The True “Progress” at USM, Part 1

Through this means, the WIFOL is responding to the psychological rhetoric being provided by the University of St. Martin Board of Directors (BOD) under the guise of "accreditation and progress" at USM in the Daily Herald on Friday, April 17, 2009. Whereas the role the Board of Directors should be to supervise the functioning of the University, the current Board is directly involved in the day-to-day management of the USM and continues to undermine the president and management of the university.


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1. Providing Experienced Leadership: On March 3, 2008, the BOD posted ad for a Financial Controller in the US-based Chronicle for Higher Education (online). On March 4, 2008, after USM staff/management raised the issue, the BOD placed a similar ad in the media on St. Martin. In none of the ads was there mention that the FC post would be assuming responsibility for human resource and marketing. On August 1, 2008, Mr. Kenneth Nolan was hired by the BOD for the post of Financial Controller. On September 2, 2008, at the USM Opening Ceremony, the BOD announced Mr. Nolan to the staff and public as the Chief Financial Officer and Mr. Ronald Pribble as the dean for academic affairs. Up to that time, neither Mr. Nolan nor Mr. Pribble had valid working papers for St. Martin, and to this day, Mr. Nolan does not possess valid working papers for the CFO post. As for the functioning of the Leadership Team, the leader of the team, President Josianne Fleming-Artsen, was forced to take an extended leave, and indications are that her status may be inactive. The remaining members of the LT do not provide any form of leadership to the staff. While the BOD is trying to ignore the staff, who are competent to deal with stakeholders, and the leadership is lacking in competences such as the Dutch language, USM is missing great opportunities by ignoring the competent staff members.

2. Training Counterparts for the Dean and CFO: On April 8, after WIFOL had contacted the media with a press release, the BOD circulated a vague "Action Plan" to the staff and faculty indicating that descriptions for counterparts for the Dean and CFO would eventually be created and posted. WIFOL had on numerous occasions pointed out to the BOD that in accordance with the new Labor Policy, counterparts for all foreign workers on contract had to be in place. WIFOL is of the opinion that promotion should be from within; therefore, the first search for counterparts should come from within the local staff and faculty.

3. Providing Accreditation Leadership: For the WIFOL, Ms. Joyce Watson, whose husband is the assistant treasurer on the BOD, represents one of the many conflicts of interest at USM. Furthermore, Ms. Watson is involved in areas not related to the function of Accreditation Officer and is on practically all the newly created committees such as the Information Technology Team, Acculturation Committee, and the Academic Committee, while other qualified staff members are excluded from these committees. Since the BOD has announced that accreditation is no longer a priority, WIFOL questions Ms. Watson’s current role. Initiating the Accreditation process: WIFOL questions while after more than a year of employment, Ms. Watson has not yet pulled together all the necessary material for accreditation application. This constitutes further proof that the accreditation process is no longer a priority for the BOD.

4. Formalization of the Cross-Functional Team: The idea for an Executive Cross-Functional team came from the members of the Management Team in discussions with President Fleming on February 4, 2009. The concept of the Cross-Functional Team was the realignment of the Leadership Team and the Management Team. The BOD agreed with this concept. For unknown reasons, the BOD deviated from this conceptual agreement to align the Leadership and Management teams by circulating a memo for the creation of an advisory cross-functional team, without input from the WIFOL bargaining team. The WIFOL maintains its position that the Management Team members should be involved in all aspects of management and the decision-making process, rather than just serve as an advisory body. The people whose names were mentioned in BOD release as forming the Cross-Functional Team have not accepted to be part of this team, since the formal meeting to create the team was never held. These same people are the ones who form the Management Team.

5. Responding to staff needs: While the BOD spends hefty sums on compensation packages for the librarian and the (US) retired Dean and CFO—including rent allowance, travel allowance, phone allowance, insurance for them and their spouses, moving costs, and other benefits (almost 150,000.00 conservatively to date), insurance and other benefits for the staff remain neglected at zero.

The WIFOL maintains its position that the "accreditation" buzzword should not be used as a means to solve personal vendettas and victimize, discredit, and disrespect the qualified and competent local staff members. The WIFOL further maintains that the strength of St. Martin’s future in being a new nation lies in its young people and sees USM not just as the University of St. Martin, but as the University for St. Martin.