Graphic by James Wilde

Out with the Old and in with the New at HSU

Several administrative changes at HSU suggest high turnover
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Several administrative changes at HSU suggest high turnover

In the last three months, three Humboldt State University administrators jumped ship. A game of musical chairs has since taken place as staff have shuffled around to fill the gaps.

Since November, HSU has appointed a new interim provost, interim college dean, Title IX coordinator, Student Health Center director and Human Resources staff recruitment manager.

While it’s unclear how the changes will affect HSU, the shifts appear in line with data suggesting high turnover rates among college administrators.

The changes began in November, when Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Alex Enyedi left HSU to become the 11th president of the State University of New York, Plattsburgh.

Enyedi served as HSU’s provost and vice president of academic affairs since 2015 after leaving Western Michigan University, where he served as a biology professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Enyedi left WMU amid controversy as his contract expired despite a petition of support with 1,300 signatures, according to reporting from the North Coast Journal. Enyedi said he believed his contract was not renewed due to his requests for raises for female college employees. WMU pointed to enrollment declines and budget adjustments—familiar phrases for HSU—as the cause of his departure.

“The turnover rate for deans or directors of education topped the list at 22%, while the rate for provosts sat second-highest, at 21%, according to the analysis. Presidents or chancellors came in third, at 18%.”

Data from Higher Education Publications

HSU announced Dean of the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Lisa Bond-Maupin as interim provost on Nov. 26. While Bond-Maupin serves, HSU said it would search for the next provost.

“There will be a national search for a new Provost, with opportunity for input and participation from individuals across campus,” the Nov. 26 announcement said. “Details of the search plan will be shared when they are finalized.”

HSU then appointed Spanish Professor Rosamel Benavides-Garb to take Bond-Maupin’s place. Benavides-Garb previously served as associate dean of CAHSS and chair of the World Languages and Cultures program.

On the same day as the Enyedi announcement, Nov. 20, HSU announced Executive Director of Student Health and Wellbeing Services Dr. Brian Mistler had resigned and taken the job as Chief Operating Officer of Resolution Care in Eureka.

In Mistler’s place, Associate Vice President of Student Success Stephen St. Onge now leads the Student Health Center alongside Dr. Karen Selin and Dr. Jen Sanford. The Nov. 20 press release noted that the plans for the future of the SHC’s leadership would be revealed in January. In the meantime, the release made a promise to students.

“In honoring HSU’s commitment to our students, we are looking into opportunities to expand hours and services for students starting the Spring 2020 semester,” the release said.

HSU then announced the departure of Title IX Coordinator Marcus Winder on Dec. 5.

“Marcus has been an invaluable team member and has served HSU, with his many years of experience, during a time of great change and uncertainty for Title IX departments across the country,” the release said.

Taking Winder’s place is Human Resources Staff Recruitment Manager David Hickcox. Hickcox worked for HR and as an investigation officer for the Title IX Office for the last two and a half years, according to the release.

Recruitment Manager Nicole Log, who, according to the release, has served HSU for five and a half years in the HR department, then took Hickcox’s place.

Finally, Interim Director of Academic Resources Holly Martel got to remove the “interim” from her title on Nov. 18. Martel, who served as the interim director since 2017, has worked at HSU for 24 years in a variety of roles, from financial planning to personnel management.

According to 2016 data from Higher Education Publications, a company that publishes college data in its online Higher Education Directory, college administrators experience high rates of turnover compared to other administrators.

The turnover rate for deans or directors of education topped the list at 22%, while the rate for provosts sat second-highest, at 21%, according to the analysis. Presidents or chancellors came in third, at 18%.

A summary of the analysis gave a variety of possible causes for the high rates.

“When compared to other administrators, the cause for such high-level turnover can be linked to many diverse issues such as growing financial, faculty, Board and political pressures,” the summary said. “Also, traditionally colleges and universities have made leadership selections from within, minimizing risk.”

However, the analysis did not list the administrative turnover rates with which it compared college administrative turnover rates. The Lumberjack has reached out to Higher Education Publications and will update this story online when we receive a response.

Yet for a rough comparison, according to a Jan. 2020 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the total separation rate (turnover) for all recorded employees—not just administrators—for Nov. 2019 was 3.7%.

The Lumberjack has also reached out to HSU for comment. We received word that HSU Associate Vice President of Human Resources David Montoya and his team are gathering turnover data and will have a comment at a further date. We will update this story online when we receive said comment.

An HSU memo sent out Jan. 21 revealed results from a spring 2019 Great Colleges to Work For survey conducted at HSU. The national survey, intended to inform institutions about workplace culture, sheds some light on the status of the HSU administrative staff.

Across 15 categories, the HSU results came back most positive in the job satisfaction, compensation, pride and supervisors or department chairs categories. The results came back most negative in the senior leadership, policies and faculty, administration and staff relations categories.

HSU will hold two presentations in Goodwin Forum, one on Jan. 24 and one on Feb. 4, to further discuss the findings with faculty and staff, according to the memo.

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