With a long-running feud between Doane University President Jacque Carter's administration and a group of Crete campus faculty threatening to ignite again over a Board of Trustees initiated budget plan… a former Interim UNL President… is being actively promoted as a potential replacement President at Doane if Dr. Carter's inveterate faculty opponents finally succeed in ousting him.
Dr. Susan Fritz was added to the Doane University Board of Trustees in 2017 (the same year that Carter's faculty enemies failed in a very public attempt to remove him), even though she still serves as a high-level administrator at a higher education competitor-- The University of Nebraska system. Dr. Fritz, a past Interim UNL President, is still the Executive Vice President, Provost and Dean of the Graduate College of the University of Nebraska.
While the University of Nebraska, a large, multi-campus, Land Grant State University system, is an asymmetric competitor for a good, regional, NAIA, small and comprehensive university like Doane, Big Red is a potent one-- particularly for in-state students. Doane probably loses more students to UNL and the other University of Nebraska institutions than any other competitor. Recent moves by the University of Nebraska to target, through tuition elimination, less well-off (often first-generation) in-state students also poses additional specific challenges for Doane.
While Doane's traditional undergraduate residential enrollment has stagnated over recent decades and traditional fundraising has been sluggish, President Jacque Carter has presided over Doane’s explosive growth in both grant funding and through a highly profitable and innovative foray into the online sphere. The school also still boasts a proportionally impressive endowment of over $100 million. On these multiple bases, Carter has survived several campaigns by faculty to force him out since 2016.
If Dr. Fritz were to become Doane's President, her ongoing ties to the University of Nebraska system would constitute both perception and policy problems and suggest some potentially unfortunate consequences for the smaller private school. Would Doane University, a school with an independent and proud nearly 150-year history, be managed out of existence or transformed into some sort of additional low-end branch campus for UNL?
Indeed, Dr. Fritz's increasingly prominent role at Doane also seems to be in direct contradiction of the University's official conflict of interest policies that highlight “...any actual, potential or apparent conflict of interest that might, in fact, or appearance, call into question their [employees'] duty of undivided loyalty to the University. The conflict of interest policy is construed expansively to provide maximum protection to the University. This policy applies to all University Trustees...” (Doane Conflict of Interest Policy Pledge).
Finally, Doane University's Conflict of Interest Questionnaire lists, “Holding, directly or indirectly, a position or financial interest in an outside concern that provides services in competition with Doane” as a “covered transaction.” That definition, unfortunately, perfectly describes Dr. Fritz's perplexing and concerning role at Doane University.
As an alumnus of Doane University and a current student at the University of Nebraska, I hope that students and faculty will see that these conflicts undermine the school and threaten Doane’s longevity. We must understand that the needs of Doane’s long-term sustainability must out-weigh the current ladder-climbing by a Board member seeking to capitalize on Doane’s present financial strains for her own resume.