Thursday, May 06, 2010

MSSU President Speck's meetings with new Globe publisher troubling

That sterling man of the people Missouri Southern State University President Bruce Speck has an interesting way of showing his solidarity with the working folk.

At the same time, the embattled Speck was refusing to give comments to reporters, including those from the Joplin Globe, he was closeted in closed door sessions with newly-minted Joplin Globe Publisher Michael Beatty.

The campus newspaper, The Chart, which has taken the lead and for the most part has been the only source for information about the ongoing problems at the university, discovered the meetings through some good old fashioned shoe leather work- an examination of Speck's appointment calendar.

Speck also spent more than eight hours in leadership academy meetings, and seven hours, 45 minutes with administrative council, according to the documents. Speck spent six hours and 15 minutes total on five listening meetings, and his calendar also includes a total of four hours meeting with either Faculty Senate President Roger Chelf, or Faculty Senate president-elect Cheryl Cifelli, four hours spent in Steering Committee meetings for a proposed medical school branch, and six hours with Steve Plaster in late February. He’s traveled to Jefferson City twice, dined with Joplin Mayor Gary Shaw, attended three meetings with Joplin Globe Publisher Michael Beatty and had one 15-minute appointment with U.S. Representative Roy Blunt.
The problem here is the concept that these meetings with Beatty may be affecting the Joplin Globe coverage of Speck and the university. During these past few weeks, the Globe has almost totally discontinued what little scrutiny it had been giving to the shenanigans of Speck and his supporters on the Board of Governors.

That time has also seen a change in the reporters covering the university, Greg Grisolano, who had been taking baby steps at least to get at the root of the university's situation, is no longer on the beat. It is not that the Globe has replaced Grisolano with a lightweight. That has not been the case, but the perception is still there that Beatty has come into Joplin playing the Country Club/Chamber of Commerce cheerleading publisher who plans to steer away from any "bad" news that might have a negative effect on the perception of Joplin.

Hopefully, I am reading too much into Beatty's meetings with Speck and the Globe is just continuing the same kind of coverage of the university that caused it to miss the Speck story in the first place.

The inside story of how Bruce Speck came to Missouri Southern State University needs to be told. How did the most important job at MSSU come to be given to the only man interviewed for the post? How was it that no one took the time to thoroughly check Speck's problems at Austin Peay?

And let's not even get into the pie-in-the-sky Joplin medical school issue, one that really never stood to benefit the university, but would have paid huge dividends to the same member of the Board of Governors, Dwight Douglas, who cleared the path for Speck to become university president.

The next few weeks should provide Joplin Globe readers with a clear indication of whether Michael Beatty is going to lead the charge for providing the Joplin area with the truth or if he is more interested in playing the backdoor power games that have subjected Missouri Southern State University to ridicule over the past two years.


Bolt Upright said...

Bravo, Sr. Turner! You've listed concisely several of the root questions about Dr. Speck's hiring and conduct (misconduct) of these two years!

How did this small man with no understanding of business, or management, or finance -- devoid of the most rudimentary leadership skills -- end up at the helm of one of the largest enterprises in the region? Does Freeman Hospital play a powerful role in the management of the University? In its ill-starred and poorly justified pursuit of the med school? of it's costly and sickly employee health plan?

And now what is this unnatural relationship between Dr. Speck and the Globe's new publisher? The love that dare not speak it's name: Collusion? "The final act of a desperate man?" (See "Blazing Saddles".)

When Dr. Kleindl is gone who will be the apologist for Dr. Speck's failed policies? When the new senate president's innocent patience is exhausted, who will tell his story?

Dr. Speck is finished. He is Captain Queeg, feverishly rolling his ball-bearings over and over and ranting about disloyalty!

He should be relieved of command!

3 cheers for the Chart! said...

Let's hope the Chart can tell us more about this unseemly relationship tomorrow. The Globe is completely discredited when it comes to MSSU coverage. The Chart is all we've got. Please keep up the good work, Chart.

Anonymous said...

Randy, where are you now that the teachers at Southern have a new leader with some sense and some tact....why haven't we heard from you kicking and screaming that the greedy, lazy ones are out to pasture?

You are usually quick on the trigger - if there's news about those you disagree with...

Anonymous said...

Reading the Chart article on Speck's calendar through the link provided, I see the Chart examined his calendar between January 1 and April 23. In almost four months Speck went to Jeff City only twice. January-April is supposed to be when the legislature is in session. Shouldn't the university president be there more often, fighting for money? But he spent 23 hours "rehearsing" for a Sweethearts Banquet in January and February. This is crazy. Did we hire a singer or a president? No wonder the new Senate president, music professor Cifelli seems to like Speck.

Anonymous said...

