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Borofsky “Retires” from DSU with One More Unpleasant E-Mail

And here I thought DSU would face a challenge in finding a new grants coordinator. Now they need a new president!

In a surprise addition to its Wednesday meeting agenda, the South Dakota Board of Regents accepted the resignation of DSU president David Borofsky, effective immediately.

Let me emphasize the word resignation. It's the word KJAM used. It's the word that Sioux Falls paper used. It's the word the Regents used. It's the word being used by everyone but Borofsky, who refers to this job move as "my retirement from Dakota State University."

That's not the only transparent and self-deceiving euphemism Borofsky used today. The no-longer DSU boss sent an e-mail to all staff and students at 12:45 CDT today that sounds an awful lot like the tone-deaf dictatorial manager-speak Borofsky issued this summer in response to criticism of his own staffing decisions. Let's translate and analyze Borofsky's "Organization Announcement":

From: <Borofsky>, David <>
Date: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 12:45 PM
To: DSU-All Staff, All-Students
Subject: Organizational Announcement...PLEASE read

To all,

During the two and a half years I have been the President at DSU, we have benefited from the numerous successes that have resulted from our team work. We have raised more money for the Foundation in the last two years than ever before, including the three largest donations to DSU ever…. Two at $2.5 million and one at $2 million. We have had two new masters degrees approved…. One in applied computer science and one in analytics, a collaborative degree with SDSU. We have had another doctorate in science in cybersecurity approved by the BOR and it is pending approval by HLC. We have an agreement in place…. And the money… to buy the Madison Community Hospital and turn it into the Beacom Institute of Technology. We received $900,000 from the SD State Legislature to expand computer science related programs. We have created, thanks to the faculty and administration in the College of Education, a successful year-long residency program for education majors. We have seen our arts and sciences faculty, most notably Nathan Edwards, Angela Behrends, Allan Montgomery, Justin Blessinger, Cassie Edwards, and Michael Gaylor, among others, have tremendous success outside the classroom in their respective fields. And we have created more and more partnerships with large organizations that benefit our students, our Foundation and our University.

Translation: These things happened while I was here. I'm not going to explicitly claim credit for them, but why else would I mention them in my farewell e-mail?

With those successes has come a lot of change. Change that is not always understood or able to be explained.

Analysis: False. We can explain all organizational change. We can explain who makes decisions and why. If change is not understood, leaders have failed to make it understood... or simply chosen not to, because the reasons don't sound that great when said out loud.

Some of it has been obvious; some of it not so much. This I can tell you… all of the changes that have occurred since I started have been well-thought out, discussed with the appropriate people, and put into place only after hours of discussion and exploring many different options.

Translation: Everything I did was right and just. Don't question it.

That said, change is never easy, especially when it is controversial and unpopular.

Analysis: False. Sometimes change is easy, especially if leaders really do involve all affected parties, communicate clearly and honestly with them, and make transparent decisions that benefit the organization. Sometimes change is hard, but all change can be made easier with proper management skills.

Often, people do not understand the reasons for change nor do they have all the information that leaders have, so the change looks forced and ill-conceived. Nothing could be further from the truth with the changes that have occurred at DSU.

Translation: Apparently I didn't do a very good job of explaining the reasons for the changes I wrought. I didn't provide all of the relevant information. I blame you all. Again, everything I did was right and just.

That said, a change agent of an organization can almost never be the healer… and DSU needs to heal.

Translation: I made a real mess at DSU, and someone else needs to clean it up.

Analysis: Baloney. Nelson Mandela effected change and healing in South Africa. Change and healing are not mutually exclusive. And change need not be inherently destructive and painful.

No one person, faculty or administrator, is more important than the University. Therefore, today I announce my retirement from Dakota State University, effective today. The Board of Regents has appointed an interim President.

Translation: This was in the works. The Board of Regents knew this was coming and had someone in the chute... but I'm not going to say her name.

I want to thank all the employees of DSU, the students, the Madison community members, financial supporters of the DSU Foundation, and all the alumni who love DSU so much. You have made my stay here at DSU special, and full of long-lasting memories. You have a great University and your next leader will help you reach that next plateau, because there is another one just within your reach!

Translation: Your next leader (whom I'm still not naming) is about to drag you through a long flat space, a metaphor for lack of growth and change.

I especially want to thank my staff, Kacie Fodness, Heather Beaner and Susan Slaughter. You are a great team…. as are the VPs…. Judy Dittman, Marcus Garstecki and Stacy Krusemark. The University is in excellent hands under your leadership.

Translation: I'm going to call my VPs the leaders and still not say the name of the person the Regents picked to replace me as the top leader.

Thank you.

Dr. David B. Borofsky
Dakota State University

Let us hope that interim president Rames is able to explain change more clearly and less sanctimoniously during her year on campus at DSU.


  1. Eve Fisher 2014.08.14

    It will be interesting to see what the Madison Community Foundation will do now that it's Agent of Record and Secretary/Treasurer has resigned, retired, etc., from DSU.

  2. JeniW 2014.08.14

    Just changed what DSU means: Dying State University. Soon, it could be Dead State University.

  3. Daniel Buresh 2014.08.14

    How do you come up with that JeniW? DSU has consistently grown in numbers in just about everything. DSU is doing the exact opposite of dying, including securing it's place in a niche technology field that will only see more demand.

  4. JeniW 2014.08.14

    Just throwing in some humor.

    With the SDSU in Brookings, and the University Center in Sioux Falls, I wonder how long it will last.... maybe it will last for years, but with economic realities of the state (the state cannot even pay teachers enough to attract teachers for the public schools,) how will the state be able to support all the current state universities?

  5. Kurt Kemper 2014.08.15

    So he basically fires/demotes two respected, successful, and well-loved administrators, then leaves in a cloud of humiliation, acknowledging that he botched the whole job. But yet, Halverson and Pauli get no recourse. Even though Borofsky rightfully gets the boot, these two guys have to continue to suffer the long-term consequences. Borofsky is both gutless and dissembling.

  6. JeniW 2014.08.15

    Who were monitoring/supervising Borofsky?

    How is it that those monitoring/supervising Borofsky allowed him to fire/demote the two employees?

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