Tuesday, May 19, 2015

UA's Former White Hat Executive's Curious Resume

Last week, I wrote about Todd Rickel -- the University of Akron's newest vice provost who is charged with re-shaping the university. I detailed how during Rickel's time as the head of White Hat Management's academic operation, he oversaw some of the worst performing charter schools in the state and country.

Well, something very interesting just showed up: Rickel has two different resumes posted at the University of Akron (if one disappears, I'll post them for you to see).

No biggie, right? People update their resumes all the time. One is from his application for the job he ended up getting. The second is an updated version.

Except here's a weird thing with Rickel's: He now claims he spoke at two conventions he never mentioned speaking at in his application resume. And he no longer claims to have been a speaker at conventions he mentioned in the application.

In his application, he claimed to have made 2 presentations in 2012 and one in 2013. They were three concurrent panel sessions at 3 different conferences. In 2012, he claimed to have made a presentation at the United States Distance Learning Association's (USDLA) National Conference ("Technology, Retention and Sustainability in Practice") and the annual convention for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) ("Higher Education Partnerships: Mutual benefits across two and four year institutions"). In 2013, he claimed to have presented at the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Academic Resource Conference ("The Sustainable University").

Prior to 2012, he hadn't made an academic presentation since 2003 when he did one at the University of Phoenix where he has worked off and on for several years, and several at Kent State -- his alma mater where he had taught as an adjunct. In other words, he had no experience presenting at a major convention or conference outside of places where he was employed.

Which is what makes his updated resume ("last updated 14 February 2015") so interesting. On his new resume, he claims he spoke at 3 conferences in 2012. Nothing in 2013. The conferences were the WASC Academic Resource Conference in 2012, the USDLA conference and the Community College Baccalaureate Association's 12th Annual International Conference.

The panels he claimed to have led were completely different too. The WASC panel was "Partnering without Tears: Co-Sourcing for Student Success and Mutual Profit". The USDLA panel was "Beyond Facebook: Creating the NextGen Social Media Communities of the 21st Century". The CCBA plenary panel was "Community College Baccalaureate Degree Inflation: Careful What You Wish For."

The only conference he claimed to be at in both resumes was the 2012 USDLA conference, but the sessions were completely different.

Looking at it now, if one were applying to turn around a university with retention and financial challenges like UA, wouldn't having the sessions mentioned on his application resume -- about retention, sustainability, and partnering -- sound a lot better than stuff about community colleges and Facebook and mutual profit?

I looked online to see if I could find the conferences' agendas. They had been wiped from the organizations' sites. I couldn't even find them in the Wayback Machine. I'm sure there are more tech savvy people than I who are out there and can find these things better than I.

I'm just wondering why he didn't mention them all in the application? Wouldn't you want to show that you led 6 rather than 3 sessions at national conventions since 2012? I mean in both resumes, he mentioned he was part of Kent State's sail club. It's not like he's making editorial decisions in other parts of the resume.

Usually when you update a resume it's to add current achievements that happened after the application resume. It's not to change which three convention sessions you gave, or switch up where you gave these completely different panel sessions.

I don't know if there's any funny stuff going on here. But it sure begs a few questions about why these changes were made -- questions Rickel should answer so that the UA community can be assured that the man helping re-shape the university has done what he claims.

Because, as mentioned in my earlier post, his background at White Hat was anything but stellar for kids' academic performance.