Gabbard said.

Despite opting to keep the logo it launched nearly two decades ago, university officials say funds paid to YorkBranding were worth the cost.

Source: Wright State rejects new logo, keeps Wilbur

What’s not clear is how they stumbled onto YorkBranding for the blame on this, because when they announced this sucky logo, they were working with another Florida firm according to that DDn article:

The new logo is part of a larger rebranding effort the university launched in 2014. Trustees recently approved a $522,200 contract with the Orlando, Fla.,-based marketing firm Push, Inc. to help lead the effort. The total cost of the rebranding wasn’t immediately available.

Source: New Wright State logo doesn’t include Wilbur |

Once again, we seem to have a question of who did Wright State really hire? Push or York?

If Wright State really wanted to do a brand makeover, this was a topic of discussion in my very first meeting with David Hopkins over gyros. I suggested that the athletic brand “Raiders” had zero connection with the Wrights -and that the Green and Gold- selected because someone was a Packers fan made no sense either. There is a holistic approach to rebranding Wright State- but neither Push nor YorkBranding has a clue.

As to the idea that the brand mark is going to do much to change Wright State from “Beavertech” into a world class destination university, once again, someone needs to have their head examined. The fact that WSU has a “associate brand manager” is a clear indication that the university jumped the tracks long ago. The administrative bloat under Hopkins has raised costs, while faculty morale has dropped precipitously. All the new buildings do little to improve the quality of the education- and the fact that Wright State can’t find it within themselves to hire their own graduates to do their rebrand speaks clearly to how they value their own product.

Although, when they do hire their own graduates, like my classmate Bob Grant who is now the Athletic Director, his recent decision to fire the Basketball Coach, Billy Donlon, because he was failing “fan engagement” reaches new lows in reasons for firing. The man produced graduates, changed lives, and still won a lot of games, despite having the lowest paid assistant coaches in the league. He also loved Wright State and bled Green and Gold for what it’s worth. Maybe if the university spent less on hiring former congressmen like Steve Austria as “consultants” (Austria is an actual registered lobbyist) and could explain how the odd hiring of the coach’s dad as the “Director of Operations” (makes for a really odd chain of command, don’t you think) the coach might have had a better shot. As to one big-money donor complaining that WSU basketball isn’t anything like UD basketball- the first thing to question is where did this genius go to school? Wright State isn’t Harvard either, nor should it be.

All this comes down to the old maxim often attributed to Steve Jobs: “A” people hire “A” people, “B” people hire “C” people. It’s time for a complete housecleaning at Wright State from the president and the board of trustees down to the athletic director, and the “associate brand manager.”

Wright State University needs to reexamine itself from the ground up. Is it supposed to be a school with a “top 100” basketball program, and be a world renowned research facility- or is it supposed to be an affordable place for local residents to get a degree while working, or being stationed at Wright Patt?

Now that the “lobbyists” are having their way with allowing community colleges to serve outside their counties and to possibly offer 4-year degrees, why not just let Sinclair take it over and we cut overhead and tuition drastically? I guarantee Wright State would grow exponentially with tuition at $98 a credit hour- no matter what logo you put on the school- even if it looks like a local trash company.