Letters to the Editor

Board’s role

February 18, 2008


To the editor:

The problems at the Watkins Museum are due to a series of inadequately performing boards. Installing a new director at Watkins will not solve that problem.

I have worked under both former directors Steve Jansen as a paid front-desk assistant and Rebecca Phipps as a volunteer newsletter editor. They both brought skills and knowledge to the museum that the boards failed fully to appreciate or acknowledge.

Board members are legally and financially responsible for the health of the organization they serve. I have yet to see any action by the Watkins boards that helped increase society membership or raise funds.

I don't think the board knows what a museum director does or what a board is legally required to do. Board education should be a high priority in the management restructuring at the society and museum.

There is, however, a great risk in turning over management of the museum to Destination Management Inc., which is a reformulation of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Craig Weinaug says that DMI is supposed to assist in the management of the museum, not manage it. But she who controls the purse runs the show, and Judy Billings at DMI is being given the money formerly allocated to the county historical societies.

DMI's actions likewise need to be accountable, open and accessible to the public. Whatever Judy Billings' skills and intentions are, I would like to see an understanding on her part that without judicious accessioning and storage of Douglas County historical artifacts, there is no Douglas County history to work with, only mythology.

Jennifer Dropkin,



Richard Heckler 9 years, 11 months ago

So is the Chamber of Commerce disguised as DMI taking over the Watkins Museum?

Mayor Hack and Judy Billings are management partners of Destination Management Inc., which is a reformulation of the Convention and Visitors Bureau?

Is the same board in place?

How do these powers that be see the Watkins Museum? What exactly is its'future?

What are the wages/salaries and to whom?

What is the total tax dollars coming into Watkins and what are the sources of these tax dollars?

Kookamooka 9 years, 11 months ago

Wasn't the head of the Museum Studies program at KU on the board? You'd think that he would have had a clue about how important the role of the Museum Director was.

The people involved with that organization have been focusing on the minutia of paper and artifacts exclusively for so long with no way of bringing that alive to the community, that the community have tuned out.

I hear blame coming from so many directions. It's not the director, it's the board. It's not the board, it's the lazy community. It doesn't matter whose FAULT it is. The place is failing and has been for over a decade.

It's time for a transformational leader to take the helm and move it forward so my kids and their kids can know more about our history and the significance of our City that doesn't include KU Basketball.

OnlyTheOne 9 years, 11 months ago

"Casino is the best use for it!"


Baille 9 years, 11 months ago

Didn't we just trap a bunch of feral hogs because their short-sighted, self-centered drive to gluttony compromised the integrity and sustainability of their environment?

logicisking 9 years, 11 months ago

isn't this the first step to privatizing douglas county history?

Baille 9 years, 11 months ago

Criminy, you're right. If we choose to blindly follow the Chamber into this morass of poorly understood economic principles and take a Darwinian, capitalistic approach to our shared heritage then the top 20% of our populace will possess, control, and hoard 80% of our history!

Oh my god, Becky. We have to do something.

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