Archive for Saturday, November 12, 2011

Having a lame-duck leader at KU Med is a terrible idea

November 12, 2011

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It’s good that Barbara Atkinson will be stepping down as dean of the Kansas University School of Medicine but bad that she will remain on the job until a new dean is selected. It also is bad she plans to stay on as executive vice chancellor for two more years.

It is good KU Chancellor Gray-Little finally pulled the plug on Atkinson, but it didn’t happen until the chancellor finally was forced to call for a long-overdue review of Atkinson’s performance and the replies were “shockingly” bad. There wasn’t much choice for the chancellor other than to relieve Atkinson from the deanship position.

The big mistake is that Atkinson is being allowed to remain in both positions. She should have been relieved from both — right now rather than waiting for an undetermined period for a new dean to be selected and two more years as executive vice chancellor.

How can Atkinson be expected to carry out her duties when she is a “lame duck” and when she does not have the respect of the majority of her staff?

The manner in which the sad story has unfolded causes many at the medical school to suggest Atkinson “bullied” Gray-Little into the favorable settlement, just as she had bullied former chancellor Bob Hemenway and former dean Don Hagen in past years.

Medical school staffers told this writer there was a “collective sigh of relief” Thursday among medical school people when they learned about Gray-Little’s action. They said the chancellor did the right thing, but made a serious mistake by not making a clean, immediate removal of Atkinson’s dual positions.

“It’s crazy,” one senior staffer said. “We have a number of chair searches going on at this time, and who would want to make a commitment to the school when they have no idea who the dean and vice chancellor will be? It’s horrible!”

Many question the sequence in which Atkinson will leave — first as dean and then as vice chancellor. The dean reports to the vice chancellor and now the dean and vice chancellor (both Atkinson) along with the chancellor will be appointing her successor as dean. Why shouldn’t a NEW vice chancellor (not the lame duck vice chancellor and lame duck dean) have a voice in selecting the next dean?

Just to show Atkinson still considers herself a powerful and respected leader, she said both she and Gray-Little would be involved in the hiring of the new dean. … “It has to be both of us.”

One medical school critic said the current situation at the medical center is “too toxic and too unstable” to allow the current leadership to continue.

“The majority of our faculty applauds Gray-Little’s initial action, but she didn’t finish the job and her responsibility. Faculty members are absolutely livid that Atkinson will remain in her two positions for an undetermined period of time.”

It’s obvious Atkinson does not have the respect needed for a dean and vice chancellor. Faculty have no confidence in her and they despise many of her decisions.

To make matters worse, very much worse, is that when Gray-Little called for faculty members to participate in a review or assessment of Atkinson, it is believed by many at the school that Gray-Little showed the assessment letters to Atkinson in violation of her pledge of confidentiality. If true, this has severely damaged Gray-Little’s stature at the medical school.

Again, the big question is who would want to seek the deanship or other senior medical school positions when they don’t know or have any idea who will be dean or vice chancellor and the excellence, vision and records of these individuals in previous positions?

It remains a mess, and medical school people are asking the chancellor to reconsider her actions and make Atkinson’s departure immediate, in both offices.

For far too long the name of the game at the medical center has been “survive and political correctness” rather than ask questions or differ with Atkinson as a means of escaping the dean’s wrath and acts of retaliation.

•••

The sad and sordid events at Penn State University should send a powerful message to every university in the country.

First of all, it shows the power of intercollegiate sports in NCAA Division I schools. Unfortunately, sports receive more attention than academics, with sport coaches usually the highest-paid university employees. Good coaches are almost untouchable. This was the case with Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

University curators decided to fire Paterno because it was best for the university, not best for society. This raises the question how universities are run and how much the public, and regents, actually know about their schools.

These universities, particularly the public schools, should be run with openness and the highest possible standards. It may be possible for private businesses to be run however their owners wish, but public universities are not private business and there is no excuse for cover-ups and questionable priorities.

The role of regents and curators is spotlighted by the Penn State situation. How much did they know or suspect, and when did they know or suspect, about the terrible sex abuse matters? Apparently the case in point wasn’t a single case as there were others and there had been prior investigations. Were curators told about these investigations and, if so, what did they do?

Every body of regents, whether in Kansas or other states, should get the message. They need to be far better informed about what is happening on the campuses they are supposed to oversee.

This has not been the case in Kansas and needs to be corrected. Failures, embarrassing situations, wrongful actions and poor leadership should not be tolerated. The public expects more. Consider what alumni, fans and the public in Pennsylvania are thinking today about the leadership and openness of those who run their university and coach the teams.

