|University for Peace Community Liason Group
- a concerned citizens initiative -
(Our group is independent of and has no formal approval from the University for Peace)
|November 5, 2003
UPEACE Council Member
Dear Friends of UPEACE,
Greetings from the lush tropics of Costa Rica, my adopted home. There are times in a person's life when one must speak out for the benefit of the greater good. This is one of those times for me. My conscience tells me that I must inform you of what has been happening at the United Nations mandated University for Peace (UPEACE), beyond which you may have been told.
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Donald Snedeker. I am 47 year old educator and administrator who has more than 20 years of professional experience in tutoring, teaching, and counseling university students, and designing and directing educational programmes, primarily at the post-graduate university level. I have a Masters Degree in Business Administration with emphasis in Marketing, a Masters of Arts in Teaching/Education, and a Bachelors Degree in Liberal Arts with majors in Philosophy and English. I also have worked in business as a human resources manager, education and business consultant, and correspondent. (Please review my resume/CV for further information, appendix 1).
I was employed by the University for Peace in Costa Rica as a consultant with the title of Special Advisor for Marketing from April 1, 2002 until June 30, 2003. Over the 15 month period I fulfilled my contractual agreement by developing and promoting an undergraduate Semester Abroad Programme in International Peace Studies (IPS) and offering a variety of marketing and related organizational development suggestions for the university.
This cover letter and the attached report are my gifts to the UN System in the name of UN Reform and UPEACE Revitalization. For the sake of clarity and transparency, this document is not authorized by the present University for Peace administration and is solely based on my experience with the university. It is my personal initiative, using the ideas of many, without compensation, and expresses my involvement, through observations, experiences, constructive criticism, and recommendations having worked inside the organization as an education and marketing consultant. I hope you find the content of this document inspiring as well as disturbing as was my experience at UPEACE.
The report includes an executive summary and is then divided into five parts:
As an educator and administrator, I feel a strong identification with the UPEACE mission as well as a personal commitment and clarity of purpose to help fulfill that mission. I am convinced the university can realize its potential and become a world class university and organization within five years, if critical decisions are made. If you believe some of the ideas presented in the report are worthy of consideration, have merit, and should be pursued, I would be prepared to focus my attention on UPEACE again.
Thank you for your time and consideration. In humble service to peace education.
Donald Snedeker, MBA, MAT
Former UPEACE Special Advisor for Marketing
San Jose, Costa Rica
REPORT ON THE UNIVERSITY FOR PEACE
"People protect what they love." Jacques-Yves Cousteau
My belief is that significant changes and improvements are required to achieve the optimum result of establishing a functional, adaptable, and sustainable United Nations mandated University for Peace.
The United Nations' image and the reputations of those associated with the University for Peace are in danger. The revitalization process of the University for Peace is at risk due to a serious leadership/management crisis. A lack of internal and external transparency and accountability threatens the integrity of the organization. Weak responsiveness to students combined with an intolerance to constructive criticism and suggestions made by professional educators and volunteers has created a dysfunctional administration at UPEACE.
Part I of this report attempts to introduce the subject by envisioning what UPEACE could be. A growing number of people consider themselves "world citizens" and part of the international community. Some of these people are young professionals or mid-career professionals that are looking for professional development opportunities to prepare themselves with the knowledge, skills, and dedication to become peace building leaders. The University for Peace has the opportunity to meet this demand and offer these professionals Masters degree programmes to satisfy their needs and those of the international community.
Part II is a detailed description and analysis of my work experience at UPEACE. It provides an example of how one human resource was wasted by the current UPEACE administration.
Part III focuses on institutional issues and includes a diagnostic of UPEACE-Costa Rica. The main points causing problems for UPEACE development are listed below.
Part IV offers recommendations for your consideration that I believe could lead to the success of UPEACE.
Diagnostic of UPEACE-Costa Rica
Recommendations for the Success of UPEACE
Part V is a brief conclusion that expresses my belief that the University for Peace will fulfill its United Nations mission when its leadership has the team building and management skills necessary to do so. With the proper human resources, the union of peace education and peace building diplomacy at the graduate level can be powerfully combined at UPEACE.
