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Comment Archives: stories: News: Feature

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

MCC had its problems way before James and Walter-Mack came on the scene. When Mark became chancellor, he brought with him a new sense of hope for the college, and a few of us dreamed that MCC would be taken to the next level - - that the untapped potential for greatness within the organization would be truly unleashed.

Unfortunately, these dreams (and promises Mark made upon assuming his role) were merely illusions. What have the outcomes of the last four years been?

- A culture where bullying is the norm and in fact is expected from administrators. The behavior is well modeled by Mark and Kathy. Those that don't follow this path are deemed unsuitable for leadership.

- A plutocratic, malfeasant, good-old-boy power structure where the rules are merely optional for those in power and "appointment" is the operative word of the day. As an example, a person we'll just refer to as "Never Rude" was appointed to an important administrative role by Mark while having less than a year's experience at MCC, and not having any of the requisite business background for the position. A connection to the "club" was enough. And let's not forget the innumerable "consultants," connected with either Mark, Kathy, or some other member of the "family" who have been around for years collecting payments from MCC with dubious return on investment.

- Lies, deceptions, and whatever else happens to be convenient. As an example, James wanted to unify commencement into a single ceremony for the entire district under the guise of "one MCC" and saving money. In fact, the cost of running this event is staggering (the total cost is more than $10,000 than that of individual campus ceremonies). Installing Kathy Walter-Mack as head of HR was pretty much like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Having the chief-of-staff control HR is a major conflict of interest. HR as a result is now powerless - - and filing any sort of complaint just puts a target on the complainant.

- Incompetence and broken promises. When Mark became chancellor, he promised to begin working on his doctorate. That was four years ago - and I'm not holding my breath. MCC has real money troubles. State allocations are dwindling. The governor of Missouri uses education as a political football and holds higher education virtually hostage. MCC is suffering just like every other college. Mark had a good idea - - use a methodical (although antiquated) process called "zero based budgeting" (ZBB) to analyze expenses and help the college focus on what it needed to do to be successful. But the ZBB process was zealously rushed (less than a year, I think to complete it - - where most institutions take 24 months or more to go through the process). In the end, most of the ZBB results were discarded and Mark concluded that "MCC has a revenue problem." Well duh!

- Dysfunctional, resource-hogging police and public safety operations. While the creation of a POST-A certified police department is certainly a big accomplishment, the operation of this police department has been very problematic. Most of the MCC police officers are dedicated, hard-working folks like the rest of us and only want the best for MCC, but even in this relatively new part of the organization, mismanagement is a huge issue. The original MCC chief of police, hired in 2010, understood little of what was going on in his own department. As a new chief he didn't even know when officers were being disciplined - - he hadn't established guidelines. Officers were hired without adequate background checks. The current police chief is now all but invisible, and the blue line around the department is now plenty wide. Rumor has it that MCC has been considering building "holding cells" for at least one location in the district. Yes, you heard that right - - MCC essentially wants to build its own version of a jail. When was the operation of a jail ever supposed to be high priority for a college? Let's not forget the expensive equipment (vehicles, guns, armor / weapons, radios, etc) that MCC has purchased to run this department - and of course, the expensive third-party "security survey" from the Kit Bond Security Company undertaken last year by MCC.

- Broken institutional structures. Shared governance was a founding principle of MCC but Mark and Kathy have done everything in their power to dismantle it. It's a testament to the strength of the staff and faculty groups that any vestige of these structures remains. (Notice I did not mention the administration - - while there are some very good and dedicated administrators left at MCC, their numbers are dwindling, and many live in fear for their jobs.) Kathy has done her part well in blocking important decision making processes, such as policy review. Kathy's policy review sessions have the appearance of input from shared governance groups, but in reality she runs the show - - but it's from the perspective of a very narrow and limited mind. When anyone in the group attempts to exercise reason in the review of a policy, Kathy tells them that their view is wrong and won't work from a "legal standpoint." Needless to say, policy revisions take years to complete and never solve the real problems.

