Regularly I hear from disgruntled employees who are frustrated with their CEO/Executive Director. They don't think the boss knows their job or does their job badly or doesn't treat them well or any number of other scenarios I am sure you can imagine. The following question by these employees: the Board doesn't seem to know or understand and can I do something about this?
Well, the first rule of thumb: a nonprofit board has only one employee - the CEO/Executive Director. This means of course that the board's judgement about how well everything is going happens through the eyes of their employee, the CEO. How frustrating is this to a disgruntled employee? Very of course. The bottom line: the board is not a recourse to resolving operational and programmatic problems. And of course, as I always ask first: did the employee go talk with the "boss"? And if the answer is "of course but that didn't work" it becomes clearer what the remaining options appear to be.
If there are human resource policies, following the protocol (usually appeals processes) is important. Given that not proving successful, the next step could include asking other staff to join-in and request the CEO's attention and maybe recruiting another senior manager to support a complaint can prove helpful. And as indicated below, going public through the press can certainly be an option but you will note in this Philadelphia Inquirer story, the board effectively stood by their executive and at least opted not to discuss the situation about one of their number "two's" publicly. I would applaud that stance as board members fulfilling their duty of obedience. Going to the press of course is not really good for the institution as donors may become upset as might others who are important to the institution. I do not recommend this approach for resolving issues.
Now I should raise one last situation where maybe the board really should get involved. Under the category of "whistleblowing" when a staff person goes around the exec to the board and says the exec is performing illegally or unethically or is perhaps violating agency policy, the employee, being clear that this is what is happening, should formally go, I believe, to the Board Chair and cite the problem. Whistleblowing is even protected by the law so while the staffer may be fired, they will have grounds, if they can prove their claim, to get compensated for the time they weren't employed but should have been (N.B. I am not an attorney and one should be consulted on these types of matters). Meanwhile, it is probably best if employees work together to communicate to the board around these types of issues. There is safety as well as more accuracy in numbers.
But bottom line - staff don't have open access to the board. The board has only one employee and that is the exec.
Temple provost removed; college has $22 million shortfall in scholarship aid
Temple University on Tuesday announced the sudden departure of its provost, Hai-Lung Dai, saying he "has been relieved of his administrative responsibilities effective immediately."
Several sources with ties to the university said that president Neil D. Theobald was unhappy with the shortfall and that a rift had developed between him and Dai, who had been provost for four years.
But it was unclear whether that was the reason or a reason for Dai's removal. The university declined to comment on relieving Dai of his duties, citing personnel matters.
In a statement, university officials emphasized that all aid promised to students would be covered and that the university had funds to adjust its proposed 2016-17 budget and cover the over-allocation of aid.
Reached by phone, Dai deferred to his lawyer, Patricia Pierce, for comment.
"Dr. Dai is saddened by this decision," Pierce said in a statement. "We view it as rash and completely unjustified."
Pierce cited Dai's accomplishments at Temple.
"Dr. Dai is especially proud of the world-renowned faculty he has helped attract," she wrote. "In addition, student applications have doubled at a time when other institutions are facing decreases in enrollment. Temple's attraction of international students has also nearly doubled under Dr. Dai's leadership."
The university, she said, also has moved into the top 100 for research expenditures in National Science Foundation rankings, and has improved in U.S. News and World Report rankings since Dai took over.
Theobald, who has led Temple for 31/2 years, could not be reached for comment. Neither could Patrick O'Connor, chairman of the board of trustees.
Dai on Monday acknowledged that financial aid expenses were larger than anticipated, but said that was because the university had attracted a lot of talented students with need.
"We have found a way to adjust it and the situation is under control," he said.
The university said in a statement that the over-allocation of financial aid occurred because of an increase in students who qualified for financial aid under its merit scholarship program.
Temple saw a 17 percent increase in incoming freshmen with GPAs over 3.6 and a 29 percent increase in students with reading and math SAT scores over 1,300. The number of students with those GPAs rose from 2,204 to 2,573 and the number with the higher SAT scores rose from 797 to 1,028, the university said.
"This unanticipated growth has directly led to a projected expense of $22 million more than budgeted for financial aid in the 2016-17 academic year," the university said. "The university administration, under President Theobald's leadership and with support of the Board of Trustees, quickly addressed the matter, and prepared a revised budget for 2016-17 that recognizes this higher financial aid spending amount and balances the 2016-17 budget."
The university, which operates on a more than $1.34 billion budget, has budgeted nearly $112 million for financial aid for 2016-17. That includes both merit aid and aid based on need.
Several trustees and top administrative officials who were contacted declined to comment on the provost.
Joseph W. "Chip" Marshall III, who was appointed this month as head of the board of trustees' academic affairs committee, said he was looking into the financial aid issue.
Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Theodore A. McKee, who recently left the board and had been head of the academic affairs committee, said he was aware of a shortfall in financial aid.
"There was an issue ... and some steps were being taken," he said.
Dai, 62, a chemist, had served as provost since February 2013 and had been interim provost since summer 2012.
A native of Taiwan, he came to the United States in 1976 and earned his doctorate in chemistry at the University of California, then did postdoctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dai arrived in Philadelphia in 1984 and for 22 years taught in the chemistry department at the University of Pennsylvania and chaired it.
In 2007, Temple hired him as dean of its College of Science and Technology.