Whitewater, Rock, and the UW System

The Scene from Whitewater, WisconsinThere’s a UW System plan to pair some two-year colleges with some four-year universities. Reporting on the plan first broke Tuesday night, and since that evening there’s been more information about the proposal (to be considered formally in November, and if adopted to be begun in July 2018).

For the principal Wisconsin stories on the proposal, see UW System will propose merging two- and four-year campuses to cut costs, raise graduation numbers (Journal Sentinel), Merger would keep UW System’s two-year campuses afloat despite steep enrollment losses (Journal Sentinel), and University of Wisconsin officials announce plan to merge Colleges with four-year campuses (State Journal).

The proposal would link two-year UW-Rock as a branch, so to speak, of four-year UW-Whitewater (likely sharing the Whitewater name).

At the bottom of this post, I’ve reproduced the press release from UW-Whitewater’s chancellor, Beverly Kopper. (The press release erroneously implies that within the System, all four-year universities will be paired with two-year colleges. That’s not correct: some universities will not have college pairings.)

A few quick points:

1. Declining Enrollment. The two-year colleges have experienced significant enrollment declines. Even UW-Rock, doing better than most of the System’s two-year schools, has seen a 28% enrollment decline from 2010-2017. (UW-Whitewater, this year, itself saw a decline of about 200 students. They’ve had steady  growth for several years; this decline may be temporary.)In any case, none of these System schools is booming.

The combination of four-year Whitewater with two-year Rock is like asking a woman with a cold to care for a man with pneumonia.

2. An Arranged Marriage. This is a System-issued policy, and it does not reflect Whitewater’s own outreach efforts, no matter how much administrators might try to put a positive cast to their announcement. For years, Whitewater has devoted her efforts to recruiting students from the relatively more affluent Illinois counties of Lake and McHenry. Now, a huge administrative effort will need to be directed to less prosperous Rock County.

It’s not as though, on their own, Whitewater administrators haven’t known where Rock County is – it’s right next door. The plain truth is that on her own UW-Whitewater preferred to look to Illinois rather than Rock County.  UW-Whitewater wanted to date someone dashing; she’s now in an arranged marriage with someone dull.

3. Kopper’s Problem.  These are System-wide policies. It makes sense that Kopper would want to put the best face on a decision from above. Still, it’s hard not to see her problem: she follows one of the worst chancellors any school could have had, and like her currently-serving peers she has less independent authority than chancellors from, let’s say, fifteen years ago. Kopper wasn’t conscripted, of course: she wanted this (even to the point of offering bizarre praise to flatter Telfer when she was seeking the job).

As it is, past errors and present constraints probably make her position as difficult as any chancellor in the System.

4. A Better Approach. Some of the two-year colleges, with the worst enrollment trends, should have been closed. The rest should have been left on their own, so that they would neither burden nor distract from the traditional four-year universities’ respective missions.

Press release from UW-Whitewater follows — 

Dear Campus Community,

Earlier today, University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross announced a significant proposed change in the structure of the UW System. If approved by the UW System Board of Regents at their November meeting, the University of Wisconsin Colleges will be combined with the four-year universities in their region. It is proposed UW-Rock County will become a part of the UW-Whitewater campus community.

You have my promise that the administration at UW-Whitewater is committed to making this potential transition as seamless as possible. There are many unanswered questions at this point, and as answers become clear we will share them with the campuses. As noted in President Cross’ email, the UW System has established a place to ask questions. Here is the link: http://go.uwsa.edu/restructuringfeedback. We will also create a campus website related to the transition for both UW-Whitewater’s and UW-Rock County’s campus communities to keep up to date on proposed changes.

I am excited about the opportunity this will provide to strengthen our relationship with the people of Rock County, the businesses and community organizations. We look forward to developing new partnerships as well.

We will be scheduling a visit soon to meet with faculty, staff and students at UW-Rock County to begin the process of getting acquainted.

As UW-Whitewater readies itself for a yearlong celebration of our 150th anniversary, we are delighted with the possibility of welcoming the UW-Rock County community to the Warhawk family.

Sincerely,
Beverly Kopper
Chancellor

Contact UW-W News
Department University Marketing and Communications
Date Posted 10/11/2017

https://announcements.uww.edu/Details/13300

 

Priorities: Fighting Bigotry Over Babbittry

local sceneCommon men and women can learn from the examples of great men and women. In this way, one can learn how to prioritize between concurrent challenges, applying lessons from a prior and intense conflict even to present but lesser conflicts. Some threats are worse than others, and so our it’s reasonable that one places more effort there.

It makes sense to me that the most intense focus should be on the most intense challenges, and that those challenges are national ones first, local ones embodying national ones second, and purely local ones third.

The national challenges of Trumpism (viz., authoritarianism, bigotry, nativism, mendacity, conflicts of interest, ignorance, and subservience and dependency on Putin’s dictatorship) are a greater threat to communities than purely local buffoonery and grandiosity.

In this way, one would, so to speak, prioritize the fight against bigotry over babbittry. (One sees well, to be sure, that years of local babbittry erode the standards of a community, making it more susceptible of national illnesses. Only scorn is owed to those who wasted a generation glad-handing through town.)