MCC is an important Kansas City institution and it owes the community much, much more than it's currently delivering. Perhaps a good first step would be for Mark to take that shiny new job at Park and take Kathy with him.

In conclusion, it cannot be concluded that Mark and Kathy have been "Mostly Harmless."

80 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Zaphod Beeblebrox on 05/02/2015 at 10:12 AM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

I have never jumped into these types of conversations due to my humble knowledge of not understanding all angles. With that said, however, I felt it was important to step in for the "front liners" of the institution. No, I'm not a tenured faculty member; I'm not an administrator. I am an important face of MCC - that is finding it increasingly difficult to advocate for the institution, despite my best efforts.

The leaders of this institution have zero emotional intelligence between the lot of them. I know and genuinely like many of my superiors - as peers; as leaders though - I'm sorry, but there is A LOT to be desired here. If your employees are leaving at such an alarmingly rapid rate, shouldn't the light bulbs be flickering by now? Do we have to plan an "employee skip day" for you all to get that there is something wrong here? You cannot keep sucking the life out of people and expect them to have the energy to continue to fight for you.

I deeply value the staff and faculty's desire to set students up for success. Nearly everyday, I catch myself telling a prospective student, "I'm not going to set you up for failure; let's consider this option instead..." And yet - I walk into work, each and every one of those days, feeling as if I were being set up to fail. Dejected. No support, no tools; wildly reactive directives. It's all too much for my MCC-educated brain to process - it's literally making me sick.

I will proudly take responsibility for being one of the "many" complainers. Typically, I am an "it is what it is" kinda person - accept and move forward. I have accepted that things are not going to change - at least not in time to save me from a full-fledged heart attack. Moving forward, I'm not willing to continue wasting my time and my breath providing solutions to my "lone" complaints, only to be ignored over and over again. I have FAR better things to do with my life than to chase an F5 tornado around KCMO.

60 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by exhaustedMCCemployee on 05/01/2015 at 11:23 PM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

Well said, MCC LOVER.

I have been fortunate enough to have been around since the days that you write about, and got to participate in the "golden age".

The current state of affairs is sad for those of us who know what this institution was. Many of us are nauseated by this "FoxNews" version of education that is slowly being put in place.

I fear that there are not enough backbones left to stop it. The talent has gone. With only a few exceptions, the administrative corps consists of lickspittles and spineless ladder climbers. The board is clueless and unwilling to see past their high backed leather chairs on 3200.

Any doubts I had about leaving MCC were put to rest by this article, these comments, and the Walter-Mark administrations silence and lack of direction to the effect of those.

56 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Ignacious on 05/01/2015 at 11:02 PM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

TO: GROWUP/Kathy

IWI has not been with MCC for decades try 2010 (ie the James Era/Stimulas grants). Which is the same year that James branded IWI the colleges saviors, ironic, in his MCC All Staff speech.
Business Learning Solutions, the department merged into IWI, wasnt even with MCC for a decade. So please enlighten us what was it called a decade ago?

Also, if IWI was ran like a business then those high priced consultants would have to bring in 10 times their salaries in HARD money not the soft dollars through third party contracts like FEC and others.

17 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by MCCpride on 05/01/2015 at 2:34 PM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

Under the expert, sober and fiscally sound leadership of former chancellor Wayne Giles, MCC flourished into one of the leading and most respected community college districts in the country. It established a well-deserved reputation for both quality and innovation, and developing national models in online education, workforce development, writing across the curriculum, assessment of student learning, hiring of diverse faculty, and tons of other innovations in teaching and learning and student services that consistently won unblemished, grade A+ evaluation reports for their regional accreditation association, the Higher Learning Commission--the accreditation which is now under difficult scrutiny. It pains many of us who helped build MCC into the fine institution it once was--and still remains under the surface below the current inept and destructive leadership team--that it takes so little time and so few people to destroy what it took decades to build. Leadership matters, and the Board and its Chair have been completely taken in by the current Chancellor, after being introduced and recommended to them by MCC's former CFO who in retirement now works for the KCMSD. The seeds of the current crisis are all there. MCC can recover its former glory if sober, expert and sound leadership and judgment returns, as long as the core of the faculty and staff that made MCC the fine institution it became are not all driven away by the current ruckus.

