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Bad Account 

Editor:

As the spouse of a former member of the HSU accounting staff, I was astonished to see, in your Oct. 30 column, the bald allegation that “the university’s entire accounting staff quit in protest when the university changed software systems” (“Town Dandy,” Oct. 30). Nothing could be further from the truth. The university’s administrators did indeed manage, if that is the word, to shed a number of highly qualified and dedicated professionals, but not in some protest over having to change software.

First, the actual quote from the Keeling & Associates Oct. 7 report: “For example, replacing the University’s legacy accounting systems resulted in the resignation of all of the accounting staff -- even though Humboldt, as a campus of the CSU, had no choice about making the change to its common management system (CMS).” This is cited as an example of “dysfunctional organizational and operational adaptation to changing circumstances that undermines the University’s ability to move forward.”

I can remember my wife working long hours, week after week, to help effect the changeover (which has taken several years). I can remember many conversations she had with her co-workers, brainstorming how to make that system function properly. I know that some people delayed retirement, or returned from it, to assist. And their work was appreciated. (I’ve attached a letter sent to the accounting staff by seventeen Administrative Coordinators of academic support departments, commending them during the conversion.) But I can also remember the struggles she and her co-workers had with “a dysfunctional campus culture ... characterized by ineffective presidential leadership, a lack of shared institutional vision and governance, ineffective decision making and a fatigued if not demoralized administration, faculty, staff and student body.”

I know why my wife quit. I know why several others left the accounting/fiscal department. I know it had nothing to do with a protest over software changes. And I know Keeling never asked her why she quit, or what she thought about the software change. I have no reason to believe that any of her former co-workers were asked, either.

Is it possible that someone still in a management position needed to explain why the accounting department had lost so many qualified workers? The fact that such a far-fetched allegation was made and then disseminated is itself a good example of why there has been so much distrust on campus. Is there a reason why Keeling felt no need to do any fact checking?

I am not surprised by Keeling’s overall conclusions regarding HSU. But as an attorney, having successfully represented libeled persons, I consider the allegation that the entire accounting staff quit rather than effect a mandated change to be professional libel. I invite Keeling to disclose its source.

Andrew L. Isaac, Santa Cruz

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