An Investigative Report on cyber-stalking of President Gupta at Alfred College
In 2007, when I first spoke to Dr. Uma Gupta about writing an investigative piece about her experience as the target of cyber-predators during her Presidency at Alfred State College from 2003 -2006, my creative juices immediately began flowing as Dr. Uma Gupta and I examined the compelling elements: the harassment of women of color in leadership, a remote, rural campus, the prevalence of ethical violations, an anonymous, vituperative blog, and most importantly an urgent need to dispel lies, myths, slander, and libel with factual evidence. Dan Noyes of The Center For Investigative Reporting affirmed, " Knowing the facts is essential to educating and organizing citizens so they can participate in decision making that affects their lives."
Dr. Uma Gupta impressed me as a progressive, dedicated leader committed to change. I had read about her relief effort after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and how she had mobilized a group of students on a journey to New Orleans working side by side with Hands on USA, a volunteer organization to offer a supportive presence to the victims. She and her family donated $25,000 to the college to support scholarships for international students. I felt empathetic towards Dr. Uma Gupta because I also had experienced the indignities of working in a climate replete with unethical behavior, and lack of accountability. Therefore, I knew the terrain well. I felt empathetic towards Dr. Uma Gupta because, as a veteran of the New York Public School system, had brought a malevolent Principal before a New York State Judge to demand the removal of his damaging letters from my file. As a result, the Principal was re-assigned to an Assistant Principal position and the letters were removed permanently. I also had experienced the indignities of working in a climate replete with unethical behavior, and lack of accountability.
But this is the story of Dr. Uma Gupta, a former President of Alfred State College in Alfred, New York and what happened to her during her tenure from 2003-2006. Dr. Gupta, by all accounts and performance measures, was a highly successful President with a proven track record of significant accomplishements in higher education administration. Download Vitae.doc
By all relevant measures, Dr. Gupta's presidency was highly successful. A few of her many accomplishments are listed below:
§ Steady increase in enrollment for two straight years resulting in a request to system administration to increase the institution's enrollment target.
§ The collaborative development of a visionary five-year strategic plan which earned high praise from
the Middle States Accreditation team as "…very well conceived…" with specific praise for leadership that
created "…an atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation."
§ The college secured an unprecedented state appropriation of five million dollars for a visionary
regional economic development initiative - the Smart Farm - for the first time in the instituition's
one-hundred year history.
§ Number of international students increased by 35% in two years.
§ Women and minorities were hired to fill key leadership positions.
§ Fund-raising increased 16% first year and 17% second year. Unrestricted donors and unrestricted dollars increased multiple folds.
§ For the first time in several years, the college submitted a balanced budget.
§ Close to 10 new associate and baccalaureate programs were under development and a few them were launched.
The campus experienced the largest building boom since 1960s valued at $31 million.
In fostering change and leading the institution into the 21st century, Dr. Uma Gupta, like many other presidents' was confronted with several challenges, and yet she embraced them head on and advanced the institution in ways that were far-reaching and have made a significant difference as evidenced even today.
So why was Dr. Gupta publicly attacked by a small group of faculty and staff with lies, slander, and libel? Why was Dr. Gupta and her family repeatedly harassed? What motivated an influential group of veterans to stall progress by initiating an anonymous blog? Was there a coup attempt? Were they richly benefiting from the status quo? Were they racist? Did they have something to hide? These and many other provocative questions will be explored in greater depth. This blog shares the events and circumstances that led to repeated attacks on Dr. Gupta and the lessons that higher education stakeholders can learn from it.
There are many examples of excellent persons like Dr. Uma Gupta who have worked hard for the common good, and been persecuted by those with self-serving agendas in academia. We are no longer surprised when we hear about presidents and senior administrators being viciously attacked by those who have nothing to lose. This case study is one such example. Dr. Uma Gupta led the college with integrity, courage, vision and consequently made significant inroads into a community where a small fraction of racist faculty and staff had made life difficult for her and for several of her predecessors. Our loyal reader's questions are welcomed as well. Please submit them via the comments section of this blog.
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