December 8, 2006

TIME OUT: Readers really do respond!

I haven't offered coaching lessons on this blog for a while. I've simply been trying to document major events in the evolution/revolution on my campus. I'll make more of an effort to do share coaching tips since this whole experience is like an intensive Master's level course.
The letter below is part of the reason for the refocus on coaching. It is one of many actions taking place on campus that doesn't get covered in the local media or even in our campus news. It also serves as a reminder that when we report and investigate with ethics and integrity, readers will respond.
I don't know if many stories inspire people to put their jobs on the line by writting such a letter. But I do know its because of letters like this that I will continue. I'll also try to report these types of actions along with the grossly overt ones.

December 6, 2006

Board of Trustees
Johnson County Community College
Overland Park, KS

Dear Trustees:

This letter is in regards to the recent public statement of support for Dr. Carlsen by a group of highly influential members of our community. The statement has created more anguish on campus, and I believe is detrimental to the process of moving forward. I hope after reading this correspondence, the Board will take quick action to continue moving us in the right direction. I am amazed and disappointed that members of our community appear to want to downplay the seriousness of the allegations regarding sexual misconduct. Certainly no individual would want their wife, daughter, mother or sister subjected to the alleged behavior. Everything I have read leads me to believe that multiple allegations of this nature are not reported unless truth to those allegations is undeniable.
The Board’s decision to release a public statement acknowledging multiple allegations were reported to the law firm of Badger & Levings was an appropriate manner to send a message that you believe the sincerity of these complaints, and more importantly, you understand the hurt these women felt and continue to feel. Asking the community to now continue recognizing Dr. Carlsen serves only to delay the healing these employees need and deserve.
The statement of support for Dr. Carlsen also seeks to recognize his leadership over the last 25 years. Certainly, Dr. Carlsen’s positive qualities need to be recognized. I believe naming a major building on campus after him accomplished this. He performed in the job he was hired for. We must also recognize that Dr. Carlsen did not accomplish any of this by himself. Demographic trends during his tenure, combined with supportive taxpayers, were major forces at play. The hundreds of competent employees serving the college during this period should also be recognized as well as the college’s generous financial support from private individuals.
One of the many reasons Dr. Tyree’s style has been embraced by the overwhelming majority of current JCCC staff and faculty is his relentless recognition of individuals’ accomplishments. I am sure his experience as a leader has taught him that the level of success accomplished by an organization like JCCC requires a team effort. Recognition of that team effort would be a positive force in moving this college in a new direction.
Lastly, I encourage the Board to make available to the public the rest of the information you received in verbal reports from Badger & Levings. A major concern on campus is that the information you received in closed door sessions over a twenty plus hour time period is about a lot more than allegations of sexual misconduct. The main concern is that the sexual allegations are just a symptom of a larger problem. That problem is simply the internal culture on campus.
I am under the impression that some Board members have been told from multiple sources that many of us believe a culture of intimidation and bullying exists on this campus. Most individuals are afraid to be more open about their concerns out of fear of retaliation, and quite frankly, a statement of support by highly influential and well connected community leaders adds to those fears.
Only the Board knows the full truth as to what Badger & Levings reported. You must decide whether it is in the best interests of our community to share the information. I encourage you to share all of the information. This action will help facilitate the structural, organizational and policy changes necessary for JCCC to achieve our Mission and live within our stated values. Dr. Tyree’s short tenure has provided a sense of hope and promise. His openness and integrity are values our next president must possess.

Thank you for your time.


Frank Syracuse
Professor of Economics Johnson County Community College

cc:JCCC Faculty & Staff
Steve Rose
Melodie Hall Blobaum
Miquel Morales