Yesterday, UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper announced that she was resigning her position as of 12.31.18. Later in the day, the UW System publicly announced that Kopper would be on leave at her former salary for eight months, and then in the fall have the option of returning to UW-Whitewater’s Psychology Department as a professor. See Kopper Resigns, Whitewater Remains.
Understandably, the terms of the deal quickly became a subject of criticism for their profligacy. (Students are struggling with tuition each semester.)
Yet the deal between the UW System and Kopper will prove more than wasteful: it will soon be futile, disappointing, and self-destructive to both parties.
Events will change too quickly for either the UW System or Kopper to expect that this arrangement will long endure. Indeed, even highly skilled institutional parties have trouble maintaining the balance during times of rapid change. (It’s notable that behind-the-scenes efforts to preserve Kopper as chancellor amounted to nothing.)
Departing leaders often find that even a few months soon seem more like a few years, and what was once an environment they controlled is no longer suited to them. (When the leader is a failure, this is especially so.)
What may seem like a good deal to a few officials at the UW System and UW-Whitewater will soon prove both unworkable and disappointing to them. They’ll come to wish they had not made this deal — a continued connection will prove disappointing even to them.
About an institutional example, I alluded to yesterday: there seems no case in the contemporary environment where an institution escaped scrutiny or litigation by preserving connections to departing leaders who failed to maintain a safe work environment.
A deal that preserves an institutional connection will invite further scrutiny and legal avenues of all concerned, especially among injured parties who are represented. A deal that involved a clean break – although itself objectionable – would have been the more prudent course.
This deal won’t last for the long term, will probably prove unsatisfying to the parties to it, and will prove self-destructive of even the narrow ends it aims to advance.
Significantly, however wasteful the terms of the deal in these times of fiscal constraint, the most important matters are the redress of individual injuries and the development of a better campus culture.
That redress and that work, after so many harmful years, should always be foremost in mind.
Previously: Journal Sentinel: UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband banned from campus after sexual harassment investigation, Questions Concerning a Ban on the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Husband After a Sexual Harassment Investigation, Chancellor Kopper Should Resign, A fifth woman publicly accuses UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband of sexual harassment, The UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Lack of Individual Regard, No Ordinary, Unconnected Spouse: Public officials’ use of family appointees, An Example of Old Whitewater’s Deficient Reasoning, The Principle of Diversity Rests on Individual Rights, Another ‘Advisory Council’ Isn’t What Whitewater Needs, A Defense That’s Worse Than Nothing, 0, 448, 476, 84, and Kopper Resigns, Whitewater Remains.