Three confident assumptions undergird my thinking —

First, Trumpism should go, consigned to a political outer darkness, and the ruin of that way will be a thorough good. The next generation will ask: What did you do to oppose Trump? Those who supported him will then be silent; those who were silent will then be ashamed. Those who openly defended centuries of liberty and constitutionalism on this continent, however small their own efforts, will enjoy settled consciences and the thanks of a free people.

Second, there will still be time, during this national conflict, to combat local embodiments of the national challenges that face us. There are, for example, lumpen nativists, local show-us-your-papers men,  who deserve more criticism than they’ve yet received. That’s a fight worthy fighting, and one happily joined.

Third, most of those responsible for our local challenges have no future in any event — they were irreversibly in decline in Whitewater even before Trump came to power. If the pharaohs, with all their wealth poured into the pyramids, could not thereby prevent the decline of their way of life, then one can be sure that today’s local grandiosity and boosterism will not do the trick.

Fight and prevail through collective, nationwide efforts in the greater challenge, and the local challenge will be even more easily won.

Mentoring

local scene I’ve long held that Whitewater’s Major Public Institutions Produce a Net Loss (And Why It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way). This contention is true for several reasons, all leading to this result: “Whitewater’s major public institutions – her city government, school district, and local university – produce this unexpected result: although members of the government are certainly also sharp and capable individually, they often produce collectively a product that’s beneath their individual abilities or that of other competitive Americans.”

Why is this so? I’d suggest that in the breadth of these institutions, across all members, mentoring is weak. In a well-ordered and competitive profession or institution, a mentorship between an experienced leader and a younger work is a long process, lasting somewhere between five and ten years. There’s always particular to learn procedurally, but it’s just as true that the application of substantive, field-specific knowledge (medicine, law, finance, engineering) to particular circumstances is a gradually-acquired skill.

Some might suggest that a gifted young professional should advance more quickly than this, that someone in this position shouldn’t need a mentor for so long. I’d answer with two points: (1) some mentorships can productively last for decades, as a valuable if in later years less-used resource, and (2) it’s the most gifted young professionals who will gain the most from a long mentorship under a talented older colleague.

Ordinary grapes don’t take long to become juice; fine grapes slowly develop into excellent wines.

Mentorships in these local institutions probably go poorly because (1) the mentors are themselves weak or bad examples, and (2) younger workers are impatient to assert abilities that are, in fact, not nearly so developed as they would be in a truly nurturing environment.

Whitewater’s public institutions have particular public departments or administrative branches in which there hasn’t been a competent, capable leader for decades (literally, a generation or more). Each and every one of the employees who has come up in conditions like that has been cheated from a proper coaching and proper maturation within his or her field.

It’s worth stating what I believe to be a cold truth (almost always applicable): if an early professional’s development (the first five to ten years) is poorly guided, his or her whole career thereafter risks being markedly less than it might have been under sound guidance. Often the younger worker won’t even be able to discern the difference between his or her mediocre development and a competitive professional’s training.

Even someone with many developmental gaps can be brought to a sound professionalism if one begins early enough, and has the chance to guide positively, nurturingly. A younger professional who doesn’t have that experience is harder to guide positively, and (if there’s any chance of success) the task often requires more correction and discipline than anyone might wish.

A community that does not provide good mentors will not develop good professionals. It will find itself stuck with those who don’t know what they don’t know.  Good mentors need to be those with both practical and substantive knowledge in the younger employee’s field. General guidance and how-tos are not enough: a doctor could show a young lawyer around town, but that ordinary information isn’t why anyone consults with a doctor or a lawyer. A solid mentor, by the way, should himself or herself be reading field-specific material (e.g., as a physician with new procedures, new medicines, new approaches, etc.) or considering practical techniques (e.g., as a designer with new construction techniques, equipment, materials, etc.) each day. If one’s not thinking each day about one’s field, one needs rethink one’s line of work.

Someone who has gone nine or ten years without good guidance (e.g., no mentor, a weak mentor), is troublesome both on his or her own and to others. It’s an imposition on private time and resources to expect that private citizens to tolerate those who have wasted their own years and done little or nothing to help younger colleagues, colleagues who by then are simply a burden or risk to others.

A small town like Whitewater only makes matters worse when leaders insist all is well, all the time. Positive coaching should be a private matter. When accentuating the positive becomes the public ethos, younger workers will place public relations over the substance of their fields. Looking good as a goal impresses only the vain or weak-minded.

The public ethos should rest on the claim that whatever one does can be improved and advanced, internally through proper mentoring and externally through the adoption of best practices wherever they may be found.

 

How a Campus Masks Local Mistakes

Many small towns, looking for something to attract visitors and newcomers, probably dream about the possibility of a college campus. Whitewater has a public university campus, and the majority of the city’s residents are students at that school. Thousands of students in the city assure a steady stream of retail traffic we would not otherwise have. Some, if not most, merchants in town would wither or shut down without the demand the campus generates.

A thriving campus is an advantage for a city.

There is a way, however, that a campus – with the demand that it alone can generate – masks failings elsewhere in town. Because a campus necessarily draws visitors large numbers, failings of local municipal and other public officials are more easily ignored or overcome. Non-university officials don’t need to work as hard or as skillfully in an environment where a university’s demand compensates (as it by volume necessarily will) for their own mistakes and sloppiness.

