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College of the Marshall Islands
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Hamster



Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 5:06 am    Post subject: College of the Marshall Islands Reply with quote

In considering the associations between College of Marshall Islands (CMI) administrators and a group called “Key Trio” consulting, many faculty have wondered whether they are working for an educational institution or the consulting group. The CMI administration acts like a fascist junta that is very vindictive in railroading who they don’t like.

Of particular interest are the considerable sums of money that have been spent for Alan Belcher’s consulting services. Belcher is a principle partner in the consulting group that calls itself “Key Trio.” The two other principles of Key Trio have also been flown to CMI, but there is a lack of transparency in general knowledge of what they are involved in or how much they have been paid. Obviously, to avoid what might be perceived as a conflict of interest, relations between the CMI administration and the Key Trio consulting group should be open and documented.

The Key Trio consulting group web site ( http://keytrio.com/ ) lists three “principle partners”: Alan Belcher, Donna Lewis and Karen Merriman. Strangely, the Key Trio web site does not adequately document information about the principle partners such as academic credentials, publications, or details of projects completed. Internet searches on each principle partner of the consulting group also come up with surprisingly little documentation. For example, one general business reference site (zoominfo.com) lists Alan Belcher as "Registrar" at the University of Charleston, West Virginia (UCWV). The publications and administrative accomplishments listed for Belcher are weak for an academic, amounting to a few newsletter contributions and a conference breakout session (Opportunities Abound: Ways to Leverage your Affiliation with the Appalachian College Association). One has to assume that although his resume is not readily accessible, it is stronger than it appears to be in the public domain.

Margaret Malmberg, CMI’s Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, appears to have been closely associated with Alan Belcher’s Key Trio consulting group. All three principle partners of Key Trio worked under Malmberg at the University of West Virginia where Malmberg was Provost and Dean of the Faculty from 2000 to 2005. Alan Belcher, one of the principle partners of Key Trio, is listed on the UCWV web site as "Assistant to the Provost" (i.e., was assistant to Malmberg) in the "Faculty Center / Title III" department. The Title III project was a grant by the U.S. Department of Education that, over five years, was to total $1.8 million. Donna Lewis, a second principle partner in the Key Trio group, is listed on the UCWV web site as Director of Academic Services and Coordinator for the “Title III” project. As noted above, documented information about Lewis’ experience and academic credentials are not readily available. The Key Trio web site indicates that she has a BA / MLS but not where she got the degree or any specific information about her work experience. Malmberg’s connection to the third member of the Key Trio group, Karen Merriman, is documented in a paper presented at the 2005 conference of Association of American Colleges and Universities: “Constructing and Assessing an Integrative Learning Culture” by Meg A. Malmberg, Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Alan R. Belcher, Assistant to the Provost, and Karen M. Merriman, Assistant to the Provost, University of Charleston.

Wilson Hess, President of CMI, also has connections with this group which go back to his associations with Malmberg in 1999 when they were both on the executive committee of Unity College in Maine. Furthermore, President Hess’ wife was installed as chair of CMI’s Developmental Department even when she had no experience in developmental programs and no experience as an academic chair. She also appears to have had no academic experience outside the United States prior to her work at CMI. Considering her lack of experience and mediocre academic credentials it was a surprising lack of professional protocol when Ms. Hess assumed the role of Dean of Academic Affairs in making evaluations / personnel decisions subsequent to the real Dean’s sudden resignation (2008).

The health of an educational institution like CMI depends on independent administrators fully dedicated to professional responsibilities of their position. Independent professional integrity of each administrator provides checks and balances needed to gain trust and confidence of faculty. This trust and confidence appears to be somewhat lacking at CMI as indicated by an informal survey at a CMI faculty senate meeting. When asked whether “Administrative bullying and / or other negative administrative behavior (e.g., gratuitous criticism) is significantly reducing effectiveness in achieving basic educational goals,” 77% of faculty attending the meeting either agreed or strongly agreed.

Without transparency, one can only guess how many tens of thousands of dollars CMI has been paying for Alan Belcher’s consulting fees as well as his regular round-trip tickets to/from the United States. How much more has the CMI administration spent on other administrative consulting junkets while the physical infrastructure of classrooms is so degraded (poor quality chalk boards, chairs, curtains, air conditioning, and so on)? The administration doesn’t seem to care that faculty might be unhappy with 5 x 7 ft. dingy offices and inferior classroom / curricula development tools.

General morale of both faculty and students suffers when an administration appears to focus on themselves rather than provide such basic educational infrastructure. It’s clear that while spending large sums of money on themselves and consulting associates the CMI administration has not done much to address poor physical infrastructure and sagging morale. It appears to many that these CMI administrators are mainly interested in short term results that will launch them into their next consulting job. If a “my way or the highway” environment causes you stress, DO NOT work for this institution.
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Hamster



Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 7:25 pm    Post subject: Conditions at College of the Marshall Islands Reply with quote

Many instructors at the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI) have experienced inordinate stress which is not really necessary. The main faculty offices are dingy and small (typically 5 x 7 feet with decades old furniture). One instructor was lucky he wasn’t in his office when heavy wall-mounted bookshelves fell off the wall onto his desk.