"Begin with the end in mind," advises management expert Stephen Covey. For me, The University for Peace will be successful when it functions as a financially sustainable, dynamic organization of higher education with global reach that develops a highly diverse and tolerant international learning community focused on preparing young and mid-career professionals as "world citizens" for dedication to international peace service. Based on the UPEACE Charter, I view the UPEACE mission as advocating the conditions necessary and the actions required to develop a sustainable Culture of Peace (positive peace) for human progress on our magnificent planet Earth.
Granted no easy task, and yet the UNESCO campaign of "Peace is in our hands" for the Decade of a Culture of Peace (2000-2010) has over 75,000,000 signatories. 75 million people from around the world, including myself, have signed and pledged to "respect life, practice active non-violence, share my time and material resources, defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity, promote consumer behavior that is responsible, and contribute to the development of my community." The momentum of this beautiful pledge is building and the complementary mission of the University for Peace is ripe for success.
I know you are interested in the United Nations mandated UPEACE project, because you have agreed to actively participate on the governing body of the university: the UPEACE Council. This project is dear to my heart as it is to many others who visit the campus, volunteer their time and services, or work at UPEACE, and were happy to know that the UN and the world have a university dedicated to international peace building.
If the slogan of the UN is: "It's your world", then the slogan of UPEACE could be: "It's your university." UPEACE can be viewed as a kind of every-person university for humanity, which complements the research and thought leadership provided by the United Nations University (UNU) based in Japan. The University for Peace offers the UN System and the world community a degree granting university focused on professional application or practice leadership for international peace that was created to take humanity to "heaven on earth" (culture of peace) rather than only "save it from hell," to adapt the often quoted line of the second UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjold.
Institutional Issues - Diagnostic of UPEACE-Costa Rica
"If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man's future. For what is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual's total development lags behind?" Maria Montessori
Having the hind sight of four months outside the UPEACE organization, I offer my diagnostic of institutional issues that are negatively affecting the development and revitalization of the University for Peace.
1. Starting at the top, I saw serious problems of absentee leadership and poor management. Rector Martin Lees was on campus about 50% of the time. When he was there his time was filled with catching up with what was going on at the main campus and meeting with a waiting list of internal and external professionals. Although visiting potential donors and fundraising for UPEACE seemed to be his highest priority, some of the staff including faculty thought he was also involved in private consultancy that had little or nothing to do with UPEACE and that he had a very costly travel expense account charged to UPEACE. I cannot confirm these rumors, but even if they aren't true, the general perception was that he was not totally engaged or focused on UPEACE, was marginally aware of programme development, and didn't know what was going on at the main campus on a daily basis.
This absentee leadership caused serious interruptions in the flow of daily decisions. Many of the decisions were not made until Rector Lees returned or were made by the Vice Rector of Institutional Affairs, Frans van Haren. Mr. van Haren did what he could, but it was clear to anybody with a professional background in higher education and curriculum development that he was not suited for the job of essentially working with the faculty to design, develop, promote, implement, and evaluate programmes of higher education. His experience as a Dutch diplomat may have been useful for public relations with embassies, but his B.A. in Economics and little or no experience working to develop a university curriculum caused him constant problems with faculty and other professionals at the university, including myself. Even with Judge Gudmundur Eiriksson, the driving force behind the first two UPEACE Masters Programmes in International Law and Human Rights, Vice Rector van Haren had serious confrontations. Sadly, I saw Vice Rector van Haren as an example of unprepared leadership for UPEACE with poor management and people skills.
I tried to be helpful to him as my boss, giving him suggestions about positioning and marketing the university, programme development, and responsiveness to students. Unfortunately, his resentment and defensiveness toward me seemed to grow with the increasing number of suggestions I gave him. His style of management was bureaucratic, authoritarian, and distant. He over-controlled meetings and became increasingly difficult to meet. He said he had an open door policy, and yet everything had to go through his secretary.
In conclusion, the combination of absentee leadership of Rector Lees and unprepared, poor management by Vice Rector van Haren has caused a serious leadership/management crisis at UPEACE that must be corrected for the organization to progress significantly.
2. Referring to what is generally called the organizational culture or climate, I found the work environment of the organizational culture to be secretive and opaque with a poor communication flow of information. Far from the ideal of an open and transparent university learning environment with a good flow of information throughout different levels of the organization, my experience was that people were reluctant to give information even when asked. Decisions were made without even consulting those affected.