Consider a recent story about policing in nearby Clinton, Wisconsin, where some residents are upset that local law enforcement’s supposedly heavy-handed conduct is driving away potential visitors who would otherwise shop in that town. (A story on this matter, behind a paywall, is poorly written and almost deliberately vague, offering little beyond a general claim.)

Whatever’s happening – or not – with local officials in Clinton, Wisconsin, this much is true: like most tiny towns, they’re on their own, with no campus to compensate for local political and administrative failings.

A municipal mistake in a place Clinton echos like a single pea in a tin can – there’s nothing else to muffle the rattling.

Whitewater, Wisconsin’s public campus gives local officials (here I mean some, not all) more leeway for error, shoddy thinking, and low-quality work, secure as they are in the knowledge that demand will remain higher than if their work alone were the city’s principal attraction.

This is one reason that, despite the talent of some, Whitewater’s Major Public Institutions Produce a Net Loss (And Why It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way).  It’s also true that the university, itself, has generated demand even when its some of its leaders – Richard Telfer easily comes to mind – have been mediocre or worse (“There is one exception worth noting: the high-level leadership that former Chancellor Telfer gathered at UW-Whitewater is notably weak or troubled…”).

Whitewater has an advantage that towns like Clinton don’t have, but rather than use that advantage to its fullest – by producing to a higher level – some officials can batten on the demand that a public campus offers without having to provide the unassisted effort that most rural communities must.

Whitewater, Cultures & Communications, June 2017 (Part 9: Small-Town Harvards)

This is the ninth post in a series considering related local topics of cultures & communications within the city.

Alana Semuels asks Could Small-Town Harvards Revive Rural Economies? Her contention, as she succinctly describes it:

 

College campuses and educational institutions can bolster the economies of small towns that otherwise would be struggling like many other rural locations throughout the country. Many of the rural areas that are thriving today are either home to natural features they can capitalize on—like Aspen, Colorado, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, do with skiing—or they’re the home to colleges or universities. The main benefits of educational institutions are twofold: They often produce research and technology that can be parlayed into new businesses, creating jobs nearby. And they bring to the area students, who spend money on restaurants and services, and attract professors and administrators, who do the same and also buy houses and cars.

Pick out any rural college town and it’s likely doing better economically than other nearby rural areas. The unemployment rate in Kearney, Nebraska, home to the University of Nebraska at Kearney, for example, is 2.5 percent, compared to the state’s overall rate of 3.4 percent. In rural Corvallis, Oregon, the home of Oregon State University, the unemployment rate is 3 percent, while surrounding rural counties such as Lincoln have a rate as high as 4.8 percent. According to Jed Kolko, an economic researcher at the job-search website Indeed.com, non-metropolitan counties that are growing in population have 30 percent college graduates or more; those that are shrinking tend to have populations with less than 30 percent college grads.

It goes without saying that Whitewater has not seen the economic gains across the city that some of these communities have seen. There are a few reasons for this, among many:

1.  Limited community support for the university.

2.  Community support that’s not really support. University employees who make excuses for their own institution in order to ingratiate themselves into the part of town culture that has limited support for the university are third-tier advocates. Just about every university-affiliated town notable has this problem. (See, from yesterday, Nearby.)

3.  Ersatz tech development instead of meaningful achievements. The Innovation Center is mostly the CESA 2 building. It’s what one builds when one wants to misapply a big federal grant to claim a successful tech affiliation that, in fact, falls far short of its promise. Boasting about the Innovation Center is boasting for the gullible or ignorant.

4. Self-affirming studies from the university that look more like flimsy press releases (and are, from the very get-go, conceptually flawed).  (See, The Value of Sports.) Studies like that should be embarrassments to accredited, degree-granting institution.)

5. Too much administrative emphasis on sports victories. Winning seasons are hard, and are not the accomplishment of non-athlete administrators. Banking on victories, in any event, is hard when Wisconsin’s D3 environment, overall, is sufficiently balanced that victories will naturally be spread over several schools (each with the ability to do well nationally). Expecting a permanent place at the top is a sign of how little someone knows about the challenges of a competitive environment.

Worse, pressure to stay on top leads to injury to individuals for the sake of an administrator’s pride.

As a community matter, though, too few are committed to the university as a university. They advocate for it in timid, compromising, unrealistic, and ineffectual ways. A town grandee or two walking around in a purple jacket isn’t meaningful advocacy – it’s self-congratulatory fashion.

Whitewater’s not close to a university that advocates for itself powerfully. There’s scarcely anyone among the university-affiliated who’s also formidable advocate for the school within town, and not one on the Media Relations team. Good writing is not enough – one must be emotionally resolute. (If Sen. Nass & Chief of Staff Mikalsen can back someone off, one’s not up to the job.)

(Models of strength in advocacy: @JRubinBlogger and @sarahkendzior. They’ll see their views through, come what may. So very admirable.) 

The university won’t be what it can be until a new group of university advocates emerges.

Until then, we’ll not have the small-town Harvard we otherwise might.

Previously: Parts 1 (introductory assumptions), 2 (population), 3 (oasis), 4 (demographics), 5 (working age), 6 (divided), 7 (how it was supposed to be), and 8 (nearby).

Tomorrow: Part 10.

Whitewater, Cultures & Communications, June 2017 (Part 7: How It Was Supposed to Be)

This is the seventh post in a series considering related local topics of cultures & communications within the city.

