Guest post: WMU’s Communication Problems and a Culture of Fear

by Cathryn Bailey, Ph.D.
Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies
and former Associate Dean, WMU College of Arts and Sciences

Cross-posted at FliptheW.

In the years leading up to, and in the wake of, the faculty’s no-confidence vote in the provost, there’s been a lot of talk about a communication problem on campus. It’s a label I’ll accept if we can agree that this isn’t merely a cosmetic flaw to be remedied, say, by town hall meetings where those in charge pretend to listen. I’m more inclined to say we’ve got a fear problem, one that correlates pretty neatly with the institution’s reliance on a rusty, traditional power model, one that’s hierarchical, unidirectional, and has clearly defined rules of engagement. One expression of this is the expectation of managerial compliance the provost openly referred to in his message to CAS faculty and staff a few weeks ago.

According to this model’s dictates, when I’m with a higher up – and we should always be clear about who’s who on the food chain – my role is passive. I am to be talked at, explained to, given advice and schooled. I can ask questions of clarification, but not substantive or fundamental ones, and I must accept whatever is doled out to me in the guise of a response, whether or not it’s relevant, ethical or even makes sense. My primary function is to nod in agreement, thereby providing reassurance to the guy in charge that he is, in fact, in charge. The pervasiveness of this rickety power model helps explain why some of our leaders look so puzzled, irritated, or even visibly angry, when confronted with real questions about such issues as the academic program review, the university’s football program, budget and finance decisions, or gender equity. They seem to see such questioning as at best impertinence and at worst a violation of WMU’s social order.

I know I am not the only one who has noticed that when questions and concerns are presented to some of our leaders, or when they address groups of us, their tone frequently ranges, and can shift instantly, from jocular uncle to disappointed dad to pissed-off coach to irate general. It isn’t just one or two leaders, but, increasingly, this communication style seems to have become part of the WMU administrative ethos. It’s become pretty standard for some of them to bark out talking points and manage questions or concerns rather than actually listen to them and thoughtfully and spontaneously respond. If you haven’t experienced this first hand recently, get yourself invited to a Wednesday afternoon administrative Academic Forum, often a virtual parade of such didactic performances.

Too many of our campus leaders seem to have taken on the terrible burden of believing it’s their job is to know everything and to then fling that knowledge at those below. Their omniscient pretense is further reinforced by vague, dangled secrets and obfuscating references to complicated reports that staff and faculty couldn’t possibly be trusted with or expected to understand. That more of us haven’t been asking tough questions all along has, of course, been vital to maintaining this dynamic. It’s especially demoralizing to look around the room and see an audience nodding in drowsy approval. As if they were part of an actual dialogue.

It’s partly because I think there’s a gendered dynamic associated with this communication style that I find the handling of gender equity – with respect to both faculty and staff – to be so troubling. From where I sit, it looks like the women and men who care about gender equity are, in pretty standard fashion, being intimidated, ignored and shamed into silence. The very dynamic that created the problem they’re taking issue with in the first place – an objectively demonstrable social and material power imbalance – is being relied upon to keep them in line. Here, the woman’s expected role is one of passive acquiescence and polite helpmeet. That so many women have internalized these lessons – yes, we often are afraid and do doubt our own worth – makes this a predictably effective and especially offensive strategy.

What I think is most important about what’s happening now across campus, most visibly in the College of Arts and Sciences but across other colleges as well, is that some individuals and groups are challenging this dynamic. There is increasing recognition that we must insist on being treated like respected collaborators if we are to meet our responsibilities to each other and to the university. And the campus leaders who seek more from us than passive acquiescence – and I hope there still are such leaders at WMU – deserve our honest, robustly engaged partnership, in dialogue and in action.

That I have recently watched my immediate boss lose his job for speaking up suggests that I am not exaggerating WMU’s authoritarian dynamic. That I am contacted daily by individuals from across campus who whisper both their support and their terror speaks painful and embarrassing but also hopeful volumes. Those of us who speak up already know that there may be consequences. We may be vilified as disloyal, or dismissed as impertinent and naive. Women who speak up may also be dismissed as bitchy or hysterical. Certainly, it’s not much of a challenge to construct rationalizations for why we need not listen to those whose views we’ve already decided we care nothing about.

