Alternative title: NC State’s 63 year old Chancellor publicly admits to losing his edge and forgetting important information
Cartoon from Charlotte Observer
NC State University Chancellor, Jim statusquOblinger asked Mary Easley to resign her University post on Monday after (deservedly) coming under significant criticism for the University’s handling of Easley’s hiring and pay. The former North Carolina first lady is the second University employee that Oblinger has targeted after he sent the Provost packing in a feeble attempt to absolve himself of ownership of key decisions on his campus.
At this point it is a fair question to ask – if Mary Easley should resign, then why on earth shouldn’t Jim Oblinger? Easley has done NOTHING that wasn’t asked of her by Oblinger and the administration he leads. She was hired under Oblinger; she got her raise under Oblinger; and she has been doing whatever Oblinger’s administration has asked. If she should resign because it is ‘best for NC State’, then please explain why her boss who is responsible for the entire situation not also be expected to resign?
Oblinger’s status quo style, general lack of leadership and avoidance of anything remotely resembling conflict is now serving to haunt the former food chemist. (You know how NC State aims high for leadership! From food chemist to Chancellor of a Research One University. Gotta love reaching for the stars in West Raleigh!!!). During this past weekend, the N&O’s “Under the Dome” blog took Oblinger to task in this entry that is very embarrassing to the Chancellor and the entire University.
N.C. State Chancellor James Oblinger says he is "embarrassed" that he has no recollection of a conversation with trustee McQueen Campbell prior to the hiring of first lady Mary Easley in 2005.
For good reason.
Some might recall that an often-noted trait of N.C. State’s 13th chancellor has been his steel-trap memory, Andy Curliss reports.
It was highlighted in a lengthy profile of Oblinger in The News & Observer at the time he took the chancellorship in early 2005, noting that he devoured details and that his ability to remember names and faces was "uncanny."
The profile said that he was the kid who memorized which recording belonged to what record label. He was the dad who remembered the odometer reading on his car, much to his sons’ dismay because they couldn’t drive off and return without his knowing it.
"He will know whether there were crumbs left on the kitchen counter when he walks out in the morning," his wife said at the time. "If there are different crumbs in that spot when he returns, he notices that, too."
Faculty members have also recalled that Oblinger could pick up a conversation weeks or even months after it started, as if there was no gap in time.
But on Thursday, in addressing questions about Campbell and the first lady’s hiring, Oblinger said his memory is now faulty.
"You’ve got to realize that I’m getting older," said Oblinger, who is 63. "This was years ago. I find that I’m forgetting things."
If you are just now coming to the realization that you need to be paying attention to this story, then this little article from the N&O will quickly catch you up on the recent timeline of events while appropriately criticizing NC State’s (lack of) response to the issue.
Oblinger has now reached a point where he is completely boxed-in with anything that he says; every time he opens his mouth he is in a ‘no win’ situation.
- This weekend, it was a 63 year old man admitting that he has lost his edge and is ‘getting older’ and that he finds “(he is) forgetting things.”
- Last week, he was either (a) incompetently disengaged from very important decisions on his campus or (b) obviously hiding things. A couple of our community members said it quite succinctly last week:
If he claims that he didn’t know about the quid pro quo that has apparently taken place, then sheer ignorance of a very high profile hire would be grounds for removal. If he claims that he did, in fact know, then he was, at the very least, complicit and also ground for removal.
I think Oblinger is flat out lying, or he is extremely stupid. A man in his position I would hope couldn’t be that dumb, but you never know.
This is what happens to people who do not any true convictions and passively ‘manage’ by avoidance and without driving to reach stretch goals. If the Chancellor and the folks at NC State were actually executing against a well-defined strategy, then all behaviors under that strategy can/could be explained and justified as supporting that strategy. But, when the bulk of your daily behaviors are construed by everyone around you as ‘risk avoidance’ and wanting to ‘do as little as possible to upset the status quo’, then you cannot truly strive for excellence or have any guiding barometer for decisions.
For example, why not actually defend the Mary Easley hire a little? Regardless of any potential quid pro quo between McQueen Campbell and the Easley family, hiring Mary Easley is actually a very good thing for NC State. Had Oblinger taken a stand and supported/promoted the importance of Mary Easley’s role in leading the Millennium Speaker Series he would at least have a position staked as opposed to appearing lost like a deer in the headlights. But, Oblinger didn’t have enough control of these issues from the start after NC State promoted Larry Neilsen from his campus position to Provost in an unconventional move that ultimately ignored a formal external search process that had identified four candidates for the position.
You see – it is all about being comfortable with the status quo all around you in Raleigh. Why would NC State dare bring in someone from the outside when the Chancellor can live in luxury along side his local buddy? Of course, you can’t really blame Chancellor Oblinger; it is the ‘NC State way’ to ultimately promote a food chemist from campus into the steward and leader of the entire University after the ‘good old boys’ and the tenured faculty had been pushed by someone who actually had drive and ambition to leave the zip code every now and then (Marye Ann Fox).
Unfortunately, the folks in West Raleigh just are not built to chart courses with clearly stated goals and outcomes. This is why Lee Fowler can continue to keep his job despite the laughter of so many involved in college athletics today. In the words of another of our insightful posters:
What you see in how poorly all these items have been handled is classic NC State. Head down, plowing forward (any direction really) with little or no concern as to how it might look and no consideration in the prior as to how things might shake out. Thus, NC State just does it and the chips fall where they might. As I was told long ago, State does not practice risk management, they practice risk avoidance. They have no idea that things will go wrong and when they do go wrong, as things will when people are involved, they over react or in this case they look terribly corrupt and inept.