Comments

OlayKU 3 years, 6 months ago

Yes, Dolph, you hit the issue right on. The dark shadow of Barbara Atkinson is still present. Hope she will be actually gone soon. Regarding her review, it is absolutely unethical that the assessement letters were presented to Barbara Atkinson. This could be the reason that Barbara Atkinson took her revenge on Curtis Klaassen by sending armed policemen (when she is going down, she is pulling him down with her, because Klaassen is one of us who criticized her in the review). If Barbara Atkinson still has the actual power of dean and EVC, it is very possible that she will took her revenge on many other people who wrote a bad review about her, and there will be no peace at KUMC for at least another two years. I suggest it is probably best for her and for our institution that she retires now, so that people can work, students can study, and our institution can improve in a more supportive and positive environment. Hope the chancellor, or another capable administrator, could show leadership and completely solve this problem.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 6 months ago

And you got worked up by Dolph Simon...why??? He didn't say Gray-Little did show the review letters. He said that some people think she did. He gave no reason why they think this. Just that they do.

You, of course, immediately assume he must be right...why??? That the assessment letters were actually presented to Atkinson, rather than there are simply people posing the question or saying things like "she probably showed the letters to her" or some other unfounded generic claim that is nothing more than gossip (which Dolph thrives on.)

How can you seriously believe that Atkinson must have seen the letters and that that is the reason she "went after" Klaassen?? Did it seriously not cross your mind that she already thinks she knows who would write negative reviews about her?? Heck, I'll bet that you could come up with a list of people that you would assume wrote negative reviews...so why on earth would you think that she couldn't come up with her own list? Doesn't have to be an accurate list. Just an "I assume" list.

The only way your punitive action position is accurate is if that's why she "went after" Klaassen. But the fact is that you don't know why she "went after" him. IF she starts doing the same things to other faculty, then you might have a case. Until then, take Dolph Simons with a grain of salt...no, with a salt mine. Because Dolph loves to foment trouble.

Simon1989 3 years, 6 months ago

I strongly support Dolph Simons' editorial articles regarding Barbara Atkinson. In this chaotic world of the KU Medical Center, the Lawrence Journal World brings fresh air by accurately reporting the fact and revealing the injustice and other weaknesses in the adminstration. The content in his editorial articles is to the best of my knowledge correct, and his viewpoints represent the voice from most people at KU Med Center, who were threatened not to speak the truth by Barbara Atkinson. In front of the threats and other forms of attacks from some big administrators at KU Medical Center, LJW has demonstrated outstanding courage and work ethics. A round of applause for Dolph and LJW.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 6 months ago

We are good, aren't we :) Actually, Dolph is sooooooo darned predictable.

Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 6 months ago

This blind quote is awesome.

“It’s crazy,” one senior staffer said. “We have a number of chair searches going on at this time, and who would want to make a commitment to the school when they have no idea who the dean and vice chancellor will be? It’s horrible!”

Um, if the current dean and vice chancellor were fired as Mr. Simons suggests, how would this quote be different? To the contrary of this fabricated "quote," any candidate for a chair position knows precisely who the dean and vice chancellor will be because of the stability created by this move. And you don't need anonymous voices in your head to realize that.

Logic and common sense, not "this writer's" strength by any means.

JustNoticed 3 years, 6 months ago

And this, "... it is believed by many at the school that Gray-Little showed the assessment letters to Atkinson ...". Jeepers, Dolph, you can just say anything you want.

LJD230 3 years, 6 months ago

The new dean will face two large challenges: improving the very mediocre academic reputation of KUMED and finding suitable sites for students in their 3rd and 4th years to pursue their clerkships. KU Hospital is too tiny to support outstanding medical education.

The real question is this: does the medical school want to be factory or a school that produces physician scientists and future leaders in academic medicine? It can't be both.

KUfan1990 3 years, 6 months ago

What is up KU? In Kansas we teach our elementary, middle school, and high school students, teachers, and administrators to recognize and stop bullying. But here we are, at the the university level, the University of Kansas, where we not only allow it, but worse yet - teach it by example - through our top administration. Set a new example chancellor.

OlayKU 3 years, 6 months ago

Barbara Atkinson is indeed bullying many professors and other KU employees. If people have to see a list of the victims, read the letters signed by all department chairs on the internet. I strongly support the removal of Barbara Atkinson from the position of EVC. KUMC needs a new leader with a logical mind to lead SOM and the entire insitution.

Mark Pickerel 3 years, 6 months ago

"University curators decided to fire Paterno because it was best for the university, not best for society."

What? The curators are actually doing what is right. Paterno was trying to make a power play and stay on through the rest of the season. What else were they supposed to do?

