Top tier admins tiff over territory

By Heather Scroering

As the prioritization process moves up the hierarchy for approval, two higher ups have been jousting about the future of Columbia—specifically how the college should be marketed and who should do it.

The war of the words began Feb. 1 when Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Affairs, filed his summary of recommendations for ranking programs in his unit as part of the yearlong prioritization process. Along with Kelly, all vice presidents of operational offices, such as Campus Environment and Business Affairs, were asked to provide one-page summaries of their ranking recommendations for their departments to be reviewed by President Warrick L. Carter, according to Anne Foley, vice president of Planning and Compliance.

Kelly’s recommendations for both his department and the college overall, as previously reported by The Chronicle on Feb. 13, called for tightened admissions standards and “a single marketing enterprise to drive enrollment as its primary goal” that would place Institutional Marketing and Enrollment Marketing under the same roof.

“I believe, as long as recruitment is a primary marketing objective of the college, Student Affairs is best positioned to lead this initiative,” Kelly said in his summary. He was contacted several times for comment but declined.

Kelly’s actions prompted Eric Winston, vice president of Institutional Advancement, to publicly respond in a document posted to IRIS, Columbia’s prioritization website, Feb. 16.

“I believe Mark used his summary as an attempt to increase the size of his own unit, and it seemed opportunistic,” Winston said in his response.

He also pointed out that the summary did not follow the directed format in terms of length and addressed the college as a whole when recommendations were expected to be focused on those specific to Kelly’s unit. Additionally, Winston detailed reasons why it would be “detrimental” if Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations were “placed under Kelly’s direction.”

“My response was, in essence, saying I don’t understand the need to have these programs fall under student services because there’s no gain there,” Winston said in an interview. “Doing such a thing is contrary to the way colleges are organized around the country.”

Winston also believes that Kelly’s recommendations may be motived by a desire to increase his division’s funding.

“I think that the crux of this request or this recommendation stems from the fact that [Student Affairs] needs more money,” Winston said. “I don’t think you necessarily get more money by saying, ‘Just go ahead and put all of these programs in my area. I’ll take the money, fire the people. And then I’ll have the money to do with that as I see fit.’ I don’t see that as being the way to solve the problem.”

He said he is concerned that marketing, if relocated, would be geared more toward recruitment.

Winston added that Institutional Marketing and Alumni Relations are necessary to branding and showing off the entire college, rather than just future students.

“Building a robust alumni program is very important for this college because if you don’t have a viable alumni program, it devalues the degrees of students, ” Winston said. “People don’t see the college as being a real institution.”

According to him, Carter asked vice presidents to contact the appropriate person if their recommendations affected a unit outside of their own. Winston said he was not contacted by Kelly.

While the prioritization teams have provided formal guidelines to communicate to larger groups of people, Foley said Carter’s requests were verbal rather than written.

“Dr. Carter, in a conversation with the vice presidents, said, ‘What I expect from you in addition to the scorings and comments on the individual program is I would like to see a one-page summary,’” Foley said. “His instructions weren’t spelled out anymore than that.”

She added that both Kelly and Carter’s responses were shared on the IRIS page, the Columbia prioritization website, in respect for transparency.