But despite the fear, we must continue to demand and expect more in terms of collaborative dialogue and shared governance. Our commitment and loyalty to higher education, to WMU, to our students, and to one another requires such vigorously engaged participation. Exceptional work is being done all around us by staff, faculty, students and administrative colleagues whose expertise and wisdom are necessary to make this place better. What if WMU colleagues across all levels acknowledged our shared vulnerability and felt empowered to communicate authentically about the real problems that urgently need our attention? What if we were not afraid?

Faculty comments needed on WMU interim sexual misconduct policy

In January, President Dunn announced a new interim sexual misconduct policy and asked for feedback from faculty and staff.

After reviewing the interim policy, linked here, members of the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee have identified a number of concerns about it, including about possible implications for due process and academic freedom. For example, faculty in courses and disciplines that use images that could be perceived as controversial may want to know how “pedagogically appropriate” material, as it is referenced in the interim policy, will be defined and by whom.

Additionally, reporting requirements for faculty who become aware of incidents have raised concerns. The interim policy compels faculty to report information, apparently to include information shared with us in confidence by students who may not wish to report an incident officially but may want only to talk with us or to ask us for other kinds of help.

We have identified these and other concerns, but we are not going to be able to catch everything that could have unintended consequences. Therefore, we strongly encourage all faculty members to read the interim policy in its entirety and to submit feedback (anonymously) through an online survey, linked here, set up by the administration.

In President Dunn’s email to the faculty and staff in January, he wrote that the new sexual misconduct policy will be finalized by the beginning of the Fall 2015 semester. Therefore, we ask that faculty who wish to weigh in on this important issue submit their feedback as soon as possible.

Click here to access the draft policy.

Click here for the survey to submit your comments.

Guest Post: Conversation, Change, and Compromise at Western Michigan University

by Alexander M. Cannon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Music History/Ethnomusicology
Western Michigan University College of Fine Arts

When I started teaching three years ago, I was struck by the energy and drive of my colleagues in the College of Fine Arts. They grounded their teaching, research, grant writing, and committee-driven initiatives in their understanding of the many communities in which they operated. An attention to community, it seemed, helped them react nimbly to change, and I immediately wanted to take part in their plans to improve the college and university. However, the realities of institutional inertia soon set in, where fractures within the university community prevented implementation.

Provost Timothy Greene’s recent decision concerning the contract of Dean Alex Enyedi and the resulting WMU-AAUP “no confidence” vote shed a particular light on the ruptures on campus that prevent flexibility and improvement at WMU. I write, therefore, to refute the claims that the WMU-AAUP vote emerged simply from the Provost’s decision not to renew Dean Enyedi’s contract and that only faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) share concerns for the Provost’s approach to governance. [1] The recent actions of the Provost and the WMU-AAUP serve as a catalyst for conversation about systemic barriers to effective dialogue and governance at WMU, but I worry that this conversation has waned in recent days. As a faculty, we can no longer retreat into our research and teaching but must tackle the fraught realities of shared governance and rebuild a culture of stewardship at WMU. I therefore offer the following comments on leadership, long-term planning and assessment, and sustainability; to conclude, I propose three questions that I hope will guide future conversations in public and private forums.


Effective leadership is a matter of charisma — not the charisma used in everyday conversation as a stand-in term for outgoing, popular, and entertaining or the transcendent powers attributed to certain historical figures. I mean the charisma of the engaged leader who identifies present problems, provides the logic for seeing these problems in multifaceted ways, and implements effective solutions to overcoming these problems with the full support of those around the leader. Charisma, therefore, is not leadership through directive; charisma is leadership through continuous engagement with a community.