Consider the contemporary town-gown conditions in Whitewater. Here I am referring to present-day conditions, over the last ten or fifteen years. Part of the solution to this, surely, was meant to come from university-connected residents serving in local municipal government (e.g., Stewart, Bilgen, Winship).

Who better, the theory goes, to bring harmony than those both working on campus and residing in town?

(In earlier generations, Whitewater also had a crossover between university-affiliated residents and local government. Those earlier experiences, however, occurred when the university was much smaller than it is now, with fewer students, when student housing needs were different, and when students were more like boarders than apartment tenants. Earlier cases, from the ’50s or ’60s, aren’t applicable, and are uninteresting as examples for current policy.)

So, how did this recent decade go, among relations between the largest number of Whitewater’s residents (college-age students) and the smaller number of working-age adults from 25-64?

One can guess not well, if Whitewater’s still contending over local parties, if her police chief is fretting over “mob rule,” and if Jan Bilgen is declaring – in 2017! – that a campus informational campaign would be “starting soon to remind students “how to be a good neighbor” and that any trouble that they might possibly have with law enforcement could have a detrimental effect on their standing as a good student on campus.”

UW-Whitewater’s Marketing & Media Relations might want to work on that as a campaign:

“Hey, Mom and Dad, those kids you raised, and on whose tuition we depend, need some work. Have you been raising them in a barn for their first eighteen years, or what? Try harder!”

Whitewater’s former police chief worried over ‘raucous’ behavior; her present one worries over ‘mob rule.’ All these decades, yet it’s mostly been treading water.

I’d guess a minority of university faculty or upper-level staffers even live in Whitewater. Of those who live here, an even smaller number seek influence within city government.

This means that those who are part of a city-university nexus are a minority of a minority. Those who have sought so strenuously to be a part of town & university affairs are hardly representative of the majority of their colleagues on campus. Whether those colleagues (had they been more interested) could have done more, one cannot say.

One can say, however, that these unrepresentative few find themselves contending with the same problems, year after year, without success. Perhaps a desire to be popular, to hold influence, leads them to compromise from both sides in ways that short-changes everyone. In any event, the theory of relying on those who are (or seek to be) both campus and town notables looks better as a theory than as a practice.

Previously: Parts 1 (introductory assumptions), 2 (population), 3 (oasis), 4 (demographics), 5 (working age), and 6 (divided).

Tomorrow: Part 8.

On Lake, McHenry, and Walworth Counties

In August, I wrote that dorm-construction wasn’t the big story at UW-Whitewater, but rather it was the federal lawsuit against former Chancellor Telfer and [then-current] Athletic Director Amy Edmonds.   Even in her mundane story of residence-construction, the Journal Sentinel‘s Karen Herzog got it wrong: the bigger story was an increasing number of out-of-state students (now about 1-6 of all students), including many from Lake and McHenry Counties in Illinois.

Why does that matter?  Because many of those students are coming from out-of-state counties more affluent than Walworth County.  They and their families are likely to have different expectations.

The figures on median household income and poverty are striking.

For median household income (in 2015 dollars), 2011-2015: Walworth County $53,445, United States $53,889, McHenry County $77,222, and Lake County $78,026.  For persons in poverty, percent:  McHenry County 6.9%, and Lake County 9.5%, United States 13.5%, Walworth County 13.7%.

The superficial answer (one that Whitewater has tried for a generation) would be to use public money to build more, in the (false) hope that the town will look better, and so be more attractive to outsiders.  (That’s been mostly the search for young families, but some of the same standards apply to young, non-married residents.)

That’s not, however, the solution if one wants to keep attracting this kind of student, or successful families. (One knows public-funding of construction isn’t the solution; if it were, Whitewater would already be Brentwood.)  The expectations and gap from them are cultural, and only a change in campus & community relations – especially in the attitude of those in authority – will assure Whitewater is a desirable destination for those accustomed to a different level of care and opportunity.

Plain-Spoken in a Small Town? Not Most Leaders

localThere’s a quaint – but false – notion that people in small towns are uncommonly plain-spoken, even blunt.  One sometimes sees examples of this in films or books, where residents are depicted as folksy straight-talkers (“shucks, I don’t cotton to no one abusing nobody,” etc.).  I’ve never heard anyone in Whitewater speak so colorfully, and I’ve doubts that anyone not on a Hollywood set actually speaks like this.

Most people – and certainly most leaders – in this small town don’t often speak bluntly and openly.  On the contrary, there’s bias against mentioning problems publicly, even if they stem from intentional, grievous misconduct.

Now, and in the years ahead, one can expect that a multi-ethic community such as this one will see heightened slurs and abuse, overuse of force against a few, and (much) official quiescence in the face of it. (Some will even encourage this, convinced that pressure is justified against others and feeling that it is cathartic for themselves.)

Early on, perhaps a few officials will try to stress the positive, hiding others’ wrongful conduct from view, on the theory that the worst of all this will go away.

It won’t.  Those who keep their heads down may later find that they’ve no longer the strength to lift them up again.  A difficult near-term for Whitewater is likely to get worse.  These actions will prove wrong in-and-of themselves, and secondarily will prove an effective retardant against discerning, prosperous newcomers. Such newcomers – much sought by local development officials – will go elsewhere.

