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This is the fifty-fourth post in an ongoing series as we file Missouri Sunshine Law (RSMo 610) requests and investigate the non-renewal of the contract of University of Central Missouri President Aaron Podolefsky. Links to previous coverage are below the fold. BG and MB

The student newspaper at the University of Central Missouri, the Muleskinner, published an unsigned lead editorial in last Thursday’s edition (yes, we asked):

Editorial

Issue date: 3/25/10 Section: Opinion

President Podolefsky moves to Buffalo to assume duties as the new president of Buffalo State College this summer.

He gets a pay raise and additional opportunities to excel.

We hope he does well and enjoys the new challenges.

From the first announcement that Podolefsky’s contract was not renewed, one has had to wonder if there was enough time for him to find a position before next year.

It says something about Podolefsky that he landed another position as quickly as he did. And it says something about UCM that we have not moved forward on our presidential search effectively.

The deadline for applications was March 1. However, the Board is still accepting applications and has not released how many applications have been received. That says something, too.

It says that few people have applied for the position of president of UCM.

A thinking person would wonder why the University is unable to get dance partners. Is the school undesirable? What would make this University a place where quality people would not seek employment?

Could it be the way the Board of Governors acts?

Perhaps it was the way the Board handled the Podolefsky contract; perhaps it was the way the Board handled the Benoit Wesly situation — or failed to handle it; perhaps it is the looming cliff of budgetary shortfalls that will leave the new president trying to bail out the Titanic with a soup cup.

Perhaps people from outside the area have followed Warrensburg’s response to Ronnie Podolefsky’s work to protect children. Perhaps it is comments by local radio personalities that could be anti-Semitic.

Perhaps the problem is our community, our Board of Governors, our city and our failings. Perhaps we should be better citizens and hold the powers-that-be accountable.

Or perhaps the Board of Governors already has their selection for president made and the search is a sham to meet legal requirements.

Perhaps we will never know why this great University is suddenly undesirable.

The fix is Sunshine; an open and honest Board of Governors that doesn’t seek to act in secrecy.

Let people see the pretty face of UCM.

Time is short. Will the Board choose to move forward in the sun, or continue scurrying around in the dark?

Evidently, the Muleskinner doesn’t think this is all over either.

Meanwhile, the University’s search for a new president continues, and the institution distributed the following today via campuswide e-mail:

From: [….] Tuesday – March 30, 2010 2:53 PM

To: [….]

Subject: Presidential Search Update

Dear Campus Community:

This update is provided in an effort to keep the campus community informed of the progress of the Presidential Search. There is a strong pool of highly qualified applicants, representing a variety of institution types from coast to coast. The Presidential Search Advisory Committee and the Board of Governors have agreed on the candidates to bring in for “airport interviews.” At this time we are preparing for interviews to be held April 12 and 13. Following these interviews, finalists will be invited to the campus, schedules permitting, in early May.

Sincerely,

[….]

“…There is a strong pool of highly qualified applicants, representing a variety of institution types from coast to coast…”

Well, that’s at odds with:

These things sometime happen when you afflict the comfortable

….

Request denied for number of presidential applicants

Patrick Nolan: Muleskinner

Issue date: 3/11/10 Section: News

In response to a Sunshine Law request by the Muleskinner, the Board of Governors last week refused to provide the number of applicants for the open position of University president….

….The number of applicants doesn’t seem on the surface to be information that can be closed under the Sunshine Law as there is no individually identifiable information contained within a number.

However, Setser said he reads the law allowing to close the records and the University decided to keep the number of applications confidential for the time being.

“At some point it may be that we decide to release more information,” Setser said. “It’s all geared for what we think is best for the presidential search process….”

[emphasis added]

That’s very interesting. Somebody forgot to tell the search consultant who has an $80,000 contract with the University. From the January 28, 2010 issue of the Muleskinner:

…With the narrower time frame, the Board, along with Hutchinson and Baker and Associates, has mailed out 216 letters to various presidents of universities across the nation as of Jan. 20. They are also advertising the position in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Diverse Issues of Higher Education, Women’s Issues in Higher Education and Hispanic Outlook. UCM has received nine applications for the position so far. Seven candidates responded to the mailed letters, and two responded to the advertisements. There isn’t a set due date for resumés, but the Board believes the optimal date would be March 1, 2010….

[emphasis added]

So much for experience. It would appear that a few people need to work on keeping their ducks in a row.

How are we to make a judgement about that “strong pool” if they won’t even tell us the number of applications? Just asking.

“…Will the Board choose to move forward in the sun, or continue scurrying around in the dark?”

If the past is any indication we already know the answer to that particular question.

Our previous coverage of the issue:

Three steps behind, and to the right (January 25, 2008)

Three steps behind, and to the right, part 2 – a microcosm of our universe (September 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”? (October 15, 2009) (transcript of a portion of the live radio broadcast)

It wasn’t just about a tree (October 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: I heard it on the radio (October 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: let’s not get cut out of the will (October 22, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: $87.75 will get you one sheet of paper (October 23, 2009)



“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: They’re not playing hardball, they’re playing cat and mouse
 (October 23, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: a cola and some scoreboards (October 24, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: a few more pieces of the puzzle? (October 28, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: your silence means consent (October 29, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: let’s not get cut out of the will, part 2 (October 30, 2009)

Old media irony impairment (October 30, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: I heard it on the radio, part 2 (October 31, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: where everybody knows your name (October 31, 2009)

Methinks that someone is paying attention! (November 2, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Bond, Stadium Bond (November 4, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: where everybody knows your name, part 2 (November 4, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: I heard it on the radio, part 3 (November 5, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: nothing succeeds like success (November 6, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: your Friday news dump (November 6, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: nothing exceeds like excess (November 7, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a grade for Accounting 101 (November 7, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there ought to be a law (November 8, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there’s gotta be a contract around here somewhere (November 9, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there ought to be a law, part 2 (November 10, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Garbo speaks! (November 12, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle (November 13, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”? Follow the money and it reveals the timeline (November 14, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: the new president search consulting contract (November 18, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a march on a cold and rainy day (November 18, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: raise their voices (November 19, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: great moments in radio reporting (November 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Oh, my! (December 3, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: It’s simple, really… (December 5, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: I do truly care about the success of our students (December 6, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: “…a wonderful relationship there we’re really proud of…” (December 7, 2009)

Oh brother, it’s time to convene another panel on blogger ethics… (December 8, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a lesson on how not to attempt damage control (January 26, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a lesson on how not to attempt damage control, part 2 (January 28, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: welcome to the party… (February 1, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: welcome to the party, four months late, part 2 (February 2, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: those people from Denmark, you know, the Dutch (February 3, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a conversation with the Muleskinner (February 6, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a simple question (February 8, 2010)

Find the Non-Employee Game! (February 8, 2010)(NYCMule)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a different choice of phrase would have made it all better (February 11, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: never mind the facts, here’s right wingnut talk radio (February 13, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: and we should give weight to your opinion… (February 18, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: fools for spin (February 20, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: fools rush in… (February 21, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Who’s the more foolish… (February 25, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a phone call from out of the blue (February 26, 2010)

HASSLER to PHILLIPS Connect-the-Dots Game! (February 27, 2010)(NYCMule)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: project much? (February 28, 2010)

These things sometime happen when you afflict the comfortable (March 12, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: and some will think that it’s all over (March 18, 2010)