The leadership style described by Provost Greene in a letter to CAS faculty following the dismissal of Dean Enyedi does not seem to align with this model. Provost Greene writes:

Leadership is fostered in the trust between managers. A senior leader, in this case a provost, must be able to trust that a dean will do what has been agreed upon without fail. Quite simply put, when any manager acts in opposition to a leadership directive, that person would normally expect to no longer be a member of the management team. [2]

Deans are told to implement decisions based on the presumed authority of the provost; are the deans meant to quell individual expression for fear of losing their positions and, ultimately, their abilities to bring positive change? Does this have ramifications on individual expression for me and other faculty members? In addition, trust does not exist a priori to one’s engagement with the leader; trust must be forged and organized as a two-way street. Trusting one’s subordinate to implement policy without requiring the subordinate to trust the “senior manager” to engage and, more importantly, listen to concerns, is troubling.

Long-term Planning and Assessment

Planning is no easy task, and there is much to be lauded about the Western Michigan University Strategic Plan. As indicated in the most recent Strategic Plan Mid-Year Report, there are initiatives underway to improve student retention, student diversity, and student engagement with the local community. [3] It appears, however, that some suggestions for improving certain short-term problems are rather generic and lack diversity. To increase federal research expenditures by faculty, the report suggests increasing “research for community benefit.” [4] How, specifically, is this possible when federal grant money is decreasing? [5] Why do the five suggested projects only involve business and science research? [6] The Mid-Year Report also indicates ways to improve the six-year graduation rate, including “foster University’s reputation” with a specific suggestion to “implement new university homepage and key supporting pages.”[7] Why not tackle both research funding and reputation by encouraging faculty to collaborate across disciplines to generate new projects to be presented at prestigious conferences? Sustained engagement between the Provost’s Office and the faculty will yield many more ways to tackle these issues raised in the strategic plan.

The long term also must be considered seriously. The Mid-Year Report only suggests items for the 2015–2020 strategic plan. [8] We need to look beyond 2020 and consider where the university will be in 2050 or 2060. If the university has a series of long-term goals in mind—as opposed to long-term approaches of being learner centered, discovery driven, and globally engaged—the university can tackle assessment of programs better. I realize that assessment is not popular and very time intensive; however, with clear and established descriptions of why assessments are needed to build the identity and reputation of WMU, faculty will better appreciate the positive outcomes of assessment. Lack of clarity generates opposition and fear; this undermines methods of improving the university environment.


Long-term planning requires a model. WMU has been recognized recently as a leader in environmental sustainability. This appears to be a result, in part, of the fifth WMU strategic goal, namely to “[a]dvance social, economic, and environmental sustainability practices and policies.” [9] I also perceive WMU governance, however, as driven by numbers and rewarding of positive percentages. I therefore encourage the Provost’s Office and others to adopt a wider model of university-level sustainability to re-root WMU in the communities of western Michigan. “Sustainability,” writes Tom Kelly, the Chief Sustainability Officer at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), “is fundamentally about education because it continually presents questions of value and practice by asking what is best and why, for the long run.” [10]

I draw inspiration for sustainability models from two sources: first from the model of the “sustainable learning community” undertaken by UNH and second from current research on musical sustainability. In the UNH model, Kelly advocates sustainability as “a practical ideal that must be worked out on the ground, concretely and in synch with the rhythms of day-to-day life.” [11] Sustainability advances a bottom-up approach with attunement to student, faculty, staff, and community needs. Kelly describes the model in the following terms:

The sustainable learning community model focuses on four key systems that underpin the ability of a community or society to define and pursue quality of life: biodiversity and ecosystems, climate and energy, food and society, and culture and sustainability. These are integrated as educational initiatives focused on institutional practices across what we refer as the core functions of the university: curriculum, operations, research, and engagement (CORE). Together, the four systems and the CORE create the basis for building a global sustainability outlook by supporting educational innovations that cultivate perspectives that we have defined as “Earth system,” “citizen of the world,” “public health practitioner,” and “engaged intellectual.” [12]

The model proposes clear methods to craft the perspectives of members of the community and then outlines clear outcomes for students—they graduate with these perspectives and prepared for specific types of careers.

