Tuesday, July 07, 2015

University of Alaska Presidential Search Part 3: Resume Padding -Or- When Is A Publication Not A Publication?

It's with a heavy heart that I have to conclude that UA President finalist Jim Johnsen has padded his resume.  In a section labeled "Selected Publications"  there are three items listed.  None of them can be legitimately called a 'publication.'  While this may seem trivial to some, in the academic world where he has spent a good part of his career and where this job would be, publications make or break a faculty career.

Dr. Johnsen, according to his resume, has never been in a tenure track position, so actually having publications is not something that would have been required of him.  Sure, having some publications might enhance his standing, but they aren't necessary.  My concern is that he padded his resume to make his accomplishments look like more than they were.  And while this section was labeled 'Selected Publications,' implying that there are other works that would be legitimately called publications in an academic setting, there aren't.  The rest of this post will give the details of the documents identified in the resume and discuss the issues of academic publications and resume padding.

Finalist Announcement

When the one finalist for the UA president was announced, I was partly surprised by who it was - someone I had interacted with in my role as a faculty union grievance representative - but even more so by the fact that there was only one candidate.  There was a search in 1998 that resulted in only two candidates, but the 1990 and 2010 searches had four and three respectively.

The Board of Regents webpage had a link to the resume.  As I looked through it I saw there were three items listed under "Selected Publications."  They were all topics that related to University of Alaska labor relations, my connection to Johnsen.

Screen shot from Jim Johnsen resume

So I googled to find them.  I got nothing.

The 'Publications'

I called the UAA Consortium library reference desk and the librarian said she had been looking unsuccessfully herself.  She suggested I contact the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education, where  "The Restructuring . . ." piece was supposed to be in their 2000 proceedings.  (I had already been to their website, but hadn't done more.)  So I called and asked if they had a copy. Michelle told me that they had copies of all the proceedings online, but that the organization had been in turmoil for about five years and their collection went from 1972-1999 and then 2006-the present.  The years 2000 - 2005 are listed as unavailable.

The next day my inbox had two copies of that paper.  Both the people I'd talked to had contacted Jim Johnsen.  The National Center sent me a copy they got from Johnsen and Johnsen himself sent me a copy with a promise to send the other two when he got home over the weekend, which he promptly did.

The first one - "The Restructuring . . ." -  looked like a rough draft, partially in outline.  Something that one might use as notes for a presentation.  I called the National Center for the Study of  Collective Bargaining in Higher Education back and asked about their proceedings; were they refereed or edited?  I was told they were, at best, loosely edited for typos, but were basically presenters' papers printed out for conference attendees.  Some conferences publish peer reviewed and edited conference proceedings.  That wasn't the case here.  And, the year that Johnsen presented this paper, the organization was in turmoil.  The Center didn't have any copies of proceedings for that year.  I later emailed Johnsen to see if he had a copy of the proceedings and he didn't.  That doesn't mean something wasn't printed up that year, but neither the Center nor Johnsen has copies.

Then I got the other two papers.

The Essential Elements of a Faculty Collective Bargaining Agreement in Higher Education  says "30 September 2008 draft" at the bottom of each page.  In the text it says, "In this chapter . . ." but the citation didn't include the name of a book.  This was clearly not a publication.

Innovation in Faculty Collective Bargaining  is another conference presentation, but not a publication.

So I emailed Jim Johnsen and asked:
1.  “The Essential Elements of A Faculty Collective Bargaining Agreement in Higher Education”  Is there an actual published version of this?  It says Chapter and it says “draft” so I was wondering.

2.  "Innovation in Faculty Collective Bargaining"  - This says “Presented at” and begins, Thank you.  Good morning.  Is there a published version of this somewhere?

3.  “The Restructuring of the University of Alaska System”  - This mentions Proceedings.   Given the nature of the paper - lots of outline - I’m assuming this was not peer reviewed?  Was this anything more than all the papers at the conference were bound for attendees?  Do you have a copy of the proceedings?

4.  Your resume has these documents in a section called “Selected Publications.”  Are there additional publications as that suggests?  Can you give me links to them?

Jim Johnsen replied quickly:
"Happy to clarify, Steve.

"Elements" was written for a book, edited by Dan Julius, in faculty bargaining. Last I heard (several years ago) it was published by some academic press. Not sure of its status.

"innovations" was a presentation at the CUNY higher education collective bargaining conference that I was told would be included in the proceedings of the conference. I refer you to CUNY for those papers I presented there over the years that were in the conference proceedings.

As to other papers, I gave UA all the papers I managed to hold onto through numerous personal and job moves over the years."
I don't know of any faculty member who doesn't know if the chapter he wrote got published or not.  Maybe if they've got 30 chapters in various books they might not remember about one or two of them, but if it's your only publication, I'd think you'd remember for sure.  So I checked further.

I quickly found an email address for Dan Julius and asked him if the book had ever been published.  He also wrote back quickly:
"Good day. What Dr. Johnsen says is true. He did write that chapter and it was accepted for the book. The book has not yet been published due to a variety of reasons having to do with the editors, one of whom is myself. So the book has not been published yet, if it is, Jim's chapter will be included. I hope this helps.

Dan Julius"
So, it hasn't been published and 'if it is' Jim's chapter will be in it. 

Does it matter? Publications

The tenure and promotion process in universities is excruciating for most faculty.  The worklife of a college professor these days is a much more stressful than it was in the recent past even, and for many, particularly mothers, it can be impossible. (For example or example 2)  In UAA tenure reviews all the documents are scrutinized by the chair, by the college promotion and tenure committee, by the dean, by the campus wide committee, the provost, and then the chancellor.  The decisions can end someone's career.  Of the three parts of the faculty workload - teaching, research, and service - the most difficult for the majority of faculty, in teaching institutions like UAA, is research because research involves long-term projects that have to be squeezed out on top of the short term demands of teaching and service activities.  In some departments the criteria are vague and in other departments they are listed fairly clearly, such as "at least X peer reviewed articles or book chapters and Y  presentations." 

