Monday, February 27, 2012

The Failure of Educational Leadership

What does Kent State University stand for, what are its guiding values?   On President Lefton's mission statement page, it says one of the University's core values is "Integrity in all of our actions and communications."

President Lefton and Kent State's athletic director certainly don't believe in that.   Both Lefton and athletic director Joel Nielsen knew that the man they wanted to name the basketball arena after in exchange for his million dollar donation had paid millions in fines to the SEC for defrauding customers.   Lefton and Nielsen knew that; they did not tell the Board of Trustees who voted to approve the name change.

Certainly, there's a problem with a rubber stamp board that provides no oversight.  But what is far worse for journalism students is what they learn from the silence of the educational leadership at Kent State.   Our core value of integrity in all communications is totally violated by two top university officials and the deans say nothing.  The College of Communication says nothing.  The School of Journalism says nothing.  The role model to our students by our educational leaders teaches a solid lesson:  don't say anything.  

University officials refuse to do a recorded interview on the subject.   The deans don't object.  They say nothing.

The chancellor of Ohio's university system doesn't say a word.

We've witnessed what happens when the values a university says are so important are ignored.   Two core values listed for the Ohio State Athletic Department are integrity and personal accountability.   Jim Tressel didn't lose his job for having great integrity.   No university's mission statement will advocate ignoring sex abuse or failing to investigate sexual assaults on campus.   The Clery Act didn't pass because universities were doing a great job reporting crimes on campus; there was a dire need for national legislation because universities across the country lied about crimes on  campus.

It's important to have a mission statement.   But at Kent State, ours is not worth the web page it's written on.  When it is totally violated, the only one saying anything is student reporter Doug Brown and the editorial page of the student paper.    To provide ethical role models for students, university educators and administrators have a responsibility to stand up for something besides the Star Spangled Banner.

By the way, if I am wrong, if a dean or school director has raised holy hell in a message sent to President Lefton or Board members or the chancellor, please send it to me.  I will apologize and post what you send.   

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