Western Michigan University does not exist at the intersection of the same kinds of communities as the University of New Hampshire; therefore, adopting UNH’s model verbatim is not the best course of action. Here, I draw from musical sustainability to propose a plan for pursuing a large-scale WMU sustainability model. Ethnomusicologist Jeff Todd Titon draws on theories of how ecosystems sustain themselves and argues that four principles guide sustainable environments. [13] “Diversity” is the first principle and enables the maintenance of a body of knowledge and solutions upon which to draw when new challenges arise. “Limits to growth” is the second and prevents the environment from getting too large and crowding out necessary resources for the entire system to use. Attunement to “interconnectivity” is the third principle and indicates that certain self-correcting mechanisms be established to allow the environment to assimilate new ideas and adapt to change. “Stewardship” is the final principle; good management in a sustainable environment involves a ground-level perspective to “care…for something not owned.” [14]

WMU leadership is well attuned to the necessity of diversity, although more work still needs to be done in that area. Limits to growth, attunement to interconnectivity, and stewardship need to be addressed by the entire university community. Models of sustainability do not mix well with growth; undertaking both sustainability and growth—something WMU seems to pursue now—yields neither. Interconnectivity must be fostered between the different units, and structures, including permanent assessment models, should be put in place to foster this interconnectivity. Finally, leaders of a university do not own the university but are entrusted with the significant responsibility of maintaining the institution for future generations. We must have stewards in our administrative positions.


We need to continue conversations recent events have started. To begin our dialogue, I respectfully implore the Provost’s Office to reconsider its approach to interacting with the university community and to adopt the values meant to guide the university: lead but also learn; direct, but also discover; enforce, but also engage. I also respectfully implore faculty to espouse the same values and play a more active role in shared responsibility for the university. To do so, I suggest that we organize a series of open forums to discuss the following questions:

What is leadership at an institution of higher education?

I call for dialogue about leadership and not for the dismissal of any WMU administrator. Leadership must be built on trust between the leaders and the community. All leaders at WMU—this includes administrators, faculty teaching in classrooms, managers, and student leaders—must craft an atmosphere of stewardship and effective engagement with the concerns of the community.

What is the proper balance of long-term planning and assessment?

Proper balance emerges from sustained communication between the administration, faculty, staff, and students as we determine our collective strategic plans and implement permanent assessment models.

What are the benefits of pursing sustainability, as opposed to growth, as our guiding model?

WMU has the potential to make large-scale sustainability a model to guide the development of programs, the revision of curricula, and the recruitment of successful students. We should not aim to grow at this point; with declining high-school graduation rates in Michigan, we should consider equilibrium a success. This equilibrium should involve stable matriculation rates and improved graduation rates for at least the next ten to fifteen years. When forecasts indicate that high-school graduation rates will increase in Michigan, we can consider a shift to a model that involves proactively tackling growth.

We are here because we give students, the community, and each other the tools to build our collective future. Let us all work together and guide one another to help Western Michigan University reach its true potential.

Respectfully submitted,

Alexander M. Cannon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Music History/Ethnomusicology
WMU College of Fine Arts


[1] WMU spokeswoman Cheryl Roland recently claimed that “[a]n overwhelming majority of those who voted [in the “no confidence” vote] were from the College of Arts and Sciences.” (See Julie Mack, “Western Michigan University faculty union issues official ‘no confidence’ vote against Provost Tim Greene,”, February 4, 2015). Here Mack subsequently reports that 59.4% of participants in the first ballot and 54.04% in the revised ballot indicated they were in the College of Arts and Sciences; “overwhelming majority” is not applicable in this case and using such language, in essence, silences the opinions of 40% or more of faculty at WMU.

[2] WMU Provost Timothy Greene, letter to faculty and staff of the College of Arts and Sciences, January 29, 2015.

[3] Jody Brylinsky and Brynne Belinger, Western Michigan University Strategic Plan Mid-Year Report, WMU Office of Institutional Effectiveness, January 14, 2015.

[4] Brylinski and Belinger, p. 8.

[5] “NSF study shows decline in federal funding for research and development,” National Science Foundation, January 15, 2014.

[6] In the College of Fine Arts, there are fewer opportunities for large institutional grants, but there are large grants available, such as the National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant. There also are grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities available; therefore, an attunement to a more diverse variety of research awards and grants will help WMU maintain funding for our programs.

[7] Brylinski and Belinger, p. 7.