No matter, sadly: most locally will carry on as they have been.

For communities choosing the quieter response, including this one, the die is cast.

Answer of Telfer and Edmonds to Former Coach Fader’s Federal Lawsuit

local

In August, Timothy Fader, the former wrestling coach at UW-Whitewater, filed a federal lawsuit against former chancellor Richard Telfer and then-Athletic Director Amy Edmonds (she has since been demoted), alleging defamation & constructive termination stemming from a dismissal because Fader reported an alleged sexual assault committed by a recruit directly to Whitewater police rather than a campus supervisor.  See, Former Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials.

Although the complaint names Telfer and Edmonds in an individual capacity, both are receiving a defense in this civil matter with state resources (and so at taxpayers’ expense).

Whitewater is a city with a median household income of $30,218, where 36.7% of all residents, 15.2% of all families, and 18.6% of all children live below the poverty level.  Telfer’s last publicly-paid salary before retirement was a reported $212,600.

I’ve promised to follow the case, and immediately below is a copy Telfer and Edmonds’s answer and Fader’s complaint.

Answer:

Download (PDF, 110KB)

Complaint:

Download (PDF, 6.78MB)

Marnocha’s Return

I posted last week that Randy Marnocha, formerly a UW-Whitewater administrator, is back as interim athletic director following the demotion of Amy Edmonds. See, from this website on 10.14.16, UW-Whitewater’s Interim Athletic Director.

The issue on campus is not simply whether this or that person will hold office, but whether the school will produce an administration that values the individual rights of students, coaches, and faculty more than it values the self-promotion of leading administrators.

Marnocha’s a choice best viewed cautiously. The university’s press release includes these remarks on his experience:

….Randy Marnocha is a familiar member of the Warhawk family. He served our campus for 27 years in various capacities, including 2006 until 2010 as Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs. He then took a position with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Department as associate director for business operations,” Chancellor Kopper said. “Randy has experience at one of the nation’s premier athletic departments, and I am pleased that he will bring his skill-base and knowledge to Warhawk Athletics….”

How Marnocha will do in his new & interim role I’ve no idea. Some of his past work in this city was spotty. It was Marnocha, along with then-City Manager Brunner, who wanted to form a joint university-municipal court (to keep more of the court fees with local, rather than county, authorities). See, from June 22, 2008, Joint court could be just the ticket @ GazetteXtra.

At the time, I let that discussion play out for months without much comment until September of that year, because there was no chance that a joint court of that kind was permissible under Wisconsin law. The oddity was that for months officials in the city and university went on with a city-university court proposal apparently without reading (or understanding) fundamental points of state law (that prohibited local creation of a hybrid court of the kind being proposed).

Finally, I wrote about the idea, after these proponents discovered, or were told, that their proposal was legally impermissible. See, from this website on September 4, 2008, Whitewater Common Council Meeting for 9/2: The Joint Court Proposal.

Marnocha was also a proponent of Whitewater’s Innovation Center. See, A City-University Technology Park in Whitewater.   Now that he’s back, perhaps he’ll use his formidable ‘skill-base’ to list the cost of the Innovation Center as against the number of actual, full-time jobs created (excluding jobs already existing at CESA 2, work-study jobs, internships, and university faculty already employed at public expense but affiliated with the Innovation Center).

Someone with “experience at one of the nation’s premier athletic departments” should be able to use a calculator, abacus, chalkboard, or pencil & paper to calculate the result in only minutes.

The failings here have been of addressing sexual assaults, over many years, and they’ve been severe.  Changing a person here or there is not enough.

I’ve written about local, official misconduct concerning sexual assault complaints for years; recent, national  political news is not the basis for my concern.  The conduct of self-aggrandizing and self-protective administrators in ignoring injury to some (thereby inflicting more injury through the denial of justice), and in causing reputational and related economic injury to others, is the basis for this concern.

It will take more than the shuffling of two chairs to overcome years of administrative misconduct.

UW-Whitewater’s Interim Athletic Director

UW-Whitewater has hired an interim athletic director to replace Amy Edmonds, who was recently demoted:

Effective Oct. 17, Randy Marnocha will begin serving as Interim Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Chancellor Beverly Kopper announced today. Amy Edmonds will return to her previous position as associate athletic director, and will assist with the transition.

“Randy Marnocha is a familiar member of the Warhawk family. He served our campus for 27 years in various capacities, including 2006 until 2010 as Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs. He then took a position with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Department as associate director for business operations,” Chancellor Kopper said. “Randy has experience at one of the nation’s premier athletic departments, and I am pleased that he will bring his skill-base and knowledge to Warhawk Athletics.”

A national search for a new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics will begin in the spring.

See, Interim Athletic Director named @ https://announcements.uww.edu/Details/12892.

One may have read local stories about Edmonds’s demotion, in which UW-Whitewater’s Media Relations Director Sara Kuhl has denied that the athletic leadership change had anything to do with a recent lawsuit against Edmonds and former Chancellor Telfer.

It’s an unverfiable denial, of course, and in any event reporters who are asking Kuhl if the demotion is a result of former coach Timothy Fader’s lawsuit only show how little they understand about the history of UW-Whitewater’s administrative handling of sexual assault complaints.

Coach Fader’s effective dismissal and subsequent lawsuit wasn’t a cause, but instead an effect, of a pattern of mishandling, ignoring, and obstructing assault complaints. See, as a category at this website, Assault Awareness & Prevention.

