In its recent accreditation report, IWP appears to have failed to submit an objective review of the performance of its president.
That review – a standard management practice – was supposed to have been included with the “monitoring report” that was due on October 1, 2013.
IWP Board of Trustees Executive Committee members were informed by the then-vice president and provost on May 26, 2013, that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) required a regular performance review of the president and CEO.
That performance review, the provost informed the trustees, was due to accompany the monitoring accreditation report that MSCHE said was due by October 1, 2013.
MSCHE had notified IWP of the deadline in June, 2012.
At the time of the provost’s warning, the IWP board had never conducted a thorough performance review of its president and CEO for submission to the accreditors. Nor had IWP encouraged or permitted faculty or staff to do so.
It does not appear, from the redacted copies being distributed last week, that IWP took the provost’s warning seriously or complied with the accreditors’ requirements. This is a serious failure that could jeopardize accreditation.
A leadership in disarray submits a rushed report
We reported on September 21 that IWP leaders felt they might not be able to meet the deadline, because they had fired or demoted those mainly responsible for writing the assessments.
IWP Board Chairman Owen Smith, we reported, was considering asking MSCHE to extend the year-and-a-half-old October 1 deadline. We re-checked with our sources, who insist they were correct, and received reports Smith was very upset that word had gotten out. We also learned that IWP leaders were hunting for “leakers.”
In private, Lenczowski has been lashing out at what he calls “traitors” inside IWP – a sign of what psychologists call founder’s syndrome.
If IWP had failed to meet the deadline, according to MSCHE rules, its leadership effectively would have withdrawn IWP’s own accreditation. So Lenczowski and Smith supported sending a rushed version of the report, through Executive Vice President Noah Rudolph, in late September. On October 1, ActiveMeasures.org raised questions about the report’s credibility.
Rudolph has no professional experience in academic affairs or in working with academic accreditors, and by that time, most of the experienced faculty and staff who could have helped him were gone.
In the process of submitting that report, Rudolph told MSCHE that he was IWP’s Chief Academic Officer (CAO) – a move that was interpreted as a coup against the faculty. ActiveMeasures.org raised this problem publicly on October 1, prompting Rudolph issue a public retraction. Rudolph explained that his self-identification as CAO to the accreditors was an “administrative error.”
What the board was warned last May
In the memorandum from last May, the vice president and provost warned members of the Executive Committee – including Chairman Smith – that the Board of Trustees had to submit a written evaluation of IWP President John Lenczowski‘s performance to MSCHE, and that Lenczowski had to write MSCHE an assessment of himself as IWP leader.
Those two assessments, the provost warned Executive Committee board members, were “critical” to IWP’s standing with MSCHE.
What the provost’s May memorandum precisely said
Below, in italics, is the exact wording of the vice president/provost’s May 26 memorandum to the Board of Trustees executive committee, as authored for Chairman Owen Smith:
Performance review of the President. Our accreditors require a regular performance review of the institution’s president. These confidential reviews are collected and provided to the Board and to the accreditors. This review consists of four parts:
a review of the President by the Board of Trustees (critical);
a review of the President by the Faculty;
a review of the President by the Staff; and
a review of the President by the President himself (critical).
Actions taken: We have begun this process at the faculty and staff levels. Developed an evaluation rubric and policy statement for board.
Actions needed: The four assessments must be complete and in the hands of MSCHE by October 1, 2013. The Board needs to assign a committee of members to conduct the evaluation, and coordinate through the to-be-named corporate secretary, independently of the President. The President must write his own evaluation of himself and provide a copy to the corporate secretary. The staff and faculty must each form committees of their peers, independent of the President, and write their own reports, providing copies to the corporate secretary, who in turn will provide them to the compliance action officer for submission to MSCHE.
Tightening the inner circle, keeping others out of the loop
However, since May 3, 2007, IWP has been without an official corporate secretary on the staff who can take official minutes of meetings for a permanent, documentable written record.
In recent years, IWP President Lenczowski put his daughter in that role – to control official inside meeting minutes on an as-desired basis, and, as acting press secretary and webmaster, to control outgoing information. In September, Lenczowski promoted his daughter on the staff to be in charge of all communication and alumni relations.
The secretary of the Board of Trustees, who had been IWP’s most generous cash benefactor, resigned from the board in late summer 2013 for reasons not made public. It is believed that she resigned in protest of Lenczowski’s mismanagement of the school. Lenczowski isolated his own board secretary after February of this year by transferring the board’s Executive Committee role to the board’s Audit Committee, chaired by a personal loyalist, Francis X. Ryan.
Lenczowski and Smith told faculty and staff that Ryan was in charge of the private investigation of faculty and staff whom Lenczowski viewed as personally disloyal. That investigation – which Lenczowski euphemistically called a “review” – was carried out by INA, Inc., a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based surveillance company.
IWP’s new board secretary is Tidal “Ty” McCoy, one of the newest board members. McCoy earned his secretary post as a servile Lenczowski loyalist who conducted investigations and rumor campaigns against faculty and staff during his first year as a trustee. His indiscretions have been well documented.
Advance warnings that no objective assessment would be allowed
On September 24, ActiveMeasures.org published an item asking if the IWP leadership would allow students to submit an assessment of the IWP president’s performance, which MSCHE allows.
After reporting that Lenczowski, Smith, Ryan and others were working with a private investigative firm to spy on “disloyal” faculty and staff (and we raised concerns about the investigation’s possible collateral damage on students with security clearances), we reported that Franke was working to isolate board members from faculty and staff.
We also reported that Chairman Smith instructed board members not to speak with IWP staff.
In our September 24 posting, we wrote about concerns that the IWP leadership would not permit an honest assessment about the school’s president. The precise wording follows in italics:
Somehow, we don’t think the IWP president or board chairman will permit an uncensored, independent assessment of the school’s leadership, or an honest presidential self-assessment.
Through firings and other personnel actions, the IWP leadership has purged the school of academic leadership that would write a thorough assessment of the school president. The remaining senior faculty are either too new to know, or so dependent on their full-time income that they will just go along. (Although we know that some of them are busy trashing their former colleagues by name.)
IWP has sent a message to everybody that it won’t tolerate criticism of the leadership.
All senior faculty and staff writing the review are gone
MSCHE also sought reviews of the IWP president by the faculty and the staff. Those two reviews were being prepared from May until July 11 – when the chief author was fired for reasons never officially specified, and the academic leadership decapitated.
Lenczowski has been subpoenaed to appear this Friday, October 11, to be deposed under oath for four hours about why he fired the former vice president and provost from the faculty.
The faculty chairman and a staff vice president, both of whom were working with the provost on the faculty and staff assessments of the president, are no longer in senior positions. Lenczowski fired the faculty chairman from her post in July, though she remains as an adjunct professor; and the staff vice president in question resigned effective October 1.