From Wikipedia:
Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship. Most academic work is published in academic journal article, book or thesis form. The part of academic written output that is not formally published but merely printed up or posted on the Internet is often called "grey literature". Most scientific and scholarly journals, and many academic and scholarly books, though not all, are based on some form of peer review or editorial refereeing to qualify texts for publication. Peer review quality and selectivity standards vary greatly from journal to journal, publisher to publisher, and field to field.
While different disciplines define their publications differently, by no stretch of my imagination, do the documents listed under 'Selected Publications' fall into the category of publications.  These are conference presentations, the first of many steps toward publication.

Does It Matter?  Enhancing One's Resume

From CNN article  "Resume Padding: Inconsequential or Inexcusable?":
"It may sound crazy.  Why would a high-ranking executive lie about his or her credentials, especially now, when all it takes is a quick phone call or Internet search to verify information?
Yet it happens more often than you might think. From a white lie about time spent as a customer service rep to a whopper about earning an MBA, résumé padding occurs regularly across industries, experts say. In a 2010 survey of 1,818 organizations, 69% reported catching a job candidate lying on his or her résumé, according to employment screening service HireRight."
The 2012 article goes on to ask readers what they think should happen to the then newly hired Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson.   A dissident shareholder had pointed out that Thompson's resume said he had BA degrees in computer science and accounting. Many called for his resignation, others defended him.
"Thompson has a degree in accounting, not computer science, but frankly at this point in his career does it really matter what he studied as an undergraduate?" Newsweek technology editor Dan "Fake Steve Jobs" Lyons asked in a Daily Beast column.
"(Thompson is) 54 years old, has been CEO of PayPal, and before that held high positions at Inovant, a subsidiary of Visa, and Barclays Global Investors. He's qualified to run Yahoo."
A 2014 BBC Capital article finishes the Scott Thompson/Yahoo story:
Remember Scott Thompson? He was the chief executive who had to leave Yahoo in 2012 for misstating his educational credentials on his resume. Thompson had said that he graduated with a computer-science degree, but it turned out that the university he attended didn’t offer such a degree until he had completed school. When this fact came to light, he left after just four months in the job.
In Scott Thompson's case, it probably didn't matter if he had a second degree in computer science.  He'd proven himself on the job since he graduated from college. 

The real issue is integrity, honesty.  Is this someone who is straightforward?  If he lies in little things like this, when else might he sugarcoat the facts?

The same applies to Jim Johnsen.  Johnsen hasn't been in a tenure track position or any other job that required he have publications.  It's good that he has some conference presentations.  What's not good is that he felt the need to enhance his record by calling those papers, 'publications.'

Let me put this into context.  I was a grievance representative when Jim Johnsen was the university labor relations officer.  If I had had a faculty member whose resume had the same sort of 'Selected Publications" section, he would have been turned down for tenure and required to leave the university.  And if that employee would have appealed and it got up to the statewide appeal level, I have absolutely no doubt that Jim Johnsen would have had no mercy in his rejection of those publications.  And rightfully so.  I probably would have done my best to talk the faculty member out of making an appeal in the first place because there would have been no way he could have won.

I challenge the Board of Regents to take this issue seriously.  I know they are in a hard spot.  They've spent time and resources on this search since President Gamble announced his retirement last December.  They felt at the end that there was only one candidate who was worthy to be sent out to the campuses to meet with the university community.  

But I would argue that it doesn't bode well for the University of Alaska to hire a president who would pad his resume to make his record look better than it is.  Yahoo's board knew it probably didn't matter whether Scott Thompson had one or two degrees.  But he still had to leave.  It was about integrity. 

When Dennis McMillian retired recently as CEO of the Foraker Group, he wrote some parting thoughts in their newsletter, including some "Dennisisms" on hiring.  Here are three of the six:
  • Stop hiring people based on superficial qualities — it’s easy to put lipstick on a pig. Rather, hire the person with the right values and attitude.
  • Skills can be taught, attitude cannot.
  • Obviously, some positions require credentials, but even in those situations, rate values and attitudes higher than degrees or experience, then you will minimize turnover and maximize your organization’s capacity.
People with the right values don't embellish their resumes. 

The Board of Regent has posted a Leadership Profile for the UA President (in part):
"The next president should continue to elevate UA’s national visibility and be effective with relevant agencies of the federal government. He or she should work effectively with University of Alaska Foundation leaders. He or she must be a coach for chancellors, a wise counselor for the board and trustworthy resource for the legislature."
I doubt that a person who has padded his resume would positively elevate UA's national visibility.  And the chancellors, the board, and the legislature would be constantly wondering whether his coaching and counseling was trustworthy. 

This sort of post is troubling to publish.  It does not make me happy.  I'd rather this search were over and the university could move along to find creative responses its many challenges.  But I don't see that I have a choice.  It's better we know this before anyone is hired than afterward as in the Yahoo case.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Who Am I? Who Are You?

The term motorist has been used over and over again to describe Rodney King. 
"Rodney King, the black motorist . . ."

"charged with using excessive force in arresting black motorist Rodney King  . . ."
 I don't think I've ever actually said the word 'motorist' in a sentence, but somehow King will be forever known as 'motorist Rodney King.'

I mention this because we are all victims of labels - labels others use about us and labels we use about others.  I suspect that categorizing things we see is part of our DNA.  It is an important survival tool to quickly determine whether something approaching us is dangerous or not.  But once we've labeled another person, we no longer have to figure them out.   The label(s) we connect them to allows us to stop thinking about who they are.  She's a doctor.  He's homeless.  A convict.  Each of those labels carries a huge amount of extraneous baggage that may or may not fit any particular individual we've so labeled.  Our understanding of other people is trapped in the labels we use as much as those others are trapped by others' labels of them. 

