Price Lab Supporters Protest Regent Talk

By Emily Christensen, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

Protesters Lucy Groth, left, and Linda Reichle talk with Dr. Noel Tichy, professor of management and organizations and director of the Global Business Partnership at the University of Michigan, inside the Schindler Education Center on the University of Northern Iowa campus in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Thursday, April 12, 2012. The group of a dozen protested the closing on the Price Lab School and hoped to catch the eye of State Regents member Dr. Katie Mulholland. Tichy was moderating the Alumni in Residence program. (RICK CHASE / Courier Staff Photographer)

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Noel Tichy, a University of Michigan professor, likens transformation to a three-act drama.

Act 1 wakes up the organization to the need for change, Tichy said, like yelling “fire” in a burning movie theater.

“If that’s all you do in a burning movie theater you will create chaos. People will trip on each other. Some will die. Some will resist,” Tichy told an auditorium of about two dozen University of Northern Iowa administrators and professors.

Tichy was on campus Thursday as part of the College of Education’s inaugural Alumni in Residence program.

Tichy said good leaders must quickly move along to Act 2: Give people an idea of the vision. The third act, he said, is institutionalizing the vision and building it into the fabric of the organization.

“That is why kids around the world do fire drills,” he said.

Four UNI College of Education alumni — Nancy Carroll, Melissa Anderson, Katie Mulholland and Karen Billings — also shared their views on leadership in times of change during Thursday’s panel discussion.

The alumni shared their personal experiences and offered advice on inspiring others and preparing the next generation for a changing world.

Anderson drew a few chuckles from the crowd when she recommended that professors change up their assignments — literally.

“Have your professors start giving them an assignment and then two days later change it on them,” said Anderson, a 2002 graduate and senior scientist at the Gatorade Sport Science Institute. “... That is the real world. I’m given a project and a budget and I’m working on it and a month later they come back and say ‘We cut those funds.’”

Though the current changes on the UNI campus were only mentioned in passing, about a dozen Malcolm Price Laboratory School supporters gathered outside the Schindler Education Center lecture hall holding signs as people entered the auditorium. Most did not actually attend the discussion.

Many of the protesters said they were concerned about the lack of transparency and want to hold the regents accountable for their actions. Mulholland is a regent.

Dawn Ask Martin, the mother of one Price Lab child, said Mulholland “shamed her alma mater” by voting to close academic programs and the lab school. Stacy Glascock, another PLS parent, said many families feel the regents did not consider all the facts and had determined the fate of the school before the vote.

“They thought we would just go away, but we won’t,” Glascock said. “... This is going to affect the entire community.”

Mulholland, who was on the other side of such protests early in her career, said the protest was “neither here nor there.”

“I know what they are doing. I understand what they are doing but I just have to move on,” she said, adding that sometimes you have to be “emotionally neutral” during certain situations.

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