In the 2007-2008 academic year the faculty office copier was broken for four months during which some faculty spent their own money to make classroom handouts. Air conditioning failed too often, sometimes for days in which offices or classrooms were sweltering in the tropical climate. Educational technology support was poor: Internet access was often down or snail’s pace; there was no scanner in the faculty offices; requests for regular use of data projectors were denied, and so on. Incomprehensibly, administration did not seem particularly concerned with such poor conditions.

Although there is a new Nursing / Sciences building and renovations are under way, the main teaching classrooms are dilapidated with a motley collection of desks /chairs and old, poor quality chalk boards. Curtains need to be put in many classrooms to reduce the glare on old green chalkboards or make data projector presentations easier to see. However, getting this done seemed to be quite a bureaucratic achievement and there was only limited success. It is truly mind-boggling that CMI administration didn’t attend to many of these deficiencies when at the same time they were making large expenditures on a consulting group they are associated with. It’s strange that they don’t seem to understand how disrespectful such conditions are to the classroom instructors and students.

Since CMI students are basically nice people in a ‘laid-back’ culture, many teachers could deal with the poor infrastructure. But morale is lowered when only a fraction of large sums of money spent on consultants and administration junkets would ameliorate many of the poor conditions. CMI administration’s strong-arm tactics make the situation worse (my way or the highway). For example, a survey at a CMI faculty senate meeting asked whether “Administrative bullying and / or other negative administrative behavior (e.g., gratuitous criticism) is significantly reducing effectiveness in achieving basic educational goals.” Of the faculty attending the meeting, 77% either agreed or strongly agreed.

Part of the college’s problem is the effort to get accredited by WASC which is critical for the college. The large majority of students can only attend through qualifying for Pell Grant money, and without accreditation there will be no Pell grants. The college will die an instant death without the Pell grants. The necessity of achieving administrative goals does not excuse an environment in which there are an inordinate number of last minute tasks, a constant putting-out-fires orientation that imposes varying ill-defined requirements and procedures. For example, because a department chair was late in doing an institutional questionnaire, she required some instructors to take 15 minutes to give the questionnaire to students during the 50 minute period she was supposed to be formally observing their teaching. How can administration engage in such unprofessional behavior without self-reflection when they ask so much from others?

However, what causes most stress for many instructors is administration’s orientation toward manipulation and culling faculty as the main vehicle to achieve their goals. Some of administration’s goals appear to be selfish hoarding of power and cronyism with consultant associates. The administration did not seem to understand that they were lucky to have a sincere and experienced group of teachers. Administrator’s behaved as if instructors should accept bad conditions (physical and organizational) because later things would improve. Some examples: 1) a department chair told a new faculty member who asked for a waste basket that she thought an old cardboard box would do just fine; 2) the same department chair expected instructors to chase down students who were assigned advisees, waiting outside of classrooms to find each student; 3) faculty were expected to walk one hundred yards and haul gallons of water upstairs to the faculty water cooler. Not many competent professionals would accept such poor infrastructure and fly-by-seat-of-the pants organization. Why should they in an organization where there is no tenure, distressing instability, minimal faculty rights, high expenses related to salary, and so on.

For many instructors a significant underlying stress factor has been the schism between accreditation goals and students’ skill and preparation levels. This is not uncommon in non-Western educational institutions where students learn in English as a second language. As in other such cultures, too many Marshall Islands students have not acquired minimal study skills or English competence in their pre-college education. However much one tries to create curricula, procedures, outcomes etc., they will remain surface characteristics of the institution that are highly unlikely to be aligned with students’ current skills and academic preparedness. In these situations administrators are often the great pretenders and they demand that faculty be subordinate pretenders.
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EXUC



Joined: 17 Jun 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 7:32 pm    Post subject: Get ready for rough times! Reply with quote

As an Ex-UC faculty, I know what you are about to endure! Intimidation and manipulation in support of the "cause." The "cause" will first start as something that seems benign.....(something like, "we need to plan for our accreditation visit.") But wait, it will grow and you will realize it is malignant and cannot be stopped.

It will begin with the need for an environment of "assessment." Then, you will be spending extraordinary amounts of time writing course outcomes, relating them to program outcomes, defending your syllabi to "committees" that represent the "cause." Yes, it seems like a cult....because it is. Either you join the cult, or you will be their target.

The three in the trio...hmm? Investigate them further...were they good teachers? You know the answer! Do they have wonderful credentials? You know the answer. Based on their website, the Trio seems to be just vague enough to not give away that they lack true expertise. Here is the scoop - each of the three, were stooges for Meg Malmberg at UC. They would run to her, tell her inside information, give Meg useful data/information so that she could better control the faculty!