The end result is that he was fired. Does it really matter why anymore?

ecp224 3 years, 6 months ago

I think it's pretty safe to say that the only real source Dolph has used during this entire vendetta of his is Kurt Claussen. It's unfortunate that because Dolph is such a lazy journalist, LJW readers have heard just one side of this story. Dr. Claussen was suspended for 30 days at the request of those in his department, who were becoming increasingly worried about his erratic behavior. Pretty much everyone on the Medical Center campus knows this. And had Dolph bothered to talk to anyone but Klaussen, he would know this too. But why get the entire truth when you are on a witch hunt?

Fine, Dolph, you got what you wanted...Dr. Atkinson will be leaving the medical center. Why don't you just let it go now and move on to slandering another victim?

EmilyKUMC 3 years, 6 months ago

I guess you need to be responsible for what you speak: name the person who actually filed the accuse in his department, and you don't have to pretent that you cannot spell Klaassen's name right. From what I've heard from people in the pharmacology department, Barbara Atkinson has gathered a couple of people who wanted to get Klaassen's research money with whatever means that she could find useful. Other professors dare not speak up because they don't want to put their heads on the chopping board. Maybe you shold contact everyone on the Medical Center campus and they might tell you the truth, if you speak for justice.

ecp224 3 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

OnionHead 3 years, 6 months ago

Wow...These are the most delusional editorials I've read since MacArthur was alive. Just fade away, Dolph. We don't need your yellow journalism anymore. The 99%

Simon1989 3 years, 6 months ago

I strongly support Dolph Simons' editorial articles regarding Barbara Atkinson. In this chaotic world of the KU Medical Center, the Lawrence Journal World brings fresh air by accurately reporting the fact and revealing the injustice and other weaknesses in the adminstration. The content in his editorial articles is to the best of my knowledge correct, and his viewpoints represent the voice from most people at KU Med Center, who were threatened not to speak the truth by Barbara Atkinson. In front of the threats and other forms of attacks from some big administrators at KU Medical Center, LJW has demonstrated outstanding courage and work ethics. A round of applause for Dolph and LJW. The 100%

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 3 years, 6 months ago

Atkinson has been a disaster since she set foot in Kansas. it's clear that keeping her around is a gigantic mistake. Get rid of her - now.

EmilyKUMC 3 years, 6 months ago

There are several things that I don't believe that have happened in this country: 1) The institution allows a series of academic bully by Barbara Atkinson: she has the power to attack whoever she wants to, with whatever "logic" that she believes; 2) The institution allows Barbara Atkinson to let her follower to massively harass a female junior tenure-track professor and her postdoctoral fellow who is an honest and hard-working international scholar; 3) The institution allows Barbara Atkinson to continue harassng Curtis Klaassen endlessly, with the purpose to destroy his research, his reputation, the education of his graduate students, and destroy the COBRE grant, which is worth $10 million dollars and means new hire to our institution. Who will be responsible for such a big loss both financially and morally? 4) The institution allows Barbara Atkinson to continue participating in important administrative decisions as both Dean of SOM and EVC, even after she officially "stepped down". This decision from the institution clearly indicates that her immoral and unenthical nature is welcome; and there will be more armed policemen coming around to attack whoever she identifies as enemies.

For the goodness of the entire institution, Barbara Atkinson must ACTUALLY step down from both positions: dean of SOM and EVC, NOW. The chancellor is hesitant to make such a big yet necessary decision, because she is concerned about the money from the cancer center. But may I ask this question: aren't morality, justice, and reputation also important from the University of Kansas since 100 years ago? With such an egomaniac EVC present in KU and her non-stop harrassment of professors and other researchers who are the core of research, will cancer center have a better chance?

The board of Regents, Governor Brownback need to seriously look into this mess at KU, and maybe everyone should go over her review as EVC.

Simon1989 3 years, 6 months ago

I strongly support Dolph Simons' editorial articles regarding Barbara Atkinson. In this chaotic world of the KU Medical Center, the Lawrence Journal World brings fresh air by accurately reporting the fact and revealing the injustice and other weaknesses in the adminstration. The content in his editorial articles is to the best of my knowledge correct, and his viewpoints represent the voice from most people at KU Med Center, who were threatened not to speak the truth by Barbara Atkinson. In front of the threats and other forms of attacks from some big administrators at KU Medical Center, LJW has demonstrated outstanding courage and work ethics. A round of applause for Dolph and LJW.

