Monday, June 14, 2010

Was Kessler Over-Looked On Purpose?

At NC State University, two major personnel searches—one for the Athletics Director and the other for the Provost—are in process, and, curiously enough, University Advancement, the department headed by Mr. Non-Personality and Mr. Persona Non Grata, Nevin Kessler, the Vice Chancellor in charge of raising money from outside sources as well as through an internal tax from University-related foundations, is not represented on either Search Committee.

Some may say this was just an oversight by the person—Chancellor Randy Woodson—making the committee assignments, but according to a source from deep inside the administration, it was purposely set up that way.

The email came late last week: “Want proof that your analysis of Nevin Kessler is being heard? Look at the search committees for AD and Provost. There is no one from development on either committee. Every other major department is represented. Nevin may be feared but he is not respected. In six months, he won't be feared or respected,” the email-author penned.

A quick review of the committees reveals the obvious once the obvious is stated. On each are representatives of the Board of Trustees, Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate, Department of Finance and Business, and the Student Body President (counted as a representative of Student Affairs). On the AD Search Committee are individuals related to NC State but not employed thereof or currently serving in an appointed position, University General Counsel, and athletics-related and/or employed individuals. On the Provost Search Committee are professors, an academic department head, a College Dean, a couple of representatives of Research and Graduate Studies, and one of extension and engagement.

Gosh! That takes care of every department under the Chancellor except for University Advancement and Kessler, the Robin Hood of the University in a weird sort of way. He knows not of how to take from the rich and give to the poor. With his 5% tax, he’s actually taking from the poor—the various University-based foundations—and giving to the rich, his own department which is supposed to be, under his leadership, the be-all and end-all in University fund raising. His lack of ability and disappointment efforts prove that to be untrue.

Missing from those important selection groups are representatives of University Development, Alumni Association, Advancement Services and University Communications, all under Kessler’s Kingdom. Of course, in keeping with his arrogance, Kessler may lay claim to any Alumni or member of the Alumni Association on either panel. Sorry, Nevin. You do not get the benefit of the doubt here.

Especially since at the last meeting of the Alumni Association Board of Directors your 5% tax, passed by and approved for implementation without all the details worked out by the NC State University Board of Trustees, was on the agenda for discussion but for some reason, hopefully soon to be known, was tabled for discussion at a later meeting. Not everyone on that Board is happy with you and your antics. Considering Alumni is or should be your major source of Advancement dollars, you really should be nice to them and not turn them against you, exactly what you and Lynn Daniel did when the two of you convinced your lackey, temporary interim Chancellor James Woodward, to fire Lennie Barton from the Executive Director’s spot there. Thank goodness Daniel’s term on the Alumni Board expires at the end of this year.

And, speaking of the 5% tax, about a month ago, I asked the chair of the BOT to answer some questions. There has been no response directly to the questions, but a response none-the-less: “Sorry, I have really been out of place and busy with business as I do have a real job. I will respond but give me a day or so to make sure I have the latest as this issue is still being sorted out. I can tell you that the 2% came from a request by the development officers of all the colleges and one of them told me personally that they could support it that way,” wrote Lawrence Davenport on May 22.

Still being sorted out? His response: “Please don’t try to read too much in to my ‘sort it out’ comment. It is a done deal as far as BOT is concerned however there is still some discussion around some of the details i.e. how to present it etc.,” he responded two days later. A telephone call soon followed with his apologies for not supplying detailed answers to the questions. He did tell me the BOT member who chairs that related committee was originally against the proposal from Kessler but was convinced enough to agree to it. But, there’s still no lengthy response to the questions several days later. (Read the questions at Taxation Without Complete Explanation.)

The 2% is the bone tossed to the University-based foundations to get them on board, even if they did so kicking and screaming. The way I read his response is that none of the development officers wanted to take part in the tax—none wanted to give up any of their financially successful efforts—but if they had to, getting a 2% rebate was better than getting nothing. From my own conversations with development officers and with those who are close to all of the development officers, very few have much regard or respect for Kessler.

And, maybe neither does Chancellor Woodson. He seems to have over-looked Kessler and University Advancement when making appointments to the search committees for a new Athletics Director and Provost.

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