When I started this blog, I didn't want readers to look at my profile and get a convenient label that would allow them to judge what I wrote based on who they thought I was, derived from a few labels in the profile.   Instead I wanted people to evaluate what I had to say based on what I wrote.  And I figured if someone read enough posts, they'd start 'knowing' me in a far more meaningful way.

I know.  It's really frustrating.  You want to know if I'm young or old or in-between.  What work I do.  You want labels to capture who I am, to help you figure out what my writing means.   My name (Steve) reveals my sex.  And I do disclose where I live.  Since I started blogging, other bloggers and websites have identified my full name and profession.  And my posts, on occasion, reveal other tidbits about who I am.  I do acknowledge that the labels can be helpful.  And that my leaving them out makes you work harder to understand who I am, and more importantly, what I'm writing.  But I don't think hard work is a bad thing and that it gives us more authentic knowledge of people and ideas.   

Think about the labels you use to tell others who you are.  They give people a short cut to knowing who you are.  But does 'nurse' or 'pilot' or 'fast food cook' really convey who you are?  Do you ever hide labels or choose a more favorable version?  I suspect mostly labels tell us where in the societal pecking order you are.  They tell me how much deference I should or shouldn't give you.  They don't really tell me who you are.

I'm particularly fond of, and influenced by, anthropologist Clifford Geertz' concept of 'thick description.'  Here's a take on it from historian Dr. Christopher Knowles' blog How It Really Was*:

‘Thick Description’ is a term used by the distinguished anthropologist Clifford Geertz. In an essay on: ‘Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture’, he explained that his understanding of the culture of a people was not their "total way of life" or "a storehouse of learning", let alone their art, music or literature, but ‘webs of significance’, writing that:
"Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take culture to be those webs and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of meaning."
Geertz described how he had taken the term ‘Thick Description’ from the philosopher Gilbert Ryle, who distinguished between a ‘thin description’ of, for example, a physical action, and a ‘thick description’ which includes the context: when and where the action took place, who performed it and their intentions in doing so. For example, the same physical act of someone "rapidly raising and lowering their right eyelid" could be a nervous twitch, a deliberate wink to attract attention or communicate with someone, or an imitation or mockery of someone else with a nervous twitch or winking. It all depends on the context, the aims of person the performing the action, and how these were understood by others.
 I want you to dig a little deeper than simple labels.  Look at the webs I weave.  Who I am is really not all that important.  This, some might say, perverse, exercise I'm asking of you is also related to the underlying theme of this blog:  how do you know what you know?  I'm asking you to resist the easy path to a conclusion, to reexamine how you know things, know people, know yourself.  To turn over your assumptions and see what's lurking underneath.   

*Dr. Knowles, in his blog profile, also offers some advice that would contradict what I'm writing here:
"Before you study the history study the historian' as E H Carr said in his classic work 'What is History.' (Macmillan 1961). 'When we take up a work of history, our first concern should be not with the facts which it contains, but with the historian who wrote it.'"
And this advice is good too.  But I'm asking you  to find the blogger, if you must, by studying the blog.  

[This post is part of an attempt on my part, as this blog approaches its ninth anniversary, to update some of my descriptions of what this blog is about and who the blogger is.]

Sunday, July 05, 2015

July 4 Anchorage Symphony In The Park - Even Maestro Berkowitz

It was grey.  Micro-droplets were floating down.  The grass was damp, but once the music started the moisture abated and we had a great old fashioned concert in the park.  It wasn't exactly a white round wooden bandstand, but it kept the orchestra assured of having dry instruments.

Maestros Berkowitz and Fleischer

It wasn't til near the end that they introduced Maestro Berkowitz.  Based on my junior high school orchestra days, I'd say this was proof again that orchestras can do fine without a conductor.  But he had a good time with the baton.

click to enlarge and focus

I took these pictures before it got crowded. 

These traveling members of the UW marching band added a lot of enthusiasm to the afternoon.

And I don't expect there are too many 4th of July concerts that include Alaska Native* dancers.  I wonder how many others include any Native American performances. 

There were lots of dogs and kids.  The little ones  - who were awake - were having a great time moving to the music. 

I find something disturbing about these giant blow up creatures, but can't quite put my finger on it yet. 

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Mayor's Inauguration Part 2: A Few More Shots

There were a lot of folks at the inaugural the other day.  I did an earlier post of all the past mayors who were there.  Here are some other images to show who some others in attendance. 

Andrew Halcro, who was third in the original election and then threw his support behind Berkowitz in the runoff was there to watch the new mayor sworn in.

Noah Berkowitz-Kimmel introduced the new mayor. 

Former borough mayor Jack Roderick talking later to Willie Hensley

And there were a few dogs in attendance too.  I guess they want to make sure dog parks are a priority. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

University of Alaska Presidential Search: Your Reading Assignment Before Johnsen Visits

The single candidate for president of the University of Alaska, Jim Johnsen, will visit Anchorage July 8, 2015.  There will be forums for different constituents all day long.  That includes members of the general public as well (that one is at 4:30 - 6:30 in the new Corporate Sponsored Sports Center.)  Here's the schedule for all three campus visits.

The vibes I'm getting suggest that, contrary to many people's original assumption that this was a done deal, it apparently isn't. (More on that in another post.)  The regents, it seems, do need to hear from the public before they make their final decision.  So people who are in town - community folks as well as university folks - should meet the candidate, make their conclusions, and send feedback to the regents.

I did read Johnsen's resume when it was posted in early June.  I suggest you do too. 

