mp3Listen to mp3 audio file: Dawood Farahi to Kean BOT May 23, 2011

“That [assessment] requires that you understand that those who do
not follow these rules and those who do not update their skills and
their syllabi, and what needs to be done for the students, to create
a structure that does the best for the students, would be taken out
of the classroom, they will be put into a different location, they
will be sent for retraining, they will be subject to insubordination
if they fail to do that.”

Thus spake President Dawood Farahi at the May 23 meeting of the
Board of Trustees. His remarks – mostly threats directed against
faculty – were made during the portion of the meeting devoted to
discussing the Middle States accreditation process and the
university’s response to the visiting team’s findings that Kean had
failed Standards 7 & 14 on Institutional & Student Learning
Assessment. Farahi’s unprofessional remarks distort and abuse the
whole purpose of assessment, and make clear that the university is
being led by someone who has no idea what assessment actually is and
who prefers to scapegoat faculty rather than unify the university
community and address the real issues.

Updating syllabi, updating skills, organizational structures, etc.,
while all important to the educational enterprise, are not student
outcomes assessment. Faculty and staff routinely engage in these
professional activities, but faculty have not engaged in coordinated
assessment activities because the administration de-funded and
willfully eliminated those activities (except where law or a
program’s external accrediting body required those activities).
Despite nearly a decade of warnings by faculty and campus groups,
including our union, that the lack of assessment would jeopardize
the university’s accreditation, the Farahi administration buried its
head in the sand, and, worse, pushed institutional assessment
backwards by ending the traditional cycle of five-year program
review. Now we see that, lacking any vision of its own and lacking
any knowledge of other institutions’ assessment procedures, this
administration turns to what it knows best: retaliation,
retribution, punitive action.

President Farahi’s approach actually further jeopardizes the
university’s accreditation rather than moving the university forward
towards remediation. If you read the full transcript of his
remarks, you will see nothing – not a word – about institutional
assessment (Standard 7), that is, nothing about evaluation of
administrators, no assessment of managerial effectiveness, no
assessment of administrative scholarship, and no mechanism for the
professional development of administrators. Yet, according to
Middle States, institutional assessment “builds upon all other
accreditation standards”…and…”summarizes the assessments of each
accreditation standard into conclusions about the institution’s
overall achievement of its key goals.”

Our union provides, below, the full transcript of Farahi’s remarks
from the portion of the Board meeting devoted to reviewing the
Middle States process. The transcript was created by a dedicated
KFT member who volunteered to turn the audio recording into written
form and is provided here so that the many faculty and staff who
cannot attend these meetings are fully aware of what is being said
about them. Throughout his remarks, the president reveals not a
hint of his own responsibility for Middle States’ judgment of non-
compliance. Instead, Farahi intends to use the problems he has
created as another opportunity to attack and bully faculty.

Our union respects you, your expertise, your professionalism and
your right and responsibility to oversee the academic well-being of
Kean University. With your support, we will defend the terms and
conditions of employment under which you exercise these
responsibilities for the betterment of our students, our university
and ourselves.

(As transcribed from President Farahi’s remarks to the Board of
Trustees on May 23, 2011)

Mr. Chairman, on the assessment part, I’d like to thank almost a
hundred people in the University that participated in the process of
accreditation, in the process of judging how we do with assessment
and program review, and especially what I call the five people that
actually drew it up. And also I’m grateful for your support in
difficult times, in difficult conversations and communications from
a very small group that endeavored to change the focus of
conversations. But I think the [Middle States] Visiting Team
understood that clearly, and the executive committee of the
accreditation group on our part did an excellent job. And I’m
grateful for your support and your help.

But I do want to mention something at the tail end of what Mr.
Cochren said. This University has changed its look and its feel.
That is a fact. It has changed its perception by the outside. That
is a fact. It has changed the structure of facilities and brought
it to World-Class status. It is a fact. And it has changed the
diversity and capability of its students. It’s a fact. We have
brought in some of the best scholars in the country, some of the
best teachers anywhere in the state of New Jersey. That is also a
fact. That in many programs we are one of the top ten in the
country, in some programs some of the best in the state.

Student outcomes assessment in the assessment of programs is not as
simple as it sounds. I want to alert this Board that if you thought
that all of the things that you heard in the past were pretty rough,
you have not seen rough yet. Because now you’re talking and asking
the individual that create me a matrix and tell me, “What does it
mean to have a Master’s degree in Public Administration? What is it
that the expectations are? And what set of knowledge and skills and
capabilities are associated with the award of that degree? Then
tell me each single course that is covered in that program is
connected to each one of those components of what you said a Master
of Public Administration or an undergraduate Criminal Justice would

Then you would have to ask the other questions of “Show me the
content of all the course work that is being done that is connected
to what you said you would do.” That your syllabi would have to be
updated every year. That your skills and talents have to be updated
every year. That you have to be capable of using the technology
that your students take for granted every day.

And that requires to empower the Deans to come up with academic
policies to ensure to do that.

That requires that you understand that those who do not follow these
rules and those who do not update their skills and their syllabi,
and what needs to be done for the students, to create a structure
that does the best for the students, would be taken out of the
classroom, they will be put into a different location, they will be
sent for retraining, they will be subject to insubordination if they
fail to do that.

We spend an average of $15,000 per student a year. And in many
programs and situations we have absolutely no idea what happens to
the money.

You also need to know, Mr. Chairman, that the argument that they
come from high schools, they come from some other schools, and
that’s the responsibility of the schools to get ’em capable in
“Inquiry and Research,” to get ’em capable in composition and
grammar, to get ’em capable in mathematics. That is what it is.
And if we take ’em, we have a moral and professional obligation to
make sure they succeed. And we spend a tremendous amount of money
on staff, and on almost two-hundred different programs of support
for the students. We must insure that that actually happens.

And with your support we will make it happen, we will create a cycle
of three-year program review–every single program at the University
would be reviewed once every three years.

And we will start with those who don’t have accreditation already
built into those–the College of Education just passed it, so
they’ll come next, we will start with the other programs.

And we will eliminate programs that do not meet the mission of the
University, its curriculum does not connect with the purpose and the
mission of the University, and the knowledge and the skill base that
they provide is either redundant or out of date or inconsistent with
what the society and what the student wants.

Those are very difficult choices. They will be made. And you will
see that there will be a lot more ferocity. There will be a lot
more complaints. But the University for what it pays has the right
to ask that the services be rendered for the payment made. And the
students deserve no less than the best we can offer.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you members of the assessment
team. (emphases in original)

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