It's time for this guy to go. We're all sick of this story.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:14 -- "The greedy, lazy ones are out to pasture" ????? What are you talking about? The greedy lazy ones are still on the job. Theres a lot of fine people on the job, too, but if you are saying that f the people who were let go in the last year or so (since Speck) were the greedy, lazy ones, you are so wrong. Some fine people lost their jobs, because (1) they weren't tenured and adjuncts are cheaper; or (2) their jobs were cut from the budget so they could be let go "legally" as a cost-savings measure. It amazes me that they would have been seen as greedy and lazy. I know for a fact that several of the ones who are now gone were very hard-working people who did far more than many of the ones still in place. So, Dwight, or Bruce, or whoever you are, you had better take another look.

I Like Ike said...

If nothing we try works, we'll simply get the press to say that everything is fine, and no one will notice?

When a tyrant's policies fail, he turns to managing the news. Hitler, Stalin, "W", all of them tried it. It never works for long.

The emperor has no clothes. That's your plump alabaster bum everyone's giggling at, Bruce! Do us all a favor and go. (And for Pete's sake, put some clothes on!)

Anonymous said...

A 9.0 earthquake would never do as much damage to MSSU as the board tenure of Dwight Douglas. One more year and his term will be over, and the MSSU nightmare will come to an end.

Jim Wheeler said...

Your implication that the new publisher may be shading the news is troubling. Obviously I think, choosing what is newsworthy is subject to all kinds of pressures, including those political. We would all like to think papers would strive for a balanced approach, but I am not naive.

There is another issue that could be similar to this one, although I seem to be alone in concern about it so far. The recent Joplin Museum sales tax issue was reported as controversial because of opposition by veterans, but not because, as I believe and wrote, it was an inappropriate way to fund such a thing.

Anyway, having heard that the Museum received a "huge" endowment, I have been trying unsuccessfully to find out just how much money the Museum has. I contacted the Globe and after a couple of weeks was told, "The endowment actually was used to purchase the huge collection of presidential material last year from a Lamar collector."

The lack of detail in this only whets my appetite for specific information and makes me wonder if this is another example of what you are discussing in this Turner post.

I have covered this in more detail in my post, "Joplin Museum, Rich or Poor?" at

As a not-for-profit, the Museum receives taxpayer funds from the city, but I can't find any financial records for it. Can anyone else shed some light on this?

Jim Wheeler

Anonymous said...

Why is no one asking questions about The Chart's credibility? The editor is the son of the director of the Institute of International Studies and the advisor is his protégé. The Globe is certainly aware of these relationship and perhaps that is why they are showing caution.

Randy said...

Sorry, but even if you take those things into consideration, it still doesn't answer why the Globe has not carefully looked into the motivation behind the medical school, why only Speck was interviewed for the university president position, and why not one word has ever been written about Speck's problems at Austin Peay.

Anonymous said...

The things that desperate jounalists dream up to keep their name in the lime light, Randy! You are waaaay off on target on Beatty & Speck meetings. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Arn't you going to look like the fool in a few weeks!!!! Enjoy your crow!

Anonymous said...

Ooops...correction...waaaay off target on meeting.

Anonymous said...

I'm not in an official capacity but I'll be darned if I would grant an interview to anyone who hated me. And if you think the kids are in charge at THE CHART, you are very naive...THE CHART is just a tool for those who are upset about the school being run by people appointed to do so and not by teachers who don't like to put in more than 12 hours a week in the classroom..
The CHART is being used....I hope one day the students there will find a lesson in that..

T.R. Hanrahan said...

Dear Anon 3:54:

Arguing with blog posters is useless and usually counterproductive.

But I need to make you aware of a few facts.

1. The students are ABSOLUTELY in charge at The Chart. If I were to order them to print or not print a story or editorial, I could find myself at the defendant's table in a First Amendment lawsuit.

2. I do not attend their editorial meetings in which they set the story assignments. Likewise, other than in the basic newswriting class I teach, I do not give out story assignments. Even in that class, I encourage students to develop their own story ideas.

3. My life would infinitely easier if they never asked about a touchy subject. But if they didn't ask questions, they wouldn't be journalists.

If you would like to discuss my role/philosophy as a media adviser, I would be glad to schedule a meeting to do so. Simply call me at the office.

If you would like to discuss content issues (including the paper's editorial stance), please call the student editors. Part of their education is dealing with readers who agree with them, but more critically, dealing with those who do not.

Anonymous said...

Those attacking the Chart, Hanrahan, and Stebbin have no idea of the tradition of integrity and professionalism instilled in the culture of that student newspaper by Mr. Richard Massa and, going way back, by Cleetis Headlee.
We don't know why the Globe has been so restrained. Maybe there is something behind the scenes they know. But, in the same way, one has to assume there is integrity and professionalism at the Globe.
One thing has become quite clear: the problems reside with the university president and his board, not with the media.
Don't shoot the messenger.