The resume lists three "selected publications."   When I couldn't find them online, I contacted the reference librarian at the Consortium Library.  She couldn't find them either.  She did contact Johnsen and he quickly sent them to me.

Now I see that the Regents' website lists them as well.  Actually, he only listed three as 'publications.' 'Interest Based Bargaining' and 'Reengaging' are listed under Selected Research and Professional Presentations.  You can (and should) read them yourselves and determine if they fit your definition of a 'publication.'

Selected Publications

Jim Johnsen

Nearly all the papers I've read so far are directly taken from his work experience.  There's very little breadth,  but given that he was working full time in Alaska while he was getting his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania's Higher Education Management program, it's probably not surprising. 

Additionally, you might find his doctoral dissertation interesting as well.  Leadership in Context: A Case Study Of Presidential Effectiveness In A State University System  looks at Johnsen's boss for a number of years  - Mark Hamilton - as the effective leader in the title.  I'm not sure whether you need a UAA library card to get this particular link.  I think anyone with any Alaskan library card should be able to get to it through their librarian if not directly online.  It's in ProQuest dissertations.

There's a lot to read, especially over the July 4th weekend.   I'd suggest people in the university find three or four other folks they can share the work with - people both in and outside the university. 

Seven Living Mayors of Anchorage Gather For Berkowitz Inauguration

Click to make bigger and much clearer

I think there are six former Anchorage mayors in this picture.  Tony Knowles on the far right in blue, Rick Mystrom, George Wuerch,  Matt Claman (behind Weurch),  Dan Sullivan in the brown jacket. And I think it's Mark Begich barely visible between Mystrom and Wuerch.  Here's another of Begich later.  

And they're watching Anchorage's oldest living mayor (well, actually mayor of the former Borough of Anchorage) Jack Roderick swearing in Anchorage's newest mayor Ethan Berkowitz.

Click to make bigger and  clearer

Of the living mayors, I didn't see Tom Fink, and the ADN says he was absent.    Fortunately, the predicted rain was also absent with the sun attending instead. 

From Wikipedia:

Mayors of Greater Anchorage Area Borough (1964–1975)

Name Term
John Asplund 1964–1972
√John Roderick 1972–1975

Mayors of Municipality of Anchorage (1975–)

Name Term
George M. Sullivan 1975–1981
√Tony Knowles 1981–1987
Tom Fink 1987–1994
√Rick Mystrom 1994–2000
√George Wuerch July 1, 2000–July 1, 2003
√Mark Begich July 1, 2003–January 3, 2009
√Matt Claman January 3, 2009–July 1, 2009
√Daniel A. Sullivan July 1, 2009–July 1, 2015
√Ethan Berkowitz July 1, 2015–

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

UA President Search Part 2: Search Committee History 1990, 1998, 2010, 2015 - From Open To Closed

This is a long, detailed post.  I suspect most people don't need all the information, but I wanted to be sure that I was accurate and document everything I wrote.  And it needed a lot of specifics since some of the data needed to be pulled out of announcements, documents (some sent very expeditiously by the university public affairs office), and other sources.  So, I'm going to summarize what I found and for those interested, the details are below.


Basically, my hypothesis proved accurate.  In  UA Presdient Search Part 1, I looked at the difference in culture between the more corporate Board of Regents and the traditional shared governance culture of universities.  My intent there was to give context to the present search.

The goal of this second part is to look at the last four presidential searches - 1990, 1998, 2010, and now, 2015 - to see if they did indeed reflect the changes I expected to see from an open search with lots of involvement to a search dominated by the Board of Regents with the rest of the university community relatively in the dark. 

While it's not a perfect trajectory, it's pretty close.  Here are a few of the factors I looked at:
  1. Who conducted the search? A broadly representative search committee or the Board of Regents?
  2. Communication about the process to the rest of the university.
  3. Number of finalists,  their backgrounds, and the process for candidates to visit campuses. 
The 1990 search used the traditional academic model of shared governance with a search committee representing many constituencies and with four faculty members.  There was lots of public involvement, the search committee was relatively free to discuss the search with others.  There were four finalists who visited the campuses over a month period - all had doctorates and were academics.

The 1998 search began a radical change as the Board decided that it would conduct the search themselves.  After some push back from faculty and others, a search advisory committee was set up, which, according to its chair, went through all the applications and made recommendations to the Board, but she felt the Board wasn't particularly listening to them.  The finalists were an Army General and a Chemistry professor who visited the campuses. Compared to 2010 and 2015, the Board gave out a fair amount of information about the process, but much less than 1990. 

The 2010 search was again run by the Board and there was almost no information given out from the announcement of the search until the announcement of the three finalists.  There was an advisory committee set up, but it apparently had less involvement than the 1988 committee.  There were three finalists - an Air Force General, the Juneau Chancellor, and a university administrator from the Lower 48.  The third candidate was the only one with a doctorate.  They had a speed dating sort of campus tour - all coming on the same time and the community switched rooms after a set time. 

2015 seems a bit more open than 2010. In the end, there is only one candidate and we know nothing about the other two finalists.  This time there was a search committee, but it was one-third regents, one-third corporate executives representing 'the community' and only one faculty and one student and several staff.  There were no public meetings and very little information during the process.  After the search committee gave four names to the Board, one withdrew publicly, and the Board decided that two shouldn't go forward, leaving one candidate who will visit campuses the week of July 6, while most faculty and students are away for the summer.  The finalist is basically and administrator who has gotten an EdD while working full time and has some adjunct teaching experience.  There has never before been only one finalist before the university community gets involved.

There's a clear trend from open to closed searches.  I suspect this is related to the fact that the Board of Regents now mostly come from the corporate world and this reflects their private sector approach to making decisions at the top and out of view of the public.

That's the overview, there are a lot more details below.  I actually have been working on this since the first post, but getting documents, talking to people, and figuring out how to present it has taken up a lot of time.  I'm basically scrapping what I wrote and starting over fresh now that I have a better handle on things.