64 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by MCC lover on 05/01/2015 at 2:13 PM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

All employees should keep their eyes open for what is most likely going to happen.

If MCC is placed on accreditation probation, they will have one year to fix their issues. Due to this emergency state, the Chancellor may eliminate the policies in place, which means no program or person is safe.

Rumor has it, this has been his plan from day one. Imagine the political reputation of a "reformer" who can redline a large educational institution and bring it back to being fiscally sound.

MJ thinks 20 years down the road. Unless he is stopped right now, MCC will become the McDonald's of education, fiscally sound, but no substance.

Why do you think he does not care if you leave or complain!? Because you do not matter. Before long the place will be taught almost solely by adjuncts with bare minimum qualifications and operated by minimally qualified staff eager to use MCC as a stepping stone to a real educational institution.

One article is not going to stop this man. The faculty, staff,and administrative councils are going to have to actually speak to one another, grow some balls, and present a full vote of no confidence. The time for complaining is over, the time for action is right now.

70 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Open your eyes and see the big picture on 05/01/2015 at 10:19 AM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

If MCC is really paying someone around $200,000 to guide them through accreditation, this is ridiculous. ALL administrators should KNOW accreditation standards because the school should be upholding those standards on a daily basis. And surely someone in administration should be able to write a document such as this. Program directors(faculty) write accreditation documents that are hundreds of pages in length for their individual programs that takes months to write and get paid next to nothing for the effort. Those accreditation documents are more detailed and require much more evidence than the school's report. Where is the fiscal accountability?

64 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by mccfac on 05/01/2015 at 6:45 AM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

MCC IS TRYING TO COVER UP THE ARTICLE! 100% true. A few administrators at MCC were heard mentioning trying to take Pitch papers from public domains and get rid of them. Really?!? You believe that that will have an impact. Please circulate this article to everyone you know. Pitch...you need to print some more! That is ridiculous! What corruption! Grow up you incompetent cowards and face the music directly.

55 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by haveanacday on 05/01/2015 at 12:02 AM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

Here are some more fun things about MCC. The "Fixer" that was brought in to get accreditation is getting $200,000 plus another $1200 a month living expense. MCC employees have voiced real concerns at town hall meetings and the next day there were rumblings of out sourcing of that persons department. To say moral is low is like saying the sun going supernova would be a small inconvenience for Earth.

54 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Galois on 04/30/2015 at 10:27 PM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

How interesting that Chancellor's spokeswoman uses the conversion of 35 faculty to permanent faculty track as an example of how he and Ms Mack listen to faculty. As someone that works very closely with many of those 35 faculty, I can verify that the faculty had to fight very hard, including filing formal grievances and securing legal representation, to get that permanent faculty status.

53 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by mccfaculty on 04/30/2015 at 8:23 PM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

In the last 36 hours, many of us at MCC have been beset by phone calls, text messages and emails about this article and with the question "What the hell is going on there?". Questions from former and current students have included concerns about the validity of their credits and degrees.

Where has the Walter-Mark administration been? Nowhere. What leadership has been provided? None. The well-established practice of letting something fester continues to be the go to practice.
The former president of the BT, Naima, still skulks around MCC sucking a six figure salary from the depleted coffers, grievances go unanswered, talent bleeds, and accreditation looms.

One stated before that Mark is a fine man in many ways. I would agree. But he brought with him two fatal flaws: A lack of knowledge and respect for higher ed, and Walter-Mack.

