A&S Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard has responded to criticism in her “Monday Memo” to faculty and in a meeting she called with Ricky Jones.
Jones, chair of the Pan-African Studies department, has been critical of Kempf-Leonard in recent weeks and organized a meeting of concerned faculty to address issues they were having with her and U of L administration.
Two Monday Memos, from Sept. 28 and Oct. 5, address the issues. In the first one, she said that low morale was a problem when she started and that it was an issue she identified. In the second one, Kempf-Leonard acknowledged that her communication may be an issue and called for open forums.
“(I)t is clear that some view my administration and communication style as part of the problem,” she wrote in the second memo. “I certainly want to correct that problem.”
“First one’s bad, second one’s really really good,” said Jones in summarizing his varied reaction to the first and second memos.
“I thought the first Monday Memo was disappointing, the one that said ‘I know morale is low, but it was like that before I got here,’ and we discussed that,” said Jones. “The last Monday Memo I thought was very encouraging. I thought (it) spoke to taking some accountability, and I think that’s what leadership is about. It’s setting up a situation where she’s saying ‘Okay, I want to know what I’m doing wrong so we can try to move forward,’ at least that was the message I got.”
According to an email from Jones to faculty, Jones and Kempf-Leonard had a meeting, in between the publication of the memos, to discuss the issues.
“She asked for the meeting, and so that says something that she would ask for the meeting and want to discuss things,” said Jones of the meeting. The meeting comes just weeks after Jones said he was not going to hear anything from the dean due to “poor leadership.”
In the meeting, Jones told Kempf-Leonard that the issues were not limited to him, that he could not negotiate on behalf of staff and that the Dean was responsive.
“The Dean seemed open to paying attention to these matters,” he said in the email. “I’m sure she will be reaching out to organize gatherings in the near future.”
Jones said that the meeting was productive, but that they still do not see eye to eye.
I think some things resonated with her more than others,” he said, adding that he thought Kempf-Leonard was making good progress by sending out the second memo.
“I’m not in the business of being some unforgiving or blind critic,” he said. “I believe in letting people know when they’re doing something wrong and can do better.
“I also believe in complimenting people when they do something right,” he said. “I personally sent the Dean a note and told her that I thought it was a move in the right direction.”
Jones said he has not heard a response to the memos themselves from faculty and staff, but said he hears from them often.
“I hear from faculty and staff almost every day about one issue or another, about how this is moving forward and we try to keep them updated,” he said. “I hear different stories and different concerns.”
Photo courtesy / University of Louisville