Update on Bastyr's new president

Oct 9th, 2015
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  1. Update on new Bastyr president
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  3. Eric Yarnell
  4. Message 1 of 11 , Oct 6 7:57 AM
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  6. Following-up on my prior email, for anyone who cares (everyone else delete away now):
  8. The president of the board was not happy about my email to the list and contacted me quite aggressively (essentially accused me of lying and other lovely things). He stated that I “didn’t have all the facts” but as I listed all my many questions in which I did not have the facts, he basically refused to provide most of them, simply ignoring most of my questions or referring me to people in the administration (mainly the VP of human resources) I have previously been explicitly told not to contact. Huh. Useless. Anyway he seemed extremely defensive. Sad and pointless. I think he mistook my passion for the school and the profession, as well as anyone asking probing questions, as some kind of critique instead of what it was, an honest attempt to get information.
  10. I met today with the chair and vice chair of the faculty senate at Bastyr and they filled in many gaps. They were two of the major faculty reps (along with others including community, students, staff, and the board) throughout the entire process of finding the new president, from the original 40 (!) candidates whittling it down to 3. They and basically every other faculty and staff member agrees that while he is abrasive and frankly off putting one-on-one, he is much better in groups and fit a long list of criteria that the board was looking for including experience with multiple campuses, experience with bachelor/masters/doctoral programs all in one institution, experience as a school president, and success with major fund raising. He actually had all these criteria and no one did. I am not entirely sure if all the criteria were the most important, but the process did sound basically on the level to me and that the various inputs were taken into account.
  12. I have also learned from my colleagues that Dr. Powell has made real strides at increasing transparency and shared governance, including massively expanding his cabinet from 5 to 15 people which includes the faculty senate chair. He has also been holding a series of town halls throughout the university and does seem to be listening. So I am heartened.
  14. What is sad and pitiful about this whole situation is that basically this was all due to a lack of communication. If Dr. Powell or Mr. Anderson (chair of the board) had simply shared this information with me (took about an hour to talk it all through with the faculty senators) and all the concerned parties at the school (staff particularly), a lot of hostility and anxiety would have been avoided.
  16. I am meeting with Dr. Powell on Friday for the second time to discuss matters further and hopefully help him understand some of the missteps and how easily they could be avoided. Some of his other threatening approaches to people in the university still need to be addressed (particularly the librarians), as well as his unusual compensation package (house and car payments?). This may be because he is used to living on campus and still has a home in California; I’m not clear (couldn’t get all the “facts” from anyone yet; I’ll ask him). I remain concerned about Dr. Powell’s possibly plagiarized or overstated book and will address this with him very directly.
  18. Anyhow, I would continue to assert that what this whole episode has most illustrative of the disconnect between the board and the rest of the university they supposedly run. The lack of communication and knowing who we are is a problem. I have proposed and the faculty senators agreed that we should start quarterly semi-informal gatherings between the board members and staff, faculty, and students so they can better know who and what we are all about. In particular it was noted they know about the ND program pretty well, but many board members appear to be fairly clueless about all the other programs at Bastyr.
  20. I continue to urge alumni to stay involved with the university and let your voice be heard. Let anyone and everyone you can get ahold of know you are paying attention, know what things are like in the real world, and how they can improve or what you think is going well. I know everyone is busy but this is an oft-overlooked piece of the puzzle, and often we get the reaction that, “Well no one is saying anything in the alumni so maybe you’re overreacting” among many other defensive postures.
  22. Cheers,
  26. Eric Yarnell, ND, RH(AHG)
  27. Seattle, WA
  28. Natural Approach to Gastroenterology 2nd ed (
  29. Northwest Naturopathic Urology (
  33. James Prego, ND
  34. Message 2 of 11 , Oct 6 8:38 AM
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  36. What happened to Dr. Church?
  38. Glad the board will be a bit more transparent. Even when I was one of the heads of student government, I was clueless about the board (all the admin were pretty easy to talk to though).
  40. As an alumni far away from Bastyr, with no current connections to the community, I can say that until you mentioned it on this list, I didn't even know there WAS a new pres, or even a need for one! I have a feeling many alumni not directly connected to the Bastyr community is probably in the same situation as me. So that would be why 'no one is saying anything in the alumni'
  43. --
  44. Dr. James Prego
  45. Naturopathic Doctor
  46. Bay Shore, NY
  49. flanagan.laura
  50. Message 3 of 11 , Oct 6 8:48 AM
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  52. Keep up the good work, Eric. Thank you! We alumni need voices from the campus sharing what is happening there. Without that, how could we comment or react to changes. Please keep us posted.
  53. Laura Flanagan, ND
  54. Spokane
  57. DrDee
  58. Message 4 of 11 , Oct 6 12:45 PM
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  60. I stay connected by being in Bastyr's weblist and I get regular emails as well as mailers. All anyone has to do is ask to be connected.
  62. Transformational Medicine PLLC
  63. Dr. DeeAnn Saber, NMD
  66. Emily Kane
  67. Message 5 of 11 , Oct 6 8:08 PM
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  69. thank you so much for this reconnaissance Eric, and for your diplomatic approach. Good will come from your efforts.
  70. Emily Kane ND
  71. Juneau AK
  76. Join with me in
  77. Cultivating Exuberance
  80. Eric Yarnell
  81. Message 6 of 11 , Oct 6 10:52 PM
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  83. Dr. Church retired after serving for 10 years.
