Temple University Japan Campus 4 – How administrators come to be

While doing a little late-night surfing I came across the website of Christopher Wink. Wink is a graduate of the Temple University Main Campus who, from the looks of it, has joined the ranks of the talented and scrambling, in the contemporary bad economy back home.

While reporting for Temple News, Chris Wink filed a report on the change of administration at Temple University Japan Campus. Link here.

The font is a little bit light–it’s in blue-gray so you might have to run the highlight function over it [just right!]. But [I]t’s an interesting story about how jobs are filled, and why people come and go.

In short, for all the acclaimed “talent searches” that go on to fill roles in academia, the “talent pool” is usually someone’s friend or past associate. This goes on all the time in business, but it’s surprising to see it also happens in an area where merit is supposed to count for something more. That doesn’t mean the people who get picked don’t have a lot of talent. It’s just that when the picking comes to close friends, well, then, you do wonder. Because then it really doesn’t look like “broad-based talent search”.

So there’s these two gems, highlighted:

No official announcement regarding an interim dean was named between Patterson’s official exit Dec. 31 and Stronach’s official entrance Feb. 1. TUJ’s semester began on Jan. 14, according to Stephanie Gillin, chief of staff to University Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico, who, with President Ann Weaver Hart, made the final decision on Patterson’s successor.

There had been some question to the delay in the decision to nominate Stronach, a longtime friend of Patterson’s. Official comment on the timing of the announcement has not been made.

“I am just beginning to absorb all the pressures of the transition and to bring myself up to speed on matters pertaining to both the home campus and the Tokyo campus,” wrote Stronach in the same email from Saturday.

He has not spoken to what, if anything, his friendship with Patterson, who was not active in the selection of his replacement, might mean for his plans and goals.

First, the reader learns that Stronach, the successor, was a long-time friend of Patterson. But just a bit later, you’re told (because the reporter was told), “no, no, the precedessor had nooooo involvement with his friend coming in to the job!”

Well, wait? How realistic is that? You don’t think Ann Weaver Hart (the big President in Philadelphia), or anyone in her office, spoke with Patterson about his possible successor?

Really?

And then, here is information about the runner-up in the talent search:

Indeed, Stronach, 57, is the accomplished academic to his former competition, 37-year-old attorney Matthew J. Wilson, TUJ’s current chief legal counsel and the only other candidate to be named a finalist by the university’s search advisory committee.

Wilson had been a frequent de facto acting dean when Patterson was away on leave, most recently in the interim between Patterson’s TUJ departure Dec. 17 and Stronach’s appointment, according to some at the campus. However, some university sources said Wilson’s exact role was unclear.

Then, a bit later:

Wilson, who is narrow, blonde and noted for his boyish features, rapidly ascended through administrative ranks during a four and a half year TUJ career.

Wilson was taken on as a professor of law at TUJ in April 2003 and began what has been a startling ascension. Just two months later he was named the law program’s director. Then, a little over a year later, he was installed both as TUJ’s chief legal counsel and associate dean. Those positions, which he still holds, were coupled with a semester as director of TUJ’s undergraduate program last spring. If he had been appointed, he would have been the youngest dean in that campus’s history.

Just to note, I’ve met Wilson briefly, twice, during my time in Tokyo. Both at Roppongi Bar Association events where he was either giving a lecture or representing Temple at a sponsored function. I know that he spoke a very good Japanese that he learned as a missionary for the LDS (Mormons) during his youth.

So the insider becomes runner-up to the outsider. What do you think happens next? Greener pastures, huh?

From Matthew Wilson, Esq., bio

In 2009, Professor Matthew J. Wilson was appointed to the University of Wyoming College of Law faculty as an associate professor of law. From 2003-2009, Professor Wilson served as an associate professor of law for Temple University Beasley School of Law. During this period, he was based in Japan where he taught E-commerce law, international business transactions, international dispute resolution, Japanese law, international law, and civil procedure. Professor Wilson also concurrently served as Senior Associate Dean and General Counsel of Temple University’s 3,000 student campus in Tokyo, Japan. In these capacities, Professor Wilson oversaw academic, administrative, and legal matters related to all undergraduate, graduate, professional, and non-degree programs.

Matt Wilson got out of there the very next year.

Interesting.

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One comment

  1. hoofin · October 22, 2009

    Another great quote. Remember, $169 million comes from Pennsylvania taxpayers:

    In speaking with The Temple News, Stronach expressed an interest in further developing TUJ’s image as a permanent fixture of higher education in Japan and working on partnerships with other Japanese universities.

    “I want TUJ to become more of a Japanese institution,” he said in November, while still just a candidate for the position. “Not just the extension campus of Temple University.”

    So, Pennsylvania, what are you getting?

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