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Resignation makes lack of transparency evident

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | DECEMBER 11, 2012 6:30 AM

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On Monday, University of Iowa College of Education Dean Margaret Crocco submitted her resignation. In a statement regarding the resignation, she said that she is trying to end the discord in the education school and choosing to “resign and move on.”

Also in her statement, she listed some of her accomplishments since she became dean in July 2011. Despite these accomplishments, many members of the college admitted frustration with her leadership, and 44 members submitted a vote of no confidence, largely asking for her removal.

Though there have been some discussions between Provost P. Barry Butler and members of the faculty and staff, the UI administration must do more to recognize the concerns of its faculty members and the value of transparency.

The so-called crisis in the college escalated on Dec. 7, when all seven members of the Faculty Advisory Committee resigned. In an email to the education faculty, the committee stated that the “lack of transparency in administrative decision-making processes have rendered the [Advisory Committee] powerless in effectively and efficiently meeting its responsibilities.”

Earlier in the semester, a college-wide survey was distributed to all staff and faculty in the education school, which included an open-ended question about the college. In this section, many faculty members focused on their complaints against the dean.

After these surveys were returned, the provost demanded that all copies of the surveys with negative responses regarding the dean be turned over to him and made them confidential as they are now considered personnel files.

“I requested that the anonymous comments collated in the survey be retained by me to ensure that the comments are used constructively by the faculty and staff leadership, dean, and mediator to work on positioning the College of Education for the future and to protect against any misuse,” Butler wrote in an email. “The comments relate to the performance of the dean and others in the college and are personnel-related, which need to be treated appropriately.”

However, these surveys were not the only documents that reported the unrest and mistrust of Crocco. Some senior faculty members also approached the advisory panel, asking the members to distribute anonymous ballots for a vote of no confidence. The panel agreed to distribute and tally the ballots, which largely supported the vote of no confidence against Crocco.

Still, the dean’s resignation is not enough to solve some of the disputes regarding the changes in the school, and it certainly has not done enough to open honest communication and allow voices of dissent to be heard.

The Faculty Advisory Committee reported that the lack of transparency stopped it from being able to communicate between faculty and administration, and the administration has done little to enable the open and honest flow of discussion.

The anonymity and confidentiality is not a completely one-sided issue; faculty members reported their concerns and issued their vote for no confidence anonymously. However, anonymity in that case guarantees honesty while confidentiality and secrecy on the part of the administration only harbors greater distrust.

Crocco was able to achieve some important goals she had for the education school, even in her short time as dean. However, these accomplishments were not all completed with the full support of the faculty, which ended very poorly for the school.  

The issues of this case, and any other secrecy scandal in this university, will not be resolved until university officials and administration recognize that faculty members, community members, and students want their voices heard, not silenced and sealed.


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