My suggestion: Challenge them on everything, do not give (even on the most mundane issue)...their plans are incremental. Another option, plan on leaving your institution and/or start drinking heavily!
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tek44



Joined: 25 Feb 2007
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are a scuba diver, it might be worth it. Very Happy
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Hamster



Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:26 am    Post subject: Re: Get ready for rough times! Reply with quote

EXUC wrote:
...Intimidation and manipulation in support of the "cause." The "cause" will first start as something that seems benign.....(something like, "we need to plan for our accreditation visit.") But wait, it will grow and you will realize it is malignant and cannot be stopped.
...Another option, plan on leaving your institution and/or start drinking heavily!


Great post! I'm glad to see that description of the insidiousness of the "outcomes" cult. It's like living in Russia during the communist era. Don't even say anything because your neigbor will turn you in. Don't even make a joke because the political chief will make an example of you

Yeah, like a lot of others in that adminstrative politburo, I hit the highway...but wait...it feels sort of like I escaped some kind of Gulag. Very Happy
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metalval



Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Posts: 44
Location: Ukraine

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm having a job interview tomorrow. Judging from the posts on this forum, that is not a very nice place to work. But I read many posts like that all the time, it seems to me that at this forum people only complain, nobody writes that he's really happy to work somewhere.
But the place looks like a paradise, so I guess, it's worth considering?
Will it not compensate all the problems?
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metalval



Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Posts: 44
Location: Ukraine

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've got my interview and I would really like to find out how is the life there.
Does anybody have any info on the life and teaching? Syllabus, hours, everything would be handy.
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metalval



Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Posts: 44
Location: Ukraine

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also read that some nuclear testing was done on Marshal Islands and still there is some radiation. Is it true?
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Tiger Beer



Joined: 08 Feb 2003
Posts: 765
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks the job is up again....and it is October. Did something just happen where they lost a current teacher who just started this Fall?
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myothercarisabackpack



Joined: 21 Jul 2009
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just applied for a position at this college. Is there anyone out there who has worked for them, and could give an update as to what the situation is really like at this juncture? If so, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks,

Bryan
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myothercarisabackpack



Joined: 21 Jul 2009
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 11:53 pm    Post subject: Upcoming Interview Reply with quote

Two months later, I have an interview with this college scheduled for next week. By any chance, does anyone out there know if the situation has changed since 2008? Has anyone reading this board taught for CMI? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Bryan
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bradley



Joined: 28 Mar 2005
Posts: 235
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been reading this post for years and have read many negative comments about teaching here. Does anyone have any postive comments?
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been_there



Joined: 28 Oct 2003
Posts: 284
Location: 127.0.0.1

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

*post removed
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purple_lilac



Joined: 23 Feb 2011
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 5:24 am    Post subject: CMI Reply with quote

Many negative posts have sprung up during my time at CMI--these can be misleading and detrimental to an institution worthy of more than speculation. All the politics aside, this is an interesting place to work, but it isn't for everyone. I will try to offer an honest assessment of my time so far for those of you considering making the move.

Know what you are getting into before you leave, especially if you are bringing a spouse or a family. The airfare is outrageous to go anywhere--once you are here, you are here--maybe for years without a break. The island is only about 31 miles long and is extremely isolating and boring, at times. Develop a new hobby. Be fully aware that this place is beautiful and full of wonderful people...but it is NOT Hawaii. You will not be sitting on the beach, drinking fruity drinks with umbrellas...the only beach is an hour from town, which is a very expensive cab ride. Most of the lagoon is polluted and unsafe to swim in. But there are great places to swim, snorkel and dive--do your research, ask around. Do not expect to be moving to paradise...expect to survive paradise.

This is indeed a developing country with many social and economic problems, of which, everyone "knows" what the RMI "should do" after being there only a week! Bring a lantern for power outages, although they seem to be getting less frequent, they still happen--once for over 15 hours. Also, be aware that this is one of the most expensive places on earth to live...on a very meager salary compared to the same position in the US. Just to give you a glimpse--lettuce is around $7-10, a box of cereal is the same...vegetables and fruit come in maybe once a week and are usually beginning to rot when they arrive. These rotting veggies and fruit will also cost a small fortune. The selection is getting better, but don't expect variety. Expect to find expired food and boxes of food with bugs...think of it as camping and you will do just fine.

The faculty members at CMI are outstanding...it is everything else about CMI and the RMI that causes the massive turnover and "runners." Ask a lot of questions before you leave and clarify IN WRITING what is expected of you and what you expect to receive.
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Majuro



Joined: 21 Oct 2008
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lol! the veggies are only rotten when you buy them at Payless. You can get fresh veggies from the Reimer farms at Laura and when they come off the boat from Arno.
But who needs veggies when there's Spam?
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