To GrowUp: Much of what has been said about the rank and file IWI employees is unjust and unfair. I have worked with many of them and there are as dedicated and hard-working as any MCC employee; they suffer the same lack of resources and support that we all do.

But to suggest that IWI is managed ethically or reported responsibly is patently absurd. To say that IWI pays for itself is laughable. Even now they forward new administrative positions forward as the campus they are on, and the district as a whole, suffers from a lack of staff and faculty that actually do the work of a college. It would not surprise me to find out that you are one of the highly paid LLC's leftover from the Bitzenburg days.

To the Board: Please extend yourselves out of the KCPSD's definition of a school board member. This is more than your first step and springboard into politics. Do not let the infection that killed the KCPSD kill MCC. Rid yourselves and MCC of the source of the disease and the epicenter at both institutions.

64 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by A. Dent on 04/30/2015 at 2:09 PM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

My child who is on the Autism Spectrum, now a senior in high school, will no longer have the opportunities that MCC Longview once offered to him. During multiple IEP/Transition Meetings and meetings with his Voc Rehab support, we have been told the ABLE Program was a perfect fit to help him successfully transition into college...now that he is finally about to graduate, we have learned that the ABLE Program has been cut. When we inquired with our VR Coordinator as to how this could have happened, we were told that the ABLE Program had an extremely high success rate but due to the small "number of students being served" they were no longer being supported by MCC Longview. ABLE was designed to serve students with neurodevelopmental disabilities...which is a minority population. It is interesting that this (being a minority in numbers) is the reason for now cutting it. When we inquired about other services available through MCC to serve this population, we were told that my son could still have access to accommodations. It made me role my eyes. I guess it is good to know that MCC is still upholding the law (by law my son has rights to accommodations at any college). Regardless, knowing that the leadership of MCC has decided to cut a program serving students like my son, we are going to have him go to a college that is more supportive of working to serve students with Autism. JCCC holds annual Autism Conferences and has a club for students on the Spectrum. It is not the ABLE Program by any means, but at least it is something. My son is struggling to find hope in this solution because his heart was set on ABLE; however, because he is a minority apparently MCC does not care. It is not a surprise to me that enrollment is down. When leadership is poor and decisions to cut programs like ABLE are being made regularly, as some of the comments here suggest, the enrollment is going to suffer.

63 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Parent of Student with Autism on 04/30/2015 at 11:54 AM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

Kudos to The Pitch for bringing this to light! As long as this Pitch article is, there's much more material not revealed including discriminatory practices affecting staff employees as well. I worked proudly at MCC for almost 20 years and watching the downward spiral of MCC and the beat down and disregard for dedicated, hardworking, student focused employees has been sad, sickening, infuriating. The trend at MCC for the past several years of placing "whoever" in administrative positions never mind they have no experience or expertise is bad enough, but then these same unqualified folks like James and there have been others, have taken it to a whole new level completely ignoring those with knowledge and expertise within and spending thousands on outside consultants as mentioned in the article. Really disturbing that James with no prior education experience has managed to rise to the top and now wants a shot at Park Univ. Whether James stays or goes start paying ATTENTION Jackson County voters and taxpayers-- The MCC Board of Directors are elected and nothing happens at MCC without their approval. The longest serving member of the MCC Board has been on it for 39 yrs. It wasn't a secret to them that Mark James, first hired as Vice-Chancellor and then anointed Chancellor, had no prior education experience. And Jackson County taxpayers--a nice portion of your $$property taxes flows to MCC. FYI the next Board Meeting is May 12 at 6:30pm at the Administration Center, 3200 Broadway.

57 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by PitchFan on 04/30/2015 at 11:45 AM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

To: GrowUp
RE: Your response

Let's get a real, independent CPA instead of an IT grad to run your business operations and produce your financial statements...then talk to me about what revenue IWI generates for the College and actually account for the true expenses. Everyone at BT that I know while I worked there was supportive of partnering with IWI if IWI leadership and the favorite employees would have committed to transparency and compromise. I'm not against IWI's mission I'm against your operations, hiring, and pay of your employees. Where else at MCC can most employees make over level 9 salary without being a manager of any sort, submit no accountability reports to the campus community, and be able to be promoted (without posting a position) once IWI leadership deems it's appropriate to help their "friends".

