The students and faculty at MnSCU universities would benefit mightily if Chancellor Rosenstone took this sentence from the opening paragraph of this morning’s editorial in the Pioneer Press seriously. Here’s the opening paragraph:
“Business as usual is not an option,” the chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities has maintained since joining the sprawling system in 2011.
Chancellor Rosenstone is right. Business as usual isn’t acceptable. Right now, Chancellor Rosenstone is asking for the IFO and the MSFC to join him in mediation:
Rosenstone earlier this month invited two faculty unions to join him in state mediation he hoped would “help us find a way to re-engage the faculty in this critical initiative.”
Before any mediation can start, however, the IFO needs proof that Chancellor Rosenstone can be trusted moving forward. That trust doesn’t exist at the moment, mostly because Chancellor Rosenstone destroyed it with his actions. When he negotiated a contract extension with Rev. Hightower, then the chairman of the MnSCU Board of Trustees, they a) negotiated it out of the spotlight and b) didn’t talk about it until the contract was leaked to the IFO.
When Chancellor Rosenstone signed a $2,000,000 contract with McKinsey & Co. to help implement Charting the Future, he didn’t disclose that contract even when he was asked directly about it. At the time that the McKinsey contract became public knowledge, Rosenstone replied that McKinsey preferred that their work stay outside the spotlight.
That’s certainly their right to ask as a company. If they want to remain anonymous, they shouldn’t sign contracts with public institutions. If they want government contracts, then they should accept full disclosure as a fact of life. Transparency and accountability aren’t optional. They’re requirements.
This statement shouldn’t be accepted as gospel truth:
Rosenstone readily admits that there are things he’d do differently. “I have said publicly, many times, that I could have handled some things better,” he said at the Nov. 19 meeting at which the MnSCU board and system presidents delivered a vote of confidence in both his leadership and the change effort.
Chancellor Rosenstone has repeatedly hidden his actions from the MnSCU Trustees, the legislature and the IFO. Why should these institutions think that he’s sincere this time?
Recommendations include sharing some services and leveraging the size of the system to negotiate with suppliers for better prices. They also include such things as making courses more easily transferable among MnSCU schools.
TRANSLATION: Biology 101 at Bemidji State should teach the same thing as Biology 101 at St. Cloud State. While that sounds good theoretically, it’s bad practice because it eliminates academic freedom.
The reality is that MnSCU is an institution that will never work the way it was first envisioned. Expecting efficiency from a dysfunctional system is the definition of insanity.