The Details

So, let's go through each of those three factors I was looking at and compare the four searches.

Note, at the bottom of this post I've put up some of the documents I received from the university.  Basically for the 1990 search, including a schedule of the campus visits by the candidates, a list of the search committee members, and a timetable for the search. 

1:  Who conducted the search?  A broadly representative search committee or the Board of Regents?

1990  Search That Hired Komisarr

Search Committee was established to work in consultation with Board of Regents.
Appointed by Board Chair from recommendations provided by chancellors and university constituent groups.
Members:  11  -  business leaders - 1; regents - 1; alumni - 1; student - 1;  campus staff - 2;  statewide staff - 1;  faculty - 4
Duties:  Set qualifications, advertisements, screen applicants to semi-finalist stage, select 3-5 finalists, on-site visits to finalists' campuses, students, faculty, and other citizenry meet applicants and submit comments

1998 Search that Hired Hamilton  

This search departed from the previous searches that were conducted by a large committee made of various constituencies in the university community.  The Regents decided to be the search committee.  They committed to public participation, but kept things close to the vest.   From the Board's announcement of the committee:

Regents of the University of Alaska launched the search for a new president at an emergency meeting this week, and their first decision was for the board to function as its own search committee, and to involve the university community and the Alaska general public widely in the board's deliberations.. . .Fairbanks Regent Mike Kelly, president of the board, said they will retain the services of an executive search firm to expedite the search for a new chief executive of the state's only system of public higher education.
. . . "Having the board serve as a search committee is a departure from past practice," Kelly said, "but the board feels this innovative approach will allow more people to have more input into the process than they would have if the search task were assigned to a small committee. [NOTE: the 1990 search committee had eleven members and the Board of Regents has eleven members.]
"The university has a variety of constituent groups, and we want to guarantee that they all have adequate opportunities to help the regents define the qualities and attributes of the university president," Kelly said.
"Our meetings will be open to the public," Kelly said. "We will receive written input and will provide for input by electronic means using the university's web pages. We are all determined to involve the university community and Alaska's general public in the board's deliberations." (From Board of Regents press release 1/15/98)
 After pushback from faculty, they formed a 'search evaluation committee' made up of  seven people - four faculty, one alumnus, one student, and one campus staff member. [See documents for 1998 below]
"Fairbanks Regent Mike Kelly, president of the board, told the regents Friday that he plans to appoint an evaluation committee composed of representatives of the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the university to work with the board in reviewing and assessing candidate applications. He said the committee will work closely with the board which will serve as the presidential search committee." (From Board of Regents press release 2/10/98)
I spoke to Lauren Bruce, the chair of this committee.  She said they got candidates from the search firm and would evaluate them and send the best to the Board, but they were all shot down for one reason or another.  In one case, a candidate they all liked a lot, she recalled, was eliminated because someone didn't like that he was a member of the Sierra Club.  As the process went along, she says she realized that the committee really had no sway in the process.  It was there just for show. 

Search That Hired President Gamble - 2010

This search was kept pretty close to the vest.  There's not a lot of information.  The first mention I could find of a 'search advisory board' was in Feb 19, 2010 memo (seven months after the search began).

From the Juneau Empire on March 3, 2010:  
"The process to select a new leader has been shrouded in secrecy and is facing some criticism in Juneau. . .
The Board of Regents has been searching for a new president since [last June] , but didn't release the list of three candidates from which they'll chose until Sunday.
Jonathan Anderson, a professor in Juneau and a representative to the Faculty Alliance, said some members of the faculty were disappointed in the selection process.
"We are extremely disappointed that the regents chose to make this decision totally on their own with little or no input from faculty or staff," he said."
 I called Anderson (who's quoted in the Juneau Empire article above), and is now the chair of the public administration department at Cal State San Bernadino.  He said there was a committee that included faculty, but they were not given any role to play by the Board of Regents. He said it was just for show.

2015 - Current Search

Things seem marginally better than in 2010. There was a search advisory committee, but it was heavy with board members, corporate executives as community representatives, with only one faculty member and one student.  From the Board Search Committee webpage:  (I've added the color coding)

University of Alaska Ex-Officio Presidential Search Advisory Committee

Mary K. HughesAdvisory Committee Chair; Former Chair, Board of RegentsAnchorage
Jyotsna HeckmanChair, Board of Regents; Retired President & CEO, Denali State BankFairbanks
Michael PowersVice Chair, Board of Regents; Chief Executive Officer, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and Denali CenterFairbanks
Kenneth J. FisherSecretary, Board of Regents; Engineer Officer, U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10Juneau
Gloria O’NeillTreasurer, Board of Regents; President and CEO, Cook Inlet Tribal CouncilAnchorage
Toby WarkCoalition of Student Leaders Chair; UAS Student, BusinessSitka
David ValentineFaculty Alliance Chair; UAF Professor of Forest SoilsFairbanks
Monique Musick   Staff Alliance, Chair; SW Public Affairs StaffFairbanks
Rachel Morse
System Governance Council Chair ; UAA Assistant Vice Chancellor for Alumni RelationsAnchorage
Susan Anderson
Chair, University of Alaska Foundation, Board of Trustees; President/CEO, The CIRI FoundationAnchorage
Carla BeamVice President, University Relations, University of Alaska;
President, University of Alaska Foundation
Joe Usibelli, Jr.President, Usibelli Coal MineFairbanks
Ralph SamuelsVice President, Government & Community Relations Holland America LineAnchorage
Jason MetrokinPresident & Chief Executive, Bristol Bay Native CorporationAnchorage
Marilyn RomanoRegional Vice President, Alaska, Alaska Airlines

This search committee has 15 people, and as you can see in the table below one-third (1/3) are from the Board of Regents, one-third (1/3) are from outside the university. That leaves just one faculty representative, one student representative, and three staff representatives. Two are from the campuses and one is from the higher levels of statewide administration.