Michelle2 3 years, 6 months ago

Barbara Atkinson has extremely poor professional integrity, and her dictatorship-type character has caued a lot of problems: this is a well known fact in KUMC campus. She should have been gone years ago. It is a very bad idea that the institution still wants to keep her for another 2 years. She should just retire.

crystall 3 years, 6 months ago

Let's review what Barbara Atkinson did to KU Medical Center in the past few years: no transparency in financial management; financially irresponsible for the stategic planning in KU; bullying university distinguished professors; harassing and firing employees who are not male, or are not caucasians; poor anger management skills when people question her professional performance; stealing information from the chancellor regarding her confidential review; behind the massive internet email harrassement of junior female professors and non-US citizen postodcs; using armed policemen to get rid of professors with different opinions; being hostile to students and postdocs who wrote a bad review of her. This woman is totally twisted and a doctor might need to check her out seriously. I'm thankful that she is not the dean of SOM anymore. She should be fired from E.V.C as well. Barbara Atkinson is a dean and EVC of biggest failure in this country.

carson56 3 years, 6 months ago

Barbara Atkinson has triggered massive inflammatory and cancerous injuries of the body of the KU Medical Center. All we were trying to do is to do our job: researchers do good research, clinicians provide good patient care, and professors provide good education. However, this woman came to power and ruined everything. If she hadn't inititated so many personal attacks and unreasonable firings, our institution would have been a much happier and more positive environment. Therefore, no matter if the cancer center thing works out or not, Barbara Atkinson should definitely go. I certainly don't want to work for Barbara Atkinson. She deserves neither my trust nor respect.

martini 3 years, 6 months ago

I came to know the dean's terrible leadership from many of my colleagues recently. I feel sad for KU that she is still EVC. She is responsible for a lot of unjust and unnecessary damages to KUMC by initiating and/or intensifying wars among people. This can't be right. It might be a good idea not to let her stay in power as EVC anymore.

CTPharm 3 years, 6 months ago

I am really sick of Barbara Atkinson's racial discrimination and human right violation. I and a few colleagues at KUMC have filed a complaint to the congress and report about her unethical actions. I am surprised that she still is the E.V.C. This is a very bad decision of the administration.

Jessicacarlson 3 years, 6 months ago

I support the action of reporting Barbara Atkinson's misconduct to the congress. I also suggest that the board of regents should be notified immediately. It just came to my attention that Barbara Atkinson is continuing harrassing Curtis Klaassen and his lab members, as well as a few female professors on campus. I strongly support Dr. Curtis Klaassen's suggestion on democracy, shared governance, and transparency in leadership, and I am strongly against Barbara Atkinson because she violates the university's regulations in all these aspects (i.e. not professional), and her revenges on people are against the virtue of science and humanity. She should be fired from E.V.C immediately. Regarding hiring, the university should recruit a new E.V.C. and a new dean of SOM immediately. We shall not allow this woman to make further damage to our institution, the bad things have to come to an end.

OlayKU 3 years, 6 months ago

Barbara Atkinson should go home NOW. I just heard from a few colleagues that the Board of Regents have been notified of her violent actions and unethical nature of her leadership. Hope the BOR and the chancellor will make a good decision this time, so KU can truly achieve excellence. With the "red terror" widely spread on campus by Atkinson, I just don't see any good things are happening.

CarlsonG2 3 years, 6 months ago

I would like to suggest that Barbara Atkinson's review as dean and EVC should be published so everyone can read it. It is very hard to make a well informed decision while keep everything confidential. From my personal perspective Atkinson should definitely leave KUMC immediately and she is not qualified for EVC. I would encourage more people to discuss about this issue and move our discussion to a more visible place.

OnionHead 3 years, 6 months ago

“No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.” ― John F. Kennedy

Jessicacarlson 3 years, 6 months ago

No (wo)man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

ObserverAtKU 3 years, 6 months ago

Yes, it appears that the chancellor did share the information on Atkinson's confidential review with Barbara Atkinson. The first supporting evidence is that Barbara Atkinson fired a female professor from an administrative postion a while ago. After this female professor submitted her review on Barbara Atkinson, Barbara Atkinson fired her again from her current position within the last 3 weeks. The second example is of course Dr. Curtis Klaassen. Barbara Atkinson fired Dr. Klaassen this April (because he spoke up requesting for joint governance, democracy, and leadership transparency). After Dr. Klaassen submitted his review on Barbara Atkinson, two armed policemen were sent and forced Dr. Klaassen to leave campus. Now Dr. Klaassen cannot access his office; his computer s were taken; his email was blocked for a long time; he cannot talk to his graduate students and postdocs; he cannot review student's manuscripts or research protocols; he has important international lectures in another country, but the administration would not allow him to access his powerpoint slides or his business cards;he is on the committee for FDA and the B.B. Browdie award, but the administration blocks his access to all the related documentation in his office.There are many other examples going on with people who recently reviewed Barbara Atkinson. This is what's actually going on right now in KU Medical Center.

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