Friday, February 6, 2015

Gov. Arne Carlson blasts Board of Regents in open letter to legislature

Apparently the U's spin doctors were caught off-guard by Governor Arne Carlson's blistering letter to the legislature yesterday.

In that letter, Carlson blasted the Regents for "perpetuating the falsehood of numerous and extensive investigations" of research misconduct in the Department of Psychiatry.

Bizarrely, the U's communications department issued the very same set of falsehoods in rebuttal, with a few new  supposed "investigations" added to the mix.

The strangest of the U's new claims of exoneration is the Minnesota Board of Social Work's corrective action for Jean Kenney, the social worker who served as study coordinator for the CAFE study in which Dan Markingson died.

The Board's findings against Kenney were damning.  Kenney had no medical training, yet she had administered prescription drugs to research subjects and made formal judgments of their side-effects. Her record-keeping was “devoid of any clearly articulated, consistent set of treatment goals.” She omitted crucial information relevant to suicide prevention. When Markingson’s mother, Mary Weiss, left “alarming voicemail messages” about her son’s condition, Kenney failed to respond appropriately.  She made serious mistakes about medication dosage and a medical diagnosis, and these mistakes remained in the chart until well after Markingson killed himself, after which Kenney went back and changed them.

And just for good measure, Kenney often falsified the initials of a physician when signing records.

And this is the review that the U claims found no evidence of misconduct?


  1. Well, if Jim Nobles isn't careful he'll have some masked man dressed all in black with a hood breaking into his Legislative Auditors Office looking for the file on the U-MN investigation, just like what happened with the MN Board of Social Work looking for the Kenney file. H'mmm....A skinny dude with glasses calling everyone wacko has been reported in the area.

  2. Regarding Governor Carlson's piece in MnPost of today: I have litigated against the University representing faculty in Health Sciences and served on higher education insitution Board of Trustees and Alumni Association. If you want to really drill down: buy some of the well received books in the genre: What is Wrong With Higher Education. There are problems common to all higher education institutions which are tuition driven----they depend on the kindness of others to fill a chonic budget gap. They do not try to close the gap by cutting costs. They have an argument: getting good students, faculty and researchers means everybody lives better and better---an arms race for higher pay and benegits and better student living conditions. Attracting top students is necessary to attract top teachers.

    Then there are the very rich "Endownment Hoarders" such as Harvard---they could not charge any tuition and prosper. There is no corruption because every body has plent.

    The private undergraduate schools are comprised of thousands of underendowed schools financed largely by student loans and grants. They do no research to speak of as they have no graduate students to do it.

    All of the above must spend lavishly on athletics---football to rowing---every competitive sport and lavish fitness centers. Student rooms must be at least the Comfort Inn lever. Food and shelter is better than home. Amentities sell students more than academics.

    All higher ed not for profits have large and cumberson boards that do not meet enough. Power is shared with the adminstration, students and faculty. Academic Freedom must be paid attention to. It is not possibly to react quickly enough to the rapid rate of change.

    The departmental structure----means hundred of operating units with demands that must be reckoned with. Sometimes tenure is in the department, meaning that a reduction is the number of teachers in a department cannot be adjusted, or will not be adjusted, until attrition by retirement. There is little turnover.

    The sciences, occupational training departments (accounting, nursing, law and the like) get the most students and their departments live well. The humanities are starving. Turf wars ensure with the undernurished holding on like grim death to the prerogatives. Critics call thius the Silo structure. Everybody manning their ramparts.

    The large land grant schools, like our U, are creatures of federal law and the State Consitution. The legislture has the power of the purse, but little governance power except appointment of Trustees. Much of the scandal over the last 20 years is due to lack of oversight at the Regent, General Counsel and Legislative Levels. The Legislature should have something like the Truman Committee during World War II. Harry Truman stopped war procurement corruption in the early stages. Neither legislative nor Presidential finger wagging was effective. Hearing were held by the Committee.

    The huge bureauracracy at the U stays put while the Regents and Legislators come and go. Money centers are created in Athletics, Surgery, Sciences due to a steady flows of significant money. The English department has no beuracracy I bet. Read the book written by a U creative writing prof: Dear Committee Members. The central character is an old and devoted English Prof. who sees his Silo shrinkng around him, with the neglected real estate, lack of clerical help is endured, etc. Those departments in vogue live like princes. Funny, in a pathetic way.