Representation # on committee  % of committee
Regents 5** 33%
Students 1 6%
Faculty 1 6%
Staff - campuses    2 13%
Community 5 33%
Staff -statewide 1 6%


2.  Communication about the process to the rest of the university.

How often did the Board communicate with the public?  How open were the search committee meetings?  Here too, the trend is from openness to secrecy.  

1990 Search   (See 1990 University of Alaska Presidential Search documents at the bottom of the post.)

This search had a representative search committee where representatives of different constituent groups could keep their constituencies up to date on how the process was going.  

They published a detailed timeline for the process.  

When the finalists were selected  not only did they visit the campuses, but they also were scheduled for interviews at radio stations so more of the public could get to know them. 

1998 Search

Again, the search committee members were able to communicate with their constituencies.
There were five announcements after the January 7, 1998 notice that President Komisar was going to resign.

Early on the Board called for the university community to participate in developing a job descriptions and promised the meetings would be open:  
"The university has a variety of constituent groups, and we want to guarantee that they all have adequate opportunities to help the regents define the qualities and attributes of the university president," Kelly said.
"Our meetings will be open to the public," Kelly said. "We will receive written input and will provide for input by electronic means using the university's web pages. We are all determined to involve the university community and Alaska's general public in the board's deliberations." (From Board of Regents press release 1/15/98)
I simply don't know how well they lived up to these promises.  However one of the announcements did mention that the candidates would meet with the news media during their visits. 

2010 Search

There are four UA Public Affairs notices about this search.
In June 2009, there's a press release announcing President Hamilton's retirement the next year.  It mentions the search for his replacement:
"[Board chair Cynthia] Henry said it's too early to know exactly how the search process will play out, but that she intends to keep the public and key stakeholders informed along the way. Hamilton, 64, has been at the helm of the system since August 1998. "
If she did keep the public and stakeholders informed, it's not easy to find evidence today.  You'll also note a language change from the 1998 search where they talked about 'university constituents.'  In 2010 (and 2015) the language is 'stakeholders.'  My understanding of these terms suggests the first is more rooted in the democratic process of politicians representing their constituents.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers this as its main definition:
"one who authorizes another to act as agent"
which implies the power resides in the constituent.  A William Safire article in the New York Times looks at the origins of 'stakeholder' and mentions, among other uses, it has a corporate sense - those who have an interest in the outcome of something.   Such a person has a lot less claim, it would seem, than a 'constituent.'

But back to the other three officials announcements.
  •  One on Feb. 19, 2010 announces that the list was narrowed down to six candidates, that they would narrow it down further, and a schedule for state wide tour by the candidates to meet constituents.  

If you search through the Board of Regents agendas and minutes you can find shadows of the search.  (Are you getting why this has taken me so long?)  There was an emergency Board meeting on July 10, 2009 to discuss the president's contract and the presidential search.  It was all in executive session.

I.​Call to Order

II.​Adoption of Agenda

"The Board of Regents adopts the agenda as presented.

I.​Call to Order
II.​Adoption of Agenda
III.​Executive Session regarding President’s Contract and Presidential Search

​This motion is effective July 10, 2009."

III.​Executive Session regarding President’s Contract and Presidential Search

"The Board of Regents goes into executive session at _________ Alaska Time in accordance with the provisions of AS 44.62.310 to discuss matters the immediate knowledge of which would have an adverse effect on the finances of the university related the president’s contract and the presidential search, and personnel matters, this matter the immediate knowledge of which could affect the reputation or character of a person or persons.  The session will include members of the Board of Regents and President Hamilton and such other university staff members as the president may designate and will last approximately 8 hours.  Thus, the open session of the Board of Regents will resume at approximately 5:00 p.m. Alaska Time.  This motion is effective July 10, 2009."

(To be announced at conclusion of executive session)
The Board of Regents concluded an executive session at _____ Alaska Time in accordance with AS 44.62.310 discussing matters the immediate knowledge of which would have an adverse effect on the finances of the university or affect the reputation or character of a person or persons.  The session included members of the Board of Regents and President Hamilton, and other university staff members designated by the president and lasted approximately ______ hour(s).

The minutes of that meeting add information about who made the motion to approve the minutes, who seconded it and a sentence saying that President Hamilton's contract was renewed.  But no details of the contract or about the search.  

The Alaska Statutes spell out the only allowable reasons for holding a meeting in executive session:

AS 42.40.170. Executive Sessions.

(a) The question of holding an executive session shall be determined in accordance with AS 42.40.160 . A subject may not be considered at an executive session unless it is mentioned in the motion calling for the executive session or is auxiliary to a subject mentioned. An action may not be taken at an executive session.
(b) Only the following subjects may be discussed in an executive session:
(1) matters, the immediate knowledge of which would clearly have an adverse effect upon the finances of the corporation;
(2) unless the person has requested to have the subjects discussed in public, subjects that tend to prejudice the reputation and character of a person;
(3) matters that, by law or municipal charter or ordinance, are permitted to be kept confidential from public disclosure;
(4) matters pertaining to personnel;
(5) matters pertaining to the corporation's legal position;
(6) land acquisition or disposal; and
(7) proprietary or other information of a type treated as confidential under the standards and practices of the United States Interstate Commerce Commission, including practices that protect information associated with specific shippers, divisions, and contract rate agreements.
Evaluation of the President's performance probably rates as a reason for executive session (though I doubt they said anything about Hamilton that might "prejudice [his] reputation and character." At this early point in the search process, the only remotely legitimate reason I can see for the regents to go into executive session would be item (b)1.  They may have discussed how much they were willing to spend on a search firm and possibly on the presidential salary and didn't want to compromise their bargaining position.

