Monday, October 08, 2007

Sympathy for the Devil

Adam Smeltz scored an interview with Vicky Triponey, her first since her sudden departure as Vice President for Student Affairs at Penn State. Why did she resign? Her answer is a bit cryptic but she hints the Judicial Affairs report, which would have diminished her power and increased JoPa's, did play a role in her decision.
Triponey says her decision to step down stemmed from philosophical differences with other leadership in student affairs and at the university in general.

She shares only limited details about those differences. She does say that they included conflicting opinions over the magnitude of change that the university needs.

An element in the philosophical differences, Triponey says, involved the Office of Judicial Affairs, the campus judiciary that reviews allegations of student misbehavior and dishes out punishment.

She does not elaborate on that front. As a vice president, Triponey held direct oversight of Judicial Affairs.

Her resignation announcement arrived the same week when the university, in a press release from Old Main, revealed a dozen recommended reforms for Judicial Affairs.

Penn State President Graham Spanier has since implemented many of the reforms, including a measure that, in effect, shifts some control over misbehaving students. Under new rules, in most cases, Judicial Affairs wields generally less influence over whether a punished student can continue his or her extracurricular and co-curricular activities, including sports.

Lower-level administrators who supervise those activities now hold more control in many of those decisions. Spanier has said that sports coaches and club advisers are likely to be key in those case-by-case rulings, too.

Football coach Joe Paterno was the only head sports coach interviewed by an advisory committee that worked with Judicial Affairs, according to an internal report. His relationship with Triponey was strained at best, a number of university sources have said.
The thing to keep in mind, as one reads this interview, is that Triponey expresses interest in staying in academic administration.
Back in her State College home, Triponey says she will use her time off to weigh her options. She doesn't think she will leave student work or higher education.

She wants, she says, to be in a place where she can have the greatest impact.
The reason this is important is that she will be depending on Old Main's help when she looks for a new job. Hence her desire to defend herself is tempered by the need not to burn any bridges.

I would not read into her comments that Old Main opposed the rescinding power once delegated to students. In fact, I would read this as the opposite.
But when she arrived in 2003, her first well-known mission was to be a change agent. Her experience in student affairs including as an administrator at Wichita State University in Kansas and at the University of Connecticut, stood in contrast to her predecessor, Bill Asbury. He worked almost three decades at Penn State.

I think what they were hiring when they brought me here, Triponey says, was someone with progressively higher levels of responsibility.
This sounds like the University brought her into carry Spanier's policy forward. Asbury as a longtime PSU administrator had his own power base-JoPa?- and probably didn't toe Spanier's line. The University may reverse course on policy with her departure, but that does not mean the it was her policy. More likely, she was made a fall guy to protect Spanier from his patron JoPa.

Her take on alcohol abuse issue and its relation to football could also have have caused some strains with Spanier and JoPa.
While students may be studying more than before, Triponey said dangerous binge drinking is still a major concern at Penn State.

"Our numbers still show that the binge drinking on this campus is still higher than national averages," Triponey said.

She said that the popular football program and greek system at the university are major contributing factors to the alcohol issue.
Triponey violated two of Penn State's cardinal rules in this statement. First, never ever admit that drinking here at Penn State is any worse than elsewhere.( See yesterday's post.) Second, never ever,and I mean ever, suggest that football is to blame for any problems here. This is the only time that I could find that Triponey violated these rules. My guess is that someone pulled her aside for a chat after the above appeared in the Collegian.

The bottom line, so far as I can tell, is that Spanier is still in JoPa's pocket and that Triponey will land on her feet, with Spanier's help, if she doesn't say too much. But if she stays out of a job too long, there may be some shit hitting the fan sometime in the future. In fact, this interview might be a warning shot across Old Main's front porch.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Veblen. You are a douchebag and you know much less than you suppose you do.