Anonymous said...

To 3:45:

Would it be acceptable if President Obama decided not to grant interviews to people who hated him?

There are legitimate questions to be asked about University operations and it is Bruce's responsibility to field those questions whether they come from individuals, or media outlets, that like him or hate him or have no position whatsoever. Your remark is naive and ill-informed.

While Bruce is secure in his bunker and maintaining his fabulous 'open door policy,' his lackeys (Surber, Yust, Kleindl)are fielding (diverting) the questions that Bruce should be addressing.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 3:54, Chart reporters have demonstrated to their peers at the Globe an impressive legacy of integrity and professionalism through cronyism to plagiarism. Why was Stebbins professional career so short? Where did Hanrahan work before going to Southern?

Anonymous said...

I thought the Globe's editor controls the news policy and the publisher stays out of it. That's the way it was when Edgar Simpson was here. Of course the publisher
Choido was kind of wimpy.
Careol Stark is not a shrinking violet so the questions must be directed to her news policy regarding MSSU and the shutting out of the media by Bruce.

Former Chart staff member said...

Let me get this straight, 9:37, you question Stebbins' and Hanrahan's credentials yet both have been highly successful and highly regarded advisers to The Chart.
Hanrahan was selected as Missouri's Adviser of the Year this year. Stebbins was once a NATIONAL Adviser of the Year.
The Chart is a member of the Associated Collegiate Press/College Media Advisers Hall of Fame.
What a couple of pieces of crap they must be.
The sad thing is that this blog asked about The Globe's relationship with Speck and how it affects news coverage. The Chart didn't write about it. Didn't editorialize about it. All it did was print Speck's schedule and note the meetings with Beatty (just like they noted meetings with other community leaders).
You and some others don't like The Chart because it has asked tough questions and (as is its right) taken strong, adversarial editorial stands on Speck's actions and policies.
Many of us who have passed through the program think the students are doing the best work the paper has done in a long time.
But instead of debating on the merits you try to discredit two guys that have brought The Chart and the department of communication national recognition and respect.
I know them both personally, so take this with a grain of cronyism. Maybe Stebbins made a youthful mistake, I never asked about it. But his record since is exceptional. And I did ask Hanrahan about where he has been since he left MSSU as a student. You should ask him, too. It is an incredible story.
If you had any integrity, you would add context to your charges and questions by asking those men personally.
At least Joe McCarthy asked his questions publicly.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Former Chart Staffer -- I have little to add. As for Stebbins, the only "youthful mistake" I know of was his desire to marry and have children -- and he needed a steady job in order to do that. Also, I think he was born to teach and lead; he is good at both. In the end he made a noble choice. A man of his caliber in the news room might be worth considerably more than he makes at his job at Southern. Especially if he, as I'm sure he would have, were in a national bureau or at the top of some large metro daily. As for Hanrahan, we are lucky to have him at Southern. We probably won't for long. He is too talented to spend his life working for pennies, and someone with deeper pockets will grab him soon.

Not a former Chart person said...

It is incredible how some will do anything to discredit The Chart.
Don't they know that Stebbins and Hanrahan are incredibly popular with students (current and former)and enjoy unqualified support from Chart and comm. dept. alumni?
Those alumni called for Hanrahan's hire to make The Chart more relevant and "newsy" again.
Most of those alumni came from the Massa or Stebbins years. They are potential donors and supporters and they are being offended.
Keep attacking people who do their jobs well. That will be your undoing.

Randy said...

To Anonymous 3:08: I will say this as politely as possible. You can take your crow and you know where you can shove it.

Noah Lewser Everytime said...

I understand the board will deal with Dr. Speck's performance appraisal on Wednesday, and open the topic of extending his contract once more, though they may not actually do so until next time.

All that will be considered in private, certainly, but anyone interested in simply showing the flag could sit in on the meeting in the board room. I haven't confirmed the time yet, but I believe it's 6:30 PM.

I would ask you all to consider, what would you think, where would you stand, if you heard he had been extended another couple of years, with the congratulations of a grateful board?

Asked how I thought a new vote of no confidence would go if it were done now, I have replied that I expected it would be more lop-sided than before. Asked why, what had Dr. Speck done to make matters worse? I replied 'What has he done to make it better?' The burden of proof is on the administration, not on the faculty, to justify confidence in his leadership and management. From the International Mission, to the Child Development Center, to the parade of VP's, to the KCUMB fiasco, the the appalling little ditty before the Rotary, it's all been one example after another of poor judgement, lack of leadership, inexperienced management, and financial "innocence".

The board should thank Dr. Speck for his efforts, they should initiate a national search for a president to take the reins summer of 2011. For goodness sake, do everyone a favor and refrain from extending Dr. Speck's contract.