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Recent Comments

Re: “Rethink higher education

If President Bobbitt is serious about focusing on administrative functions and achieving institutional mission, he has a great opportunity with the Clinton School of Public Service. It has fallen far short of its true potential in large part due to failure by the UA System to address serious issues that are obvious with any amount of honest inquiry.

If Pres. Bobbitt takes a real look beyond the surface level accomplishments, PR spin, and smokescreens offered by those who benefit from the status quo he’ll find that the past 5 years have seen:

100% faculty turnover with the most talented having been driven out. Talk to them!
The departure of two academic deans who cared dearly about and had vision for the school but weren’t able to lead the academic program without relentless interference. Talk to them too!
Unacceptable levels of student and alumni dissatisfaction that continues right now with current students. Talk to them with the assurance of confidentiality. They're intimidated.
No real fundraising, development or endowment building of any kind. Just look.
Profligate “discretionary” spending and creative accounting and reimbursement practices to cover it up. Consider doing a comprehensive audit.
No serious strategic planning of any kind from day one, just lots of discussion that it will happen soon, which it now may with arrival of the school's fourth academic dean in 5 years.
No credible performance and evaluation of school leadership performance consistent with what should be expected of an institution like this, particularly with its known issues.
No credible, independent oversight of the school.
No real engagement of the former president for whom the school was named.

He’ll also find that these were excused by a supposed need for “five years of data” before the school could really begin working on these issues. But he’ll quickly discover that was an excuse and that no credible data was being developed by any legitimate process, save for weak evaluation of field service projects which, conveniently, are what the school does best.
Where was the legitimate evaluation of the academic program? Faculty recruitment and retention practices and results? Student satisfaction? Strategic planning? Fundraising and development? Budget and accounting transparency? Leadership evaluation? None of those things needed or should have had to wait five years.

He’ll also find that when these issues were brought to the System’s attention in the past, mere lip service was paid and token actions taken in order to keep things quiet enough for a smooth road to retirement. The message sent loud and clear was that a couple individuals and their comfort matters more than the success of an institution and the students it purports to serve.

If he looks, he'll find that where there is smoke there is fire. And the Clinton School’s incredible potential as an elite academic and service institution is being squandered.

To the extent the Clinton School has been good for Arkansas - and it has been - imagine how good it would be if it lived up to anything close to its true potential.

13 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Wuddyaknow on 12/06/2011 at 10:03 AM

Re: “Four candidates for University of Arkansas president

eLwood, you can start here:


Then you can ask, like others have, where the follow up has been. Better yet, ask people outside the PR department who have worked at the school but have since left if everything is as pristine as the spin machine would have you believe. Seriously, go ask them. You'll be among the first.

After that, you can ask Max why some of the blog posts from years past made it over when the blog transitioned to the new format but others didn't, including his pretty disinterested blog post with its far more interesting discussion in the comments about the above linked article and these very issues.

Also, there was a blog post from when Rutherford was first named dean that included some interesting commentary by people who predicted with impressive accuracy many of these issues alluded to here. I may be missing them, and maybe Max can provide the links, but funny enough, nobody else seems able to locate them. Imagine that. Two PR guys scuttling stories. In Arkansas? No...

eLwood, perhaps you might want to check your understandable but perhaps not always applicable knee jerk condemnation of "anonymous bloggers" before you so willingly conclude that everything relevant will be found or aired here on the blog. Don't take anyone here's word for it. Go ask the UA System Office what they know. You might be surprised - if they're honest.

Posted by Wuddyaknow on 07/08/2011 at 3:05 PM

Re: “Gun incident in Houston elementary

Gosh almighty, this nice little informative update and nary a mention of the fact that the head of the NRA, Wayne Lapierre, is in town today having spoken this morning at the Clinton School?
Now Max, I know you seemed to think that having a US Supreme Court justice right here in Little Rock a couple weeks ago wasn't newsworthy enough to cover on the blog. And I wondered then exactly how much you were helping out your buddy Skip who is under scrutiny for his "management practices" and who, rumor has it, has asked you not to post references to the Clinton School for a while to keep it off the radar - although I'm not sure what he's hiding from if he is doing such a stellar job. But how much interesting information or even news are you willing to bury for your buddy?
Seems like the head of the NRA being in town is an interesting fact to go along with this little story, no?