[8] Brylinski and Belinger, pp. 15-18.

[9] Western Michigan University Strategic Plan 2012–2015.

[10] Tom Kelly, “Sustainability as an Organizing Principle for Higher Education,” in The Sustainable Learning Community: One University’s Journey to the Future, ed. John Aber, Tom Kelly, and Bruce Mallory (Durham, New Hampshire: University of New Hampshire Press, 2009), 1.

[11] Kelly, p. 1.

[12] Kelly, p. 2.

[13] Jeff Todd Titon, “Music and Sustainability: An Ecological Viewpoint,” The World of Music 51.1 (2009): 123–124.

[14] Titon, p. 124.

Results of Faculty Survey of Confidence in Provost’s Leadership

The WMU-AAUP chapter membership has voted “no confidence” in the leadership of Provost Tim Greene by a substantial majority. Quantitative results are enclosed below. Detailed summaries of the qualitative responses will be available in the coming days.

Some prefatory information is necessary for understanding the data.

For all electronic surveys conducted by the WMU-AAUP, a third-party service is contracted to ensure that all faculty information (even about whether any individual faculty member participated) is kept confidential. This means that neither chapter officers nor the chapter staff have access to any individual answers or to information about who participated. Only the aggregated totals are shared with us. We then share these with the faculty.

This is important to go over in light of an error in the survey as it initially appeared last Friday, January 30. For question #4, participants should have been able to select as many answers as they thought applied. The error was that participants were able to select only a single answer for that question. Before that error could be corrected, 80 faculty colleagues had already participated in the survey.

Early on Friday evening, the error was corrected, and participants were then able to select multiple options in response to question #5 if they chose. When the correction was made, the responses of the first 80 participants were saved and, as we learned on Tuesday, a new count was begun.

Unfortunately, however, that correction made it possible for participants who had already responded to the original survey on Friday afternoon to respond a second time, after the error had been corrected.

We do not believe that any faculty members would have voted twice with the intention of having two votes counted, but some may have returned to the survey believing that a second vote would supersede their first. It did not. Any new vote submitted after the correction was made would have been automatically included in the new count.

When we learned on Tuesday that it could have been possible for colleagues in the first group of 80 to complete the survey a second time, we asked our computing services contractor whether there is a way that they could determine the extent of any overlap between the two groups of participants. There is not.

Therefore, although we believe that the number of colleagues who might have responded twice is probably small, we are presenting each data set separately, with one set reflecting the responses of the first 80 participants and the second reflecting the responses of the 278 colleagues who completed the survey after the corrections to question #4 were made.

For each of the data sets, each participant could submit only a single vote. This means that we can stand by each set independently, but we cannot aggregate the two sets.

Thanks to all of you who participated in the survey. Now for the results.

Question 1. Please select the option below that best reflects your feelings about the leadership of WMU Provost Tim Greene:

Results of first set of responses (n = 80):

I have CONFIDENCE in Provost Greene’s leadership:             15 (18.75%)

I have NO CONFIDENCE in Provost Greene’s leadership:       65 (81.25%)

Results of second set of responses (n = 278)

I have CONFIDENCE in Provost Greene’s leadership              66 (23.74%)

I have NO CONFIDENCE in Provost Greene’s leadership        212 (76.26%)

Question 2. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Please indicate your agreement or disagreement with the following statement:

I believe that Provost Greene upholds and defends the core values and academic mission of Western Michigan University.

Results of first set of responses (n = 80; 13 skipped question):

Agree              12        (17.91%)

Disagree          55        (82.09%)

Results of second set of responses (n = 278; 33 skipped question):

 Agree              66        (26.94%)

Disagree          179      (73.06%)

Question 3. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Please indicate your agreement or disagreement with the following statement:

I believe that Provost Greene should continue in his current position.

Results of first set of responses (n = 80; 7 skipped question):

Agree              12        (16.44%)

Disagree          61        (83.56%)

Results of second set of responses (n = 278; 32 skipped question):

Agree              59        (23.98%)

Disagree          187      (76.02%)

Question 4. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Please check the box next to your college or academic unit. If you are affiliated with more than one, please select the home of your primary appointment.

