Here are my thoughts about tonight. (I have 4 pages of notes, but I promise this won’t cover all of them.) I found Dr. Alexander’s Q&A to be interesting, but not informative or enlightening. I thought there were at least two moments that sounded off the cuff and genuine, and a lot of rehearsed answers.
I was very concerned about his use of the word “we” in a lot of his answers. I got the feeling that “we” really meant “me”. I say this mostly because when he said we, it often seemed to ignore the fact that he and his board are currently the only people who seem to have much confidence in his leadership.
On that note, I found it incredibly problematic that he said that the no confidence vote was shocking to him. I think, at this point, we all know that this isn’t really just about Dr. Oord. Dr. Oord getting laid off was that catalyst that made people finally speak up, but there have been a lot of issues for a lot of years (made evident by former faculty such as George Lyons). His inability to see this coming tells me one very important thing: He has not been present on campus. People who are present and active in relationships are not blindsided by this kind of thing. They see it coming, and they have time to fix it before it blows up this bad.
It would seem that Dr. Alexander is pretty set on an 18 month timeline to rebuild trust. I worry about that. 18 months is A LOT of time, and I don’t think he has that much of it. Here’s the thing, the faculty and staff have to think about their families and their futures. If they feel insecure in their positions at NNU, then nobody should blame them for seeking employment elsewhere. I feel that if he was truly in tune with the voice of his campus, he would know that he needs to do something big immediately. Truly, I believe that he could fix everything right now. There is one thing that Dr. Alexander could do that would restore confidence in the university and help lead to fast, and complete healing: He could step down. I think that now, after what we’ve heard from faculty and staff, and what we’ve seen, the best way to lead the university into the future would be to give someone else the reigns. I know there are a lot of you who will disagree with me, but please hear me out. During the Q&A Dr. Alexander seemed to think that the no confidence vote was to wake him up. He also seemed to think that the staff was just now expressing concern. Both of these things speak to a tone deaf leader who isn’t in step with those whom he is leading. He said he needs truth tellers surrounding him, and all I could think was that he has had them, and he’s clearly ignored them, or none of this would have been a surprise.
He also talked A LOT about how much he cared about the university. Which I believe, but I still wonder when he is going to stop saying it, and start showing it.
Now, real quick, here are some of my notes that I think are important:
– “It’s not the model that’s broken, it’s the communication.”
– Only 3% of endowments go to the budget, the rest go to scholarships. (I don’t know if this matters, but I did find it interesting.)
– He wouldn’t want to count on attrition to deal with the need for layoffs, because they could be for “institution critical” positions. I think it’s interesting that in a Christian university the theology department is apparently not “institution critical”.
– When asked if he would seek a vote of confidence at some point, he said no. He then said he just hoped the faculty and him could sit down and know they weren’t where they were anymore, and that they now are where they are. (Full disclosure, I didn’t like this answer.)