They also mention (b)2, but as I said, I doubt they said anything bad about Hamilton.  And, if they did, they couldn't have spent all eight hours discussing it, could they have?  Much of what they would have discussed would certainly have not been covered by the rules for executive session.  It might be easier to just stay in executive session, but the law specifically prohibits discussing things that are NOT covered by the officially announced reasons for going into executive session. 

There was an ex-officio meeting to discuss the proposals from search firms for the presidential search in the Brady Construction conference room on August 17.   And they had a full board meeting on August 24 to select a firm.  They had a two hour meeting on Sept. 15  to discuss the search with a representative of the search firm, Academic Search.  The  agenda of the September 24-25 board meeting in Juneau doesn't mention the presidential search.

I could offer a few more mentions of the presidential search - such as an update in November 2010 on The Statewide Voice, a university publication (online only?  I don't know) from Board chair Cynthia Henry, asking university 'stakeholders' to send in names of good candidates and that they were hoping to have finalists visit campuses in February.  Most of the links there now get me this:

And finally, I'd remind you of the Juneau Empire citation already listed:
"The process to select a new leader has been shrouded in secrecy and is facing some criticism in Juneau. . .

2015 Search

This search like the 1998 and 2010 searches, is far more secretive than the 1990 search.  There are two official locations for updates on the presidential search.  One in UA Public Affairs  page which has two announcements - one in January 27, 2015 which announces there will be a search and one on June 4, 2015 that says the Board has selected one finalist.  Here's what we learn from the January 27 announcement:

A January 27, 2015 announcement says 
The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved a presidential search plan at its Jan. 22 and 23 meeting in Anchorage. Academic Search, Inc. has been contracted to facilitate a focused search effort with the goal of approving a new president in May 2015.  
Regent Mary K. Hughes will lead the search process and chair an ex-officio presidential search advisory committee composed of board members; student, faculty and staff representatives; UA Foundation leaders; and members of the public. The role of the committee will be to review candidates and recommend a short list of candidates to the Board of Regents whose authority it is to hire the university president. Once finalized, a list of committee members will be posted on the presidential search website (http://www.alaska.edu/bor/presidential-search/).
So what's the search plan they approved?  The announcement doesn't say - compared to the 1990 search which at least had a detailed timeline. (see below)

I looked to the Board of Regents minutes for Jan 22 and 23.  They show the discussion of the presidential search was held in executive session and the minutes do not discuss a plan other than they will hire a search firm. The minutes, actually, say almost nothing at all of substance. 

The Board of Regents' President Search page mentioned in the announcement above includes  the same two announcements that were on the Public Affairs page.  That's good to have them in different places. More chances for people to find them.  The search page also includes the names and affiliations of the search committee and information useful to potential candidates, like the position description.  It would appear that the Board did the position description on their own  unlike the 1998 search when the Board president said:
. . . we want to guarantee that they [university constituents] all have adequate opportunities to help the regents define the qualities and attributes of the university president,"
If the 2015 Board did write the position description on their own, did they do it in that executive session at the Jan 22 Board meeting?  I don't know that they did, but if so, I'm not sure how they can claim that to be a legitimate action to perform in executive session.  And if not, when did they do it?

The President Search page has three announcements as I write this.  Two are the same ones listed on the Public Affairs page, plus they have an April 16 announcement (which I assume was inadvertently left off the Public Affairs page) saying that
"the UA search advisory committee has forwarded to the Board of Regents a number of candidates for the board's further review."
I have since learned from email communication with Board Chair Jo Heckman, that the committee gave the Board the four candidates who were the finalists.  One withdrew that same day, and after interviews and other checks, the Board decided to only forward one candidate to the public.

As of late Monday, there's a new link on the President Search page - in a different place from the other "Recent News" announcements I've been talking about - that gives the schedule of the single candidate's campus visits.  It's not on the Public Affairs page.

 [I know this is fairly detailed, but the basic point is that someone looking for these things finds different information in different places and the places do require some looking around to find.  The new information on the campus visits at least was sent out via campus email lists for everyone to be aware of.  This is a positive step.  Though the visits are only a week away.  And if you want information about the candidate - like his resume - you have to go back to the June 4 announcement. My point in going into this much detail is to document things rather than make broad generalizations. My hope is that the people in charge of these things might read this as detailed constructive feedback they can take action on.]

I'd also note here that I emailed questions to some of the search committee members and responses from them were consistent:  the process is confidential and we're not allowed to talk about it.  My understanding of a representative committee (which this really wasn't) was so the community could talk to their reps and find out what was going on.  One responded that he would get back to me later in the week, but he did not.  One person forwarded my email to the chair of the Board of Regents who sent me a warm email, but it basically explained why my questions couldn't be answered.  In response to my follow up email, I got another somewhat more substantive email which I'll address later. 

Compared to the 1990 and 1998 searches, this one has been done out of public sight.  It's more like the 2010 search.

3:  Number of finalists and their backgrounds. and Process for candidates to visit campuses.  

If you are exhausted at this point, imagine how I feel. I've been trying to put this together for several weeks now.   But this section should be more straightforward, the measures are more concrete.


There were four finalists who visited the campuses over a four week period and also participated in fairly extensive media exposure.  (See below for the documents which describe this.)  All four were men all four came from academia and doctorates.  


There were two finalists - a retired army general and a PhD Chemist who was a Provost in Michigan.  Both male.  Both candidates and their wives visited the three campuses. 


There were three finalists, one female was the only candidate with a doctorate  (a PhD) and she had experience running a university outside.  There was a retired Air Force general who was head of the Alaska Railroad.  He did have some higher education leadership experience when he was head of the Air Force Academy.  The third candidate was Chancellor in Juneau.