Results of first set of responses (n = 80; 13 skipped question):

College of Arts and Sciences                                                 40 (59.7%)

College of Aviation                                                                  0

Haworth College of Business                                                  2 (2.99%)

College of Education and Human Development                       13 (19.4%)

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences                           3 (4.48%)

College of Fine Arts                                                                  4 (5.97%)

College of Health and Human Services                                     4 (5.97%)

Center for English Language & Culture for Intl Students            0

University Libraries                                                                    1 (1.49%)

Counseling Services                                                                  0

Results of second set of responses (n = 278; 43 skipped question):

College of Arts and Sciences                                      127      (54.04%)

College of Aviation                                                       6          (2.55%)

Haworth College of Business                                      16        (6.81%)

College of Education and Human Development           22        (9.36%)

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences              20        (8.51%)

College of Fine Arts                                                     14        (5.96%)

College of Health and Human Services                       19        (8.09%)

CELCIS                                                                        4          (1.70%)

University Libraries                                                       5          (2.13%)

Counseling Services                                                    2          (0.85%)

Total numbers of faculty in each college or unit at WMU and percentage of WMU-AAUP bargaining unit as a whole (n = 886):

College of Arts and Sciences                                     345      (38.9%)

College of Aviation                                                      20        (2.25%)

Haworth College of Business                                      80        (9.0%)

College of Education and Human Development          111      (12.5%)

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences              90        (10.1%)

College of Fine Arts                                                     81        (9.14%)

College of Health and Human Services                        111      (12.5%)

CELCIS                                                                        15        (1.69%)

University Libraries                                                        22        (2.48%)

Counseling Services                                                     11        (1.24%)

Question 5. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Please check the issue(s) or concern(s) you considered most important in determining your answer to question #1. Select as many as apply.

Results of first set of responses (n = 80; 14 skipped question):

Note: In an error on the original survey, only one of the options below could be checked. This affected the options and responses of the first 80 survey respondents, 19 of whom wrote in additional choices from the options given in the box next to the “other” option. These write-ins have been added to the totals. Several others wrote in issues or concerns that were not included among the options given. A detailed summary of the qualitative data provided in response to this question (and to question #7) is forthcoming.

Gender equity                                    23        (34.84%)

Academic program review                 20        (30.3%)

Shared governance                            20        (30.3%)

Administrative accountability              18        (27.27%)

Transparency in decision making        25        (37.87%)

Respect for faculty                             26        (39.39%)

Support for academic mission            16        (24.24%)

Institutional priorities                           17        (25.75%)

Results of second set of responses (n = 278; 46 skipped question):

In addition to the totals given below, 40 respondents wrote in issues or concerns that were not included among the options given. A detailed summary of the qualitative data provided in response to this question (and to question #7) is forthcoming.

Gender equity                                    135      (58.19%)

Academic program review                 121      (52.16%)

Shared governance                            152      (65.52%)

Administrative accountability              128      (55.17%)

Transparency in decision making       169      (72.84%)

Respect for faculty                             171      (73.71%)

Support for academic mission            111      (47.84%)

Institutional priorities                            120      (51.72%)

Other                                                   40        (17.24%)

 Question 6. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Years of service at WMU?

Results of first set of responses (n = 80; 22 skipped question):

1-5 years:                   3

6-10 years:                 11

11-15 years:               17

16-20 years:               11

21-25 years:               7

26-30 years:               6

31-35 years:               2

36-40 years:               0

41-45 years:               0

46-50 years:               1

51 or more years:       0

other:                         0

 Results of second set of responses (n = 278; 97 skipped question):

1-5 years:                   15

6-10 years:                 27

11-15 years:               44

16-20 years:               43

21-25 years:               22

26-30 years:               8

31-35 years:               12

36-40 years:               6

41-45 years:               1

46-50 years:               2

51 or more years:       0

other:                          1 (comment: “many decades”)

Question 7. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Please add any comments you would like to share.

First set of responses (n = 80): 24 participants included comments.

Second set of responses (n = 278): 64 participants included comments.

Detailed summary of qualitative responses is forthcoming.


Number of survey invitations sent:                             886

Number of faculty opted out of Survey Monkey         67

Number of possible participants:                                819

Electronic participation in no-confidence vote

After hearing from colleagues who are interested in voting on the question of confidence in the leadership of Provost Tim Greene but who will not be able to attend the WMU-AAUP chapter meeting this afternoon, we have created an online voting instrument. An invitation to vote online will be emailed to all WMU-AAUP bargaining-unit faculty members shortly.

All WMU-AAUP bargaining-unit faculty are eligible to participate in the online balloting.

And we ask that you do so regardless of whether or not you plan to attend the chapter meeting this afternoon.

Please check your wmich email for your invitations to participate, which will be arriving later today.

Thanks to all who have been in touch over the past week with your feedback and input for how best to conduct this vote in a way that emphasizes inclusion.

For those planning to attend today’s meeting, we will meet at 1:30 p.m. in rooms 157-159 of the Bernhard Center.

For updates on this developing situation, please follow the WMU-AAUP on Facebook and Twitter and keep checking this blog.

Letter to CAS Faculty and Staff from Senior Associate Dean Cathryn Bailey and Associate Dean Ed Martini

The letter below from CAS Senior Associate Dean Cathryn Bailey and Associate Dean Ed Martini was emailed to College of Arts and Sciences faculty and staff on Friday, January 30.

This is a sad day for CAS and for Western Michigan University. Cathryn and Ed are two of the smartest, most compassionate, most ethical, and most promising young leaders on our campus. On behalf of our students, and in support of the faculty and staff, they have worked alongside CAS Dean Alex Enyedi to revitalize the College to build the kind of energy, excitement, and innovation that the university’s senior leadership should be rewarding and honoring. They would do well to emulate the leadership of Cathryn, Ed, and Alex.

CAS is a better place today in large part because of the work of these dedicated and tremendously gifted colleagues. Losing them is a terrible blow to the College and to the university. However, I understand their decision completely and having nothing but respect for them.


Dear CAS Colleagues,

It is with heavy hearts that we write to share with you that we no longer feel able to continue working in our positions as we have for the past several years. Our decision is a solemn one that is based on grave concerns both about the motives for the firing of Dean Enyedi, and about how his removal is being carried out.

That Alex is being replaced so urgently and unceremoniously, without time or opportunity for a normal process, having been informed directly of what is occurring only just this morning, is especially disturbing. In Wednesday’s message to faculty and staff, the provost stated that he has been seeking input from CAS members about how to proceed, but the nature of his communications and actions, and this breakneck pace do not inspire considered deliberation or honest dissent. We do not, then, see the voices of CAS constituents being genuinely encouraged or considered in this hasty process.

This decision is a sober one for us, and we regret the impact it will have on our colleagues and students, especially as we stand knee-deep in the important and mundane business of running the College. But given the circumstances, in which basic processes have been suspended and voices are being ignored, we see no other way to move forward with integrity, serving the deeper interests of CAS and WMU.

With warm best wishes and thanks,
Cathryn and Ed

Dr. Cathryn Bailey, Senior Associate Dean
Dr. Ed Martini, Associate Dean
College of Arts and Sciences
2316 Friedmann Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008-5308

Jan. 30 chapter meeting and absentee voting

We’ve been hearing from colleagues who are interested in voting on the question of confidence in the leadership of Provost Tim Greene but who will not be able to attend the WMU-AAUP chapter meeting tomorrow afternoon.

In order to accommodate all faculty who wish to participate in the vote, we are working on ways to make that possible and will be in touch soon with further information.

Colleagues who are available tomorrow afternoon (January 30) are urged to attend the chapter meeting and participate in this important discussion. We will meet at 1:30 p.m. in rooms 157-159 of the Bernhard Center.

All members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit are invited to attend and eligible to vote.

For updates on this developing situation, please follow the WMU-AAUP on Facebook and Twitter and watch for updates on this site.

Letter from Provost Tim Greene to CAS Faculty and Staff

The letter below was emailed to College of Arts and Sciences faculty and staff on Wednesday, January 28. We reprint it here unedited and without comment.

