Yesterday afternoon, Rose-Hulman’s faculty voted 87-42 (with 2 abstentions) for a no-confidence motion in Rose’s new president, Jack Midgley.
Erin and I met Midgley in January at an alumni meet-and-greet here in San Diego. He seemed like a nice enough guy at the time, but of course such events only give you a very incomplete picture of things and since then he’s been embroiled in controversy.
A current Rose student runs an off-campus website, AboutMidgley.com, at which concerned students, faculty, staff, and alumni can openly discuss what’s going on. While the forums there are certainly subject to Sturgeon’s Law (like any other such Web forums), there are several posts that shed valuable light on matters. Some highlights:
- A letter from Scott Jones, former RHIT Trustee, to the Board of Trustees, on his experience with Midgley. Read in its entirety.
- A thread on Midgley’s mishandling of Rose’s search for two new vice-presidents.
- A thread documenting several cases ofMidgley’s complete unreliability and outright lying.
If you want to go after the search committee, you’d better go after me, too! I was 100% in favor of hiring President Midgley. ANd it took a long time for me to be coinvinced that there was reallt something wrong[…]
I feel like I was fooled. After the Presidential candidate forums, it seemed to me (and to most faculty and staff who talked with me) that Dr. Midgley was the best choice. There were some risks, hiring someone from a different background, but the vast majority of people on campus supported the choice[…]
Once the kinds of information presented on these forums began to come out, I was very surprised and unwilling to believe them. Surely these things were simply the product of people who don’t like change. That was still my thinking and what I told many people as late as early February.
But I heard so many consistent reports that it eventually made me take my head out of the sand and start talking to staff and administrators. I found a consistent picture of great distress. People whom I have known and trusted for years, people who have "lived and breathed" Rose-Hulman. They all painted a picture of someone who does not respect his subordinates, who is verbally abusive, who tells one person one thing and another person something else, who makes up his mind before hearing what others have to say.
And there is an atmosphere of fear. Staff members are afraid to say what they think (or even to say what they have personally experienced) because they are afraid of their jobs. In the Rose-Hulman that I have known, everyone knew that their ideas were valuable, so everyone went the extra mile to produce and implement good ideas. I do not want to lose that.
A colleague who is well-known for his integrity and unselfish service to Rose-Hulman (but who cannot say it here himself because he is not a tenured faculty member) told me (I paraphrase), "I used to think I would retire here. What made it great was that everybody’s ideas were valued; everyone was part of a team that was working to make a great institution even better. Now only one person’s ideas are valued."
As a tenured faculty member, I have to speak up. We have to empower, not squash, our staff and administrators. If the faculty and students are the heart and soul of the Institute, these hard-working staff and administrators are the arms and legs, (and often the brains). They have bled for Rose-Hulman. I applaud them. They are hurting. Something must be done. And I believe that things have gone so far that only one thing can be done. Trust, community, and openness must be restored.
An alumnus chimes in:
The preponderance of evidence points to a lack of integrity on the part of Jack. Rose is accustomed to an environment with nearly invisible boundaries between constituencies of faculty, students and staff. Thus, constituencies are accustomed to unquestionable integrity. I consider this a core value of the educational experience.
This makes him personally incompatible with his office. RHIT is not about show and marketing. RHIT is about results.
Visionary leadership is about communicating. If Jack has a vision, he is keeping it to himself[…]
Where are the people who are openly speaking up to defend Jack? If these were a series of misunderstandings and misquotes, there would be people coming to Jack’s defense. In fact, those closest to him are among the most outspoken against him.
Last Wednesday (27 April), Claude sent an email to CS alumni alerting us to various facets of the controversy. Now, it’s not entirely clear from off-campus what exactly is going on, but here’s what I can say: I trust Claude completely and without reservation. He’s an absolutely amazing human being, and if Midgley has Claude this agitated, he’s not one to be trusted. I hope his reign at Rose is a short one, and applaud Claude, the other Dan Moore, Julia Williams, and other faculty members, students, staff, and alumni who have helped and who are helping to set things right.