Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Southern's editorial today seems skin deep.

I thought that Caleb Hale did a nice job in his piece in the Southern today, I noted in the last blog entry (Carbondale, Illinois - Business and SIU Commentary: Seems like Poshard's section has problems too.) that he seems to be missing a pretty important part of the story. There have been times where the SI has treated me kindly, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

I have a nit to pick with "Questions about Southern at 150 need answers" By James Bennett where he wrote - "In July, the group accused Wendler and SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift of plagiarism in speeches." Just to be clear both Wendler and Vaughn did give speeches where some speech writer did indeed commit plagiarism. Both men apologized in public and said something like that their speech writer did it or their dog ate their homework or something silly like that. I Japan they would have resign in shame, but that is one of the reasons that the USA is a better place to live. Been trying to figure out why these gentlemen need speech writer every since. There is a big difference between accusing and being publicly proven to be correct. If "the group" was on top it might have read - the group has a history of finding real plagiarism problems at SIU and making them public. We have yet to see them accuse anyone without being correct.

I liked his observation about
Poshard moving to get in front of this by appointing a panel to investigate and not being blackmailed.

Where I think that both articles missed the mark -

Neither article pointed out that the Walter's Way building project is going to be voted on by the SIU Board of Trustees next week. Seems like a bad time to be voting on a plan that is based on a potentially plagiarized Texas University plan instead of one written here in Illinois. I'm fairly sure that a football stadium would be job 1 in Texas, even before text books for children. Here in Illinois, maybe we think we should hug our traditional SIUC values of Basketball, partying and academics (I'm just an alumni, what do I know?). Generally, when the champion falls like this it is hard to accomplish their plans. Wonder what the board will do, this is going to burn more money than SIU has and religate academics to a secondary role for 10 to 20 years.

In large organizations you often find a fall guy in times like this and dump all the blame on them. Even though I think Wendler has done a poor job for the last 5 years, I don't think it is fair to blame him alone. It seems hard to believe that no one in the administration, who worked so hard on Southern at 150" (can I put a :) here?) didn't know they were ripping off an existing plan. Unless Wendler wrote the whole thing himself as if my magic, they must have known. Didn't anyone on the search committee that hired Wendler know about Vision 2020
and notice they were almost same plan? Should be interesting if the smoking gun memo turns up from someone who did notice and was told to be quiet.

The big questions in my mind are how it is possible that no one noticed. If someone did notice, was management pressure put on to silence state employees (which would be heading toward a legal crisis). Who was on the chancellor position search committee, that didn't end up reading Vision 2020 and Southern at 150? Can we assume that the next search committee will be all new people? What will the board do next week about this unaffordable building project. The BOT doesn't think that football, basketball and administrators are the heart of the university are they?

Side note to my fellow blogger Dave, two unethical things in one post! Both plagarism, but that is what is there today. That is as many good management initiatives as I have come up so far. Check out my art blog for an example of one of my management initiatives at Where we can't have a better search than Google, we are trying to have the best search of any art website. I have a few more initiative coming soon (I like to win). My only unethical things for the last couple of months is that I'm going to DQ for dinner tonight and haven't been to the gym in 5 weeks. :)

Should be a fun week.


dave said...

Peter, I admire your energy and joi de blog. The "plagiarism" charge is bogus, you'll see. You can't win them all! Read SIU Alum's comment to Bennett's editorial; and Caleb Hale's question "Is it Plagiarism"? To adapt your own work? Since WVW helped construct the Texas A&M "2020" document. Does your current business plan contain no phrase that could be found in a previous plan, or will never be reused? You and Bennett make it sound like he cut and paste whole paragraphs from A&M, which he did not.

In fact the Southern@150 plan was a consensus document, the result of many meetings and discussions, which Wendler organized and pushed through -- probably because of the successful experience with the "2020" document. Wendler intended it to change and develop.

Maybe someone (Caleb, are you reading this?) should contact Texas A&M to see how their plan is working out for them.

Your charges about his management skill and "Saluki Way" may be right; but I don't have enough information to join you and Bennett in a chorus of condemnation for plagiarism at this time.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I think the more important question is why bother having hundreds of person hours of meeting, public input, etc, etc, if you are not going to use it. You see, when you invite people to be on a committee and know ahead of time that you will ignore their input, you have tricked them into wasting their time and of course that is unethical.

In business we "borrow" documents all the time to "model" our work. We use open source software code too. Business plans are based on models that other have written and we borrow that boilerplate. But, we don't have the same ethics as a university does. You see, they are supposed to create original thinking and credit the originators of the orginal thinking, if they borrow it. In business we only have to make money and not get sued.

If Wendler and crew had just said, we are basing this document on Vision 2020 and building on the work done at Texas A&M, then assuming they have legal rights to the document, they would be on ethical ground. Since they didn't, by ethical standards of the university they have done something unethical. The problem is their methods and not the result.

dave said...

Peter, I have read extensive sections of both documents, and indeed wholesale borrowing is evident...However, there are differences. For instance: the SIUC "Gap" Low research expenditures proposes Faculty release time, which is not in Texas A&M report. The differences matter. Also, as you point out, the follow-through and results.

btw, Saluki Way IS NOT BASED on Southern@150, but on an earlier plan that President Poshard helped put together in 1999.

Anonymous said...

I've heard from more than a few "contributors" of sections of Southern at 150 that they didn't recognize their chapter when the final document appeared.

By the way, "Saluki Way" was thrown out by the BoT a long time ago. What they did was endorse the 2000? 2002? Land Use Plan that was presented by Glenn Poshard and Phil Gatton back then. They let Walter call it "Saluki Way" as a face-saving measure.

As I recall, the previous plan had "Saluki Way" as phase 1 and a rerouting of Lincoln Drive behind the Communications Bldg in phase 3.

Each phase of the L.U.P. was supposed to take about 5 years. Maybe somebody can resurrect it for you.