Subject: Update on leadership transition
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:45:46 -0500
From: WMU Provost Tim Greene <>
Reply-To: WMU Provost Tim Greene <>

Faculty and Staff:

I would like to bring you up to date on the transition in CAS dean leadership. There have been a multitude of unofficial messages and emails regarding this transition, leading to a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding both on campus and in the community. I am sorry for this, and assure you it was not how it was planned.

Dr. Enyedi’s term as dean has included many significant accomplishments. They include developing a college strategic plan, helping to launch the University Humanities Center, celebrating accomplishments of faculty, staff and students, and recruiting a distinguished group of new faculty to join the college.

Notwithstanding the many attempts to resolve leadership issues with Dr. Enyedi, it has become apparent that a change in leadership is necessary. These issues have included declines in enrollment, declines in funded research, expectations of how to manage budget allocations, transparency in communications to university administrators, and support for decisions made by either the Provost’s Council or by me.

For the orderly management of a university, there has to be a recognized organizational structure and rules of management. While there should be vigorous discussions among management leaders, in this case the deans, there comes a time when a decision is made by the senior manager. Once a decision is made, then the deans must implement and support that decision. If they cannot implement the decision, then they have the obligation to relinquish their leadership position and return to the faculty.

Leadership is fostered in the trust between managers. A senior leader, in this case a provost, must be able to trust that a dean will do what has been agreed upon without fail. Quite simply put, when any manager acts in opposition to a leadership directive, that person would normally expect to no longer be a member of the management team.

This personnel change was not an easy decision. But, there were multiple issues taken into consideration when determining whether to offer a new appointment.

Certainly change is difficult. We all know that. There is never a good time to make a change in leadership, since there is always a lot of work to be done in a college. Right now this includes tenure and promotion review, academic program review and planning, faculty hiring, general education review and more. I am confident that the college will, with the leadership of an interim dean, successfully address each of these priorities and other items on behalf of our students, faculty and staff. The University administration is committed to assisting the college in all aspects for a smooth transition.

On Monday, I met with the associate deans, chairs and directors of the academic departments. I asked the chairs and directors to recommend possible candidates to serve as interim dean, and I have received their input. I will meet once again with the academic chairs and directors on Friday to complete this conversation.

During the Monday meeting with the associate deans, chairs and directors, we began the discussion of the qualifications a candidate must possess to be successful as dean in the college. We also discussed the search process for a new dean. On Thursday, I will meet with the staff directors and immediate reports to the dean to have a similar discussion.

Initial steps to select a new dean have already been taken. Our conversations together will identify the qualities we are looking for in that individual. These conversations will lead to the formation of a search committee, and a national search will be undertaken. That search will of course include extensive input from the college.

This message confirms that effective July 1, 2015, Dr. Alex Enyedi will be returning to the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences. Effective immediately, different duties will be assigned to him during these next five transitional months. An interim dean will be appointed to fulfill the college duties for which Dr. Enyedi was previously responsible.

Dr. Enyedi has an extensive record as an educator and researcher. I am certain that Dr. Enyedi will continue to contribute his pedagogical expertise with the college and our students. Please join me in recognizing his contributions as dean. Finally, I plan to send you additional updates as we move through this time of transition.

Tim Greene
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Results of Faculty Surveys of CAS Dean Alex Enyedi (2011 and 2014)

Faculty Evaluation of Dr. Alex Enyedi, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Conducted by the WMU-AAUP in 2011 and 2014 per Article 19 of the Agreement

Results of 2014 Evaluation

Note: The 27 pages of results from the 2014 faculty evaluation of CAS Dean Alex Enyedi include a number of categories focusing on issues that could be perceived as more important to the faculty than to senior university administration, such as statements about whether the dean is “sensitive to faculty concerns.” (83 percent of CAS faculty participants agreed or strongly agreed that Dean Enyedi is.) The information below focuses on key measures that would (ideally) be considered important by both faculty and senior administration.

Click on images to enlarge.

Faculty Evaluation Data

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2011 Evaluation of CAS Dean Alex Enyedi (summary results):

2011 Faculty Evaluation Data