Posted by Wuddyaknow on 04/19/2011 at 1:57 PM

Re: “Lu Hardin resigns from Florida college

Arkansas4Life, that's the problem. This state has good old boys of every stripe. What they have in common is doing what is best for them, not their institutions, and protecting each other as they do it. The point I've been trying to make is that Max is inconsistent, and that's putting it very nicely, when it comes to who he chooses to focus his team's energy on exposing. I think it pretty clearly undercuts his credibility to go after some but not others and ultimately puts him in the same boat with the other good old boys he is protecting.

Notice how Max hasn't replied here except to defend his choice of following the Lu story.
Wannabe, the Twitter feed appears to be a good start for outlining the issues. I agree some more detail wouldn’t hurt, but if you give it a good read it seems to be heading in that direction and pretty strongly points to some specific issues. Also, here’s a recent blog post with some pretty specific and pointed commentary about the use of funds in connection with the school's "free" speaker series.

I say let the sunshine in and let the chips fall where they may. If Skip’s got nothing to hide, then what does he have to lose? Looks to me like he needs to open the books and account for every last penny spent at the school and either firmly stand behind each expense or step aside and let someone else clean up after him. Its also worth noting that expenses appear to only be one of several major areas of concern.

Posted by Wuddyaknow on 03/06/2011 at 2:36 PM

Re: “Lu Hardin resigns from Florida college

Sure. If it begs caution, don't proceed and just call out the messenger. Brilliant. Most stories are better known when you look at them with 20-20 hindsight vision. Lu's story is well evolved so of course it is well-known. The point is whether Max and his team will take an honest look at this story and see where it goes in the same tenacious way they did with the others that were strikingly similar.
I don't see the benefit for anyone putting that twitter feed up or anyone going against the dean just for sport. Its an obvious cry for help and it most certainly isn't the first from that side of downtown. Either those issues are real or they aren't. Only one way to find out. As they say, sunshine is the best disinfectant.

Posted by Wuddyaknow on 03/04/2011 at 9:27 PM

Re: “Lu Hardin resigns from Florida college

Max, your rationale works, its just inconsistently applied. It seems you only use it to go after who you want to go after and either turn a blind eye or only find what you want to (or not find) when it comes to your pals whose own “huge Arkansas boondoggles” are possibly as egregious, if not more, than the Lu Hardins and Ron Mathieus of the world.

You certainly enjoyed being a super sleuth dedicated to uncovering all wrongdoing, financial mismanagement, and even regular questionable judgment with your many Lu and Mathieu stories. Heck, you and your team were downright pit bulls in the name of fully investigating sound leadership and proper use of resources. And you correctly believed all of that was a huge blinking arrow pointing at inept management and flagrant attempts to at the very least game the system on others dimes.

So let me ask you this - will you apply the same tenacity, diligence and FOI requests to look into allegations of profligate spending, gross mismanagement, lack of any oversight and accountability and fear and intimidation that may be taking place down at the little red school house at the end of the street? Because if half of what's on that Twitter feed is true, you've got one “helluva human story” about a well liked, influential, good old boy, music man style salesman marketing dynamo who may be using school funds to raise his own profile, among a bunch of other behavior that you'd be calling out left and right if it was Lu or Ron.

But then again, its probably easier to ignore so you can prevent any awkwardness in your coffee time together.


Posted by Wuddyaknow on 03/04/2011 at 8:49 PM

Re: “Coming soon to the Clinton School: Rhee, Reyes and 'positive deviance'

If this program is on the up and up, it should be no problem at all for the school to respond that its budgeted and accounted for and provide the info. The only reason to stay silent is if they are playing fast and loose and trying to cover their tracks.

If an investigation proved the allegations here true, it should be grounds for immediate dismissal. But that requires someone to actually look into it. Sugg is packing for retirement, so he probably isn’t paying attention. Max has a tendency to go after the Little Rock boys club he doesn't like but doesn't really go after his coffee buddies. It's a double standard he'll find a way to rationalize or he'll only half heartedly inquire about before finding some way of dismissing it short of the kind of focus he is giving to the fella over at the airport. If there is a response, see if you can slow the spinning enough to read between the careful choice of words.

And issue isn’t speaker relevance. Hopefully they are all relevant. Its how its paid for and whether those running it are playing fast and loose with the funds, wining and dining friends and family and shortchanging the rest of that school in the process. Ya know, things exactly like what’s been happening at the airport. Hey look, the airport!

Posted by Wuddyaknow on 01/31/2011 at 9:51 AM

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