Despite being delayed at Yale University to deal with major union strikes, incoming Vice President for Campus Services Kemel Dawkins said he will be at Duke next week to get started on his new job.
Dawkins, who was hired over the summer to oversee facilities, parking, dining and other campus-wide services, previously served as associate vice president for facilities at Yale. He had originally planned to arrive at Duke in August. His delay has caused him to miss appointments and may prove to be a minor setback for his early goals.
"Transition periods take a little time, particularly for senior positions.... [It] takes time to turn over the reins," he said. "It's been important for me to get information to read via e-mail, but it's even more important for me to be [at Duke] and physically sit in on meetings."
Dawkins said he traveled to Durham recently and has been in constant communication with Executive Vice President Tallman Trask and the directors of the various services that will be under his watch.
Since Campus Services is a newly-created division and the organization is still somewhat in flux, Dawkins' absence in these early weeks has not left as gaping a hole as it otherwise might have. "In many of the cases--dining, parking, facilities--the leaders of those areas are still at Duke, so it's been my strong sense that those leaders at Duke are carrying on quite well," Dawkins said.
Trask agreed, noting that Campus Services is getting by with help from Associate Vice President for Finance Paul Davies and former Director of Facilities Management Jerry Black, who stepped down after last year but has remained at the University to help with the transition.
Several issues are pressing for Campus Services this year, Trask said, including addressing campus safety and police, sorting out parking after the University and Medical Center systems merged this summer and keeping up with various construction projects.
In addition, Dawkins said he will spend the fall semester creating the organizational structure of his division and talking to various administrators to get a sense of major problems.
Before tackling Duke's issues, Dawkins and others must first resolve Yale's strikes, which have crippled the campus since late August. About 2,000 dining hall, maintenance and clerical workers have been boycotting their current employee status and pushing for higher wages, better pensions and job security.
Dawkins said that although teaching and research have progressed as usual, facilities managers who have remained at work have had to put in longer hours to compensate for the striking union members. Douglas Rae, Richard S. Ely professor of organization and management at Yale and an expert on union activity in the area, said the union problems faced by Yale have not resulted at all from the conduct of Dawkins, whom he called "extremely able."
"The fundamental issues here are historical and structural rather than administrative," he said. "I think the current administration has been rational, even-handed and reasonable."
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