Debate over Adamany’s leadership keeps raging

Long before Temple’s professors and staff released the initial results of a job satisfaction survey that showed low morale and dissatisfaction with President David Adamany’s leadership, faculty at Adamany’s former university were recording strikingly similar

Long before Temple’s professors and staff released the initial results of a job satisfaction survey that showed low morale and dissatisfaction with President David Adamany’s leadership, faculty at Adamany’s former university were recording strikingly similar numbers.

In 1996, only a quarter of respondents at Wayne State University said they had confidence in Adamany. A decade later, only 13 percent of Temple’s respondents said they were satisfied with his leadership. Here, 74 percent said morale has not improved during the past several years. At the Detroit-based university, where Adamany served as president for 15 years, additional comments made by some respondents condemned Adamany for single-handedly destroying Wayne State’s morale.

Both surveys appear to show widespread discontent with Adamany’s leadership style, which professors at both universities argue is to micromanage with little regard for faculty opinion. But Adamany contends that both morale surveys – which seemingly confirm a rampant frustration – serve as vehicles for a minority of disgruntled faculty to sound their alarm over sweeping changes that come from the office of an independent thinker. Adamany has also questioned the timing of both surveys, which have fallen around bitter collective bargaining sessions.

“The real issue in both institutions was my vigorous effort to strengthen academic performance,” Adamany said yesterday in a written statement. Adamany’s line of controversial policies during his six years at Temple include the raising of promotion and tenure standards, creating a merit pay program, reforming curriculum – particularly the general education program – and generating university-wide syllabi guidelines. “And I believe that those who responded to the surveys were those faculty who feel most upset or threatened by the rapid academic changes going on at Temple,” Adamany said.

Though both surveys suggest that respondents – 752 at Wayne State, 573 at Temple – feel that decisions by central administration are not made openly, administrative power is centralized and faculty are not substantively involved in educational policy decisions, Adamany maintained that he takes faculty advice seriously. He added that he has approved the overwhelming majority of tenure and new faculty recommendations by department chairs, deans and faculty committees.

“Over 21 years as a university president at Wayne State and Temple, there have been only two arbitration decisions saying that we did not follow a proper process in the thousands of faculty personnel decisions made at those institutions,” Adamany said. “Any suggestion that the decision process is not fair or open simply has no basis in fact.

“Let me make clear that I have always consulted the Temple faculty, even though we did not always agree,” Adamany added. “No major academic policy at Temple has been adopted without consulting the faculty.”

Faculty and staff members at both Wayne State and at Temple tell a different story. Though many faculty at Temple said that Adamany’s academic programs have boosted the image of their university and have attracted higher-caliber students and professors, many agreed that their issue is less with the message and more with the messenger.

“It’s not resistance to change,” said veteran Fox School of Business professor Arthur Hochner, who is also an executive committee member of the Temple Association of University Professionals. TAUP sponsored Temple’s morale survey with the Faculty Senate. “It’s resistance to being dictated to and not being listened to.”

“A lot of the ideas that President Adamany has brought with him or came up with after he got here were good ideas,” said Mark Darby, a university librarian and a TAUP executive committee member. ” … It’s not really the position or the trends or the goals or even in many cases the specific means of achieving them; we just don’t like the president.”

Said Wayne State professor and Academic Senate President Seymour Wolfson of working with Adamany: “Basically, [he was] very dictatorial. He ran the whole place himself. … He didn’t really want to hire anyone who was a free thinker or who could challenge anything he proposed.”

Wolfson’s characterization is supported by the majority of the 206 anonymous comments published with the Wayne State survey.

“Autocratic,” “dictatorial,” “egocentric” and “dogmatic” were all words to describe Adamany’s leadership. Comment No. 150 said Wayne State was “running full-speed in reverse,” No. 197 said, “I have never seen morale as low” and No. 173 said administrators “live in a climate of fear.” Since Adamany’s move to Temple, Wolfson said Wayne State is “180 degrees” better. Comments from Temple’s survey have not yet been released.

Despite the raging and often venomous debate over the effectiveness of Adamany’s leadership and calls by faculty for Temple’s incoming president to better heed their concerns, Adamany said in an interview yesterday that he will not guide his policy or behavior “based on angry comments from individuals.”

“Maybe I’m not as nice as people would like, or as warm and fuzzy. I can’t do anything about that,” Adamany said. “At a university we learn to accept many different personal styles within the faculty and I suppose the administration.”

Brandon Lausch can be reached at

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