For example, I was promoting the Semester Abroad Programme in November 2002 and suddenly the programme was taken off the UPEACE website, which made it impossible for interested potential students from around the world to access information about the programme. I complained about the decision arguing that it affected the implementation of the programme and my work. Finally, after two months the programme was put back on the website, but the damage had been done.
The Dean of Academic Administration, Victor Valle, made the decision and didn't inform me. He became annoyed when I complained to him and my boss, and after that he would not give me information about the number of applicants for the programme I was promoting, unless I went through the newly appointed Academic Coordinator Flor Cubero. Vice Rector van Haren decided the Head Librarian, Flor Cubero, would be coordinating the programme. With no experience as a Programme Director and very little teaching experience, Ms. Cubero was put in charge of an academic programme. Considering her background in information and library sciences and experience in proposal writing, I couldn't understand why the administration didn't have her focus her efforts more on developing and fundraising for the weak UPEACE library.
This was my experience, but there were many other examples of poor flow of information and lack of communication leading to an organizational culture that lacked transparency. My status as a temporary hire consultant may have had something to do with the poor treatment I received, although I saw daily examples of poor communication and interpersonal skills making me think it was a chronic organizational problem starting at the top.
3. UPEACE students regularly complained about a lack of responsiveness to student concerns and suggestions by the administration. From experience, I know that student complaints are always part of the process, but in this case the complaints were almost always the same and frequent. A university is judged on how responsive it is to student concerns and what students end up doing professionally. UPEACE was unresponsive according to many students. Their complaints ranged from a lack of information resources in the library, to disorganized courses and internships, and some poorly prepared professors. Verbal complaints became more serious written complaints when there was no satisfaction. Student frustration grew and I heard it daily in the library and cafeteria. (Interestingly, both Rector Lees and Vice Rector van Haren never ate in the cafeteria, unless there was a special event. They ate in their respective offices with food being delivered by their secretaries. With such a small student, faculty, and staff population, I believe they missed a golden opportunity to occasionally share with the students and faculty on an informal basis and possibly resolve small problems before they grew into big problems. Some staff, faculty, and students saw it as an example of diplomatic pride and privilege not in line with the university's mission.)
4. Based on the people I primarily worked with at UPEACE, my boss Vice Rector van Haren, and his direct reports, Academic Administration Dean Victor Valle, Head Librarian Flor Cubero, and Professor Simon Stander, I encountered a general intolerance to constructive criticism, suggestions, and recommendations. I was threatened with "shut up or be canned" by my collaborator Simon Stander. I was insulted by Simon as a "religious freak" when I designed a course for the Semester Abroad Programme that had been approved called, Peace Studies in Comparative World Religions. This became especially ugly when I asked Simon what he thought of the guest speaker, Dr. Seung Heun Lee, a Korean spiritual leader advocating spiritual activism who spoke at the university on January 8, 2003. Simon said, "He's a f****** idiot." I questioned his intolerance.
Another example of intolerance that I observed was the treatment of Robert Muller and Rodrigo Carazo: the two people that helped found the university. When they were allowed to speak to groups, because visiting groups asked for them, the group response was always positive to my observation. In my opinion, UPEACE is lucky to have the founders alive, active, and willing to speak on behalf of the university. There are not many universities that have this distinction. However, it was clear that both men were ostracized by the present UPEACE administration, although publicly there were sporadic attempts at being diplomatic and friendly.
I shared offices with Robert Muller; he had the inner office and I had the outer office. I respected his visionary focus and thought he provided an important public relations service for UPEACE when he spoke to people and groups at the university and when he traveled to give speeches and receive awards for his life-long dedication to international peace.
For some reason, I assume due to his visionary approach to peace and possibly jealousy of his international recognition, Robert was very much marginalized and ignored by the present UPEACE administration. Even common courtesies of keeping him informed of UPEACE activities and introducing him to some visitors were not extended to him. In fact, I was reprimanded by Rector Lees for informally introducing Robert to a group of three academics visiting from George Mason University in December 2002, who expressed interest in meeting Robert. I found this attitude sad and unwarranted. I was never informed directly why the present administration saw Robert Muller or Rodrigo Carazo as a threat or problem for UPEACE.
5. Overall, I would have to characterize the UPEACE administration I worked with as dysfunctional and unprepared to build the university into what it can be. I know these are strong words and I don't use them lightly. I wish it were not the case, but this is what I found as a consultant for UPEACE. A number of key administrators were in jobs that they were not suited for or unprepared to do well. Expressions of frustration, insecure defensiveness of constructive criticism, and intolerance toward others resulted.
I realize that a graduate teaching university without an endowment is not an easy organization to develop and sustain, especially when it is in the process of reorganizing. Tremendous teamwork and coordination with exceptional communication skills are needed to administer it properly. What I found at UPEACE was a general lack of clear direction, weak sporadic planning, poor organizing, and spotty arbitrary controls.
Mismanagement was a daily problem at UPEACE. Department Heads and Professors suffered from it, but generally kept quiet for fear of reprisal. Staff did what they were told and kept their mouth shut. Students complained and were given lip service.
Unfortunately, the Radio for Peace project "lock-out" was not an isolated incident, but rather another example of questionable judgment by management. When I first learned of the Radio for Peace, I asked my collaborator at the time, Simon Stander, why the university didn't coordinate promotion of the university with the radio station. I was told not to mention the subject or I would end up like a volunteer German woman, who made the same suggestion and was told to leave the university by UPEACE management. I know of several cases of very capable professionals and volunteers who offered their services and were treated very poorly by the UPEACE administration. They confirmed my experience that they had never been treated so badly as professionals by an organization.
The United Nations UPEACE mission, some of its professional staff and faculty, and the students were my driving force and inspiration. Based on my direct experience within the university, I offer recommendations for your consideration that I believe could help lead to the success of UPEACE.
Recommendations for the Success of UPEACE
"There is, I think, no point in the philosophy of progressive education which is sounder than its emphasis upon the importance of the participation." John Dewey
1. Consider positioning internationally the University for Peace as the United Nations mandated Graduate School for International Peace Service. This further definition of UPEACE, to clarify our intentions, would combine areas of international study with a professional application focus to prepare young professionals and mid-career professionals for service to the international community. The need for this further definition of the university's purpose became clear to me when many of the 44 visits I made to administrators at established universities asked: "What is the University for Peace?" A concise, agreed upon answer to this question is needed to successfully position the university in the very competitive post graduate international education marketplace. (I was told by Rector Lees that he didn't want to change the university's name, although my suggestion was never to change the name but rather further define UPEACE and its focus along the very successful lines of one of our partner universities: American University and the School of International Service. Also, Professor Simon Stander argued in the Marketing Sub-Committee meeting that "service is boring" and that "conflict is sexier than peace." Disturbed by these cynical remarks by one of our professors, I disagreed with his comments in the meeting.)
2. Offer attractive, professional masters degree programmes that lead to "real world" professions in the public and private sector, including national governments, international and national NGOs, the UN System, and socially responsible multinational corporations. (The exception might be the Masters in Peace Education, which would have a more academic focus, but still be a professional degree for education practitioners.)
For example, a Masters in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development could become a Masters in Natural Resources Management and Sustainable Development Advocacy. A Masters of Arts in Human Rights Studies could become a Masters of Arts in Human Rights Advocacy. A Masters Degree in International Peace Studies could become a Masters Degree in International Peace Building. This programme focus would not imply drastically changing programmes, but rather emphasizing professional application and practice leadership in the field throughout the courses in the programme and hiring or contracting professors who are experienced practitioners in their respective areas and have at least a Masters degree in their field. At the masters level a professional focus is very attractive for students because these more mature students are generally looking for real world application of knowledge and experience as well as career development and job placement.
Furthermore, I suggested that programme directors consider Final Graduation Projects for students rather than comprehensive examinations as culminating activities for Masters Degree programmes. Based on "real world problems" faced by people, groups, and organizations, these projects would give students "real world experience" through involvement and help prepare students for practice leadership. This could be done through short-term internships (3 to 6 months) or agreements with organizations to do a project to deal with a problem related to the student's studies.
The benefits of this Final Graduation Project model is that students could get job placement from the project, while offering UPEACE good contacts, public relations exposure, and possible scholarship funds. Also, it could be an important way for UPEACE to give back to donor countries and organizations as well as our host country of Costa Rica, by placing some students in internships and doing projects for a growing number of international organizations based here. See appendix 8 for relevant memo of professional focus of UPEACE programmes, called, Toward a Marketing Strategy for UPEACE Masters Programmes.
3. Define and place a standard listing for UPEACE in all appropriate in print and on-line educational directories. These critical listings would project the university further into international education community.
4. Create a Career Services Center for UPEACE students to help them prepare cover letters and resumes/CVs, practice interviewing techniques, and help them get internships and job placement in relevant organizations so they can apply their studies and make a difference. While working at the university I spoke to many of the 30 current students on a daily basis and they expressed their concern about getting internships and jobs. Upon graduation in June 2003, students told me that none of our 24 graduates had been placed in jobs through UPEACE efforts. A few of our students returned to jobs they had or got jobs on their own initiative, but none were helped by the UPEACE administration even though Rector Lees in late 2002 personally promised students that he would help them make contacts. This I saw as a serious problem, because a promise had been broken, and satisfied alumni can be some of the best promoters and supporters for a university. All world-class universities help their students help themselves for job opportunities.
The Director for Planning and Development, George Tsai, told me in August, September, and October 5th that career services for students was not one of the priorities for the university, because the goal is that students return to their home countries to apply their studies. This argument assumes that UPEACE students will not need professional career services, because they will have jobs waiting for them after they graduate. This may be true in some cases, but it was not the case with most of the 24 graduates this year. I wrote a three page e-mail that outlined the creation of a Career Services Center. (See appendix 10, Proposal for establishing the UPEACE Career Services Center.)
5. Place the essential UPEACE Mission Statement in the lobby of the university and at all branch centers of UPEACE so that all visitors, staff, students, faculty, and administrators would be reminded daily of why UPEACE exists, as defined by the UN General Assembly resolution of December 6, 1980.
To complement the UPEACE Mission Statement, I recommended that the faculty and administration consider a General Philosophy of Education for UPEACE. I believe this would be a useful, important, and almost necessary exercise for a number of reasons: 1) Offer orientation for our students, so they would know how UPEACE intends to facilitate their learning process, 2) Give professors from different disciplines working together in interdisciplinary programs, a pedagogical basis to work from when developing their course syllabuses, materials, and activities and, 3) Project and market UPEACE to the global community as a United Nations mandated university with an international peace education mission for higher education and learning based on a explicitly stated philosophy of education that is put into practice and action. World class universities with professional programmes tell prospective students what academic programmes they offer, how students are going to learn in those programmes, and how they can apply their studies professionally. Harvard University's "case study method" of the Law and Business Schools comes to mind as well as their constant contact with alumni for networking and professional development opportunities.
Although consensus would have to be achieved among council members, faculty, and administrators, I recommended a participatory, team building, experiential, action-oriented method of inquiry for UPEACE. This educational philosophy would support a professional application focus for practice peace building leadership. The goal would be to create an international learning community throughout the UPEACE system dedicated to confronting real world problems through collaboration, synthesis, and consensus. Although a number of faculty members expressed interest in this initiative, Rector Lees told me that "the university is not ready for a philosophy of education." (See appendix 11 for the document, "Toward a Philosophy of Education for UPEACE.")
6. Improve the responsiveness of UPEACE administration to student inquiries, complaints, and suggestions. I learned of many examples of slow response or inadequate response to e-mails and personal visits by potential students to the Department of Academic Administration (DAA), directed by Victor Valle. To be fair I know there are a lot of inquiries at UPEACE. Carla Ortiz of DAA told me that she was averaging 80 e-mails a day; this is too many for any one person to respond to. Sensing a serious problem of response time, I asked and made an agreement with Victor Valle that all inquiries about the Semester Abroad Programme would be forwarded to me. This arrangement generally worked well, although sometimes e-mails were not immediately forwarded. My policy was to respond within 24 hours if at all possible or within 72 hours if I had to research the answer. Some similar institutional policy of response time might be implemented to ensure quick response time in our ever-faster information age.
A mechanism is in place for student representation, but students expressed their frustration with me that the UPEACE administration was not generally responsive to their concerns about academic programmes, availability of course materials, complaints about professors, the weakness of the UPEACE library, and the lack of student activities and career services for internships and job placement.
7. My report on the status of the much improved website that suggested specific ways to make the website even more user friendly by further defining details of each academic programme UPEACE offers was discussed by HMC, but little was done about it. I found regularly problems of content (missing information) and form (poor English) on our website. When I brought these problems with constructive solutions to the attention of Vice Rector van Haren and Dean Victor Valle, they reacted defensively, and I was told to keep my ideas to the newly created Marketing Sub-Committee. (See appendix 12 for document, "Urgent Need to Improve Marketing Communication of MA Academic Programmes on UPEACE Website".)