Asking a question about a single lawsuit isn’t adequate follow-up to a wider problem: it’s evidence of ignorance, laziness, or servility.

 

UW-Whitewater’s Amy Edmonds Out as Athletic Director

UW-Whitewater’s current Athletic Director, Amy Edmonds, is reportedly out as head of UW-Whitewater’s athletic programs.  The report notes that she’s being demoted to associate athletic director (at a significant cut in salary).

There’s no certainty that she would, in fact, remain in a subordinate role following the apppointment of an interim director, let alone a permanent one.

See, http://royalpurplenews.com/19898/news/athletic-director-to-be-replaced/.

Edmonds was appointed interim director, and later permanent athletic director, during then-Chancellor Richard Telfer’s tenure. Edmonds and Telfer are now co-defendants in a federal defamation lawsuit from former wrestling Coach Timothy Fader. See, Former Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials.

For more about Edmonds from FREE WHITEWATER, see, Coach Timothy Fader, Vindicated, Former Coach Fader Vindicated Five Times Over, Chancellor Telfer & UW-Whitewater Officials: Why Wait 147 Days?, and Questions on Assault Reporting, Formality, and Former UW-Whitewater Wrestling Coach Fader.

Preliminaries on Private Parties in Whitewater

Last night Common Council discussed, but took no formal legal action on, a possible ordinance to regulate large private parties in Whitewater. I wrote a bit about this yesterday (seeParadise is just one regulation away…).

City employees, along with others, will consider options, but took no other, formal action last night.

Some observations:

Few Big Events. There are very few large events in Whitewater, and even fewer that have created a disturbance. We’re a small town, and most of our events are relatively small, too.

Small Gatherings Added Up. Even large events are often, in fact, the combination of many smaller parties, rather than one private location’s festivities.

Ordinances as an Option. Not everyone in our government wants a new ordinance, but it’s worth nothing that (a) a university proposal was drafted under the assumption that there would be an ordinance, and (b) the first remarks on the matter from Whitewater’s assistant city manager comprised a list of cities that had ordinances regulating parties on private property.

One would be more comfortable with assertions that extra ordinances were not the first consideration of public officials if some of them did not make ordinances their first consideration.

One Swallow. If one swallow does not make a spring (it doesn’t, as swallows do not control the seasons), then it’s as fair to say that one bad event does not make an apocalypse.

There should, of course, be no public disturbances; still, we are a robust people who can weather present, and prevent future, disturbances.

Coordination. Spring Splash 2016 did go awry, but if the officials of this town & university cannot manage without yet another ordinance, I’m not sure why they’re being publicly paid. Millions for the city, hundreds of millions for the university, and enough university officials to staff the Pentagon – they’ve enough people to get this right without the crutch, the excuse, of needing more ordinances.

Why is a public man’s recourse often another public ordinance limiting private activity? This is a society of private property and private enterprise, and on them our prosperity rests.

Blaming His Own Students. One has heard, and Whitewater’s Chief Otterbacher repeated last night, that a main cause of the Spring Splash 2016 kerfuffle was too many out-of-city attendees (that is, non-student attendees).

I’ve no reason to doubt this contention. At the very least, it’s been repeated by officials and (because the Daily Union repeats officials) the Daily Union.

How odd, then, that in a Gazette story of 9.20.16, one reads that Matt Aschenbrener, UW-Whitewater assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and retention, contends that

many of the recommendations, including No. 4 [about large parties], are designed in part to teach students who are living off campus what it is like to be a good neighbor. Many of the students who go on to live off campus, he said, do not have experience having relationships with landlords, neighbors and the city.

See, Whitewater exploring possible regulations for large parties @ Gazette, subscription req’d.

Is Aschenbrener serious?

He’s describing the very students for whom he is responsible – for enrollment and retention – as though they were unacculturated, as though they were raised by wolves.

Does Aschenbrener believe that they didn’t have families that taught them – after eighteen or so years before arriving here – what it means to be a good neighbor?

I don’t believe that, and I never will.

Does he believe – contrary to what Otterbacher and others have said for months – that the problem has been local students and not out-of-town visitors?

I don’t believe that, either.

If the university were filled with students who didn’t know what it meant to be good neighbors, then neither the university nor the city would be able to function, even for a day. Life here each day does go on without problems like Spring Splash 2016.

These students are, in fact, people who already know what it means to be good neighbors. The continuing functioning of the community proves as much.

Even if Aschenbrener were right – he’s not – one wonders whose problem this is. He’s the ‘assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and retention.’ If the students arriving here are not up to snuff, wouldn’t that be evidence of failure from the administrator responsible for enrolling and retaining students?

Aschenbrener arrived here years ago, taking office on June 1, 2011. Although he may blame (unfairly) the students his university has enrolled over these last 1,939 days, the real fault would be his, as assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and retention, not theirs.

Good students, a good faculty, but a weak administration that lags behind the abilities of its students & faculty, and in this case blames those for whom it is responsible.

We’ll see more about how the city and university address the rare occurrence of large events; there will be more to come.

Paradise is just one regulation away…

Whitewater’s had a problem with occasional crowds, as at Spring Splash, and so now a few from the Old Guard are sure that yet another regulation on private property will bring a city of order, harmony, and smiling-faced residents.

