3.7.05

FINDING THOSE MISSING MEN. The powers that be at the University of Wisconsin system continue to dig themselves deeper. Embattled student affairs specialist Paul Barrows has become the symbol of administrative bloat, or a totem for know-nothings that are looking for excuses to bash the university, depending on whom you ask. Wisconsin chancellor John Wiley, a successor to Donna "Queen of Clubs" Shalala, is not faring too well in the story.

Barrows said the leave that Wiley approved for him in November was classified as "family/personal leave." He maintains that he hasn't knowingly broken any rules in his use of sick time because he was told that category of leave did not require any medical excuse from his doctor.

University officials on Monday said they have a letter from Barrows' doctor authorizing the leave. But they said the letter can't be released without an OK from Barrows' lawyer; the officials said they were still waiting to hear from him Monday night.

Barrows on Monday said no such letter exists because his doctor declined to sign it - as recently as Monday afternoon, when Barrows said Wiley called his doctor asking for it.

"He got a call from John Wiley asking if he could sign the letter and get it over to him as soon as possible," Barrows said. "My doctor said he is not going to say he was treating me through this entire period (as the letter would indicate) because he hasn't been."

The university only has a draft copy of the letter with no signatures, Barrows maintained. Barrows said he asked his doctor to sign the draft on June 10, as a sign to Wiley that he was "working in good faith" to get his job back, but since then has decided that getting the letter signed would be wrong.

"I was not sick during the time that I was gone," he said.

Barrows, 53, of Madison began his seven-month leave in November when Wiley removed him as vice chancellor because of the relationship with the graduate student. A reorganization of the student affairs division he led was announced at the same time, in which Barrows' job was eliminated and his duties were given to other supervisors.

There's more.

Wiley also acknowledged last week that he told Barrows to look for other work during the leave - although publicly, when the leave was announced, university officials said they expected Barrows to return to take another job involving diversity issues, Barrows' specialty during much of his 16 years at UW-Madison.

While on leave, Barrows applied for at least two jobs at universities in Ohio and Texas, angering state lawmakers when they learned of the interviews about two weeks ago. They questioned the legitimacy of his medical leave, noting he was well enough to apply for other jobs during it.

Barrows said he felt betrayed that he was being criticized for taking a leave and seeking other jobs when both of those things were approved by Wiley.

"Wiley told me to stay away and he was my job reference for every job I applied for (during the leave)," he said.

Barrows said the leave was designed in part to help him deal with the "stress" of being demoted. The failed relationship also was a factor.

"What I was stressed about was the fact that I had a woman who was so obsessed with me that she was willing to do anything to get me back, even if it meant taking me down," he said Monday.

Wiley has acknowledged that he learned about the relationship shortly before the leave, after the woman complained about some aspect of it. He said Barrows' dating the student was a serious mistake in judgment that required his demotion, but noted it was not a violation of university rules because it was consensual and because the woman, who also worked at the university, was not supervised by Barrows.

Never mind that Mr Barrows's squeeze has the opportunity to exploit her connections to the director of diversity to mau-mau other university employees.

Mr Barrows's lawyer turns out to be a piece of work.
"The legislators who made a $1 million cut in the UW Madison budget because they are unhappy about the Barrows matter are a bunch of nihilists who are drunk with power. The sooner the citizens of this state realize that and get rid of them, the better off we'll all be."
Isn't the Diversity Boondoggle a more likely place to look for nihilists drunk with power?

Some state legislators also allege partisanship.

Sen. Russell Decker (D-Weston) said the Republicans were the ones at fault.

"Republicans like to throw a bomb and ask questions later," said Decker, who sits on the Joint Finance Committee. "The university's administration has certainly stumbled in the last couple of months. But that shouldn't take away our focus on a top-notch institution."

Not everybody agrees. Herewith the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, many of whom secretly wish Frank Zeidler would come out of retirement.
University of Wisconsin-Madison officials handed the tax freeze crowd a nice fat target, complete with crosshairs, with the way they handled the case of Paul Barrows, onetime vice chancellor of student affairs and then a $150,000-a-year "consultant" and now a program specialist. Who can blame anyone for wanting to put more taxpayer controls on a state agency that shows such disregard for taxpayer dollars?
At the Capital Times, where Fighting Bob LaFollette is likely the last Republican to be spoken well of, more of the same.
Whether one chooses to believe the version of events as presented by Wiley, or by Barrows, it is evident that Wiley has done a miserable job of managing the mess. From the start, the chancellor has operated as if the UW is a privileged institution that plays by a different set of rules from the rest of society. He has failed to deal with legislators or the media in a transparent manner. He has not responded quickly, or well, to public scrutiny. And, at virtually every turn, he has offended the very officials who must decide whether to meet the UW's requests for state funding.
There's also this sidelight.

In another development Monday, the university said it would also investigate a medical professor who was jailed last week after being convicted of stalking. Nancy Lynch, a legal counsel for the university, said UW-Madison can't fire the associate professor, Steven Clark, without just cause.

"It's hard to discipline and dismiss a faculty member," she said.

While the university investigates, Clark will continue to pull his $67,000 annual salary. He might resume his university duties under a work-release program for which he has applied, Lynch said.

No double-secret probation for the Faculty of Medicine. Fraternities are another matter.

Does it come as any surprise that Mr Barrows was recruited from the University of Massachusetts (ZooMass) during the Donna Shalala years? It is also no accident that current athletic director and football coach Barry Alvarez was recruited during the reign of the Queen of Clubs. That hire has also proven to be a Faustian bargain; yes, three Rose Bowl wins over six years impress, but no, an athletics program with a full-time parole officer does not.

But what about the missing men? A reader of this post suggests by private message that I did, indeed, correctly characterize one of the people featured in Declining by Degrees. In my reply, I noted that such people as Mr Barrows and Mr Frohnmayer are running the universities because people such as the reader, or I, choose not to become more involved in administration. By default, the careerists and the diversity boondogglers get to run the show. Or perhaps not. I have mentioned that there have been two or three fruitless dean searches at Northern Illinois University, for different colleges. Might that be the sound of Atlas shrugging? Find me the man or woman who can simultaneously work with a faculty originally recruited as traditional scholars, a legislature that would like to spend less money on public universities while ensuring that undergraduates finish more rapidly and more frequently, and an administration that professes to cherish its Research Comprehensive status while starving the scholarship of resources.

No comments: