Friday, May 02, 2008

Sims City

Here are a few things to mull over with regard to the appointment of Damon Sims as the new vice president for Student Affairs at Penn State.

First off is the fact that Indiana University, where Sims has spent his entire professional life, signed on very early to the Workers Rights Consortium. Penn State was the last school in the Big Ten to sign-on. Further, Indiana is only one of two schools in the Big Ten to have endorsed the Designated Supplier Program. Wisconsin is the other. Here is the good part for all of the USUA/SLAP folks. Sims was a participant in the first meeting of the Worker Right Consortium in 2000 and he had positive things to say about it.
"I was impressed by the depth of insight of some members of the advisory board," said Damon R. Sims, the associate dean of students at Indiana University. "They really are sincerely committed to collaboration with the universities."
The second thing to consider is how the hell someone sympathetic to the anti-sweatshop cause got this job at Penn State. The job is multifaceted and it is unlikely that he was hired for a single reason. That said, there are a number of possibilities to consider.

One possibility is that he was hired for reasons which had nothing to do with sweatshops.

Another possibility is that Graham has decided to give in on DSP, but needs way to do it without looking like he's backing down. Once Sims is in place, Graham can say he's adopting DSP on the advice of Sims, who just happens to be a lawyer, and not because of the protests.

A final possibility is that Graham wants to use Sims' credibility on the issue with the protesters to co-opt them.

A final thing to consider is the implications of this hire for Paterno. Remember that Vicki Triponey, Sims' predecessor, was likely forced out in a power struggle with Paterno over the control of Judicial Affairs. Was Sims hired to reign-in Paterno or is he Paterno's candidate?

This one is a hard call. The only fact I have to consider is that Sims' tenure at Indiana overlapped Bobby Knight's tenure there. Knight and Paterno are buds. In fact, when Knight left Indiana there was speculation that Paterno would try to lure him here to coach.

Now it is not unheard of for Paterno to influence the appointment of academic administrators. Graham is the poster boy. Bill Scheryer, another of Joe's buds, was chair of the Board of Trustees when Graham was hired away from the University of Nebraska where he had been Chancellor and where yet another Paterno friend, Tom Osborne, coached the football team.

On the other side of the scale, is the fact that Sims was part of the administration that canned Knight, but I do not know what, if any, role he played in that decision.

Time will certainly give us answers, but while we wait, think it over dear readers and if you have any thoughts of your own leave them in comments.

1 comment:

MrKatannga said...

Sims' involvement in the Knight firing is a great story that has yet to be told. I was heavily involved in the administration's decision to part with Knight, and I can say that Sims' opinions carried weight with President Myles Brand. In fact, there was talk that once Knight was out, Sims', or St. Damon as he is known in Franklin Hall, would move over to athletics. However, SD decided to stay in Franklin hall where he continue is shadow leadership of the entire university. To Penn State I say "beware of the man behind the curtain."