8. Implement a total quality education process that systematically documents course evaluations of instruction and student surveys to determine student satisfaction and ways to attain a breakthrough educational service of excellence. I recommended a one page UPEACE Student Rating of Instruction document that could be used for courses as well as a two page UPEACE Student Survey Questionnaire and a similar Student Exit Survey Questionnaire that would cover more general concerns about academic programmes and student services. (See appendix 13 for documents.) These student feedback documents are critical for the university to establish a documented process of constant improvement and quality education. (I was told that evaluations were already in place, but never was shown the forms. The forms and their contents seem to be confidential rather than working documents to be used to improve university services. My suspicion was that the student evaluations were very critical, based on what students told me, and therefore the administration kept them confidential.)
9. To reinforce the service orientation of the university and supplement academic studies with potential inspirational hands on application and practice leadership, I highly recommend the expansion and integration of socially responsible community service projects as part of the UPEACE curriculum.
While I was at the university I participated with students, staff, faculty, administration, and friends of the university in community service projects. Organized by Professor Ronnie de Camino from the Department of Natural Resources, we planted 800 trees on a Saturday along the road from Ciudad Colon to the campus, and on another Saturday we picked coffee and donated proceeds to the very humble local public elementary school. Also, a UPEACE choir was formed by Professor Gudmundur Eiriksson and Christmas songs in Spanish and English were sung and Christmas presents distributed to the students of the same elementary school in Rodeo near the university.
I saw with my own eyes that these activities were inspirational for all participants and generated wonderful goodwill with the local community. It reminded me of the significance of the phrase: "Think Globally, Act Locally." These memorable community service activities are the kinds of visionary initiatives that could be used to prepare our students to initiate throughout their professional careers.
10. To financially sustain the university over the long term, I emphasized to administration the importance of developing a student tuition base and a systematic, coordinated fundraising effort. There was general agreement that the student population ideally should be gender balanced and approximately 50% of the students coming from developing countries and 50% from developed ones. Also the goal was to have about 50% of the student body paying full tuition and the other half receiving partial or full scholarships. Although this informal policy seemed reasonable to me to ensure diversity of the student population, I did not agree with the idea that students from developing countries should receive scholarships and those from developed countries should not. My argument was that scholarships should be based on demonstrated financial need through documentation of family income, assets, and savings, and academic and performance merit as do most established universities. Using objective criteria based on a financial aid formula and documentation that can be verified would be the best way to have a fair and just scholarship policy. Unfortunately, I knew of no UPEACE established formula or objective criteria for making scholarship decisions. Scholarship decisions seemed to be made in a very subjective manner. I knew of cases of quite wealthy students (from developing nations) whol receiving full scholarships, who easily could have financed their own studies.
Related to UPEACE fundraising efforts, this seems to be the confidential domain of Rector Martin Lees. His constant travel and modest results, caused many of us to think that the effort could be much more effective if it were coordinated with academic departments and systematically directed toward foundations, corporations, NGOs as well as governments who are interested in supporting specific academic programmes or projects. For example, there are specific foundations that support the development of libraries; they could be contacted to solicit funding to improve the very weak library resource in terms of an on campus collection of reference materials, including books, journals, and magazines. At a minimum the library should have reading materials that correspond to the required and recommended references found in all the UPEACE course syllabi bibliographies. Regrettably this was not the case.
Georges Tsai told me on October 5th that financing for the university continues to be focused primarily on governments. This is the same strategy that past UPEACE administrations have used which did not make the university financially sustainable. Granted the focus is now global rather than regional and presumably many more governments have been contacted and canvassed with on going follow-up, but the fact is administrations of governments come and go and so does government donor funding. Although this source of funding should be pursued, I believe it would be wise to focus more on foundations and socially responsible multinational corporations, especially for the significant start-up costs (estimated at more than U.S. $1 million) for the online project called UPEACE Global Ed.
Really what seems to be needed is a strong institutional entrepreneurial spirit and focus to explore and pursue all possible sources of funding to eventually create an endowment fund for the university. The only problem with this kind of funding is that it may come with general or specific conditions that could affect the academic freedom of the university. This is another argument for establishing a solid tuition base from students who apply and have individual or family financial resources or have access to third party, independent loans, grants, and scholarships. Since UPEACE does not have an endowment or long term funding from any one source, I strongly believe that without a solid tuition base, UPEACE will not be financially sustainable over the long run.
I was told by Vice Rector van Haren that my contract was not renewed because of a lack of funding, and yet it was made clear to me that I should not be involved in fundraising efforts because this was the Rector's affair.
For months I was pushing the idea of the importance for UPEACE of gaining the 501c3 tax exempt status so the university could receive donations without taxation involved. Originally I was told that the New York UPEACE Office was working on the problem. Then I was told the university piggybacked on the Rockefeller Foundation for the status. Finally I was told the UPEACE had the status, but nothing was made public. Again there was a general secrecy rather than a transparent openness that could have achieved much better results. My experience was that it was impossible to get good information about the financial status of UPEACE.
If not forthcoming, I would suggest that the UPEACE Council consider making public annual financial reports of UPEACE to increase transparency and accountability of the organization to its publics. This financial audit could include income and out flow of financial resources with special attention to donor funding, tuition fees paid, and professional salaries. At present, there are huge disparities and inequities among salaries and professional service fees caused by a lack of a salary scale and schedule for professional services at UPEACE. One would think that a UN mandated organization should be systematically transparent and accountable with at least annual financial reports made public to attract donor funds from governments, foundations, NGOs, and private individuals, and to attract potential students who are interested in making a career investment in the university.
11. For organizational development the University for Peace could greatly benefit from continuous strategic planning to develop an integrated strategic marketing plan. In May of 2002 I wrote and presented a 15 page document called a "Preliminary Marketing Plan for UPEACE." I look back on this document and I see that it was very preliminary, I had only been working inside UPEACE for two months. It was a start, but needed a lot of work.
Once my contract was renewed in January 2003, albeit for only six months, I decided to offer a UPEACE Internal Marketing Seminar (see proposal and presentation in appendix 15) to professional staff. This idea was approved and I gave the presentation March 17, 2003. Again I received little feedback from participants, except from Vice Rector van Haren and Simon Stander, who said it wasn't very good. I ask you to judge for yourself if there were important ideas the university could use in this presentation.
12. To overcome the leadership and management crisis at UPEACE, I would suggest that the UPEACE Council consider developing professional profiles for key UPEACE executive positions based on job descriptions to create a working team with complementary skills, experience, and education.
In general terms, I would suggest that an ideal UPEACE administrator would be a person with a strong background in higher education at the graduate level combined with related international professional experience; at least a Masters degree in a relevant field; an entrepreneurial spirit for fundraising and programme and tuition base development; UN System, government, and/or NGO familiarity; and, ideally, bilingual fluency in English/Spanish to work effectively at the main campus in Costa Rica.
Some of the present administrators at UPEACE do not have these qualifications and the university is suffering the effects of inappropriate personnel and misplaced human resources. Appropriate human resources as administrators, faculty, and staff is the most critical issue for the success of UPEACE.
"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand." "It is not the knowing that is difficult, but the doing." Chinese Proverbs
Many people who see or hear about the University for Peace believe that the potential is great. The question becomes how and when that potential will be realized. Progress has been very slow at UPEACE, because the administration continues to essentially follow the old, failed strategy of depending too heavily on government donor funding. Coordinated teamwork and systematic sharing of information throughout the organization could open up the donor fundraising effort to other sources, including foundations, private donors, and socially responsible multinational corporations.
Furthermore, with engaged and prepared leadership to develop attractive, relevant curriculum for masters degree programmes, the university could develop an essential, sustainable tuition base. With a responsive student orientation by the administration and attention to career services, students can become loyal alumni who promote the university in their respective countries after graduation. By utilizing constructive criticism and useful suggestions and recommendations, UPEACE can continually improve to eventually realize its UN mission.
The University for Peace has great potential as an institution of higher education if its leaders can clearly define its focus, express that focus to potential donors and to a growing target market of professionals who consider themselves "world citizens," and sustain that focus over the long term.
Many have envisioned UPEACE as an international educational resource for humanity in the 21st century offering students the knowledge, skills, and dedication to international peace service that our world so desperately needs. With your visionary leadership as a UPEACE council member, the UN mission can be realized at the University for Peace. My hope is that in some small way this report will help get the job done.