46 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by HadToLeave on 04/30/2015 at 11:40 AM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

As a husband of a faculty member,a son of a higher education board member and student, I find this disheartening to hear just how bad things are. My wife has given and received considerable time, and effort toward making this a place she personally can be proud of. It seems that this could be resolved by these six board of directors Taking aim at resolving this and allowing teachers in higher education to simply do their job. Administration are the curbs of the street that keeps a company or in this case a institution from being a free for all and solvent. It is my hope that this article is a wake up call to every person on the board that change can't come from prestige. It happens by the opposite. Ronald Regan knew this and surrounded himself with highly qualified people where he knew he had no expertise. Clearly this Chancellor has not.

48 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by concerned_adult on 04/30/2015 at 10:23 AM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

Park needs to declare a failed search and start over. None of the three candidates are appropriate. I can't believe we paid good money to a search firm to come up with these three duds! The only candidate with serious academic experience is reviled at her current institution by faculty, staff and students. This guy is clearly not up to fixing the unholy mess we have at Park.

44 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Parkstaffer on 04/30/2015 at 10:11 AM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

The Board of Trustees need to get their act together and FIX this!. Kansas City needs the MCC and a good community college for the health of the community. As a Penn Valley grad and someone that has a daughter in MCC I found this article shocking and concerning.

FIX THIS NOW, Board

69 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by dad of student on 04/30/2015 at 8:44 AM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

Based on all the comments, it sounds like Park University needs to rethink things if James is one of its top three candidates. Rumor has it that he was spotted in Parkville today kissing ass and trying to explain his side of this story to the folks at Park U.

49 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Concerned Staffer on 04/29/2015 at 9:25 PM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

I'm not an MCC employee, but my partner has been MCC staff from earning an Associates Degree, to a Masters Degree. ((That's a pretty long f-ing time!)) My partner has weathered changes in program and regime.

There is something to be said when RESPECTED and KNOWLEDGEABLE leaders jump ship.

I've noticed a change in my partner's attitude towards work and most recently decline over the last few years. My partner no longer feels valued or "safe". For the first time in over a decade my partner feels as though their position and job security are no longer on solid footing.

It's also worth mentioning that my very educated, talented and business minded partner does not feel that it is wise to move forward at MCC. Isn't that the "American Dream"? To be upwardly mobile? Not at MCC apparently. Opportunity knocks somewhere else.

THANK YOU, PITCH, for publishing this article. But on the real, I hope you haven't fucked up this man's opportunity to go to Park. And hopefully he'll take his sidekick with him.

Good luck to all of you at MCC. Hang in there!!

63 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by MCC Spouse on 04/29/2015 at 7:42 PM

Re: “Mutiny looms at the ineptly run Metropolitan Community College

Dear hadtoleave.... your bitterness is showing. I agree that MCC is full of problems, James and Mack included. But you know nothing of IWI workings. That department pays for itself, without any support from the college or state allocations, and at the end of the FYI every dollar they net over salaries and other expenses goes back to MCC to do whatever they want with it. If they pay someone $100,000 it doesn't matter because they run like a business and make the one from companies to do so! Staff in that department work twice as hard and most other employees in the district. I personally know of IWI staff who work their tail off while others at BT spend their day chatting or playing on the computer. MCC academia folks are just as much to blame for low moral as the administration. I've been with MCC for many years and they may have new name but the department of IWI has been around for decades. And it never fails that he academic side whines about them but will always take the money they provide at the end of the year to supplement the coffers.

15 likes, 32 dislikes
Posted by growup on 04/29/2015 at 7:07 PM

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