They’re confident it’s the answer, relying on the old adage that the twelve thousand, four hundred, seventy-third time is the charm.

There are remarks in a local paper today from a university administrator, but I’ll leave them aside to see if anyone subsequently speaking on behalf of the university administration recognizes how telling – in an unfortunate way – they are.  

Honest to goodness.

There will be more to say after one hears more. 

The Sketchy – But Revealing – UW-Whitewater Dormitory Stories 

The big UW-Whitewater story last week wasn’t about a dormitory, but about a lawsuit against former Chancellor Telfer and current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds

The dormitory stories are at best evidence of administrative incompetence, at worst evidence of a manipulated story (albeit ham-handedly).  They also, ironically, offer a dark motivation for the repeated actions of UW-Whitewater officials concerning sexual assault reporting. 

Background.  On Sunday evening, 8.21, the Journal Sentinel published a story about how UW-Whitewater dorm limbo could crimp recruitment. I posted on the story the next day, noting that even by the story’s own terms, the key issue wasn’t a dorm, but the influx of out-of-state students from Illinois. SeeDorm-Construction Isn’t the Big Story.

Five days later, on Friday evening, the Journal posted a follow-up to the dormitory story.  SeeUW-Whitewater dorm back on track.

Turns out, the Journal story was stale even before the first installment on 8.21:

Gov. Scott Walker signed the final contract to hire an architect/engineering firm for the UW-Whitewater residence hall the same day the project was singled out by the regents during their [August 18th] meeting in Madison. The project was working its way through the pipeline in a normal progression, according to Steve Michels, communications director for the state Department of Administration….

UW officials weren’t notified that the governor had signed the contract until Tuesday [8.23], the day after a story about the project delay appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

(In fact, the story appeared online on 8.21, but either way the dorm had been approved before reporter Herzog published a word of her story.)

A few observations:

Convenient, coincidental. How convenient it must have been, on the same day that news broke of a lawsuit against UW-Whitewater, that an unrelated  (and actually resolved) issue was available to divert attention from a more important matter.

The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Wisconsin on 8.18 – university officials surely knew of it before reporter Karen Herzog’s story appeared online or in print.

Incompetent. Honest to goodness, could Herzog not have called to ask the status of the dorm before writing her first story? That first story makes no mention of any attempt to call any state officials. 

The story seems to rely completely and totally on the account of Jeff Arnold, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs at UW-Whitewater

Either Herzog was negligent to omit reference of a call to the state, was negligent not to call the state, or was a dupe in a UW-Whitewater effort to push a non-issue (dorm already approved) over an ongoing, serious one (federal lawsuits and federal Title IX investigations). 

Ineffectual. Since the dorm had already been approved, what does that say about the Vice Chancellor Arnold’s competence or influence that supposedly (1) he didn’t know and (2) nobody bothered to tell him promptly?

Ineffectual, Part 2. All litigation is uncertain. I’ve no idea how either the lawsuit or Title IX administrative claims will develop.

I do know that both stories are now national ones,  and that local efforts to shift the subject are futile (both because the stories have spread too far and because the university’s Media Relations staff are incapable of effectively spinning these accounts against an accurate telling in reply).

Motivation.  Whether Arnold’s fuss over a dorm that had already been approved was from his own incompetence or as a public relations diversion, it’s revealing in a deeper way.

Astonishingly, in the first story, reporter Herzog unintentionally supplies a motivation for the university’s actions to ignore or shove aside those who spoke of sexual assaults on campus: the university was under competitive, financial pressure to recruit out-of-state students.  

Here, from Herzog’s first story:

Since 2009, the school has doubled admissions applications and enrollment of Illinois students. Illinois residents made up 9% of the freshman class in 2009; now they are about 16% of the freshman class, with the largest number coming from McHenry and Lake counties.

Wisconsin resident enrollment is holding steady, according to school officials.

Not having enough housing may work against recruiting efforts in Illinois.

“The lack of housing is constraining our growth,” Arnold said. “It’s our feeling we’re losing students because of our inability to provide housing. Our freshman classes have been capped due to our housing.”

If Arnold thinks that lack of housing will constrain growth, imagine what repeated stories of sexual assualt on campus would do to those same recruitment efforts.

The pressure and push for out-of state-students, from 2009 to 2014, coincides with the clear majority of Richard Telfer’s tenure as chancellor.

Herzog’s first story, one that that Arnold seems to have spoon-fed to her, offers a dark, specific, numerical motivation to suppress assault reporting. 

One could have surmised as much without the story, to be sure, but if the story should be a public-relations inspiration, it’s an especially poor one. 

Expressing public concern over recruiting at the same time students and a former employee are filing complaints about mishandled sexual assault cases, unjust termination, and retaliation is particularly dense. 

More to come. 

Coach Fader Appears on ESPN’s Outside the Lines

 

On Friday, former UW-Whitewater Coach Timothy Fader appeared on ESPN’s nationally-broadcast Outside the Lines, to describe the treatment that led him to file a federal lawsuit against former Chancellor Telfer and current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds. See, Coach fired for reporting sexual assault.

