As Eric Kaler's 2016 State of the University address approaches on March 3, it is worth looking back at his 2013 address -- you know, the one he gave before the Norwood Teague fiasco, before the Title IX investigation, before the Scott Studham firing, and before the external reviews of 2015 blasted the university administration for its botched handling of research scandals in the Department of Psychiatry.
In that address, Kaler did not talk about his desire to make the university a more honest, ethical institution. He did not talk about the need to treat research subjects with decency, or his worries about sexual assault. Instead, he talked about the need to loosen rules and regulations at the university in order to make sure nobody is unnecessarily exceeding what is legally required. Here is an excerpt of the text of his speech.
Now, you know I’ve been on a quest to “free” our organization from unnecessary administrative burden—those that we impose on ourselves because we have a low tolerance for risk, or because we’re afraid a misdeed of two decades ago will reappear again.
I expect and insist we will always meet our legal and regulatory obligations. At the same time, however, we must continue to recalibrate our risk tolerance. That means we must look at our own internal policies and ask the question—do they meet—or do they exceed—our legal or regulatory requirements?
If they are excessively burdensome, going beyond what the feds or other entities require us to do, we should change them…or at least make a conscious decision not to!
All that seems to be forgotten now. After Kaler was slammed by the Legislative Auditor for his botched handling of the Markingson case, his "quest to free our organization from unnecessary administrative burden" went out the window. His new solution? Rearrange our administrative staff and add some new rules. Improve our procedures. Rewrite our policies. You know. "Markingson's legacy."