Thursday, September 28, 2000

ARCHIVES: "PEOPLE WALKING ON EGGSHELLS," by Chunk Wheeler

By all accounts, Raghu is a difficult man to work with or, especially, under.

Consider the case of the now-retired Leann Cribb, formerly an executive secretary, and a beloved and respected employee. Cribb had occasion to work for Raghu when he served as Chair of his School. Later, working for the Office of Instruction, she took notes for Instructional Council meetings—including the now-famous meeting in which Mathur was formally censured for lying.

Cribb found Raghu’s treatment of her to be sufficiently egregious that, finally, on August 3, 1995, she lodged a formal complaint against him. She wrote:

The following memorandum is a complaint I am making about Mr. Raghu Mathur. I realize the gravity of my actions, but please understand that I have carefully considered my case, and I have documented Mr. Mathur’s egregious behavior toward me for the past six years….

As the secretary for the Office of Instruction, I take the minutes of the Instructional Council. At the July 18 Instructional Council meeting, I distributed the minutes from the July 11 meeting. During the meeting, Raghu Mathur announced that he wanted the minutes from July 11 changed. During the course of his request, Mr. Mathur stated that he felt the minutes were biased against him and were written to make him look bad … After the meeting, I went back to check my notes from the July 11 meeting and confirmed for myself that the changes he requested were exactly opposite to what I had written during the July 11 meeting and to my recollection….

Mr. Mathur did not attend the next Instructional Council meeting on July 25. During the August 1 meeting, he raised the question of why the revised July 11 minutes had not been distributed. He then continued on an angry tirade accusing the Office of Instruction of manipulating the minutes to make him look bad … He stated that the minutes were written with a bias against him and that the information in the minutes was not accurate. His comments are a direct attack on my competency as well as on my character. Although I realize that I am not the primary target of Mr. Mathur’s diatribe in this instance, I was embarrassed and humiliated in front of the entire Instructional Council by his false accusations.

I resent Mr. Mathur’s assertion that I, and my colleagues, manipulate information to portray him in a bad light. Manipulating the minutes of an Instructional Council meeting would be an inexcusable breach of ethics and should be grounds for a reprimand or dismissal. This is not the first time Mr. Mathur has manufactured lies to get me fired….

This attack on me is the latest in a series of attacks that began with my tenure in the School of Physical Sciences and Technologies. During my time there, Mr. Mathur told me that I was incompetent on more than one occasion. He also attacked me personally by accusing me of behaving inappropriately while serving on a hiring committee. He reported this “inappropriate” behavior to the President of the college. Although I asked him several times to specify what the inappropriate behavior was, I was never informed of what I had done to warrant being reported to the President and humiliated in front of the committee. I was so disturbed by his mistreatment, I have kept notes on several of these instances for my records, dating back to August 1989.

To be clear: Mr. Mathur routinely revises facts and manufactures innuendo to suit his objectives. He does this at the expense of employees like me who are merely doing their job…..


Of course, there have been other complaints against Raghu. At one point, he was even reprimanded by the college President for failing to get along with others (and for violating a federal law by distributing a student’s transcripts in an attempt to discredit a VP).

—But let’s get back to those who work under him. Consider the case of Bevin Zandvliet, who, for a brief period, served as Raghu’s PIO. She couldn’t stand the guy, so she quit. According to the Register,

Irvine Valley College’s new spokeswoman has left after just one month, saying she was asked to present the public with a view of the embattled college that was tantamount to lying.

Bevin Zandvliet said she repeatedly asked college President Raghu Mathur for information about campus protests, lawsuits aimed at the administration, and controversy over the school’s accreditation, but she was rebuffed.

“I was told that there were some things I was not to focus on,” she said. “From my own research, old files and press clippings I got a picture of an administration that was doing some things that I don’t think I could represent without violating my own ethics.”

…Professors say they have been locked out of decision-making and that those who don’t go along with Mathur are called into his office, yelled at and often written up. Mathur, on the other hand, says he has an “open-door policy” and has worked hard to include faculty, staff and students in decisions.

Zandvliet said that during her four weeks at Irvine Valley, that’s not what she saw.

“People are walking on eggshells around there,” she said. “He said he has an open-door policy and that he believes in communication, but I didn’t see it.”
(OC Register 9/25/98)

—CW)

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

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Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary