Is St. Cloud State a “Great Place to Work”?

Last week, Silence Dogood wrote about a contract St. Cloud State signed with the Great Place to Work Institute. Here’s what Silence wrote in the opening paragraph:

At Meet and Confer on October 9, 2013, Holly Schoenherr, Director of Human Resources at St. Cloud State University, announced that the university had signed a $50,000 contract with the Great Place to Work Institute to ‘help’ SCSU improve trust and morale among its employees. Three issues arise immediately. First the contract was signed without consultation with the Faculty Association. Second, MnSCU requires a request for proposals (RFP) for contracts over $50,000.

Lastly, Minnesota Statutes require several procedural steps before being signed. Apparently, Holly did not know about that requirement for an RFP because almost immediately she tried to cover her misstep by then saying “the contract is a little under $50,000.” It is also likely that she did not follow Minnesota Statues BEFORE signing the contract. It’s too bad that the administration regularly displays such a lack of trust and respect for the Faculty at SCSU that they won’t include the faculty BEFORE decisions are made.

The first question that arises is why St. Cloud State would need to sign another contract to improve their brand. Thanks to documents obtained from St. Cloud State through a Data Practices Act request, I have proof that St. Cloud State signed a contract with Earthbound Media Group, aka EMG, then signed several amendments to the original contract. In total, St. Cloud State paid EMG more than $459,000 for the work they did in rebranding the University.

Why would St. Cloud State sign another contract with a company to improve its image while “improving trust and morale” amongst its employees? This information from an IFO survey sheds some light on why that might be required:

Recommendation 1: Changes in both mission and organization structure are necessary to embody diversity in MnSCU. The Inter Faculty Organization also needs to be aware how well it is representing all faculty and be ready to implement structural changes essential to enhance diversity.

Survey and focus group data support the need for this change, and standpoint (i.e., whether one is a person of color, female, or GLBT-identified) is crucial to this understanding. In general, 48 percent of faculty survey participants describe their work environments in positive terms, 37 percent in negative terms, and 15 percent in neutral terms for their colleagues who are female, from another country, faculty of color, or GLBT. The perceptions of faculty of color differ from the general view, however, as 56 percent describe their work environment as either somewhat or very negative.

The extent to which negativity is perceived also varies across campuses from a high of 54 percent at St. Cloud to a low of 24 percent at Winona.

The fact that St. Cloud State ranks last in terms of negative work environment suggests that there’s lots of structural work that needs to be done. Here’s’s definition of rebranding:

to promote as a brand name.

Marketing specialists know that it’s impossible to promote a brand name if the product is structurally flawed. If faculty morale is low, then it’s indisputable that the product, St. Cloud State in this instance, is structurally flawed.

Comments welcome at Let Freedom Ring.