Their campus visits were unique.  All three came on the same day and the same time and people switched rooms after an hour or so to see the other candidate.  My post on this is called it Speed Dating


Although the search advisory committee, with a large contingent of regents, offered four candidates to the Board, one withdrew and the Board, after interviews, decided to forward only one name.  That candidate will visit the three main campuses the week of July 6, it was officially announced yesterday.   There was no mention of media.  When I asked the final candidate for an interview several weeks ago via email, he wrote back that he would be happy to meet but on advice from the Board of Regents search executive he was waiting until the campus visits.

The move from open, shared campus governance to closed, more top down governance is happening across the US.  It's not a good sign for higher education.  I can understand that regents get impatient with the process of shared governance.  They take much longer and the committees could be run more efficiently and still allow for a high level of participation.  The real benefit is that the people participating and their constituents know what happened and are more likely to trust the process and support the final outcome.

My two communications from the chair of the Board of Regents suggest to me that she is sincerely trying to do as good a job as possible.  I feel the process could have been much more open.  She also made important points about the relative economic health of Alaska and the Lower 48 today and the competitive disadvantage Alaska has today.  But this discussion is for another time.

I'll try to start getting up more information about the candidate before his visits.



Monday, June 29, 2015

UA Presidential Search Update - The Only Candidate, Jim Johnsen, Might Visit UAA July 8 [UPDATED]

I've been working on a post comparing the UA presidential searches of 1990, 1998, 2010, and 2015.  My goal, following UA Presidential Search 1: The Cultural Conflict, is to show how the searches have gone from traditional, open academic style searches to ever more closed, Board controlled searches.

Gathering data for this has taken a while and now I realize I have way more than most of my readers want to know.  So now I'm editing it.  I also have material for four or five more posts on the search and the candidate.  We'll see how many I get done. 

In the meantime, I wanted to let people know that in an email communication from Jim Johnsen, I did learn that the campus visits are supposed to be the week of July 6, with the Anchorage visit scheduled for July 8.  I'm posting that here because I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else and a few people have asked me.  The Board of Regents' Search Committee page's last announcement was June 4 - when they announced that there would only be one candidate visiting the campuses.

I put might in the title, because I'm wondering if the original schedule is still good.  

I'm not sure why they are waiting to announce the dates, but I think people should get as much advance warning as possible so they can arrange to see the candidate.

[UPDATE June 30, 2015:  As KS comments below, the schedule of visits is now up.  Here's a link to the whole schedule, and below is the Anchorage schedule.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - University of Alaska Anchorage
Meetings in UAA Consortium Library Room 307
8a-8:45a                      Meet with Governance Groups
9a-9:45a                      Meet with Faculty and Staff
10a-10:45a                  Meet with Students
11a-11:45a                  Meet with Alumni
12n-1:45p                    Lunch Break
2p-2:45p                      Meet with Deans and Directors
3p-3:45p                      Meet with Chancellor and Chancellor’s Cabinet
4:30p-6:30p                 Anchorage Community Forum at the Varsity Sports Grill in the Alaska Airlines Center]

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Anchro-Pop Closes Out Diversity Celebration In Anchorage Today

Henna painting at the Somali table.

The Hmong table had embroidered history lessons, as well as a book on the role of Laos and the Hmong in the Vietnam War. 

The Norwegian table.

The politicians who put worked with the community to set the festival up.  Elvi Gray-Jackson (black dress), Assembly member Anchorage, Geran Tarr, state representative from this district, and Ethan Berkowitz, mayor elect.  The pastor was presiding over a vigil in memory of the Charleston church shooting victims.  The recent Supreme Court decisions had also been lauded.

Yu'pik (I think) dancers. 

And this young man got his face painted with what looks like an old Yu'pik mask design

And the title of this post?  Well, it's what I thought of as I listened to Gambian born Anchorage singer, Ousman Jarju (OJ), and the Rebel Clef.   It's Afro-pop with an Anchorage flavor. He transformed a mall parking lot on a gray day into the place to be.

The Rebel Clef  FB page lists the band members.

"Johnnie wright III-Keyboardist /Music director Elivis Crenshaw- Base player Kiah Ward- Drums Ousman Jarju- lead singer Benjamin Blunt- Percussionist Freddie Stokes- saxophone player Angel Wright- Manager ."
 I've posted before about Anchorage having the most diverse census tracts and high school in the nation.  Chad Farrel, the sociologist who's written about this, explains this part of Anchorage, unlike more racially segregated cities, Anchorage has districts with whites as well as a full flavor of ethnic origins.  A follow-up post covers Professor Farrel's presentation at the Alaska Press Club 2014.  I've only highlighted a few that were out this afternoon.  

So, it seems to me, this music is something we can start calling Anchro-pop.  Enjoy the video - I decided to leave the footage as I got it, giving you a sense of being there, and getting it up today. 

No Limits On Human Imagination

Look at how these amazing Filipino artists - El Gamma Penumbra - use their bodies to convey beauty and an important message.  They've taken a traditional form or artistry in SE Asian cultures from Indonesia to Thailand - shadow puppets - and turned it into something entirely new.  Plus they had to work incredibly hard to make their artistry so precise. 

Here's part of Wikipedia's entry on El Gamma Penumbra:

Early career

El Gamma Penumbra was first founded in 2003 as a hip-hop boy group, competing in dance contests in their hometown. Before joining Pilipinas Got Talent, however, they changed their act thinking that there will be lesser chance of winning due to too many hip-hop dancers in the Philippines. Upon deciding to do shadow play, believing it is new and unique, they started practicing in a basketball court near their hometown using a tarpaulin and a halogen light as an improvisation.[3]
They decided to produce an all-male group members, meaning females are not included, due to the "extreme body movements and contact required of their routines."[4]

Thanks for the tip B.