UW-Whitewater officials declined to appear on the program, but issued a statement that anchor Bob Ley read on the air. (The UW-Whitewater statement professes concern for assault survivors but declines to mention that two assault survivors have filed federal Title IX complaints against UW-Whitewater for failing to address their grievances properly as the law requires.)

Channel 3000 first reported on the lawsuit last Monday. This website posted on the lawsuit and story that same day, and included a copy of the federal lawsuit for readers (pdf).

For more on the story, see from Channel 3000 (WISC-TV), Former UW-Whitewater coach tells story to national audience. For prior posts from FREE WHITEWATER, see posts about Coach Fader and UW-Whitewater officials’ conduct.

Long Miles Ahead

I posted yesterday on the federal lawsuit filed against former Chancellor Richard Telfer and current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds.  SeeFormer Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials.

One should not expect a quick resolution to the many issues the lawsuit raises, of mistreatment of honest employees & disregard for assault survivors. On the contrary, in a matter like this there are likely to be tactics of  (1) silence, (2) changing the subject,  (3) lying, (4) blaming terminated employees and assault survivors, and (5) self-serving but unethical insistence that injury to a few served a higher institutional purpose.

We’re nowhere near the end of all this. A federal lawsuit, and a federal investigation into Title IX handling of sexual assault complaints, is a consequence of, but not a certain cure for, the grievances asserted.

There is much yet ahead. 

Former Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials

At Channel 3000, investigative reporter Adam Schrager reports on a federal lawsuit that former Coach Timothy Fader has filed against UW-Whitewater officials, in their individual capacities. (I had promised readers that I would continue to follow this story, and will continue to do so as the case unfolds.)

Both current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds and former Chancellor Richard Telfer are named defendants:

The lawsuit asserts that Fader was not renewed as the school’s wrestling coach in the summer of 2014 because he immediately reported an alleged sexual assault committed by one of his recruits directly to Whitewater police and not to his supervisors on campus, per university policy. After that, Fader alleges an official at a college in Minnesota called Edmonds for a job reference but was told that she could not “tell him the whole story,” creating “even more mystery and (implying) additional but unreported misconduct on Fader’s part,” according to the lawsuit.

Fader also makes the claim that there are no records of an earlier sexual assault he had reported to university officials. UW-Whitewater is facing two Title IX complaints filed with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Education in the last two years. Title IX legislation was passed by Congress in 1972 to prohibit discrimination by gender in federally-funded education programs.

See, Former UW-Whitewater wrestling coach files lawsuit : AD, former chancellor named as defendants @ Channel 3000.

See, additionally, prior posts about Coach Fader and UW-Whitewater officials’ conduct.

More to come.

Below is an embedded copy of the federal complaint:


Download (PDF, 6.78MB)

Dorm-Construction Isn’t the Big Story

Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel has a story about delayed dorm construction at UW-Whitewater. At least, that’s how she’s framed the story, how many will understand the story, and how both UW-Whitewater and Herzog would, no doubt, like readers to understand the story.

Here’s what’s more significant even than the need for additional sleeping space:

This year’s freshman class is expected to be near record in size, boosted by students from nearby Illinois who have been successfully courted in part because the nonresident cost of attending UW-Whitewater is about what those students would pay to attend college in their own state.

UW-Whitewater is about 25 miles from the Illinois border as the crow flies.

Since 2009, the school has doubled admissions applications and enrollment of Illinois students. Illinois residents made up 9% of the freshman class in 2009; now they are about 16% of the freshman class, with the largest number coming from McHenry and Lake counties.

See, UW-Whitewater dorm limbo could crimp recruitment @ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

I don’t think a large out-of-state group is intrinsically good or bad – it is, however, significant.

The composition of the class matters, and if sustained will influence the development of both the university and the city.

Grocery Preliminaries (Part 2)

I wrote yesterday about a grocery in town, in a post entitled, Grocery Preliminaries.  The post’s subject line used the word ‘preliminaries’ because it seems likely that Whitewater will get a new grocery, whatever one thinks of a public subsidy to entice one.  

In this way, that post presumed a deal, and so was meant to be preliminary to one.

(Needless to say, whatever the challenges of subsidizing a grocery, it’s noting like importing trash into the city as a get-revenue-quick scheme.  Waste importation is a truly bad idea, destructive to the environment, health, and development of the city.)

One of the conditions for a new grocery at the old Sentry location is that the university’s interest in the property  (as a term of art and a general desire for expansion) be satisfied.  

It’s worth noting that unpublished discussion of UW-Whitewater’s interest in the property has percolated through parts of the community for months; it’s not new information for everyone.  

This only reinforces, however, the point from an earlier post, Informed Residents, about the need for open government.

This morning, many residents are sure to be surprised  (‘the university has a connection to this property?’) and a few will be frustrated  (‘why didn’t we know?’ & ‘is the university standing in the way of a deal?’).

These are merely elements of a transaction, and they could have been disclosed sooner.  This community needs neither confusion about a project nor frustration with the university over it. 

I know that open government seems soft and starry to some, but it’s neither. Open government is both a principled (as a right) and a prudent (as a practical) approach.  It’s not in opposition to realism, but rather a higher expression of realism, embodying as it does the recognition that information typically wills out, at a higher price for the delay.

I’m sure we will get a grocery, and almost certainly with a public subsidy. That’s not what I’d advocate, but the proposal has obvious support. 

We could (and can) have one, however, more smoothly than this.