BOT Letter #11

From: “Heise, Anne” <Aheise@wccnet.edu>
Date: May 28, 2014 at 1:21:23 PM EDT
To: “trustees@wccnet.edu” <trustees@wccnet.edu>
Cc: “Barrie, Maryam” <MBarrie@wccnet.edu>
Subject: a new organizational culture at WCC
Dear Trustees,

Many of you have experience leading organizations so you know how important the culture of an organization is to its effectiveness. In this brief memo I would like to present three examples of the culture shift at WCC, from one of problem-solving and collaboration to one of threats and blame-finding.
1. During the Winter semester there was an attempt to distribute Student Opinion Questionnaires in a new way. Many Part-time faculty were not adequately informed about the process and thus did not have their students fill out the SOQs. The interim Vice President for Instruction admitted that the process was flawed, BUT THEN suggested that Part-time faculty who did not administer the SOQs should either not be re-hired or at a minimum have a letter of reprimand put in their files! To me this is more like punishing the victim than solving the problem.
2. Last fall Human Resources required all faculty to undertake some training regarding sexual harassment. After some time there were some faculty who had not completed the training. Instead of HR contacting these faculty, HR told the deans and department chairs to do so. It seems HR was hoping to subtly threaten faculty by involving their supervisors in what was really an HR function.
3. During the Winter semester the arrival of the Heartbleed computer virus meant that WCC faculty needed to change their passwords. At some point the Chief Information Officer sent out an email saying that faculty who had not changed their passwords would be reported to their deans. I replied to him suggesting instead that he just individually contact those faculty and ask them to change their passwords. He did not reply.
These kinds of ham-fisted and punitive attempts to solve problems were all promulgated by people who have been at WCC for a long time. They never used to do things like this. I believe the WCC leadership has created this culture such that this kind of behavior is now seen as acceptable and perhaps even appropriate.
Decades of research show the links between dysfunctional culture and dysfunctional organizational performance. It is terrible to see it played out here at WCC.

Sincerely,

Anne Heise
Co-chair, Life Sciences Department
Washtenaw Community College
4800 Huron River Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI 48106
phone 734-973-3363

 

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