  85. There is no evidence the board of trustees is going to be any more transparent; somewhat the opposite is true (the head of the board would not answer any of my questions anyway). Only the president and his cabinet are being more transparent. More doesn’t mean totally, or even sufficiently, by the way.
  87. I feel that Bastyr has persistently failed to engage with its alumni. There is a head of alumni affairs but I don’t see much work being done to track people, invite them in, etc. It’s a shame.
  89. Eric Yarnell, ND
  90. Seattle, WA
  93. mjcronin13
  94. Message 7 of 11 , Oct 7 10:47 AM
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  96. I would disagree with Emily that Eric has been diplomatic in his severe critique of the Dr Powell, the BU search committee and board in opening salvo in this open forum.
  98. Eric was loud and clear with some serious accusations before doing the due diligence he describes in the current update. I feel his concerns should be explored but that it is a disservice to BU and the BU folks who volunteered their best efforts toward choosing a new president in presenting his concerns publicly before doing his diligence.
  99. That is not diplomatic.
  101. Michael Cronin, ND
  102. Scottsdale, AZ
  105. Eric Yarnell
  106. Message 8 of 11 , Oct 7 9:41 PM
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  108. I did a lot of due diligence before my initial post. I have his CV in hand, I have the first-hand account of the shenanigans around his book, I still haven’t had any answers about his (for Bastyr) unusual pay structure, and I have mounting lists of people whom he was quite bullying or vicious toward one-on-one. Many people have told me they left his office crying. This is not the behavior of a professional or presidential person. But I will give him the benefit of the doubt until I can talk to him Friday. I encourage anyone who doubts me about this to talk to any member of the staff or faculty at Bastyr about their meeting with Dr. Powell and I doubt you’ll find anyone who wasn’t at least pretty significantly put off. Don’t take my word for it!
  110. I repeat, I simply want the alumni to ask questions. Currently there is little or no communication or knowledge among the alumni so they wouldn’t even have a clue what questions to ask, so I raised a few that were bothering me.
  112. I am not necessarily interested in being diplomatic though, and I question whether this is always the best way to be (sometimes clearly it is). My interest is in the truth and the health of the university/profession. I find a lot of people waste a lot of time tip toeing around issues and not questioning entrenched power structures. I prefer to be upfront and honest (but not bullying or vicious). Sometimes that does make people in power uncomfortable: welcome to the world of those not in power. Someone has to stir the soup occasionally. Naturopathic medicine wouldn’t be what or where it is today if we didn’t have a significant portion of going against the grain, calling bullshit where we see it, and not always being diplomatic.
  115. Eric Yarnell, ND, RH(AHG)
  116. Seattle, WA
  119. Mona Morstein
  120. Message 9 of 11 , Oct 8 7:28 AM
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  122. Eric, sometimes acting that way also gets you fired, when those above you do not like your honest and upfront discussions! ;-) ;-)
  124. Mona Morstein, ND, DHANP
  125. Tempe, AZ
  126. www.diamend,info
  127. Official Sponsor of NatChat—Doctor’s Data Labs
  130. flanagan.laura
  131. Message 10 of 11 , Oct 8 9:00 AM
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  133. Hello Michael,
  134. Emily and I and others had the, umm... experience, of bearing witness to further communications between certain BU decision makers and Eric. I can guarantee that Eric was indeed
  135. *diplomatic* against aggressive stonewalling. He did do his due diligence. It appears there may be improvement and I believe it is due to the work of Eric and others in the faculty and staff standing up for what is right.
  136. Laura Flanagan ND
  137. Spokane, WA
  140. dralpinewellness
  141. Message 11 of 11 , Oct 8 9:56 AM
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  143. I find it deeply ironic that in an era where disruptive innovation is being lauded and actively pursued in Silcom Valley, those in a position of leadership within our profession find what might be termed “disruptive dialogue” somehow off-putting. This is even more incongruous given that a primary benefit that our profession brings to the greater healthcare delivery system is as a catalyst for change i.e. a disruptive influence.
  145. To take a larger view, social justice and civil disobedience did not have its very considerable impact globally by being “diplomatic.” Just the opposite, in fact. Gandhi was not diplomatic. Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers fame was not diplomatic. Rachel Carson was not diplomatic And most recently, Edward Snowden was certainly not diplomatic. The world has benefitted greatly, however, because of the courage and sacrifice of these individuals.
  147. I have served on the board of a local educational organization. The fact that I volunteered my time to do this did not somehow magically give me a free pass on accountability and transparency. In fact, in speaking with a consultant whose expertise is in non-profit organizations, apparently there is a general feeling amongst experts that the non-profit model is broken in the US. One of the main reasons for this is that corporate governance has been compromised by the poor level of skill, vision, and execution common among volunteer boards. She stays very busy in large part due the alarming number of deficiencies in competency, common sense, and transparency.
  149. Dr. Yarnell engaged in a thoughtful process of discovery before expressing his misgivings. The fact that answers to his very reasonable questions were not forthcoming should be a cause for concern. As a Bastyr graduate, I am well aware of the chronic dys… challenges that institution faces, not the least of which is the indifferent way they treat their alumni. All organizations are susceptible to “group think” and rely upon the intelligence and grit of their members to disrupt the lock-step, lemming-like tendency to collective go off the cliff. Far from being a disservice, this dynamic, which engenders transparency, is critical to sustaining a healthy, vibrant community.
  151. I have a great deal of respect and gratitude that our profession has within it courageous people of character and integrity like Dr. Yarnell. I hope his actions will inspire others, as they have inspired me.
  154. Gary Piscopo, ND, LAc
  155. East Wenatchee, WA
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